Why do some cats ignore catnip?
Our question this week was:
Dr. Debra – 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
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.
First, what is 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.”
Though still a mystery, the substance in catnip that attracts cats has been isolated. It’s a volatile turpenoid, and has a specific chemical name: nepetalactone. The behavior that allows cats to be attracted to catnip is inherited as an autosomal dominant gene. It has been found that approximately 10-30 % of domestic cats may be unresponsive to active chemical nepetalactone.
Reports estimate that 30 to 70 % of cats are actually attracted to catnip. Kittens do not respond to catnip until about 6 to 8 weeks and most develop the response by 12 weeks.
But when it works, it really works, appearing to drive cats wild with excitement.
Thanks for your question,
To read most recent questions Click here!
Click here to see the full list of Ask Dr. Debra Questions and Answers!