Ferrets and Catnip – Are They A Good Match?

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a plant from Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East that is widely known to get cats “high”. More specifically, it makes them roll around and become more hyperactive, which many people consider this as cats getting high. We will explore below on the effect that catnip has on ferrets.

Catnip (source)

Some cats absolutely love it, while others are completely indifferent to this plant. This is believed to be because of hereditary reaction, which means a kitten will most likely be indifferent to catnip if their mom was as well, and the other way around.

In this article, we’ll talk about what can this plant do for ferrets and cats, and whether or not it’s OK to give your furry pet catnip.

Can I give my ferret catnip? Does it make them high?

Ferrets can definitely have a bit of catnip from time to time. But until you take into consideration how the ferret will react to “getting high”, you need to think about how the ferret’s body will accept this plant. As you probably know, ferrets can’t digest plant-based foods, and eating catnip can cause an upset tummy for ferrets that don’t have a stable and healthy diet yet.

If your ferret is completely healthy and eats very well, you should be able to give it catnip without any problems. But now you should keep in mind that most ferrets actually can’t stand this plant simply because they don’t like the taste of it.

Catnip is known to have an individual effect on each ferret. Some ferrets might react exactly like cats to catnip. This means getting hyperactive, start rolling around and make all sorts of funny jumps. And the effect is also known to last a bit longer. But you should always be in the same room as the ferret and keep an eye on it until the effects are gone.

You should only give a bit of catnip to a ferret at a time. Otherwise, if they all act badly to catnip at the same time, you can end up with a circus in the house. Bad reactions include seizures and getting quite aggressive to other ferrets and animals in the house. Most ferret owners avoid catnip just to be sure.

What is catnip, and what does it do for cats?

Catnip flowers
Catnip flowers (source)

Catnip is a perennial herb and is part of the mint family Lamiaceae. It got its popular name because of the effect it seems to have on about 75% of the cats. It’s also known as Catswort, Catwort, and Catmint. This plant can come in various forms, but its most popular form is as dried and chopped very well.

This plant has an active ingredient name nepetalactone, which is an essential oil that is capable of altering the behavior of domestic cats. It also works on various wild feline specimens. While most cats will respond to this oil, small kittens are actually immune to it until they get older.

The most popular response to Catnip is body rubbing, cheek and chin rubbing, head shaking, licking, chewing, sniffing, etc. Since the body rolling is similar to oestrous patterns, it was believed to be an aphrodisiac but it’s highly unlikely.

Cats can also respond by stretching more than usual, drooling, jumping around, hyperactivity, and even aggression (but is rare in cats). This “high” can last between 5 to 10 minutes. And you don’t have to worry about your cat overdosing on it, as the cat will always refuse it once it feels it had enough. As it’s plant-based, head, and cats are big meat eaters, eating too much Catnip can cause digestive problems.

Duration of effects for ferrets

The ferrets that will like the effects of catnip will get to enjoy it for much longer than cats. While for cats it lasts up to 10 minutes, for ferrets it lasts for a few hours. This means that you should take the day off before trying catnip on your ferrets. You need to be present in the same room as them when the effects start to kick in.

If the ferret reacts aggressively to the plant, you should try to calm it down as much as possible and isolate it from other pets until everything is over.

You should keep in mind that ferrets are not extremely popular as pets, which means there haven’t been a tremendous amount of tests done to know exactly how they react in various situations. This is why it’s best to avoid giving your ferrets Catnip.