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What age can you give catnip to cats

Catnip is a good attention-getter for cats, says the ASPCA. But some cats don't respond to it, no matter how much you feed them.

Excerpted from the ASPCA's new book, "The Cat Book: Know Your Cat - Watch Your Cat."

The cats at the ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York City were undergoing routine surgeries.

Just as the final suture was being removed from one cat's abdomen, the animal caretaker noticed he was purring loudly.

"It was the strangest sound we'd ever heard," recalls Dr. Tracey Rogers.

"A cat purrs when he's happy, but this cat sounded like he was in heaven. He had the biggest grin on his face."

The cat was actually on catnip!

Catnip has long been a favorite of felines, and it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe for cats.

Spread it on a rag, a piece of cardboard, or a fluffy pillow, and place it in a place where your cat can get at it.

But some cats don't respond to catnip.

"A cat's response to catnip is not absolute," says Dr. Rogers. "Sometimes, cats just don't respond to it."

If that's the case, you can try to engage your cat's interest in other ways.

"A cat may ignore catnip because he doesn't like the taste," says Dr. Rogers.

"So, if your cat doesn't want to play with catnip, try his favorite treat.

"Or, you can try to engage him in other ways.

"Say 'hi' to him, pet him, and rub against him.

"If you can't find catnip, try a different plant or herb that he might like."

• Do not leave catnip or other plants in your cat's room or litter pan, advises the ASPCA.

• Do not use catnip as a substitute for your cat's regular food.

• Do not feed your cat catnip, or other plants, if you are worried about your cat getting into it.

• When giving your cat catnip, use a small amount.

• Keep catnip out of reach of children.

• Catnip should not be given to pregnant or nursing cats.

• Catnip should not be given to cats who have a history of heart, liver or kidney problems.

• If your cat has a history of seizures, you should not give him catnip.

Dr. Rogers says she's known other vets who have used catnip to calm anxious or fidgety cats.

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