Cats and Catnip

Cats and catnip? Catnip is sometimes called catmint, catwort, or field balm. But what is catnip anyway? What’s with cat and catnips?

Cats and Catnip

Catnip belongs to the mint family. It originated from Europe, Africa, and Asia and was later brought to America. It contains an essential oil called Nepetalactone and it can turn the laziest feline you know into a ball of craziness – that is if your feline has inherited sensitivity to catnip from his ancestors. It may be bought in bottles or included in cat toys.

Effects of Catnip in Cats

Sensitivity to catnip is hereditary, and 70 to 80% of the cat population reacts to it. This sensitivity does not emerge until a feline is between 6 months-old.

Effects of Catnip in cats differ according to how it was taken. When cats smell catnip, they may show behaviors that are common to females in heat like:

  • Drooling,
  • Flipping,
  • Looking a little spaced out,
  • Rubbing,
  • Meowing or Growling,
  • And Rolling.

But when eaten, the catnip may have the opposite effect – calming him down instead.

How Does Catnip Affect Cat’s Brain?

When Nepetalactone enters the cat’s nasal tissue, the compound is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate the cat’s sensory neurons, according to Dr. Ramona Turner, a vet who has been specializing in cat care for 25 years.

Then, these cells will provoke a reaction in neurons in the cat’s olfactory bulb, which project to the amygdala and other regions of the brain. These cells also stimulate response from the brain’s hypothalamus, which helps in regulating feelings such as emotions and hunger.

The amygdala then combines the flow of information from the olfactory bulb cells and sends it to the brain regions governing the cat’s behavior responses. On the other hand, the hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses of the cat’s brain and body via the pituitary gland – thus creating what it seems to be a “sexual response” in cats.


How Long Do the Effects of Catnip Last?

It usually lasts about 10 minutes. Most cats will lose interest in the catnip or catnip toy after that. But he may find it interesting and could be susceptible to it again after 30 minutes to 2 hours. But, it’s best to let give your catnip once a week only.

So, what do you think of cats and catnip?

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