Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What is in Catnip that Kitties Love So Much?

Special thanks to Wintergreen for yesterday's comment question about catnip....and why kitties like it so much.
  • Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and is a cousin to basil and oregano.
  • Nepeta Cataria originally came from Europe and Asia, and now grows like a weed over much of the U.S.
  • Its Latin-origin cataria means 'of a cat.'
  • It is the chemical, nepetalactone, found in the oil of catnip leaves, stems, and seeds that attracts domesticated cats, and larger cats like lions, leopards, pumas, and panthers. 
  • About one cat in two inherits a sensitivity to the herb, and it starts when your kitty is anywhere between 3 and 6 months old.  Some cats have no reaction whatsoever to catnip.
  • After a couple of sniffs of the oil, a cat will rub it, roll over it, kick at it, and go nuts over it for a few minutes, but will soon lose interest and walk away.  It may be two hours before the cat comes back to it and has the same reaction.
  • Some cats are mellowed and calmed by the smell of catnip.
  • Catnip is non-addictive and safe for cats.  Eating it won't cause a reaction.  They have to breathe in the chemical released into the air to react.  

What can Catnip do for us humans?

 Catnip is a tension tamer, a natural sedative and digestive aid, contains vitamins, A, B, and C, calcium iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.  Catnip tea can be found in most health food stores.