Answer: The catnip plant has oil by the name of”nepetalactone” in it. When nepetalactone hit the olfactory receptors – er – the scent hits their noses, the oil stimulates receptors that sense chemicals called “pheromones.”
This causes a chemical reaction which gives a feline a feeling of euphoria or overwhelming glee.
In other words…
They get a safe high.
It looks like the effect that catnip has on cats is compared to a hallucinogen on humans. Thankfully, the effects don’t last too long.
Some cats have reactions such as growling, drooling, purring, or rolling around on the floor with the catnip like they lost all their senses. Others seem to pay no attention to it at all.
Research shows that only 50% to 75% of cats have a reaction to catnip. It also seems to be in the genes – if a cat who doesn’t react has kittens, it is likely that the kittens won’t react either.
Fun fact: The majority of cats in Australia don’t react to catnip.
Catnip also affects cats besides the housecats – tigers, leopards, lions and other wild cats.
And it repels bugs! Mosquitoes, termites, roaches, and flies hate it. The chemicals are stronger than DEET! Sadly, it loses it’s superpower when applied to the skin. But still, this makes me want to plant catnip all over the place. Arkansas has some serious mosquito problems.
And as for humans… oddly enough, when ingested as a tea, it can act like a sedative.
If you have followed along with Wonder Wednesdays long, you probably noticed that I usually use stock images for them. However, in this edition of Wonder Wednesday, all the photos are mine. These are all lovely cats I’ve had over the years. Some have passed away, and others I gave away as kittens.
The cats (from the top down) are Scout, Bullet, Rabbit, Sissy (the tabby), Skippy (the black one), Lion, and Tux. ❤