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Should You Put Catnip In A Cat Bed?

Updated November 12, 2022
Should You Put Catnip In A Cat Bed?

Putting catnip in a cat bed is an excellent way to encourage a finicky cat to rest in its new bed and promote healthy sleep.

However, you should learn how catnip works and what it does to cats beforehand.

The catnip effect depends on how it was administered, so cat owners inexperienced with catnip often get an effect opposite to the desired outcome.

To utilize catnip with maximum effectiveness, outline your goal and find the best suitable catnip product, be it loose herb, spray, toys, or treats.

Remember that catnip is only good for cats if used occasionally and won’t help with chronic problems. If your cat has issues with sleeping, consult a veterinarian to find a treatment.

Catnip Benefits for Cats

First, you may wonder what the benefits of catnip for cats are and why someone would put catnip in a cat’s bed. Catnip is a versatile herb that serves many purposes.

Catnip helps encourage playtime in old and lazy cats because it is a stimulant. Some cats refuse to play regardless of how amusing the toys are, and catnip can help resolve this issue, promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Catnip also calms down stressed, anxious cats because it can act as a mild sedative. The herb can greatly help during car trips, vet visits, or introducing new pets into the family.

Another benefit of catnip is that many cats will do anything to get a bit of the herb. Catnip helps with training, acting as a motivation for a cat to obey the owner’s commands and behave well.

For example, catnip makes a perfect reward for good behavior during a vet visit for kitties that aren’t fond of injections.

The herb can also encourage a cat to use a bed or scratching post it isn’t interested in or eat food it doesn’t want to. Catnip acts as an appetite stimulant in some cats, but other felines may experience the opposite effect.

Catnip’s medicinal benefits for cats include improving digestion and sleeping habits and easing physical pain.

Is Catnip a Stimulant or Sedative?

Catnip has a wide range of effects, which makes many people confused about whether catnip is a stimulant or a sedative. In short, it’s both, depending on an individual cat’s peculiarities and how catnip is administered.

When a cat inhales catnip, the herb acts as a stimulant. Nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip, mimics feline mating pheromones, causing behavior similar to that of female felines in heat.

Cats start rolling on the ground, meowing, rubbing against furniture, and seeking affection.

The stimulating effect occurs almost instantly after a cat sniffs catnip because nepetalactone vapor rapidly reaches the bloodstream through the nasal membrane.

If a cat ingests catnip, the herb will have the opposite effect, acting as a sedative. Eating catnip makes a cat sleepy, mellow, and disoriented.

The effect of ingesting catnip isn’t instant – nepetalactone must first reach the digestive tract, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through stomach tissue and metabolized by the liver before reaching the brain.

Consequently, the effect also lasts longer. While catnip’s stimulating effect lasts 10-30 minutes, the sedative effect can last for over an hour.

Equipped with this knowledge, you can use catnip to your advantage. For example, if you need to make a cat sleepy, let it eat catnip, and if you want to encourage playtime, let it sniff the herb.

Be Aware of Tolerance

While catnip is helpful in many scenarios, cats shouldn’t have it too frequently. Catnip intervenes in the natural hormone production in the feline brain, causing tolerance build-up.

As soon as nepetalactone molecules hit a cat’s brain, it loses interest in the herb and stops feeling its scent. Most cats regain responsiveness to catnip several hours after the effect wears off, but some may need more time.

In other words, cats that have catnip often gradually become desensitized to its effects. Think of it as drinking coffee.

If you have one cup a week, you will strongly feel the effect of caffeine. But if you drink three cups a day, you will soon become unresponsive to caffeine.

The good news is that catnip doesn’t cause addiction like caffeine, but the mechanism of tolerance build-up is similar. Veterinarians don’t recommend giving cats catnip more frequently than once or twice a week.

For this reason, catnip isn’t suitable for everyday training or for cats with chronic stress, insomnia, or appetite loss. It can help occasionally, but if a cat has it daily, it will soon become unresponsive to its effects.

Furthermore, catnip doesn’t work on all cats. According to research, only 50%-75% of cats are responsive to catnip, and others are born without a gene responsible for recognizing nepetalactone.

Does Catnip Help Cats Sleep Better?

Catnip does help cats sleep better because it has sedative properties, primarily if it is ingested. Restless, anxious cats that cannot relax and rest will appreciate catnip treats or fresh catnip leaves.

The problem is that many owners reach the opposite effect when trying to make their pets sleepy because they sprinkle catnip in their cat’s bed. When inhaled, catnip makes cats hyperactive and playful.

So, catnip can calm down a restless cat and promote healthy sleep, but putting catnip in a cat’s bed won’t help. Instead, owners should encourage their pets to eat catnip.

However, some cats will become sleepy after catnip’s stimulating effect wears off because running and playing are tiring. Note that this effect doesn’t occur with all cats – some may remain active after catnip’s effect ends.

Catnip isn’t a solution for cats with chronic insomnia. If a cat doesn’t sleep sufficiently, owners should seek veterinary help to find the reason.

How to Make a Cat Get Used to a Bed with Catnip

Buying a fancy bed for your pet only to find out it doesn’t care about your gift is frustrating. Unfortunately, changing the bed for a better one isn’t always possible, and owners wonder how to make a cat sleep in its bed.

The reasons why a cat refuses to sleep in its bed are numerous. Sometimes, the bed doesn’t smell right, mainly if it was just brought from the store. Catnip can help conceal the smell.

In other cases, cats don’t like the bed’s placement or softness. Lastly, some felines don’t like changes and are hesitant to try anything new.

The most effective method is to lure a cat into its bed and reward it. Catnip can act both as a lure and reward. Show your cat the catnip, but don’t let it indulge in it until it crawls into its bed.

This method helps build links between the bed and pleasure in a cat’s head. A cat will be more willing to use its bed if it has positive associations with it.

To reinforce the associations, give your cat catnip as a reward whenever you see it sleeping in its bed. However, be aware of tolerance build-up.

How to Use Catnip in a Cat Bed

How to use catnip in a cat’s bed depends on your goal. Do you want to promote healthy sleep? Put some catnip treats into a cat’s bed and let it eat them. After some time, your cat will sleep peacefully like a baby.

Do you want to encourage your cat to use a new bed? You have several options. The first is to sprinkle some dry catnip on the bed. Once your cat notices the catnip, it will crawl into the bed to smell it and remain there.

Another way is to use fresh catnip. Fresh herb is more potent than dry, so don’t let your cat have too much of it.

Although cats have an innate knowledge of how much catnip is too much, fresh catnip is so potent it can cause adverse reactions even in tiny doses.

Catnip sprays are another option. They are easy to use, and you won’t need to vacuum catnip from the floor afterward. Catnip sprays are typically very potent because they contain nepetalactone essential oil.

Alternatively, you may give your cat catnip treats. They are the most suitable for training because you can easily give them as a reward, marking the correct action.

Let your cat sniff the treats, then move them towards the cat’s bed until your pet gets inside. Then, reward your cat by giving it a treat. You may also leave a few treats inside the bed to encourage your pet to use the bed later.

Catnip toys work the same way. Let your cat sniff a toy, then put it into the bed and wait until your cat comes to play with it.

Note that treats and toys will have the opposite effect. Treats will make a cat mellow, whereas toys will have a stimulating effect, causing your cat to roll in the bed or leave it to run around the room.

Don’t put catnip in your pet’s bed for no reason. Although catnip is generally safe, it should be used consciously, knowing the possible adverse effects.

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