When cats detect catnip (it’s effects on cats) they exhibit what could be described as an exotic behavior. Pretty much like when they are in heat, perhaps. They roll their heads and bodies on the herb, they salivate, roll around, and vocalize.
Catnip is a perennial herb from one of the mint families. Cats are susceptible to the oils that ooze from this plant.
A little bit about the plant
The plant (Nepeta cataria) is a short-lived member for the mint family of plants. It is a herbaceous plant, it grows 50-100 cm tall and wide, and features a brown-green foliage.
Catnip plant blooms around from late spring to fall. The leaves are triangular and toothed. The flowers, which are small and bilabiate, are showy and fragrant.
The effect of catnip in cats
The component that attracts felines is called nepetalactone. Its effects work not only in cats but also other species of cats. Some common behaviors in cats as a consequence to exposure include pawing at the plant, licking it, chewing it, and rolling on the ground.
After 5 to 15 minutes of exposure, the effects go away due to olfactory fatigue. The cat becomes temporarily immune to catnip for around 30 minutes.
Not all cats are susceptible to the effects of catnip. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of cats are genetically incapable of sensing the oils of the plant.
To understand how catnip works, we must take a look at the effects of nepetalactone enters the cat’s nasal tissue. Once in there, it is supposed to stimulate the sensory neurons through binding protein receptors. These cause a response to receptors in the olfactory nerve.
The stimulus then projects to the hypothalamus and the amygdala, which play a huge rule in a cat’s emotions and sensations of well-being.
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