Many cat owners know that catnip can be an effective way to calm down some cats. And some people may wonder how to make catnip tea for cats so they can try it out on their pets. This article is intended as a quick reference guide for those who would like to know more about what makes catnip work, and also includes instructions for making your homemade tea.
What Is in Catnip That Makes Cats Act so Strange?
Catnip is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It contains an essential oil that when smelled, causes some cats to act strangely. Male and female cats have different reactions to catnip: males’ response is more intense but shorter whereas females will have a weaker initial reaction but maintain their sense of euphoria for longer periods.
One study conducted by the “School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University”, has found that only 2/3rds of all cats are sensitive to catnip, with 4% not reacting whatsoever. Some breeds such as Bengals and Siamese are said to be less likely to experience the effects of catnip. 
Why Do Cats Like Catnip?
One theory for why some cats like catnip are that it acts as a natural pesticide and de-wormer. Many interesting papers were published on this subject in the late ’80s, early 90’s when scientists put more effort into testing the effects of nepetalactone on mammalian physiology. The most notable of these was a report by Turner and Tara which concluded: “The widely held belief that Nepeta cataria and oil of nepetalactone act as feline attractants and sex pheromones received no support from this study.” Some people believe that there may be more sources than just the nepetalactone in the catnip which is what causes cats to have this reaction.
How To Make Catnip Tea for Your Cat
Cat owners know that scientific studies are one thing, but when it comes down to it – cats don’t care about the science behind how they react. All they want is for you to give them their ‘catnip fix’. There are many ways to achieve this with varying results. It’s important to remember that humans can’t smell or feel the nepetalactone in catnip like your feline friends do, so there’s no point in using too much! Using more than required will not make a stronger effect; any extra will simply be lost in the liquid.
When making your homemade catnip tea, avoid boiling the mixture which will reduce how potent it is. Instead, heat only to the point where small bubbles are created around the edges of the pot before removing from heat. You can also try microwaving it for about a minute or two on high power – do not let it overheat though! Be careful because if you microwave this mixture for too long it may catch fire.
Another option is using hot tap water to make your tea; some people claim that this creates a stronger reaction in their pets compared to boiling water or microwaves. The reasoning behind this theory might be due to nepetalactone being more soluble at higher temperatures, but further research would have to be conducted to confirm this.
It’s also important to remember that the potency of catnip will decrease over time, and your tea may lose its effects in as little as a week if it is not stored properly. The best way to store homemade catnip tea is by keeping it in the refrigerator so that it does not spoil or lose any potency.
You don’t have to drink your cats’ leftover tea after they’ve finished lapping it up – you can freeze leftover portions and use them later. Just be sure to take out enough for one feeding before zapping! You should never refrigerate or freeze fresh catnip because the cold temperatures will destroy nepetalactone just like boiling water would. If you’re unsure about whether or not your catnip is still potent, give it the sniff test. and If nepetalactone has been destroyed, you won’t be able to smell anything; if all you get is a mild hay-like scent, your nepetalactone levels are probably sufficient.
If you have a few cats who turn up their noses when offered homemade catnip tea, don’t worry – there’s always an alternative available. In most pet stores across America and Europe, you can find dried organic catnip. Just follow the same preparation instructions as above and either pour boiling water over the powder in a cup or mix it in with some of their favorite wet food. When using dry catnip, try mixing in a little organic honey which most cats love.
You can also buy catnip toys at a pet store or online that you can fill with dried catnip. Before filling, put the toy in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften up the fabric and activate the nepetalactone inside. Make sure you don’t overheat it though! If so, your kitty may start to tear apart their new favorite toy.
If these alternatives still don’t do it for your finicky friends, there’s always catnip spray! A few sprays of this on your hands and they’ll be following you everywhere begging for attention. Of course, this is not as cost-efficient as making homemade tea but it’s worth a try if all else fails.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try making your catnip tea with fresh catnip? It’s the equivalent of growing your weed – but for cats! Fresh catnip can be found at many pet stores or online. All you have to do is steep it in hot water for around 10 minutes and watch them go nuts! You can also add some other ingredients like organic honey to further entice them. If they don’t take the bait after a few tries, just put it in the fridge and save it for later.
For more information about how to make catnip tea for cats:
1) There are two forms of nepetalactone found in catnip – nepetalactone A and nepetalactone B. When fresh or dried leaves are crushed, these compounds are released into the air where they are mainly detected by a special group of neurons in the olfactory bulb located at the base of the brain.
2) Cats detect nepetalactone through their vomeronasal organ (VNO), also known as Jacobson’s organ, which is located between the hard palate and the septum of the nose. The VNO contains receptor cells that carry tiny cilia structures that dangle into an opening at one end of the organ called a pit.
When catnip is inhaled, nepetalactone enters the mucus lining this pit where they are then detected by nerve fibers attached to these cilia. The VNO sends information about what it detects directly to both areas in the brain that are associated with emotions – namely, the amygdala and hypothalamus. Once processed by these regions in the brain, the scent elicits a behavioral response from the cat.
3) The feline behavioral response to catnip is hereditary and is estimated to be found in about half of all domestic cats. This means that while some cats will react somewhat predictably to catnip, others may not be affected at all by it. However, even if your kitty doesn’t seem to have much interest in catnip, he or she might still be interested in other plants that contain similar chemicals such as Valerian root.
4) Once ingested, Nepetalactone enters the bloodstream via the stomach and affects various regions throughout the body but mainly acts on those involved with controlling movement through motor coordination centers located in different areas of the brain.
5) For most cats, catnip will result in behavior changes for about 10 minutes with most calming down within 5 to 15 minutes after exposure. This is because the nepetalactone is processed by the liver into various metabolites that are then excreted within this time frame.