CATNIP: Everything you need to know

Nepeta Cataria Catnip
Nepeta Cataria, commonly named catnip or cat mint is an aromatic plant that excites cats and felines.

Catnip, Cat Mint is a cyclopentanoid monoterpene (fragrant oils) produced by certain plants of the mint
family. Indiginous to Europe, it is now widely distributed around the world. Catnip has always been of interest for its effect on cats and other felines. It always induces a series of responses in domestic cats that starts with sniffing, licking and chewing with head shaking, chin and cheek rubbing, and head-over rolling and body rubbing.

What’s in it?

Catnip is primarily composed of essential oils, namely nepetalactones. These essential oils, beside their effect of domestic cats and other felines are known for their fungistatic, bacteriostatic and antimicrobial activity overall.

Cat in clover makes you cat go Kookoo. Tanya Plonka

Why are cats drawn to catnip?

Put in simple terms? Catnip is heroin for cats. They get high on it. They get addicted to and enjoy it a little too much for about ten minutes. But why? Responses of cats exposed to catnip are well known to pet owners and veterinarians. The behavior of cats reacting to catnip is obviously directed toward reward (pleasure). It is in fact the chemical compounds called iridoids that protect the plants against aphids and are known to be the key to the euphoria produced in cats. “This study essentially has revealed a new potential mosquito repellent” by examining the “pharmaceutical knowledge” of cats, says Emory University biologist Jacobus de Roode, who did not participate in the study.

In addition to the effects on felids, catnip is consumed medicinally as an herbal tea in some traditional cultures for the treatment of diarrhea, fever, adjustment of menstrual cycles and insomnia. It also includes toothaches and Inflammation as well as a sedative and for alleviation of digestive ailments, including infantile colic, and other conditions.

Most recently, Catnip essential oil and isolated nepetalactones repellency against arthropods have been reported to be at least comparable to the industry standard repellent DEET. The use of catnip essential oil as a preventive approach for vector-borne diseases can be a sustainable alternative not only because of its effectiveness, but also because it can be grown, distilled, locally produced and distributed by local communities, representing a source of economic growth for rural areas.

So, there you have it. The info of the day. Make good use of it. Stay safe and love your pet cat.

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