Catnip is a plant in the mint family that is known for its ability to cause a reaction in cats when they inhale its scent.
A cat’s typical reaction to catnip is usually characterized by a state of excitement and playfulness, and can last for a few minutes to an hour. My old Bengal, Kala, was like this – catnip toys or exposure to catnip in general would drive her crazy with a kitten-like playfulness.
Some cats may also exhibit a state of relaxation when exposed to catnip.
The plant’s active ingredient, nepetalactone, is found in the leaves and stems of the plant and is responsible for its effects on cats.
Bengal cats are no different, and it’s not uncommon to find that your Bengal cat is highly interested in (and seems to enjoy) catnip. There is nothing in the genetic makeup of the Bengal cat that prevents them from being interested in catnip and taking a liking to it.
Not all cats are the same – and there are definitely many cats out there that don’t care much for catnip – but in general Bengal cats do like catnip. Considering that catnip toys are affordable and it is safe for your cat, you could at least consider “experimenting” with catnip to see how your Bengal responds.
But why do cats like catnip so much?
The reason has to do with the way that nepetalactone affects the feline brain.
When a cat smells catnip, the chemical binds to receptors in the nose, which then sends a signal to the brain. This signal causes the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and reward. In other words, cats experience a sense of pleasure when they smell catnip, which is why they are drawn to it. The more you know, right?
Not all cats are affected by catnip, however (and as mentioned above). If you haven’t tested catnip products on your cat yet, there is every possibility that they are not that interested in it and don’t react the way you might have intended.
It is thought that the sensitivity to the plant is genetic, and it is estimated that about two-thirds of cats are affected by it. Kittens are also less likely to be affected by catnip until they are about three months old.
In addition to causing a state of excitement and playfulness, catnip can also have a relaxing effect on some cats. When consumed, the plant can have a sedative effect, which can help to calm anxious or stressed cats. This makes it a useful tool for cat owners who want to help their feline companions relax in stressful situations, such as during fireworks or thunderstorms. You’ll need to test first how your cat responds to catnip (if he/she responds at all) before depending on it as a tool to induce relaxation in your Bengal – a bit like people who take medication to help them relax or sleep on a flight need to test it first before getting on the plane and finding out it has the opposite-to-intended effect!
Catnip is non-addictive and is safe for cats to consume in small amounts. However, it is important to keep in mind that too much catnip can cause a cat to become overstimulated, leading to excessive meowing, salivating, and agitation. It is best to use catnip in moderation and to supervise your cat when they are exposed to it.
In conclusion, cats like catnip because it causes a reaction in the brain that leads to a sense of pleasure and reward. Bengal cats aren’t any exception to this rule, and many Bengals do like catnip.
While not all cats are affected by the plant, those that are can experience a state of excitement and playfulness, as well as a sense of relaxation.
As long as it is used in moderation, catnip can be a useful and safe tool for providing your feline companion with some added enjoyment or assisting in helping them to relax.