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Flowers of the plant
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Nepeta
N. cataria
Binomial name
Nepeta cataria

Nepeta cataria, catnip or catmint, is a species of the genus Nepeta. It is in the Lamiaceae family.[1][2][3][4] The name "catmint" is sometimes used for the genus as a whole. Some plants can cause diarrhea to cats.[5]

Cat behaviour[change | change source]

Leaves of catnip

Catnip, and some other species in the genus Nepeta, is known for its effects on cat behaviour. Cats rub on the plant, roll on the ground, paw at it, lick it, and chew it. Some leap about and purr, some cry out.[6] Cats do it for about five to fifteen minutes, after which olfactory fatigue usually sets in.[7][8]: p.107 

The nepetalactone in catnip acts as a feline attractant after it enters the cat's nose.[9][10] At the olfactory epithelium, the nepetalactone binds to one or more olfactory receptors.

The catnip effect works on the whole cat family, not just on domestic cats. Several tests showed that leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip in a manner similar to domestic cats. Lions and tigers may react strongly as well, but they don't react all the time.[11][12]

With domestic cats, N. cataria is a recreational substance for pets to enjoy. Catnip and catnip-laced products are available to consumers. Not all cats are affected by catnip; roughly one third are not affected by the plant.[13] The behavior is hereditary.

Some other plants also have a similar effect on cats, include valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Nepeta cataria information from NPGS/GRIN". Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  2. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  3. Flora of China Vol. 17 Page 107 荆芥属 jing jie shu Nepeta Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 570. 1753.
  4. Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Nepeta includes photos plus range maps for Europe + North America
  5. "What Is Catnip and What Does It Do to Cats? - PetMD". PetMD. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  6. Spadafori, Gina (2006). "Here, Boy!". Universal Press Syndicate. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  7. means: when a stimulus continues, the sense organs fire nerve impulses ever less frequently.
  8. Arden Moore (20 July 2007). The cat behavior answer book. Storey. ISBN 978-1-60342-179-9. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  9. Siegel, Ronald K. (29 March 2005). Intoxication: the universal drive for mind-altering substances. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-59477-069-2.
  10. Hart, Benjamin L.; Leedy, Mitzi G. (July 1985). "Analysis of the catnip reaction: mediation by olfactory system, not vomeronasal organ". Behavioral and Neural Biology. 44 (1): 38–46. doi:10.1016/S0163-1047(85)91151-3. PMID 3834921.
  11. Reader's Digest: Does catnip "work" on big cats like lions and tigers? Accessed May 22, 2015
  12. Durand, Marcella (March 4, 2003). "Heavenly Catnip". Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  13. Turner, Ramona (May 29, 2007). "How does catnip work its magic on cats?". Scientific American. Retrieved February 14, 2009.