Catnip What Is Cat Grass? Learn How to Grow 2023

Catnip What Is Cat Grass? Learn How to Grow 2023

The effects that catnip or nepeta (Nepeta cataria), a scientific name that precisely refers to the impact it produces on cats, produces on our feline friends have been known for many years. But we have not fully understood why cats have been so attracted to this mint-like herb for a long time.

They discover how catnip works, the cat drug.

The effects that catnip or nepeta (Nepeta cataria), a scientific name that precisely refers to the impact it produces on cats, produces on our feline friends have been known for many years. But we have not fully understood why cats have been so attracted to this mint-like herb for a long time.

Cats are attracted to it, they rub and bite it, and this herb produces a psychotropic effect on them. The cats behave as if they have consumed a hallucinogen, go into a state of ecstasy, and some lose consciousness.

Catnip or catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a mint-like plant that produces a chemical that affects cats like a drug.

A study published in Science Advances finally provides an answer as to why catnip has such powerful effects. According to the authors, the powers of the plant are due to an evolutionary trick that this plant has developed to get rid of insects.

It is a pungent odor that comes from a chemical called nepetalactone and has the function of repelling insects. The chemical scent serves as an evolutionary defense mechanism to protect catnip from insect threats while also attracting and drugging cats.

Cats are attracted to the pungent smell of catnip, a scent that the plant uses to drive away insects.The researchers of this work have wanted to go further and have studied the evolution of nepetalactone through genetic analysis. According to study co-author Benjamin Lichman, a plant biologist at the University of York, his team discovered that an unusual set of enzymes were responsible for nepetalactone’s cat-stimulant properties.

These enzymes are not found in any related plant species and have evolved uniquely in catnip,” says Lichman.

Nepetalactone uses a double whammy. While other types of mint form chemicals using only one enzyme, nepetalactone activates an enzyme that sets off a chain reaction to start a second enzyme. This one-two punch gives nepetalactone its potent powers.

In the same study, the scientists found nepetalactone genes clustered closely together in the catnip genome. This clustering effect helped researchers discover what makes nepetalactone so potent

In addition, they have also discovered that the strong smell of catnip targets specific receptors, activating the same neural pathways that use sex pheromones in the cat’s brain. Therefore, this herb also acts as an aphrodisiac for cats.

In Nature Chemical Biology, also led by Benjamin Lichman, it was pointed out that catnip can help synthesize chemicals for human health, such as vinblastine, which is used in chemotherapy.

Catnip: what it is for and why it attracts cats so much

The effects of catnip (Nepeta cataria), also known as catnip, on cats have been known for many years. It is a plant similar to mint, sold in seeds in some pet shops.

When rubbing against or smelling its flowers, cats purr and are often playful and wild. So much so that many times ” hallucinogenic effects ” are attributed to this plant. 

“Even in the famous musical Cats, there are scenes where you see a cat intoxicate another cat using catnip powder,” says Masao Miyazaki, an animal behavior researcher at Iwate University in Japan.

What is catnip for?

Domestic cats can be attracted to catnip and the leaves of its Asian counterpart, silver vine ( Actinidia polygama ).

In addition to seedlings, catnip is marketed in various forms, often offered  as a “stimulant.” In Argentina, it is obtained, for example, in toys (there are balls filled with these seeds) and in scratchers (some bring a bag with roots to incorporate).

Catnip What Is Cat Grass? Learn How to Grow 2023

Cats can use catnip to protect themselves from bites.

Felines often show an unusual but characteristic response to these plants. It consists of licking and chewing them, rubbing their faces and heads against them, and even rolling on them.Owners frequently interpreted this as playful behavior. Your pets appear to be “intoxicated” by these species. But, for a long time, the reasons were a mystery. 

In previous work, Miyazaki and his team showed that these components effectively repel Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.Therefore, the researchers noted cats’ rubbing and rolling behavior might protect them from bites.

Why do cats harm catnip?

The research group sought to discover why cats experience catnip or silvervine; they go ” a little wild ” – rubbing it, rolling on it, chewing it, and licking it aggressively.

“It is widely accepted that they have intoxicating properties. But this may not be the only reason cats rub and chew them with such enthusiasm,” indicates the study published in iScience.The leaves of catnip and silver vine have compounds called nepetalactone and nepetalactone. They are two iridoids that protect plants from pests.

In this new research, scientists showed that when cats lick, chew, or roll on a plant, its repellent properties are even more effective.Therefore, more significant amounts of insect repellant are released when these animals damage catnip. This indicates that the felids’ behavior protects them from pests.

new finds

To see how the behavior of cats affected the substances released by plants, Miyazaki worked with chemists at Nagoya University in Japan.

The team first focused on their observation that silver vine leaves that were wrinkled and torn by felines appeared to have a much more pungent aromatic odor than intact leaves.So, they quantified the airborne emission and chemical profiles of the iridoids. They did this before and after the animals licked and chewed on the plants.

In the future, researchers will seek out which gene is responsible for the cats’ reaction. Photo Shutterstock.”We found that physical damage to silver vine by cats promoted immediate iridoid emission, which was ten times higher than in intact leaves,” Miyazaki said.

Leaf damage not only caused more iridoids to be emitted but also changed their composition.”Nepetalactone represents more than 90% of the total iridoids in intact leaves. But this drops to around 45% in damaged leaves, as other iridoids are greatly increased,” Miyazaki details. cat grass

In the future, Miyazaki and his team will look to learn which gene is responsible for cats’ reaction to catnip and silvervine.”Our future studies promise to answer the remaining key questions of why this response is limited to felid species and why some cats do not respond to these plants.”

The so-called catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is a herbaceous plant similar to mint or spearmint that produces a very curious effect on most cats. The cats love her. But does it have any risk to your health? Let’s see it… 

What is catnip?

Catnip, catnip, catnip or catnip, catnip or Nepeta cataria is a herbaceous plant up to 40 centimeters tall with serrated leaves, similar to mint or spearmint, which gives off an intense minty odor, and it causes an excitatory reaction in about 80% of cats that have access to it. 

What do cats do when they smell catnip?

The cat’s response to catnip is similar to the cat’s sexual seduction ceremony: the feline rubs against the plant and circles around it enthusiastically. After smelling it, the animal may lick it or even want to eat it. Cats often scratch their heads against it while holding it with their front paws. This curious reaction can last between 5 and 15 minutes. 

Why do cats like it so much? cat grass

Responsible for the cat’s response to catnip is a moleculecat grass called nepetalactone. It is believed that this molecule may be related to the activation of the areas of the central nervous system responsible for sexual behavior in cats. 

What are the benefits of catnip for the cat?

Some toys and accessories for cats on the market incorporate catnip to encourage play and the animal to engage in physical activity. From this point of view, cat grass is a good ally in the fight against overweight and obesity. In addition, it stimulates them mentally, something that in etiology is known as environmental enrichment and is very beneficial for maintaining the psychological health of any animal. 

Catnip: risks

Catnip does not have to pose a risk to cats as long as the animal is exposed to this plant in moderation. However, it is good to keep in mind that the excitement that the plant produces on the cat could lead it, in some cases, to show aggressive behavior. This must be considered, especially if the cat lives with children at home. On the other hand, keeping access to the outside (windows, balconies, etc.) closed in case the cat gets out of control and loses control.

To learn more about catnip:

Efficacy and safety of catnip (Nepeta cataria) as a novel filth fly 

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Catnip What Is Cat Grass? Learn How to Grow 2023