Q:

Why do cats love catnip?

A:

Quick Answer

Cats love catnip because of the essential oil it contains: nepetalactone. This essential oil is found in catnip's leaves, stems and seeds. Catnip is an herb and a member of the mint family.

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Full Answer

It's not completely understood why catnip stimulates cats, but researchers think that catnip acts as a happy pheromone while stimulating the receptors in a cat's brain that respond to those pheromones.

When cats come into contact with catnip, whether by sniffing or eating it, their entire personality changes for about 10 minutes. Cats on a catnip buzz roll on the floor, flip over objects, rub their faces in the catnip, meow and growl. Some cats become hyperactive and run around as if their tails were on fire, while others get aggressive and overly protective of their toys.

Researchers have found that the effect of catnip on cats varies based on how the cat is exposed to the herb. Cats that sniff catnip tend to demonstrate hyperactive effects, while cats that eat it tend to have the opposite effect and mellow out.

The effects of catnip usually last about 10 minutes. After that time, cats get bored with their toys and the catnip itself, and return to their normal behaviors. It takes up to two hours for cats to become sensitive to catnip again.

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Related Questions

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    Is catnip bad for cats?

    A:

    The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, states that catnip is nonaddictive, nontoxic and safe for cats to sniff and ingest. However, catnip has been linked to seizures in rats and is a uterine stimulate, so it shouldn't be given to pregnant cats or cats with a history of seizures.

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    Why do cats love olives?

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    Many cats love olives because they contain compounds known as isoprenoids, which are chemically similar to the active ingredient in catnip. Isoprenoids are primarily found in pimentos and different varieties of green olives, such as Kalamatas.

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  • Q:

    Why do cats like catnip?

    A:

    Cats are attracted to catnip because of an oil called nepetalactone. Found in the seeds, leaves and stems of the plant, the oil gives felines a blissful, happy feeling.

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  • Q:

    How do you dry catnip?

    A:

    As catnip is a member of the herb family, dry catnip using the same methods followed to dry other herbs. Harvest catnip for drying in the late morning or early afternoon to lessen the chance of the herb becoming moldy before it fully dries. Plant oils that cats love peak when the catnip plant flowers. Gardens suggests snipping each stem at the base of the plant to encourage rapid re-growth.

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