Cats are known to love catnips. This herb that is a member of the mint family is given as a treat to cats. Knowing the unaccountable effects of this plant to cats, pet owners are now providing cats with catnip-filled toys. Cats love to sniff, to nibble and to roll on catnip leaves and catnip plants. It appears that this herb has euphoric effects on cats. Does this mean that all cats like catnips? No. Studies on cat behaviour have proven that about 50% of cats ignore catnips. Apparently, in some cats the herb has no effect at all.
People, especially cat owners are aware of the effects of catnips on their pets. Catnip is a plant that belongs to the mint family. The scientific name of this herb is Nepeta Cataria. The plant has heart shaped leaves. Colours of flowers range from white, pink and white with purple dots. The variety with solid white flowers is most favoured by cats. Why do cat go gaga over this weed-like herb? Catnip has Nepetalactone, a chemical that creates a psychosexual reaction in cats. This substance’s effects are the same as the effects pheromones have on cats. Cats have special receptors in their olfactory system. Studies have proven that the cat’s response to the substance starts when the catnip is smelled. When catnip is found, the cat is seen nibbling and sniffing the plant, the leaves and the flowers. The chemical enters the cat’s nose and passes through the Jacobson’s organs that are connected to the hypothalamus. One of the functions of the hypothalamus is to act as a switchboard that will trigger different kinds of behaviours. Cats sniff the catnip, roll on it rubbing the plant against their bodies. Finally, the cat is seen munching on the catnip plant. The cat’s high though is produced when Nepetalactone is released when the catnip is bruised. This is probably the reason why cats roll on the plant. The cat then shows uncharacteristic behaviour like rolling and leaping. The cat that appears to be enjoying itself may even foam at the mouth and the drawn back lips look as if the cat is grinning. The cat may meow and pur more than usual. Catnip can have alternative effects on cats as some individuals manifest aggressive behaviour. In short sniffing catnip is believed to stimulates the cat. The euphoric behaviour lasts for five to ten minutes. After rolling and rubbing the body on the plant, the cat does a lot of sniffing. Afterwards, the cat eats the catnip. When eaten, catnip becomes a sedative thus after ingesting catnip, the cat goes back to its normal self. The effect of catnip is not unlike the effects of marijuana. One good thing about this plant is that it has no side effects and the cats don’t get addicted. These animals have the ability to self-regulate.
Catnip is a good training tool. Catnips are rubbed on scratching post to entice the cat to scratch the post instead of the furniture. Catnips are given to calm a pet that is about to go on a long car ride. Unfortunately, catnips don’t affect all cats. Kittens show an aversion to this herb. Aging cats don’t show any reaction to catnips as well. It is believed that the cat’s response to catnips is inherited. Cats are affected by catnips because of an inherited autosomal gene. Cats that are not affected by catnips do not have the genes that will produce a response to the herb.