If you’re wondering how catnip makes cats feel so good, you’re not alone. A recent study found that the compound nepetalactone mimics feline sex hormones and causes a short-term high in cats. The chemical, nepetalactone, binds to receptors in sensory neurons, which in turn sends signals to the brain. This short-term high is reminiscent of a human high, and the mechanism is the same.
Nepetalactone binds to receptors that stimulate sensory neurons
The chemical nepetalactone, found in catnip plants, is responsible for the “high” that cats experience. This chemical binds to receptors in the nose and alters the activity of sensory neurons in the brain. This effect is similar to that produced by serotonin in human brains. A cat will feel the high for approximately ten minutes.
It mimics feline sex hormones
The chemical component found in catnip is nepetalactone. This is a powerful herbal insect repellent and versatile essential oil. It mimics the effects of feline sex hormones. Cats that consume catnip exhibit traits similar to those of a female cat in heat. This substance can trigger a wide variety of feline behaviors including playfulness, relaxation, and even aggression. It is used both as a medicinal herb and as a tasty treat.
It causes a short-term high
While it’s unclear how catnip causes its high, it’s similar to the effects of marijuana and alcohol. Both substances stimulate brain cells to release dopamine. While cats may seem to enjoy catnip, scientists aren’t sure how the substance works. Fortunately, naloxone is available for human users and reduces the effects of the stimulant. However, naloxone does have its own drawbacks.
It causes epilepsy
Cats who have epilepsy should be given medication to control the condition. While there is no known cure, medications can reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures. Although seizures in cats are uncontrollable, they can occur in clusters that can last minutes, hours, or even days. During a seizure, your cat is usually unconscious and will not show symptoms. Once you notice that your cat is having seizures, you should immediately seek veterinary help.
It is addictive
The sensitivity to catnip is genetic and has nothing to do with addiction. Both big cats and house cats can experience a catnip effect. The effects are less intense in senior cats. While cats can be manipulated into eating catnip, the drug itself is safe to ingest. The drug nepetalactone is found in catnip and has no harmful effect on the body.