Field of Science

Catnip and cats

The effect of catnip on cats is obvious to anyone who's ever dosed their usually docile, lazy pet and watched them turn into a wide-eyed, crazed maniac. So as you would have guessed, cats have a receptor for nepetalactone (OK you might not have guessed that part.) (Nepeta is the genus of cat mints.) in catnip that gets them "excited". Perhaps because of this dramatic effect on cats,or maybe because it is a member of the mint family in general, humans have used catnip medicinally, herbally, but not to the same effect. For humans catnip is a bit of a sedative. Bummer. Those little furry mice look like fun.

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