4 Key Differences Between Catnip and CBD Oil for Cats

4 Key Differences Between Catnip and CBD Oil for Cats

Wondering about how catnip and CBD oil for cats are different? Here are the four primary things to keep in mind.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to ways to spoil your kitty and improve their life. Two of the more popular options for cat owners these days are CBD oil for cats and catnip.

Catnip has been around for a while, but CBD for pets is fairly new, and that leaves cat owners with a lot of questions. How are these substances different? Are they safe for cats? How will catnip and CBD impact my cat? Here’s our guide to the four key differences between these two kitty care items.

  1. Catnip and CBD Oil Are Different Substances

Both catnip and CBD can come in an oil form, and they are both plant-derived, but the similarities stop there. Let’s break down how these substances are made and what they actually are.

Catnip Is an Herb

Catnip is an herb in the mint family and it grows naturally in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The fresh plant, as well as dehydrated parts of it, contains an essential oil called nepetalactone. This is the active ingredient in catnip that impacts your cat.

Cat owners usually give catnip to their cats in its dehydrated form. There are also sprays and catnip oils.

CBD for Cats Is Also Made from a Plant

High-quality CBD for cats is a cannabinoid derived from the hemp plant that, once extracted, is added to a carrier oil like MCT oil. The hemp plant is from the cannabis family, and it includes a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes in addition to CBD.

CBD oil for cats can be given directly to your pet or drizzled on their food. It can also be added to a variety of different products, such as cat treats. It’s very important that you use hemp-derived CBD for cats that comes from the US, which will help ensure it will not contain more than 0.3 percent THC (so it won’t get your cat high).

Someone holding a dropper full of CBD oil in front of their cat

  1. CBD for Cats and Catnip Affect Your Cat Differently

Another important way that CBD oil for cats and catnip differ is in the way they impact your cat and their possible side effects. These substances trigger different parts of your pet’s body:

  • Catnip impacts your cat’s brain and hormones
  • CBD is processed by your cat’s endocannabinoid system

Catnip Is Processed by Your Pet’s Brain

Nepetalactone, the active part of catnip, is received by the olfactory receptors in your cat’s nose and mouth. (This is why you might notice your cat rolling in or rubbing on catnip – they do not need to ingest it to experience its effects.)

These receptors then stimulate the olfactory bulb, which sends information throughout your cat’s brain. This includes triggering the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that controls your cat’s emotions. This is why some cats experience excitement, while others experience calm and relaxation when they interact with catnip.

Additionally, catnip stimulates your feline’s pituitary gland, which creates a hormonal response in cats. The hormones and the neurological impacts create the behaviors common during catnip highs, like rolling, jumping, and vocalizing.

CBD Oil for Cats Is Processed by Your Pet’s ECS

When your cat consumes CBD oil or other CBD products, the substance is processed by their endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This system is made up of receptors and enzymes that interpret the CBD and manifest its benefits in your cat’s body. This, in turn, affects your cat’s mood, nervous system, GI tract, and other bodily processes.

This is why the impacts and benefits of CBD oil for cats are more far-reaching and significant than that of catnip. This is also why cat owners have to be more specific about how much CBD they give to their cat and the consistency of the routine.

  1. CBD Oil for Cats and Catnip Are Used Differently

Another key difference between these substances is how they are used and administered to your cat safely:

  • Daily CBD can generate wellness benefits for your cat
  • Catnip’s impacts are short-lived

CBD Generates Wellness Benefits When Used Daily

CBD oil for cats, when used as part of a well-rounded routine, can support your cat’s overall wellness. With a regular CBD regimen in which your cat is given the exact same amount of CBD each day, your cat can maintain freedom of movement and manage stress triggers effectively. Consistent amounts of CBD can support your cat’s daily contentment and general comfort.

The Effects of Catnip Typically Last 10 to 15 Minutes

Most cat owners treat catnip as more of a treat or toy than a wellness tool. The impacts and side effects of catnip will vary among different cats, with some experiencing a burst of silly energy and playfulness, while others seem more docile, relaxed, and generally agreeable after a roll in catnip. Because catnip triggers emotional responses in cats, it is possible – though unlikely – that your cat may demonstrate some increased aggression when they engage with the substance.

However your cat reacts to catnip, the behavior changes will only last about 10 to 15 minutes. After this, your cat experiences a resistance to the nepetalactone that last between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

  1. The Amount Your Cat Needs Will Be Different for These Substances

One of the most important differences when it comes to catnip and CBD oil for cats is the amount given to your cat. While catnip doesn’t have a recommended serving, CBD does – and the amount of your cat’s daily CBD is very important to its function.

Catnip Should Be Given in Small Amounts

Your cat is very unlikely to overdose on catnip, though they can experience sickness if they ingest too much of it. Since most cats won’t even eat catnip – just roll in it and smell it – this outcome isn’t much of a concern.

That said, catnip should still be administered in small amounts. Let your cat communicate with you about when they’re done with the catnip. As noted above, there will be a period of “immunity” to catnip’s effects for about 30 minutes to two hours immediately after interacting with the substance. It’s safe to give catnip to your cat more than once in a day.

Your Cat’s Appropriate Daily Amount of CBD Will Depend on Their Size

The amount of CBD given to your cat is much more crucial to their experience than with catnip. You need to decide on a daily amount of CBD for your cat – depending on their individual needs, physiology, and weight – then use that same amount every day for a minimum of 30 days. Using too much CBD may cause your cat to experience lethargy and drowsiness while using too little will prevent them from experiencing the full benefits of this wellness resource.

paw cbd salmon kidney support chews 150 mg container with a cat behind it touching it all on a blanket

You can break down your cat’s daily CBD into a number of different applications throughout the day if you so choose. As long as the total milligrams of CBD given to your cat daily stays the same, you can apply it with an oil drizzled over their breakfast kibble and a CBD Kidney Support Chew at night.

Both CBD for Cats and Catnip Are Considered Safe for Your Feline Friend

There are crucial differences between catnip and CBD oil for cats that every cat owner should know. These substances have very different impacts on a cat and are processed by different parts of their body, but both are completely safe for use. It’s important to follow guidelines and, of course, consult your veterinarian before giving your cat anything new – including CBD and catnip.