Why do cats like catnip?
Weíve all seen it before, cats acting crazy after having rubbed themselves top to bottom in catnip. But why do cats like catnip so much, you’ve probably asked yourself. Itís time for you to discover all you need to know about catnip and itís powers.
What is catnip?
Catnip is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family.
It can grow from anywhere between two and three feet tall.
Catnip is characterised by its heart-shaped leaves.
Their blooms can be lavender, white or pink.
How does catnip work?
While researchers do not know, completely, why catnip causes such a reaction, we do know the chemical that causes the reaction.
Within catnip lies an oil.
It is this oil that contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which has an odor that closely resembles a substance present in a female catís urine.
This substance, nepetalactone, triggers the ecstasy-type reaction we often see in cats.
It all begins when cats inhale this chemical that the herb gives off.
After the chemical has entered their body, through the nostrils, it then reaches the vomeronasal smell receptors that triggers the response reaction.
Why do cats like catnip, and are all cats affected by catnip?
The short answer is no.
Research has unveiled that the catnip response is inherited.
Around 70% of cats respond to catnip, leaving 30% of cats unable to.
This is because the cats who donít respond to catnip are lacking specific genes which make it necessary.
However, almost all types of cat, even the big cats, such as tigers and mountain lions, respond to catnip.
Having said this, kittens donít begin to react to catnip until they are at least 6 weeks old.
How long does the effects of catnip last for?
The effects that catnip have on cats is said to last from 5 to 15 minutes long.
After these effects have worn off, it takes at least an hour or two for the body to reset and for the cat to react to the herb in the same way again.
Is catnip harmful, and can my catsí overdose on it?
In general, catnip is completely safe, and, no, your cat cannot overdose on catnip.
If cats are continuously exposed to catnip there is a chance that they can permanently lose their ability to respond to it.
You can either grow it yourself in your garden (caution: you will attract other cats), or you can buy it at supermarkets and pet stores.
One thing to keep in mind when buying catnip from a store is to make sure that it is organic.
This is so that you can ensure that no pesticides and other potentially harmful fillers are exposed to your kitty.
Why do cats like catnip Ė Conclusion:
So, coming back to the question, then, why do cats like catnip?
It seems that there are only so many cats who can like catnip. 70% to be precise.
Kittens donít respond to it until a certain age, while elderly cats donít seem too interested either.
Therefore, maybe itís a middle-aged kind of thingÖ similar to a glass of wine, a little bit of an escape.
The Cat Behavior Answer Book Ė Arden Moore
Catwise Ė Pam Johnson-Bennett