How Catnip Gets Cats High

If you've ever fed a cat catnip, you know that they go crazy for it! What are the effects of catnip on your feline friend?

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Would you find as much enjoyment giving your cat catnip if you realized you were dosing him or her with a psychoactive drug? Sorry to harsh your mellow, but it's true. (It's also non-addictive and has no long-term effects on them either, so feel free to get back on that mellow, dude.) Catnip, whose scientific name is nepata cataria is in the of mint family (it's actually known as "catmint" by some farmers). Unlike mint, however, it's covered in tiny bulbs filled with a chemical called nepetalactone, which is released when the bulbs pop open. When 70-80% of felines inhale it, a neurotransmitter reaction in feline brains causes them to feel euphoric and intoxicated. The other 20-30% of cats have no reaction to it whatsoever - the ability to feel it is believed to be an inheritable genetic trait.

What about people? There are records of humans using catnip over the last 400 years for a variety of reasons. It's been brewed in tea, juiced, smoked, rubbed on rashes and chewed. It's been reported to do everything from having a mild sedative effect, cure colic, even cause hallucinations and euphoria, (however scientific studies have found that it has absolutely no effect on the human brain whatsoever -- it does't even have a smell.) The only use researchers have been able to find for it is as a mosquito repellant. A study from 1960 actually found catnip to be more effective and less harsh than DEET, only not as long-lasting.

Do you think drugging your cat is irresponsible cat parenting or do you think they should be able to indulge in it as long as they nip responsibly and aren't driving? Let us know your experiences with catnip - especially if you're a cat owner - in the comments below.

Read More:
How does catnip work its magic on cats? (via Scientific American)
"Cats, from our domestic companions to lions and tigers, are exquisitely susceptible to a volatile oil found in the stems and leaves of the catnip plant."

Catnip: Its Raison D' Etre (Via
"Catnip (nepetalactone) is closely related chemically to certain cyclopentanoid monoterpenes recently isolated from insects, and it shares with some of these terpenes an ability to repel insects."

FYI: Can Humans Get High On Catnip? (via
"While cats may feel effects from marijuana-no word on whether Sir Harry Paus actually likes the experience-'kitty pot' does not have a reciprocal effect on humans."

Catnip: Its uses and effects, past and present (Via