What is catnip?
- August 17, 2021
- Ally Cohen
Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is a member of the mint family of herbs. For centuries humans have grown catnip for humans, but the herb is best known for its action on cats. The chemical in catnip called nepetalactone is what cats respond to. However, not all cats react to catnip. Kittens will not show the behavior until they are at least 6-8 weeks old.
About 80% of adult cats (including many kinds of wild cats!) react to this intoxicating herb. Researchers suspect that catnip targets feline "happy" receptors in the brain. When eaten, however, catnip tends to have the opposite effect and your cat mellows out. Most cats react to catnip by rolling, flipping, rubbing, and eventually zoning out. They may meow or growl at the same time.
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