Catnip addicts


I just finished reading an interesting article from The Scientist on what makes catnip so addicting to our feline friends. In our house, we refer to it as “kitty pot” because our cat just can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. One sniff and he is rubbing all over the plant and then does a few laps around the house. This is impressive because outside of a catnip “high”, he can usually be found doing only one of two things: sleeping or eating…often sleeping with his head in the food bowl just in case dinner magically makes an appearance, again.

It turns out that catnip is a member of the mint family. You can blame the essential oil called nepetalactone for its mind-altering effects in cats. The chemical is similar to feline pheromones and binds to receptors within the animal’s nose where it stimulates sensory neurons that send signals to the brain. What I found even more interesting about the article was that nepetalactone may work as an insect repellent and apparently also repels rats and mice.

Jeff Akst, The Scientist

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  1. #1 Thad
    January 12, 2012

    Catnip does nothing for our cat. Vet says many cats just don’t have the receptors for it. He does show an interest in rosehip infused toys, though.

  2. #2 davep
    January 12, 2012

    Using a cat attractant to repel insects might not work out as well as one might like!

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    January 12, 2012

    Natural selection would favor any rodent who was repelled by a cat-attractant.

  4. #4 DeakonVery
    January 12, 2012

    Our cat liked catnip but after two months in rehab he has been clean for nearly a year

  5. #5 KevinSpacey
    January 12, 2012

    I’m so high right meow.

  6. #6 LeftWingFox
    January 12, 2012

    Mint family! That explains the drooling, rubbing and writhing involved with my cat and the paper wrappers for peppermint tea bags.

  7. #7 djlactin
    January 15, 2012

    Honeysuckle wood has the same effect.

  8. #8 Rachel
    January 18, 2012

    Is there an equivalent for dogs?!

  9. #9 Eligius4917
    February 27, 2014

    I rarely see catnip in Australia. Apparently it doesn’t affect Australian cats.

  10. #10 joseph
    United States
    September 5, 2014

    I just found a bag of catnip under my cats bed, I asked her, “WHERE DID YOU LEARN THIS AT”