How to dry catnip?

Catnip Drying Tips: Can You Dry Catnip Herb For Later Use

Whether your pet is a dog or cat, even a pig or a ferret, all pet lovers try to provide them their favorite foods, snacks and treats. Among favorites for the kitties is catnip. While many cats love this herb, some don’t like it fresh, preferring it be dried. If you’re a cat lover whose looking for a new experience for your feline, think of drying catnip leaves.

About Catnip Drying

A member of the mint family, catnip grows readily when located in its happy, full sun location. As with all herbs, leaves are smaller when dried, so let leaves get to a mature size before drying. If your cat is one of those that does not care for fresh catnip, you can dry leaves early in the growing season to experiment whether your kitty likes dry catnip herb.

If not, catnip drying provides an ingredient for a healing tea. Steep catnip alone or with other herbs for a mixture said to ease headaches, anxiety, and nervousness. With a multitude of uses, you might want to plant a bigger catnip patch in your herb garden. Learning how to dry catnip ensures you have it whatever time of year it is needed.

How to Dry Catnip Plants

When your catnip plants have reached the optimum size, you can begin to harvest. Harvest before they bloom or cut blooms out as they develop. Depending on your location, there may be several harvests in your crop. Pruning the plant back encourages further growth in the right conditions.

Harvest the herb for catnip drying early in the day. This is when they’re most turgid and flavorful. Take a 4- to 6-inch stem cutting above a leaf. Bundle several stems together and hang them upside down in a warm spot. Place a plate underneath the hanging herbs to catch any leaves that might drop.

When leaves are crumbly, remove them from the stem and store in a tightly closed container or Ziploc bag. If you’ve just harvested a few leaves, dry them on a plate in the sun.

You may also dry catnip herb in the oven on low heat (200 degrees F. or 93 C.). This takes several hours to get them to appropriate dryness.

(Last Updated On: August 8, 2019)

Catnip is a plant that many of us have never heard before. This plant is also called catswort, catmint, and Nepeta cataria, and it’s a plant that’s been naturalized in New Zealand, North America, and Europe.

The plant is characterized with around 20-39 inches of height and its main blooming season is late spring and autumn. Catnip is used for a variety of reasons – cultivation, insect repellent, biological control, and even in medicine.In this article, we’re going to be talking about dried catnip or better said, methods of drying catnip.

Drying catnip is a great way of giving your cats this cat-pleasing treat. About 80% percent of domestic cats react to catnip and typical reactions include frisking, pawing, and rolling. All in all, it’s a great plant for your cat’s enjoyment and can be included from time to time.

Also Read: How to grow catnip indoors: Important Tips to Know

How to Dry Catnip in Oven

So, there are several ways of drying catnip, but we’ll start with drying catnip in the oven. This method is known to be one of the easiest methods, as you’ll only need an oven and a bit of time to get this right. Of course, the temperature should not be too high, as our goal is to just dry the plant and not destroy it by baking it completely.

Here are two methods of oven catnip drying:

The Expedited Method

The expedited method is very easy to use and it doesn’t require a lot of time to get it right. First, you’ll need to grab a catnip, pinch the leaves and flowers of the plant. After you do it, simply spread the leaves and flowers that you got onto a piece of screen.

Be sure to evenly spread them and not use too much catnip at a time. The temperature of the oven should go well below 150 degrees Celsius and you should stir the leaves from time to time. If you go over 150 degrees Celsius, you can easily scorch your catnip thus leaving it completely useless.

The Over-Night Method

Once again, the method is really simple. Get your catnip, remove the leaves and flowers from the stems, and then lay them on a paper towel. Once you laid them down, simply cover the leaves and flowers with a second paper towel and then get another layer of leaves and flower on it.

The process needs to be repeated up to 5 layers of leaves or 4 layers of paper towel. The difference is that you don’t need to turn on the oven, but turn on the light in the oven instead. This light produces enough heat for overnight drying. Remember not to turn on the oven for heating, as this would cause a fire.

How to Dry Out Catnip

Catnip’s been dried way before the electric oven was invented. That being said, drying out your catnip can be done the natural way, without using an oven, microwave, and any other tech stuff that you have. Drying out your catnip can be done in two ways:

Sun Drying

Drying your catnip using the sun is possible only if there’s enough sun. During the summertime, it’s very easy to do, but drying it in other seasons can be quite a complex thing to do. If there’s a lot of solar radiation at your location, here’s what to do. First, cut the stems and lay them on cookie sheets. Alternatively, you can use tin foil or bakery racks instead of cookie sheets.

After you’ve done it, simply leave the plant out in the sun. While this method doesn’t produce very dry catnip like other methods, cats still love it, which is very important. If you don’t want to use tin foil or any similar material, you can tie together 3 or 4 stems and leave them hanging on the sunny window. This method is a bit slower but produces the same effect.

Air Drying

This method includes leaving your catnip to air dry in a dark spot. Stems should not be cut. Instead, you’ll need 3 or 4 stems which you need to place in a paper bag and put them at the bag opening.

It’s recommended that you pierce a couple of holes at the sides to let more air in. Close the top of the bag and hang them in a dark spot. The spot should still be warm and especially dry. If you’re not in a hurry, then air drying is a decent method simply because the duration of the process is determined by your climate conditions. It may last several days, but also for several weeks.

Still, it’s one of the best natural ways to dry catnip. The best dry catnip is produced via natural drying.

How to Dry Fresh Catnip

Fresh catnip is excellent when you want to keep it as a plant for decoration. Its green leaves in conjunction with other decorative plants can really make your room or a terrace prettier.

But, if you want to give it to your cats, you should forget about it. Fresh catnip isn’t as attractive as dry catnip for cats. That’s why we’re going to mention the two most popular methods of drying fresh catnip:

Microwave Drying

If you want a fast and easy way of drying catnip, this is the one to go for. Before you put your microwave into work, be sure to trim your catnip, but not completely. Some leaves on the plant will make it grow again, so you can use it again if you need it. Next, put the leaves into a microwave-safe container, cover it and let the microwave work its job.

Sometimes, two minutes aren’t enough so you’ll need to give it another minute or two, but two minutes is almost always going to make your catnip dry. Don’t worry if your house starts to smell of catnip, as this smell lasts only about half an hour. And it’s not that bad… or is it?

Drying in a Dark Space

Buy some catnip or use the one that grows in your garden. Preferably, you’ll want to get some wild catnip since it’s not treated with chemicals and other substances that can harm your cat.

Use your scissors to cut the stalks of catnip, but also be sure to cut more than you need. Remember that during the drying process, excessive water evaporates thus making the plant shrink.

Secure your cut catnip with a heavy thread and leave it hanging upside down in the dark area.

Minimize the amount of light in the room or linen closet by closing the doors and windows, if there are some.

Exposing your catnip to light will cause it to lose potency and even lose the desired effect. Excessive lights will ’kill’ the substances in catnip that are responsible for the effect on your cat.

How to Dry Catnip in the Microwave

Drying your catnip in the microwave is as easy as a walk in the park. If you are in a hurry and want to do it the quick way, your microwave can be of great help. You’ll need to remove the leaves and flowers from the stems and place them on the paper towel. The paper towel is excellent because it’s safe for your microwave and won’t produce unwanted effects.

The leaves and flowers should then be covered with another layer of paper towel and microwaved for 1 or 2 minutes on high.

If they’re not dry enough, leave them for another minute and check again. Repeat this process until all the leaves are completely dry. Be sure not to crank up your microwave, as you don’t want to scorch them.

Dehydrator Drying

If you don’t own a microwave, you can use a dehydrator, which works in a similar way. Pre-heat your dehydrator to the temperature of 95-115 degrees Fahrenheit. When you get the desired temperature, put the leaves inside, but don’t use any kind of container. Instead, just get the leaves inside every dehydrator tray.

This method is still on the faster side, but the duration depends on the humidity of catnip. It can take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours.


The main thing for every one of the above mentioned methods is that every method works. Your catnip will be completely dried, whichever method you choose, but the quality of the dried catnip depends on the catnip itself and the method you’ve used. The sun drying is a completely natural method but, as we mentioned before, the quality of the dried catnip sometimes isn’t on par with the other methods.

Remember that only the completely dried catnip is ready to be stored and used for your cats. If you dried your catnip with stems, you’ll need to get rid of them by removing flowers and leaves. Dried catnip needs to be stored in a air-tight container where weather conditions can’t influence the quality.

Your dried catnip will keep the quality for 2 years if you keep it in a dry and dark spot. A freezer is also a great option for storing your dried catnip

Reward your cat with a special treat! At a small cost, you can grow your own catnip, with enough to supply the whole neighborhood, make a home-made scratch post so your cat doesn’t claw your furniture, and make cat toys out of things you already have in your house.

How To Grow Your Own Catnip

  • Start with seeds. You can usually get a packet for a couple of dollars from a local nursery or home supply store or from a mail-order seed company.
  • Plant outside.
  • Sow the seeds in rows 18 inches apart in a garden or in one row down the middle of a flower box at least 16 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
  • Plant in well worked soil and in an area that receives moderate to strong sun. The seeds are fine, like basil seeds, so you might want to mix them with sand for sowing.
  • Mulch. The plants prefer rich soil as long as it’s mulched with hay, dried lawn clippings, straw, or cocoa hulls.
  • Harvest. Catnip grows quickly and can reach a few feet high in a few months.
  • When the plant reaches at least 18 inches high and has thumb-size leaves, but before it turns yellow, strip the leaves or cut the entire stalks.
  • Dry. Tie the stalks together and hang them upside down in the shade for a couple of days. Or lay the leaves on old newspaper in the shade.
  • Play. Bring a stalk out for the cats to rub against or roll on. Or crumble dried leaves and/or stems and tie them into four-inch squares of material using cotton string or thread. The cats will bat them, bite them, and possibly eat the contents.

How to Make Your Own Scratch Post

  • Start with a log (complete with bark) about three feet high and a base about two feet square.
  • Cover the bottom of the base with felt to prevent it from scratching the floor, then nail the end of the log into the base.
  • You can screw a strong spring into the top of the log and attach a bit of fluff to the end of the string as a play-toy.
  • Alternatively, instead of a log, use a pyramid-shaped block of wood and cover it with burlap, which can be applied with staple gun or carpet glue.

Other Easy Kitten Toys

  • Pour catnip into an old sock and knot it.
  • A feather from a crafts store (don’t substitute a stray in the yard; it may not be sanitary.)
  • A finger-width stick from the yard with a piece of string tied to the end.
  • A dried sea oat.
  • A drinking straw.
  • Paper grocery bag.
  • Ping Pong Ball.
  • Shine a flash-light and watch them chase the beam.

What You Need for Your Homemade Catnip Spray

1. Dry or Fresh Catnip*
2. Fresh, clean water
3. Tea Infuser or Coffee Filter with a Bit of String
4. Cheesecloth (optional)
5. Spray Bottles

How to Make Homemade Catnip Spray

  • Put your water on for boiling – either with a tea kettle or a plain ol’ pot. Begin with about one cup, and be sure to continue boiling for at least three minutes after it starts rolling, just to ensure the water is clean and healthy.
  • Measure out your catnip. Some homemade catnip spray enthusiasts swear by 1/4th cup of dried herb; however, if this is your first time using it, I would start with just a pinch. You can always up the dose later.
  • Load your infuser with your desired amount of catnip. If you only have coffee filters on
    hand, never fear! Just pour your catnip in the center of the filter, give it a bit of a twist, then tie it off with string or thread.
  • Place your infuser or herbal sachet in a heat-safe measuring cup, then cover with your boiling water.
  • Let the infusion steep for a minimum of 15 minutes. Keep in mind, though, that even if you only used a pinch of the plant, the longer you let it sit, the stronger it will get – at least to a point. As a rule of thumb, steep the minimum 15 minutes, plus however long it takes to get to room temperature.
  • Strain your tea through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. This step is optional, and actually depends a lot on what sort of container you used. Sometimes pieces of catnip can break through and float freely in your tea, especially if you used a coffee filter and string. This isn’t necessarily harmful, but can clog up your sprayer’s nozzle.

So… if you’ve read some of my other articles, you know that catnip isn’t necessarily effective for every cat. There are, however, several alternatives, and you can read about them here. These herbs can actually be made into sprays using the exact same method – though, if you’re thinking of trying honeysuckle, be sure to use the bark and not the flowers or berries.

Now that you’ve made up your homemade catnip spray, you can go ahead and spritz it on
toys, scratchers, posts… really, anywhere you want to add a little zazz to your kitty’s life!

How to Make Catnip Tea

Catnip tea is traditionally believed to have a number of health benefits. It’s used as a home remedy to soothe anxiety, upper respiratory infections, and sinusitis. There is a chemical within catnip called nepatalactone—similar to valepotriates found in the herbal sedative valerian. This is considered to act as a muscle relaxant and lends to catnip tea also being used to relieve symptoms of headaches and a number of stomach complaints, and insomnia. Like many herbs, catnip is also an effective insect repellent.

Making catnip tea is only one way to get the benefits of this tasty herb—but it is a useful and easy one. Follow the steps below to make catnip tea.

Step 1 – Prepare Catnip

Catnip tea can be made from fresh catnip or dried catnip. Home grown, organic catnip is the best option, though there are places where you can buy dried catnip for your tea. If grown at home, be sure to avoid spraying chemicals on your plant.

  • To dry catnip, cut stems from your plant and hang them in bunches in a cool, dark area.
  • When the leaves are fully dried, separate them from the stems and crumple them into a bag.
  • Dispose of the stems.
  • Seal the bag and store it in a cool, dark place.
  • Fresh catnip leaves can be used whole to make tea, or cut to release more of the oils into the water.

Step 2 – Mix Tea

Place 3 teaspoons of fresh catnip or 1 teaspoon of dried catnip in a mug. Take the water off the heat and add it only after it has stopped boiling. Boiling water is believed to destroy some of the positive effects of catnip.

Step 3 – Let Steep

How long you should let catnip tea steep varies depending on who you ask. Steep longer if you are trying to get the most out of your catnip, shorter if you are just after the flavor. Steeping time should range between 5 to 20 minutes.

Step 4 – Add Flavors

You can add other herbs to your catnip tea, such as other mint varieties or lemon grass. Also, you can add honey, sugar, or lemon juice. Just add a bit to make the flavor to fit your tastes.

Alternate Ways to Drink Catnip Tea

If hot liquids are not appealing to you, try making your tea double strength then putting it over ice. You can place cool tea in an ice cube tray or popsicle mold and place it in the freezer. Catnip tea is safe for children and babies, and frozen is a great way to feed it to them.

Alternate Ways to Use Catnip Tea

Catnip is good for soothing irritation, outside as well as within. Some people create a compress from catnip and apply it directly to the skin for swelling ailments and hemorrhoids. It can be used as an eye wash for allergy irritation, red eyes caused by hangovers, and as a scalp rinse for irritated scalps.

Other Ways to Eat Catnip

Catnip can be used as a flavoring for various foods. Try cutting up leaves and adding them to your salads. Also, you can sprinkle dried leaves into soups or over meats.

Warning: These health statements haven’t been evaluated by the FDA.

Does your Cat go crazy for Catnip? Many do and it is beautiful to watch them rolling around in such a euphoric state.

So what is Catnip and why do Cats love it? We were fortunate to come across the following explanation from Rach of Catnipsum. According to studies one in 2 cats are affected by Catnip.

via Catnipsum

What Is Catnip And How Does It Work?

We were also surprised to find that there are some 250 different varieties of Catnip. You can plant Catnip seeds in your garden and we have even seen Catnip Spray available for sale online.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb. It is a member of the mint family and can grow as high as 3 feet.

Nepetalactone is the chemical that affects the cats. It is found in the leaves and stems. It acts as a stimulant when sniffed by a cat, producing a “high” and the effects last for about 10 minutes.

If your Cat is one of the 50% affected by Catnip it may start rolling around and acting hyperactive. It is also apparently known to help humans and has been used for its sedative properties. If cats have too much of it, the effects may wear off as they get used to it. This is something that should be a bit of a treat, not a regular thing.

Catnip Biscuits Recipe Video

We found an awesome Catnip Biscuits video from Buzzfeed Tasty. It is short and shiny and shows you exactly how to make your own at home. Click Play above to watch now ^

Catnip Biscuits Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 ounces of tuna, in water (drained) and no salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons catnip

Catnip Biscuits Recipe Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C.

Combine oat flour, tuna, egg, olive oil, and catnip in a food processor and blend until it forms a crumb-like dough.

Transfer dough into a bowl and hand roll into small biscuits.

Place each biscuit onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Store leftover biscuits in the fridge for up to 2-3 days or 1-2 months in the freezer.

Now that you know how to make your own Catnip Biscuits, you’ll need somewhere to store them. We love this super cute idea of these Cat Treat Jar Cozies.

You can get them made up to look like your own Cat. You can check them out on Etsy here.

Tractor Supply Co have created their own version of the Catnip Biscuits Recipe. You can get your supplies here.

Want More?

  • Your Cats Behavior Decoded

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Spoil Kitty With Home-Grown Catnip

Although approximately 1/3 of cats couldn’t care less about catnip, the rest flip for it. And drool. And race around! Why do they love it so much?

Happy Kitty

This plant produces Nepetalactone oil and that acts something like an aphrodisiac for cats. Is it harmful to them? Experts say no (pdf), there are no short term or long term ill effects on them.

It’s great for those that are a little too laid back (ummm, lazy). They get a good workout and a little exercise with their happy time. If your little friend is really old or has health problems, it’s probably not a good idea to give it to her since she will get excited and hyper.

Catnip is a 50-100 cm tall herb resembling mint in appearance, with greyish-green leaves; the flowers are white, finely spotted with purple. Source: Wikipedia

Fresh leaves provide the most pleasure. Pull off a leaf or two and roughly crumple and rub the leaf a bit to release the natural chemical before giving it to kitty. If she responds to it, she’ll roll around in it, do a couple flips, maybe even drool a bit.

This plant is from the mint family and it is very easy to grow. You can try it outdoors or keep it as a houseplant. Be careful to position in a location that a cat can’t get at–they will destroy, shred and strip the entire plant if they get their little paws on it!

  • The best luck I’ve had with it is in a hanging basket, then hanging it off a tree branch at the very end. Strong enough to hold the pot if it’s windy out, yet out of reach of climbing critters.
  • If you live in an apartment but have a balcony, see if you can’t have a hanger bracket off the outside wall to hang the pot on. You could also try a high stool or tall legged plant holder with nothing around it for sly critters to crawl up on and tear into it. Make sure it’s very sturdy–cats are smart and they’ll bulldoze the legs out from underneath if they realize they can flip it over!
  • As the plant grows, pinch the the new leaves frequently so that it bushes out, it will produce a lot more that way.
  • The downside of growing it outside is neighborhood animals. I don’t get armies of them milling about, but I did have a nightly visitor or two trying their best to get at the plant.
  • If you decide to try it indoors, you will need to choose a place that gets some sun–but protected from the cat somehow. The high stool or tall legged planter are probably your best choices. If you don’t mind ceiling hooks, try an indoor hanging basket. The sunnier the spot–the better.
  • You can grow it from seed, but check the local greenhouse for one that’s already started. It’s a little more money, but well worth it since it’s healthy and hardy, raring to go right from the start.

If you’d like to try your hand at growing it, these are the best instructions I’ve found: My goodness that’s some crazy catnip! lol!


  • Don’t let your little friend have it more than once a week or so, it will lose its effect on them if they have it too often.
  • Try drying some or freezing batches if you’re just going to grow it outdoors and not inside year round. I find this much more potent than any of the store bought dried variety.
  • If you think your feline can’t be bothered with catnip because you’ve given her some dried stuff in the past with no effect, try some fresh. Although not all will respond to it (about 1/3 don’t), you may have a different result with fresh. My cat is one happy drooler in the summer ;).

By growing your own you’ll not only have one happy camper–you’ll also benefit by having a lush, bushy plant on your patio or hanging in the window. Win-win!

Quick Tip: Training to Use A Scratching Post

For some cats your furniture and expensive drapes are much more exciting to shred and sharpen claws on instead of a scratching post. Try rubbing some catnip in the carpeting of the post, that should do the trick in attracting kitty to use it.

Also be sure to spend some time showing her how to use the scratching post. Gently take her front paws and drag them down the post (carefully) so that she gets the idea.


Is fresh catnip OK to give my cat?


Sure! I am always surprised that people will give their cats catnip toys but not the real thing. I would guess that 95% of my clients don’t think about it until I ask them. I always carry some dried fresh catnip in my backpack and with my client’s permission, give some to the cats I care for during my visits.

My own cats absolutely love catnip — so much so that it’s a really fun time in my house when I have to refill the catnip in my backpack. I keep catnip in a large container in the refrigerator, which helps it last longer. When I am ready to do the transfer, I try to do it when my cats are snoozing on another room. No matter how quiet I am, however, my cat Roscoe usually comes running into the kitchen (followed by my other cats) and makes it quite clear he wants some right now. Once I even closed myself in the bathroom to transfer the catnip but we all know cats are always one step ahead of us. All the cats were all lined up waiting for me when I opened the door. Caught red-handed, each cat got a small amount to play with.

Catnip is fun for most cats and the response is nearly the same for all. First they sniff it, then they might lick it and finally they might start rolling around in it. Some cats salivate, and other cats will groom with gusto — or groom each other! All if this is fine. Not only are they having fun but it fun to watch, the affects don’t last long. Soon they will soon go off to inspect something else, or take a well-deserved cat nap.

Catnip is not expensive and comes in dried leaves and blossoms and even a non-aerosol spray. I also like to give my cats a “nip rug” to play with. This is a small piece of rug that I put the catnip on. They play with it, scratch it and I like to think it saves my furniture! As always I welcome your stories and comments.

By: Jeanne Adlon

Featured Image: By Anna Hoychuk/


Does Catnip Really Get Your Cat High? Facts About Your Cat’s Favorite Plant

Does your cat like catnip? I just found out that one of mine does and one doesn’t. Typical, according to the statistics.

My daughter and I were recently running some errands, and she decided to buy the cats presents. Keep in mind that she is four and her savings are, shall we say, “limited,” so I knew I’d be the one footing the bill. I am nothing if not frugal (some would say cheap), so I gently steered her towards the one dollar cat toys. There, she selected a fuzzy pink mouse and a small catnip-stuffed pillow emblazoned with the words “I Love Cats.”

We promptly lost the mouse (I think it made it out of the car and into the house, but I wouldn’t swear to it), but the pillow survived the trip home. Renee placed it ever so gently in front of the cats and stood back to watch their reactions.

Vicky – nothing. She looked at it quizzically, gave it a quick sniff, and walked away.

Keelor – ecstasy! He immediately started rubbing his face all over the pillow, drooling (he responds to many things by drooling), and purring. This continued on and off for days, after which time he completely lost interest. The last time I saw this previously adored object, it was in the corner of the laundry room covered with dust.

This experience made me wonder exactly what catnip is. You might think we’d have learned something about this in vet school (and maybe we did), but when Renee asked me why Keelor was acting so funny, I realized my knowledge was rudimentary at best. I did a little research and here is what I found:

  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family. It can grow to be up to three feet high!
  • The chemical compound in the plant that attracts and affects cats is called nepetalactone. It is found in the leaves and stems.
  • Nepetalactone is a stimulant when sniffed by a cat, producing a “high” that is described as being similar to either marijuana or LSD. (How this was determined, I do not know.) And the effects last for about 10 minutes before wearing off and the cat going back to normal.
  • When a cat eats catnip, it acts as a sedative, but when smelled, it causes the cat to go crazy. It is thought to mimic feline pheremones and trigger those receptors.
  • Cats may react to the plant by rolling around, flipping over, and generally being hyperactive.
  • About 50 percent of cats seem to be affected by catnip, and the behavior that results varies widely between individuals, and it is believed to be an inherited sensitivity.
  • And if your cat does have the sensitivity, it will not emerge until your cat is several months old, young kittens are not affected by the chemicals in the plant.
  • Cats may rub against and chew on catnip to bruise the leaves and stems, which then release more nepetalactone.
  • Catnip is safe for cats. If they eat a lot, they may vomit and have diarrhea, but will return to normal given time (and no more catnip).
  • It is also known to help humans, it has been used for its sedative properties in humans for centuries, having similar properties to chamomile and is a very potent mosquito repellent
  • If cats are exposed to catnip frequently, they may no longer respond to it. Some people recommend that it shouldn’t be given more than once every two or three weeks to prevent habituation.

So if I had to guess, I’d say that all the nepetalactone has been squeezed out of Keelor’s little pillow. If I want to get him “high” again, I’ll have to splurge the next time I’m at the pet store, or start my own “home grown” operation.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

How to Dry Fresh Catnip in Two Minutes

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Updated September 14, 2019

My DIY indoor cat garden post has been pretty popular and I have been meaning to write a little update on how my cats, Orion and Pete, liked their cat garden a month later.

As blog post ideas tend to do, that update has morphed into a post on how to dry fresh catnip since we had so much of it in our garden and oddly enough, neither Orion nor Pete were particularly fond of fresh catnip. They were far more interested in the cat grass (wheatgrass) which I found odd so I did what anyone would do; I consulted Professor Google on why that is.

According to Dr. Google, it isn’t uncommon for cats to not take to fresh catnip as much as dried catnip. I found that interesting, but cats are fickle creatures so who am I to ask why? In my reading I also stumbled upon a quick and easy way to dry our fresh catnip and decided that I had to put it to the test.

Related post: How to Make an Indoor Cat Garden


The fresh catnip is toward the front of the cat garden and to the left. It is a member of the mint family and while my cats liked to smell it occasionally, they mostly left it alone. However, all of that lovely smelling catnip didn’t and won’t go to waste!


Trim your catnip, leaving some leaves on the plant so it will continue to grow, then loosely fold the catnip between two paper towels. Put the catnip wrapped in paper towels in a microwave-safe container with a cover. If the catnip isn’t yet dry, put it in the microwave for 30-second intervals until it dries. It took about two minutes in my microwave.

*Note: take your time and do not over-dry the catnip so you don’t risk burning it.

At the end of the two minutes, your house will reek of catnip, but it will be dry and ready for the kitties. Not to worry, the catnip smell went away in about a half-hour or so.

I put our dried fresh catnip in a jar to keep it fresh and put it out for the boys. The verdict: they loved it! Orion couldn’t even wait for me to take it out of the jar. Goofy cat.

I have noticed that they eat the dried fresh catnip when they don’t eat the store-bought dried catnip. They also don’t roll around in it as much as the store-bought variety. Even so, they seem to enjoy it just as much, just in a different way.

Drying fresh catnip is so easy and the plant itself is pretty enough that I’m happy to have it in my home, so it’s a win-win. If you’re looking for a little extra love from your feline housemates, grow some fresh catnip and dry it up for them to enjoy. I’m sure they will thank you.



If you aren’t an instant gratification kind of person like I am, you could take the slower approach and dry fresh catnip in the oven. With this method, low and slow is the way to go.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the fresh catnip evenly and in one layer on an oven tray or cookie sheet and place it in the oven. Leave the oven open a crack for ventilation and bake the catnip for approximately ten minutes. Check the catnip and if it still isn’t dry, turn it over on the pan and put it in for another couple of minutes, checking frequently until it is dry. Be careful not to scorch the catnip or it will be ruined.


If you aren’t in a rush at all to dry catnip, you could opt to air dry it the old fashioned way. Tie a few stems of catnip together, but not too many because you want air to be able to circulate through the bunch. About three of four stems is a good starting point. Tie the stems or wrap a rubber band around the end and hang the bundle upside down in a dry dark place such as an interior closet, garage, or shed. Depending on your climate, the drying process could take a few days to a week or more.


Now that you have a bunch of freshly dried catnip, what do you do with it? You could put it on the floor for them as I did, but that can get messy. Instead, why not make a super simple DIY cat toy. Trust me, I am not a sewer and these are so easy!

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Happiness Overload: What You Need to Know About Cats and Catnip

Does your cat act batty when you get out the catnip? My Zoe sure does! She loves her catnip-filled mouse and will sniff it, roll on top of it, swat at it, and then proceed to bounce all around the room. She’s over 16-years-old and normally quite chill, but when she’s been at the catnip, it’s like she’s a kitten again. So what gives? Why do cats go goofy for catnip?

What exactly is catnip?

Dried catnip resembles oregano but is actually a member of the mint family. Native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, it was imported to the United States and now grows as a wild weed in every region. It can even grow to be two or three feet high!

Fresh catnip has stems with heart-shaped leaves and can sprout small white, blue, pink, or lavender blooms. It does well in full sunlight and grows rather easily. That means even people like me without a green thumb can probably manage it. You can clip the leaves and hang them to dry in a dark space to have your own stash of catnip on hand. Store it in a baggie in the fridge so it stays potent longer.

Just be sure to keep any catnip plants out of paw’s reach. While a little nibbling on the leaves probably won’t harm your cat, the plant might not fair so well. Your cat could also knock the plant over and get hurt or dig around in the dirt and make a big mess that you’ll be left to clean up.

What does catnip do to cats?

The active ingredient in catnip is a substance called nepetalactone (say that 10 times fast!). Exactly how this chemical affects the wiring of your cat’s brain isn’t clear. However, it’s thought to mimic feline pheromones, which cause a euphoric reaction. The blissful high of catnip doesn’t last very long. Your cat might get nutty for about ten or fifteen minutes and then wander away for a nap. Once a cat has partaken of the catnip, it takes a couple of hours before they can be affected by it again.

Catnip can make cats meow, purr, growl, roll around, zip about, and even drool. It can also have a mild hallucinatory effect, which helps explain why a kitty on catnip might bat at the air or dodge something that isn’t there. Sniffing catnip has more of a stimulant effect while eating it is more likely to make a cat all sorts of relaxed and sleepy.

Some cats can react to catnip with mild aggression, such as low growling or swatting. If you have more than one cat in the house, you should consider giving it to only one cat at a time to avoid potential fights and definitely keep an eye on them during their trip.

Interestingly enough, not all cats feel the effects of catnip. It’s believed to be an inherited sensitivity with maybe only one out of three cats having it. Kittens under two or three months old are also not likely to react to catnip, and older cats can be less prone to having a reaction—although my Zoe flies in the face of that one!

Is catnip safe for cats?

There’s no evidence that catnip is harmful to cats. However, if they eat a lot of the fresh or dried leaves, they can get an upset tummy along with vomiting or diarrhea. Cats are good at self-regulating, so typically won’t overdo it if they get hold of a catnip plant or unexpectedly get into a bag of catnip.

It’s good to keep in mind that although the catnip isn’t harmful, cats can get hurt while they’re zooming around the room. Zoe once jumped up on the bed only to roll right off the other side—and she did not land on her feet! Luckily, she didn’t have far to fall, and she seemed fine after she got over her initial shock.

In any case, catnip should be offered in moderation as an occasional, fun treat for your cat. Another reason not to go overboard on catnip is that it tends to lose its effect with too much use.

While catnip is safe for cats, there are plenty of plants that can cause problems, ranging from a minor stomachache to sudden kidney failure. See the list of 25 plants that are toxic to cats.

Can catnip be helpful?

Catnip can definitely come in handy in certain circumstances. For instance, it can be used to get an older feline or couch potato kind of cat moving. All cats need a daily dose of exercise to help keep their weight on track and avoid health problems, like joint pain and diabetes.

I know it works for me. Now that Zoe is in her twilight years, it can be tough to get her to do much besides doze in the warmth of a sunbeam. But when I get out her favorite catnip toy, she’s all in and gets some of the exercise she needs to stay healthy.

Catnip can also be helpful with behavioral issues. For instance, if your cat is scratching the furniture but not going near the scratching posts and mats you’ve set out, sprinkle a little catnip on them. That should get their attention. You can use this same trick with a new cozy pet bed that your cat doesn’t seem to have any interest in trying out.

In addition, you can offer your cat a little fresh catnip to nosh on before a stressful event. It can chill out your cat and make car trips, visits to the veterinarian, and other anxiety provoking activities easier for you both.

7 Fun Catnip Facts

  1. Catnip is a natural pest repellant that can fend off mosquitoes. Unfortunately, it’s not effective when applied to the skin.
  2. Large cats like lions and tigers can be sensitive to catnip. That must be quite a party in the jungle!
  3. Some people treat nausea or headaches with catnip tea. It’s also known to help with insomnia.
  4. You can make a paste out of dried catnip to apply to wounds by crushing it up and adding a bit of water. I’ll stick to bacitracin, thanks!
  5. Catnip comes in many forms—dried, fresh, pressed into solid balls, and in sprays. The sprays tend to be less potent than dried catnip, but are useful for spritzing scratching posts and freshening up toys.
  6. You can even buy catnip bubbles. I have to say, I tried this one and Zoe was not a fan, but maybe other cats find bubbles more fascinating.
  7. There are plenty of catnip toys on the market too, but you can also make your cat homemade toys that work just as well.

So now you know just about everything there is to know about catnip. What about cat poop? Get the scoop here.

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