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Can Catnip Cause Allergies In My Cat, Or Could It Be A Cat Food Allergy

Can Catnip Cause Allergies In My Cat, Or Could It Be A Cat Food Allergy

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Does your cat go crazy when you give her catnip? Or is she one of the 50% of cats who have no interest whatsoever in the catnip frenzy? That’s right, despite that fact that its very name implies that catnip is synonymous with cats, not all of them are affected by it. For those who have seen a cat in action after one sniff of this potent herb, you might wonder why all cats don’t get in on the fun. But the truth is, not all cats are born with a sensitivity, so your chances of having a cat that will literally flip over this plant are 50-50.

It’s A Plant

Yes, catnip is actually a plant. It is an herb that is part of the mint family. It can grow to be 3-feet high if you plant it in your garden, but we wouldn’t recommend that unless you want all of the cats in the neighborhood to seek out your vege. There are several versions of catnip; some smell like lemons and some smell like camphor, but the one that cats adore is called Nepeta cataria. The ingredient that makes cats go crazy is called nepetalactone and it is found in the leaves and the stems of the plant. Catnip is not native to the U.S., but was imported and now grows all over the country.

The Effects

Some people believe that the effects of catnip on a cat are similar to the effects of LSD on a human while others say that it’s more like the effects of marijuana. Whatever is going on in those kitty brains, we do know that it makes a cat feel great! Those feel-good pheromones make a cat run, jump, chase, play and even hunt while under the influence. When that nepetalactone enters the nostrils and hits that olfactory receptor, the neurons start firing and off she goes. Though it is quite fun to watch a cat enjoy the nip, it is recommended that you only give it to your cat once or twice a week to prevent habituation.

Stimulate Or Sedate

There are two different ways that your cat will be affected, depending on the intake. If your cat rubs the leaves and smells it, it produces a stimulant effect. That’s when you’ll find her jumping and rolling for joy. If she eats the catnip, it produces a sedative effect and she’ll drift off to a restful state. The important thing to know is that catnip is not harmful to your cat. There are no allergies associated with catnip, just the penchant for mischief. It is not addictive, so you won’t need to send kitty to rehab to kick the habit. If you don’t choose to provide catnip to her anymore, she probably won’t even notice.

Fun Catnip Facts

  • Catnip is a very effective natural insect repellent against flies, mosquitos, cockroaches and termites. However, when applied to your skin, it loses its repelling ability.
  • Humans can use catnip as a sedative when the leaves are brewed into a tea, but it is also effective in helping soothe headaches and nausea. You can buy catnip in capsule form at most health food stores.
  • Catnip is very easy to grow indoors in a pot. The leaves can be dried and stored in the fridge.
  • Kittens (under 7 months old) are immune to the properties of catnip. Try again when they are older and they might enjoy it.
  • If your cat eats too much catnip, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but she will return to normal after some time.

Cat Food Allergy; The Likely Suspects

Now that we have covered the fact that catnip does not cause allergies, if you notice that your kitty is scratching all over (and fleas have been ruled out as a culprit) it’s possible that she could have a cat food allergy. Most of the most popular cat food brands that you find in the store can contain ingredients that can cause sensitivity in some cats. Some ingredients that can cause your cat to scratch away include:

  • Whole ground corn (or any corn-based ingredient). Unfortunately, corn is one of the most widely known food allergens for cats. This is a filler ingredient that can add some protein to kitty’s diet and make them feel fuller, but it can be difficult for many cats to digest, so keep an eye on your cat for any digestion problems. It might be all right in smaller quantities, but this could be the cause of the cat food allergy.
  • Whole wheat. Wheat and wheat by-products are very common allergy-inducing ingredients for both dogs and cats. Cats are not able to digest grains nearly as well as humans or dogs, so many cats may also experience digestion issues if given too much wheat.
  • Dyes. Yellow, Red, and Blue dyes are often added to lower-end cat foods to make it appealing in color to the consumer. Your cat doesn’t care what color its food it, it just needs to provide good nutrition. These dyes can cause allergic reactions and allergies, but can also cause hyperactivity and aggression in some cats.

There are some cats who are allergic to all grains, not just corn and wheat. If you think that your kitty has a grain cat food allergy, try feeding her a grain-free variety for a while to see if it makes a difference. Some good options to try are:

  • By Nature Grain Free Chicken & Potato
  • Innova Grain Free Cold Water Salmon And Peas
  • Solid Gold Grain and Gluten Free Mackerel and Tuna
  • The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Turkey Cat Food
  • Wellness CORE Grain Free Beef

Now that you know that catnip is not an allergen, run out and get some for your furry friend to try. Not only will it amuse them, it can amuse you as well to see your cat having so much fun.