Can Catnip Make Your Cat Aggressive?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Do any of my friends at PoC have cats who suffer from “catnip disorderly conduct” while under the influence of catnip? This is one of my strange but true experiences that happened last week when Sealy received a box full of quality herb from one of my friends. My friend told me after I posted photos of the cats rolling around in it that this particular nip is famous in her part of the U.S.

Catnip disorderly conduct

Catnip disorderly conduct. Collage by Elisa Black-Taylor

THE CATNIP PARTY

I was at work when I first opened the box addressed to Sealy (yes, my cats DO get mail on occasion). The first thing I noticed was a very, very strong catnip aroma. I just KNEW the cats were going to have a blast with this nip. I only hoped I didn’t get stopped by any law enforcement going home, or I would have a very confused “drug dog” should the officer detect the odor.

The cats attacked the box as soon as I got in the door. There were at least a dozen catnip mice, as well as small pouches of the catnip that had been sewn into squares of cloth. Everyone was rolling on the floor having a good old time. Especially Jasper!

After a good half hour had passed and everyone had disgraced themselves, I remembered Jasper’s particular problem with nip. To put it bluntly, he turns into the equivalent of what we in the south call a “mean drunk.”

CATNIP CAN MAKE A CAT AGGRESSIVE

I got curious and Googled “can catnip make a cat aggressive?” That’s what it does to our Jasper. He will stalk and jump on every cat in the room after a romp in the nip. As it turns out, he’s not alone. Several sites that explain what catnip is (a member of the mint family) also tell how some cats become overly aggressive around catnip. Catnip does to cats what alcohol and marijuana do to humans. Humans who drink alcohol or smoke marijuana may become sleepy or aggressive, depending on the personality of that person. The same holds true for cats.

A few sites also told that very young or very old cats may not be interested in nip at all. Before reading up on the aggressive side of catnip addiction, or catnip disorderly conduct, I’d read that cats were around age two when they became interested. All of our cats are at least that age, and all but a few LOVE rolling in (or even eating) catnip.

WE’LL JUST DEAL WITH IT – WHAT ABOUT YOU?

We’ll continue to provide our cats with their drug of choice. But Jasper, unfortunately, may have to serve a “time-out” in Laura’s bedroom until the effects wear off. Sorry Jasper…

Do any of you have cats who become aggressive after being exposed to catnip? Any funny stories behind YOUR cats nip addiction? I’m just curious.

Elisa

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Comments

Can Catnip Make Your Cat Aggressive? — 22 Comments

  1. There must be some catnip growing in the back or perhaps a close enough relative of this plant to have a similar effect. Someone could even have planted mint back there years ago– my mom has mint growing in her garden. I can’t identify the plant because Monty never lets it grow. He’s always over there rolling on it, biting it, shredding it with his claws. He goes crazy for it, rolling around, but at this point the plant is very small– just a tiny shoot– and I caught him licking the tiny plant so that the dirt all around it was soaked with cat spit. Well, of course this was a little disturbing so I wanted to get him away from there, the little addict. But when I tried to move him he attacked me with his claws fully extended and he was rough– not the gentle play he has learned to do. Stand too near him if he’s found some nip and suddenly a little snarling cat will be wrapped around your ankle, viciously attacking your foot. I’ve learned to distract him with a toy, like a long stick to chase and pounce on and not to try to physically remove him, because he gets just like a stick tight on your arm with those long claws and it hurts.

  2. I wouldn’t say marijuana makes people aggressive but alcohol certainly does quite often. I have always thought nip to be more like marijuana, i.e.: a psychedelic and slightly lowering of blood pressure.. My cats get all tripped out and then sleepy just like as if they smoked a joint. Luckily they don’t get aggressive but I have heard similar stories from others too.

    Mine are only interested in nip after a little while of not having it. I think like any drug it works up an immediate tolerance so mine have to wait a couple days before being all interested in it again. I usually give it to them once a month actually. What surprised me the most was that Gigi was totally into it when she was only 4 months old. She totally loved it and rolled around in it like she knew exactly what it was or something. She gets very silly with it. Lilly just eats it as if it were food. I put a little pile and she eats it until Gigi rolls in the middle of it. I then have to make it into a little pile again and Lilly carries on eating it. Molly is only a bit of a nip head, so far anyway.

    I like your picture of Jasper – very funny 🙂

    • Do you think that a cat’s reaction to catnip, which is dependent on the individual cat, is the same as cannabis? What I mean is that the reaction from the cat is dependent on the cat. There is a wide variation. I wonder what the cause of the variation is. Some people get nothing from cannabis. I have only tried it once about 40 years ago. It did nothing. I have several pages on catnip. This is one of them.

      This is another page with a video:

      http://pictures-of-cats.org/Dangers-of-Catnip-Fun-or-Facts.html

      • The first time people smoke cannabis they often don’t really feel it. I think you are right though – there must be a wide variation of reactions from cats because it acts on them mentally like a psychadelic rather than simply being an upper or a downer without much effect on receptors in the brain. It looks like cannabis generally because cats do as people do – which is act all silly and hallucinate a bit followed by getting lazy and lying around or snoozing it off. It’s just what I notice in cats I’ve seen on catnip.

        Having said that I don’t know much about it – I’ll read those other articles. I remember one you wrote more recently – a technical one.

        • My sister’s cat does not become aggressive, but he appears quite stoned after having catnip. He will sit still for a long time and his eyes appear dilated. He also stops meowing. Her cat meows all the time– he’s very vocal. But on the nip, he is quiet. I think all the meowing is him requesting catnip.

            • So you were basically running a drug house for stray cats out of your flat, Michael. I can just see them telling each other about it: “I know a guy. He’s got the real good stuff. Best nip I ever had. I was stoned off my ass, man! He didn’t even want anything in return for it. He just wants to sit and watch you get high. It’s great, dude! You gotta check it out!” Suddenly, there are fifteen meowing felines outside your front door.

  3. One of the references I checked said catnip has a similar effect to marijuana. But I’m like you are and have never seen anyone go crazy on it. They may get angry when they run out of it…

    His brother Sammy and sister Mandy do fine with the catnip. Jasper is the wild card. And this is very potent nip. It’s not like what you find retail in little bags. It’s very strong.

    • I am getting an image in my mind of a bunch of tom cats on a street corner with garbage bins in the background. They are counting dollar notes and smoking. A young cat comes up to them and buys some “catnip” and shuffles of into the darkness…..

        • lol you’re on Elisa when I feel a bit better, got a really bad head cold right now!
          Walter and Jozef are very sensible about their catnip, they say moderation in all things is best, but we once had a ginger cat called Felix who made himself ill through eating a catnip plant, he ate the leaves of a whole plant in one sitting and made himself high and his throat bad!
          We had to dig up the other plants because he was eyeing them up to start on next lol
          We’ve none growing right now as we put them out in the garden not expecting a late frost but it happened. There was only a few leaves left and the boyz finished them off and keep looking at the stalks so we’ve some new ones coming.

  4. Yes, absolutely! My Hannibal acts like a nasty drunk. LOL And then he keeps rolling until he has a big matt! Which we then have to get out, which he hates! 🙂

    • lol I had to laugh at your Hannibal acting like a nasty drunk, I can just imagine it.
      I love his name too 🙂

  5. Apparently when catnip is administered to cats internally it tranquillises the cat. Taken externally it can be an “upper”. We don’t understand the reason.

    Young cats don’t trip on catnip. A reaction takes place when the cat is 3+ months old. Amongst adult cats about half of cats get high on catnip. The other half don’t. The genetic makeup of the cat dictates the different reaction.

    Source: Cat Watching by Dr. Morris.

  6. Ok, help please!! I have a kitten (8 weeks) I’ve had him since 3 weeks when his mom was no longer able to nurse him (mastitis) he is VERY agressive. I’ve bottle fed many and never had one like this. Today I decided to take away all catnip toys and see if it helps. Any other ideas? I’m considering finding him another home 🙁 I don’t want to but can’t have a mean cat around the grand kids.

    • In my opinion the aggression he is exhibiting towards you is play aggression. He goes too far. Kittens who are raised together until being weaned at say about 10 weeks play aggressively and learn to use their teeth and claws in way that is acceptable to other cats. It appears that your cat has not learned that because he was taken from his normal learning environment. I am not sure what you can do next. He needs to be taught how to play. I guess you will have to pretend you are a kitten and complain when he goes too far. The method of complaint should be exactly like the one used by a kitten when playing. Don’t forget playing is play/hunting. It can be aggressive. I have a nice video of Savannah kittens (F1 and F2) playing rough on this page – second video down. The F1 plays too hard and the F2 complains by making lots of noise. That may be the answer 😉 Good luck though. Tough problem.

  7. I have two kittens reaching one year old and they love catnip. They both will eat it and the one will eventually roll in it. They get playful after and often run around the house. One of them gets aggressive in the sense that if you try and take the cat nip away he’ll try and bite your hand, but once all the catnip is away from him he’s fine.

    Also, I gave my parents cats who are eight years old a cat nip toy awhile back and they loved it. However it made the one kind of aggressive, he hissed and fought the other cat when it tried to take away the toy. We hid the toy in the washer since they were fighting over it and the one was even trying to get in the washer! They eventually ripped open the toy and got catnip everywhere so my mom said no more catnip!

  8. My cat,Shadow who is 4 mos. got very mean and aggressive towards Stormy, his girlfriend. And even bit me when I trued to intervene. He eventually had to be put out in the livingroom.He made his way back upstairs, and when I woke up, I found her sleeping on one of my bedroom door. Him sleeping on the other. Holding paws under the door. He was fine after that. No more nip!!!

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