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Why Do Cats Like Catnip? Everything You Should Know in 5 Minutes Or Less!

We've all seen our cats show an unusual reaction to catnip - but why? Catnip is a mysterious substance that affects some cats in peculiar ways, but why does it occur and what actually happens when a cat encounters it?

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Why do cats like catnip?

why do cats like catnip

Why do cats like catnip? What is catnip? Catnip, otherwise known as Nepeta cataria, is an herb from the mint family. It produces its distinctive odor by stimulating the release of natural cat attractants called nepetalactone from its leaves and stems. When cats encounter these volatile oils, they respond with a range of behaviors including rolling, pawing, head-rubbing, drooling and seemingly ‘high’ euphoria.

The phenomenon of cats responding to the scent of catnip has long baffled both pet owners and vets alike – so why do cats love the aromas associated with this herb? In this article we will delve into the science behind this strange behavior to find out more about why our feline friends are so attracted to this particular plant.

What is Catnip and What Does it do to Cats?

Catnip is a perennial herb in the mint family that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for cats. It has a strong, aromatic smell that cats find irresistible and can cause them to become very playful and active. The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, which acts as an attractant for cats.

When cats smell catnip, they become excited and may roll around, rub their face in it, or even eat it. This reaction is caused by the nepetalactone stimulating the olfactory receptors in the cat’s nose. It also affects the brain, causing a feeling of euphoria and relaxation.

So, why do cats like catnip? Well, cats are naturally drawn to catnip because of its strong smell and active ingredient, nepetalactone. It is a safe and natural way to provide your cat with some extra stimulation and entertainment.

How Does a Cat Act on Catnip?

When cats come into contact with catnip, they often display a range of behaviors. These can include rolling around, pawing at the plant, drooling, and rubbing their face in it. They may also become very active and playful, running around and jumping on furniture or toys. Some cats may even eat the catnip if given the opportunity.

The effects of catnip usually last for around 10 minutes before the cat loses interest and moves on to something else.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Catnip?

Not all cats respond to catnip in the same way. While some cats may become very excited and playful when exposed to the herb, others may not react at all. This is because cats have a genetic predisposition to be sensitive to nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip. If your cat does not have this gene, then they will not experience any of the effects of catnip.

How to Give Your Cat Catnip

Giving your cat catnip can be a fun and entertaining experience for both you and your pet. The best way to give your cat catnip is to purchase it in a dried form from a pet store or online retailer. You can also grow your own catnip plants if you have the space and time.

When giving your cat dried catnip, sprinkle some of the herb onto a flat surface or in a toy. You can also put some of the herb into a cloth bag or sock and let your cat play with it. If you have a catnip plant, you can simply rub the leaves and stems on your cat’s fur to release the nepetalactone.

Humans and Catnip

Humans have also been known to enjoy the effects of catnip. While it does not have the same effect on humans as it does on cats, some people find that consuming catnip can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, insomnia, and digestive issues. Catnip tea is a popular way to enjoy the herb’s calming effects.

The Bottom Line

Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which cats find irresistible. When cats smell this scent, it triggers a biological response in the cat that can result in arousal, playfulness, and even euphoria. The reaction to catnip is an inherited trait and not all cats respond the same way; some may choose to ignore it completely or become temporarily hyperactive before calming down. So now that we’ve answered the age old question of why do cats like catnip, we hope to see you on our other posts.

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