At what age can cats start playing with catnip toys?
I’ve heard that kittens shouldn’t have catnip toys. At what age can my kitten start playing with things that have catnip in them?
Hi there …catnip and toys are a great treat for all cats. Every cat responds differently to catnip. Some cats find it makes them feel euphoric and others angry. However, very young kittens may not respond to it until they are little older (usually after 6 months of age or older) if they possess the gene for it.
CATNIP: (Nepeta cataria–also part of the mint family of plants) contains a substance called cis-transnepetalactone which when inhaled or eaten is thought to be hallucinogenic through the stimulation of centres in the brain–it gives some cats a europhoric high. Not all cats are responsive to catnip and here’s why:
1. Reaction to catnip is genetic (see last paragraph). Cats must possess a gene for it. While most cats do, about 15 percent reportedly do not. Kittens, whether they possess the gene or not, generally do not react to catnip until they are from six to nine months old. Try reintroducing the catnip then and you will probably find that your cat will greatly enjoy it. If your cat is an adult, you may have one of the few adult cats that do not possess the gene.
2. Inferior quality catnip. Many other catnip brands are "cut" with straw, stems and other filler. This may fool the cat owner, but it doesn’t fool kitty! Try some Certified Organic Catnip or fresh Catnip.
It’s not known why the reaction to catnip seems to occur only among the feline species. What is known is that the ability to react to catnip is a genetic one. Cats that react to catnip possess a gene that programs them to react to catnip. The gene does not develop until after six months of age or so, and not ALL cats possess the gene. About 15 percent of the cat population does not possess the gene, so this may explain why your cat does not react. If they do possess the gene, cats of all sizes – from housecats, cheetahs, mountain lions, pumas, etc. – will love catnip.