Ah, catnip. Few things are more fun than watching your cat roll around in a euphoric daze, high on a feline’s marijuana. But what exactly is the herb and why do cats react that way? Is it safe? Do big cats like lions and tigers react to catnip too? (Big Cat Rescue says yes!)
Catnip (Nepata cataria) is a member of the mint family and is distantly related to marijuana. It is not, however, the male cannabis plant as some people believe. Also known as catswort, catmint, catrup and field balm, catnip is a perennial plant native to Europe, but is now common in North American gardens and nurseries. When in full bloom it sports a purple flower that attracts butterflies and keeps away aphids, making it a gardener’s friend.
Nepatalactone is the chemical compound that, when smelled through specialized nasal receptors (, triggers the frenzied feline…
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