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What is the Difference Between Catnip and Catmint?

Last updated June 16th, 2020

Cats walking among the catmint plants
Mr Jack, the leader of the pack.

Happy Caturday Furriends! It’s Mr Jack here, and today I feature in our Caturday Doodle blog hop, hosted by Athena Cat Goddess. Well, it features Baggy too, the brown tabby on the left, and Jimmy Fancy Feet on the right, but as you can see I’m the centre of attention. All my pals follow my lead, somewhat. You see, Baggy thinks he’s the leader, as he always powder puffs my other housemates when they’re in his path. He tried that once with me and never again! I’m also known as the social facilitator because I like to groom my friends and spread the communal scent. It’s all about keeping the peace and spreading the love. Sometimes.

Like most cats, we love catnip, but we also like sniffing the catmint plant and watching the bees and butterflies as they circle around the purple flowers. Our big lady cat likes to plant this around our tunnel too, because it looks pretty and we like to watch those fuzzy black and yellow flying things. They have a strange purr. But the catmint that we really go crazy for is the one with the white flowers. The big lady cat explains below.

So what’s the difference between catnip and catmint?

Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is the most popular variety of catmint among cat lovers the world over. Nepetalactone is the organic compound found in catnip that sends our furry friends into a euphoric frenzy. I wish I could find a way to extract this oil and bottle it, but for now, I will keep harvesting the plant for kitties’ enjoyment throughout the winter. It has a more bushy, weedy appearance but redeems itself with pleasant looking white flowers. Bees and butterflies are also attracted to this plant. It is a perennial and comes back each year but I prefer to plant fresh ones in hanging baskets in the main catio.

Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is an attractive looking mint variety with beautiful lavender flowers that attract bumblebees and butterflies. It’s a perennial ornamental and comes back each year with very little care as they are super drought tolerant. Just a nice shearing after the first blooms and they keep blooming into late Autumn. Some cats are attracted to this variety too, but not with the same fervor and excitement as they are to its catnip cousin.

Cat among the catmint and catnip
What is that strange purring flying thing?

Pounce over to our popular post Catnip and how to grow and harvest it so that your kitties can enjoy their own home-grown supply!

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About the author

Chirpy Cats

We are a clowder of cheeky chirpy felines sharing our space with two humans who adore us. We love to share tips on helping cats live enriched lives with their people and other fun cat stuff.


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