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Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:45 AM

We finally know why cats love catnip: it protected their ancestors in the wild

If you have a cat ó and Iím thinking at least, what, 2 or 3 Daily Kos users have cats, right? ó you know what happens when they get a hold of a toy with catnip in it. They donít just act happy; they rub their faces on it, they grab it with their front paws and kick it with their hind legs, they lick it, they roll on it, and so forth.

It seems strange that smelling this one particular plant should have such an effect on them. Did they evolve this for some reason, or is it just an accident, a coincidence? And if they did, how on Earth does it help them? How does flopping around on your belly in the wild help you survive or procreate?

Now researchers in Japan and the UK, led by Masao Miyazaki, have explained what they believe to be the solution, in Science Advances on January 20. Even your cat can be forgiven for missing this article, as there were a few other things going on that day.

Most of us with cats donít get to see them interact with whole catnip plants, but when they do, the response is very similar. They like to rub their faces on it and chew on it..

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/1/22/2010968/-We-finally-know-why-cats-love-catnip-it-protected-their-ancestors-in-the-wild?pm_source=story_sidebar&pm_medium=web&pm_campaign=recommended

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Reply We finally know why cats love catnip: it protected their ancestors in the wild (Original post)
douglas9 Jan 2021 OP
luv2fly Jan 2021 #1
Hotler Jan 2021 #2
Backseat Driver Jan 2021 #3
Backseat Driver Jan 2021 #4
Hoyt Jan 2021 #5
Ponietz Jan 2021 #6
demigoddess Feb 2021 #7

Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:49 AM

1. Catnip pops up all over our yard

I pick it and bring it inside for our two cats, one who doesn't care much for it and the other goes wild. I have to leave him alone after giving him a leaf or two or else he attacks. Happily the effects last less than a minute or so but it is funny to watch!

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:54 AM

2. Wow! thanks for sharing.. I'm going to order some seeds. nt.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:56 AM

3. For the kitty geeks:


https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/4/eabd9135

The characteristic response of domestic cats to plant iridoids allows them to gain chemical defense against mosquitoes

Abstract
Domestic cats and other felids rub their faces and heads against catnip (Nepeta cataria) and silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and roll on the ground as a characteristic response. While this response is well known, its biological function and underlying mechanism remain undetermined. Here, we uncover the neurophysiological mechanism and functional outcome of this feline response. We found that the iridoid nepetalactol is the major component of silver vine that elicits this potent response in cats and other felids. Nepetalactol increased plasma β-endorphin levels in cats, while pharmacological inhibition of μ-opioid receptors suppressed the classic rubbing response. Rubbing behavior transfers nepetalactol onto the faces and heads of respondents where it repels the mosquito, Aedes albopictus. Thus, self-anointing behavior helps to protect cats against mosquito bites. The characteristic response of cats to nepetalactol via the μ-opioid system provides an important example of chemical pest defense using plant metabolites in nonhuman mammals. [snip]

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:56 AM

4. For the kitty geeks:


https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/4/eabd9135

The characteristic response of domestic cats to plant iridoids allows them to gain chemical defense against mosquitoes

Abstract
Domestic cats and other felids rub their faces and heads against catnip (Nepeta cataria) and silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and roll on the ground as a characteristic response. While this response is well known, its biological function and underlying mechanism remain undetermined. Here, we uncover the neurophysiological mechanism and functional outcome of this feline response. We found that the iridoid nepetalactol is the major component of silver vine that elicits this potent response in cats and other felids. Nepetalactol increased plasma β-endorphin levels in cats, while pharmacological inhibition of μ-opioid receptors suppressed the classic rubbing response. Rubbing behavior transfers nepetalactol onto the faces and heads of respondents where it repels the mosquito, Aedes albopictus. Thus, self-anointing behavior helps to protect cats against mosquito bites. The characteristic response of cats to nepetalactol via the μ-opioid system provides an important example of chemical pest defense using plant metabolites in nonhuman mammals. [snip]

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 10:57 AM

5. Always wondered what this plant is --

?1611264769

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Sat Jan 23, 2021, 11:13 AM

6. Cool, but that doesn't explain the mechanism for how the cat gets stoned

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Thu Feb 25, 2021, 06:37 PM

7. I used to have a small garden planted with catnip and lavender and other smelly plants

I planted it so the cats would stop pooping in my garden, right next to the rhubarb. later, cats would come by, sniff all the plants and walk out of the garden. They were very polite, giving each other plenty of room and I said they treated it like a museum. No more poop in my garden.

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