Catnip Madness! Why Cats are Crazy About Catnip

catnipAlthough we may not find our cats next to a lava lamp listening to Deep Purple, jokes about cats and catnip usually hint at the kind of psychedelic effect this plant has on them. From purring to “making biscuits,” our cats are full of all sorts of peculiar behaviors, so it’s no surprise to add one more baffling quirk to the list.

However, there’s much confusion about what catnip is and how it affects our feline friends. The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center are here to help unravel the mystery of catnip madness.

What is Catnip?

Nepeta cataria, or catnip, is a member of the mint family. This leafy, green plant contains a substance called nepetalactone, which is the oily compound your cat goes wild for. Catnip and its mint family members have been used medicinally for centuries by Native Americans and early European settlers.

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Who Knew Cat Whiskers Were so Critical to Feline Success?

cat whiskersA big part of a cat’s aesthetic is the fine, yet strong, vibrissae that jut out from either side of the nose. Fully equipped with sensory organs, or proprioceptors, cat whiskers are the ultimate in design and function. Responsible for helping a cat navigate the dark or negotiate small spaces, cat whiskers also communicate emotions.

A Primer

Whiskers are present on nearly every mammal, but they aren’t all equal. Cat whiskers act as antennae, pulling in environmental signals and sending them to the brain. They might add a lot to your cat’s profile, but they are downright integral to a cat’s ability to move around and hunt effectively. In short, they are among the many superpowers your cat came equipped with.

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