Is Cat Mint the same as Catnip?

Question:

I got some "cat mint" from a swap last year. Is this the same as cat nip? It certainly looks like it's in the mint family.

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Chuck R. from Grand Rapids, MI

Answer:

Chuck,

Catnip and Catmint are not the same (although the two are often lumped together) but you're right, Catmint (Nepeta mussinii) is related to Catnip (Nepeta cataria). Botanically, both are in the genus Nepeta. To make things even more confusing, there is also Lesser Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta) a subspecies of catnip and several other varieties and hybrids in the Nepeta genus.

Many cats are attracted to both plants, but their response tends to be more intense to Catnip. The chemical responsible for their crazy behavior is called nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves, stems and flowers. The amount of this chemical found in each plant varies a bit by species. It seems that catnip has larger amounts of it and so attracts more felines. Incidentally, all members of the cat family (Felidae) are supposed to be attracted to it, so take care when giving it to lions and tigers. As for telling the two plants apart, Catnip generally has a taller, more upright growing habit, and Catmint tends to mound and has more pronounced purple/pink flowers.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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January 15, 20070 found this helpful

Cat Mint and catnip are the same, I believe. It IS in the mint family, so plant it where it can be contained, as with ALL mints, as it is INVASIVE. I am in zone 7b, so the hardiness may differ. It is the devil(mint) to eradicate once established and spreading. Recommend a self- enclosed bed as along a driveway, or a pot.

Robin in Texas

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January 16, 20070 found this helpful

An easy way to tell if something is in the mint family is by the shape of the stem. All mint family plants have "square" stems which you can easily feel with your finger tips.

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January 25, 20070 found this helpful

It's the equivilent to Marijuana for cats. They actually can get addicted quickly and become viscious when they don't get it when they want it, which gets more and more frequent. This is a fact most folks just don't know. Mint family or not, it's not a good thing for a cat or any pet, in my opinion. Stores that sell it just want big profits at the pet's expense, because it's so cheap/easy to grow in large amounts. It would be purposefully addicting an innocent animal

who depends upon it's owner to take good care of it

and protect it. I know you'll do the right thing. God

bless you. : )

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July 26, 20160 found this helpful

I've had 5 cats in my lifetime (I'm past the 1/2 century mark) and couldn't disagree more. Four of of our five felines enjoyed catnip wholeheartedly. One was never attracted to it. We have used it as a training aid (rub it on kitty's scratch post to make it more appealing than the furniture, for example). It can provide exercise for an indoor cat that may not otherwise have the same stimuli as an outdoor cat. From http://pets.webmd.com "Fortunately for kitty, catnip - which is non-addictive and safe to eat - is easy to grow in a sunny window". We've grown catnip in planters for years and enjoy giving it to our cats who enjoy it. Our veterinarians have all agreed catnip can be a very healthy addition to a house cat's life. If you have a kitty whose behavior becomes too aggressive with catnip use, maybe think twice about giving it to that particular pet. We had one cat who lived to be 20 years old who enjoyed catnip on occasion up till "the end". She'd munch on a leaf or two and then promptly mellow out and relax. So, I say let your cat enjoy this NON-ADDICTIVE treat on occasion!!! It's good for them. If in doubt ask your vet!!

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January 25, 20071 found this helpful

I had catmint for years at my old house and I just loved it. My cat never went near it, she liked to lay amongst the daisies and catch grasshoppers!

The catmint that I had was "nepita" something, something. It had lovely purple flowers in the spring and they would last a very long time. But, like Robin said, it is invasive. It will take over your garden. I had catmint babies sprout up everywhere....I gave neighbors plants, I took little pots of catmint to plant exchanges, I placed pots of catmint at the road with a free sign, I even just yanked the little buggers and threw them out in the neighbors field, where they took root and started to grow! I would suggest to plant it far away from the rest of your garden, in an area that nothing else will grow, and let it have a life of its own.

It is also very hardy. I used a lawn mower to cut it down and it grew right back strong and healthy the next spring.

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