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Why do some cats ignore catnip?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

Dr. Jon – I have 5 cats and 3 love catnip – actually go CRAZY and the other 2 sort of ignore it. Why is that?

Bonnie K. – West Virginia


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email Bonnie. You wrote that a couple of your cats ignore the catnip and you wonder why?

Catnip is interesting – for all of our scientific know-how, we still have not uncovered the secret of why cats are attracted to catnip. According to a dictionary definition, "catnip is a strong-scented mint (Nepeta cataria) that has whorls of small, pale flowers in terminal spikes and contains a substance attractive to cats."

But though still a mystery, the substance that attracts cats has been isolated. It's a volatile turpenoid, and has a specific chemical name: nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is not attractive to all cats; only about 30 to 70 percent of cats are actually attracted to it. But when it works, it really works, appearing to drive cats wild with excitement.

Actually there is a gene that cats require to respond to it and only 30 to 70% of cats have it.

Thanks for your question,

Dr. Jon



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