Is there any scientific evidence to support the use of catnip to treat hyperactivity in cats?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant that contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is known to stimulate cats’ olfactory system, leading to a range of behaviors, including hyperactivity, rolling, and rubbing. As such, catnip is often used as a recreational herb for cats, and some pet owners have claimed that it can help to alleviate symptoms of hyperactivity in their feline companions. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims.
One study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery in 2008 investigated the effects of catnip on the behavior of cats with and without feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS), a condition that causes excessive grooming, agitation, and hypersensitivity to touch. The study found that while catnip did induce hyperactivity and playfulness in both groups of cats, it did not significantly reduce the symptoms of FHS. The authors concluded that further research is needed to determine the therapeutic potential of catnip in treating FHS and other behavioral disorders in cats.
Another study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2017 investigated the effects of catnip on the behavior of cats in a shelter environment. The study found that cats exposed to catnip exhibited more playful and social behaviors, including rolling, rubbing, and playing with toys, compared to cats in a control group. The authors suggest that catnip could be used as an environmental enrichment tool to improve the welfare of cats in shelters.
Overall, while there is some limited evidence to suggest that catnip may have a positive impact on the behavior of cats, particularly in terms of increasing playfulness and reducing stress in shelter environments, there is currently no strong scientific evidence to support its use as a treatment for hyperactivity or other behavioral disorders in cats. As with any herbal remedy, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before administering catnip to your cat to ensure its safety and efficacy.