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Catnip for Cats...and Dogs??

mai co Catnip for Cats Dogs

Many of us that are cat lovers have interesting stories to tell of our cats behaviour in the 'presence' of catnip. And many of us think that that is where the story of catnip and its uses begins and ends. However, if we take a closer look at this member of the mint family, we will discover that like most herbs, it can benefit all members of the family...including the dogs!

By Andrea Liddell - Mai Co.

mai co Catnip for Cats Dogs hermanus 2 mai co Catnip for Cats Dogs hermanus

Selling dried catnip at the market..well let me rephrase that...selling Macka's Dried Catnip (pronounced Much-ka, meaning cat in Croatian) at the market brings cat lovers from near and far, sharing their stories about how they tried to grow some in their garden...but their Masters (the feline kind) devoured it before it even reached the ground. Some rolled in it to the point where it was as flat as a sheet of paper. Never to have the shoots reaching for the sky again! I have even had a few amusing stories of cats becoming quite intoxicated and even ditsy after a few rounds of catnip leaves!
But do you know that 20% of our feline masters do not experience any euphoric response to catnip at all. In fact Macka himself eats it as though he were eating parsley. He does however get VERY 'anxious' when he sees me approaching his bushes with a pair of clippers in hand...but from the catnip itself...nothing.
Mai, my late Siamese who reached the young age of 20 years, never enjoyed catnip at all. In fact, she would gag at the smell of it. So it can happen!

In general though - Catnip is good for the nervous and digestive systems. Known to be a gentle gas reliever, anti-spasmodic for easing flatulence and upset tummies, as well as a mild sedative helping to calm nerves and promote restful sleep.

If you have a pet that is highly strung with a nervous stomach, especially if the episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea are set off by stressful events such as lightning, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, walking into crowded buildings, having neighbours and their screaming children over for dinner, or worse yet, introducing a new pet into the family - catnip is your solution.
Administering 12 - 20 drops of a vegetable based glycerine catnip tincture for every 10kg of the animals body weight, 10-20 min prior to the stressful event/situation, will make a world of difference! If your pet doesn't respond, try adding 6 drops at a time until the desired calming effect is evident.
Circumstances in which the animals anxiety is causing him/her to hiss, scratch, bite or make other demonstrations of potential violence, as does or two of catnip or lemon balm may help to normalise the attitude and diffuse the situation.
Situations in which nervousness is causing an upset stomach - catnip, Valerian, chamomile or a combination of the three may help induce relaxation, and reduce vomiting.
Rescue remedy will be an excellent addition to these herbs to calm and ease these stressful circumstances.

Another situation where catnip can be extremely useful, and this strikes quite close to home, is travel sickness. Our Alsation Puppy Luka, suffered from motion sickness when travelling in a car, and would always try to get as close to the window as possible to get as much wind on his face as he could. As someone who suffers from motion sickness myself, I know that cool, windy air on your face does help!
Motion sickness is quite common in cats who seldom take car rides, and puppies and young animals where the inner ear is still developing until they reach their adolescent years. Meaning their equilibrium is particularly sensitive to motion.
Animals who are frightened or hyperactive during car rides may develop nervousness, causing stomach upsets, dizziness or hyperventilation, eventually resulting in vomiting.
The good news though is that it often becomes less of a problem as the animal gets older. It is important to help your companions see car rides as 'fun' from a very early age by playing with them at the destination, thereby replacing fear, anxiety and confusion with the anticipation of a good time.
The thrill of another adventure!
Unfortunately though, some animals never get over motion sickness.
Catnip, a pinch of ginger, fennel or dill, are all herbs which can be used to relieve an upset tummy that may lead to vomiting.
Again consider giving Rescue Remedy in combination with these herbs to just bring a calm relaxed feeling, easing nerves and allowing the car ride to be a more enjoyable experience.

Colic is a generic term for any condition causing pain, inflammation and discomfort in the colon. Commonly caused by trapped gas (flatulence) leading to abdominal distention and irritability. It can be as a result of numerous factors such as something your pet ingested, bacteria, fungal infections, parasites, liver and gall bladder functioning deficiencies, ulcers, tumors or injuries to the digestive tract. It is very important to find the root cause of the problem, especially in chronic or recurring cases. It is something that can be potentially very serious and even life threatening, especially in horses. So it needs to be taken very seriously and swift action is needed.
Until you have found the answer, it is possible to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of colic by first helping to eliminate excess gas, and reduce pain and spasms in the colon.
Catnip, along with herbs like chamomile, fennel, dill and peppermint are all good choices for this.

Catnip is a safe herb, but use it sparingly in pregnant animals as the volatile oils it contains may be passed on to the foetus.

** Catnip has quite a sedatory effect on humans. A herbal tea will also bring relief to sore throats, colds, bronchitis, asthma and spasms, therefore helping with painful menstruation and stomach/intestinal cramps. When given to small babies and children, catnip tea can help ease the restlessness of colic. An infusion or decoction can offer some relief of tension headaches and can also help those who struggle to sleep.
Fresh catnip leaves make a wonderful addition to salads.
It can also be recommended as an insect repellent against mosquitos and ants.


Herbs for Pets - 2nd Edition, Gregory I tilford, Mary L Wulff
The complete Encyclopaedia of Herbs, Nico Vermeulen.

To find out more about Mai Co and their range for pets (and humans!) please click here.