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posted by hubie on Sunday June 19, @03:57AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the certain-kinds-of-weed-is-catnip-for-humans dept.

Why do cats lick and chew catnip? Researchers find an answer

Anyone who has seen a cat experience catnip knows that it makes them go a bit wild—they rub in it, roll on it, chew it, and lick it aggressively. It is widely accepted that this plant, and its Asian counterpart, silvervine, have intoxicative properties, but this might not be the only reason that cats rub on and chew the plants so enthusiastically. Researchers in Japan have found that when cats damage catnip, much higher amounts of strong insect repellents are released, indicating that the cats' behavior protects them from pests. This study appears in the journal iScience on June 14.

Catnip and silvervine leaves contain the compounds nepetalactol and nepetalactone, iridoids that protect the plants from pests. To see how cats' behavior was affecting the chemicals released by the plants, Miyazaki worked with chemists at Nagoya University. "We found that physical damage of silvervine by cats promoted the immediate emission of total iridoids, which was 10-fold higher than from intact leaves," says Miyazaki.

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[....] To test if the felines were reacting to these compounds specifically, the cats were given dishes with pure nepetalactone and nepetalactol. "Cats show the same response to iridoid cocktails and natural plants except for chewing," says Miyazaki. They lick the chemicals on the plastic dish and rub against and roll over on the dish."

"When iridoid cocktails were applied on the bottom of dishes that were then covered by a punctured plastic cover, cats still exhibited licking and chewing even though they couldn't contact the chemicals directly," says Miyazaki. "This means that licking and chewing is an instinctive behavior elicited by olfactory stimulation of iridoids."

A form of catnip for Chinese bears would cause pandamoanium.


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @04:27AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @04:27AM (#1254337)

    Because cats are evil. Beautiful, nasty, narcotic evil.

    Fuck cats.

    No, not like that, not literally.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @04:40AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @04:40AM (#1254340)

      Isn't it time you came out of the closet?

      Pussy hater.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @06:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @06:31AM (#1254353)

        If fucking pussy is a crime, I am guilty.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @05:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @05:43AM (#1254346)
  • (Score: 1, Troll) by aliks on Sunday June 19, @06:23AM

    by aliks (357) on Sunday June 19, @06:23AM (#1254350)

    And whether they do shit in the woods?

    Must be some grant money in that key question.

    --
    To err is human, to comment divine
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by aliks on Sunday June 19, @06:26AM (4 children)

    by aliks (357) on Sunday June 19, @06:26AM (#1254352)

    Anyone who has seen a researcher experience grant money knows that it makes them go a bit wild—they rub in it, roll on it, chew it, and lick it aggressively. It is widely accepted that this money, and its Asian counterpart, bitcoin, have intoxicative properties, but this might not be the only reason that researchers rub on and chew the topic so enthusiastically.

    Researchers in Japan have found that when researchers damage their budgets, much higher amounts of strong bullshit are released, indicating that the researchers' behavior protects them from government imposed cuts. This study appears in the journal iBlahblabblah on April 1.

    --
    To err is human, to comment divine
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:29AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:29AM (#1254355)

      they rub in it, roll on it, chew it, and lick it aggressively.

      Not all of them, no [vox.com]

      Another difference between catnip and the drugs humans use is that not all cats are susceptible to it. It's estimated that around 70 percent to 80 percent are affected, and that the trait is passed on genetically. "They either react or they don't," Grognet says. "There's no in between." Lots of wild cats, like lions and tigers, are also susceptible.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @01:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @01:17PM (#1254391)

      Show us on the doll where the scientist touched you.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday June 20, @05:19PM

      by Freeman (732) on Monday June 20, @05:19PM (#1254672) Journal

      Sounds like you have a great hypothesis! Get to writing that grant! I expect you proposal in a journal post, soon™.

      --
      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday June 19, @01:22PM

    by looorg (578) on Sunday June 19, @01:22PM (#1254392)

    Why do dogs lick their balls? Cause they can and it probably feels nice. But beyond that I would assume the main reason cats like catnip is for euphoria, to get high. It's sort of like kitty-cocaine? Question then I guess is if the "pest-repellent" is a side-effect or the main effect? As in do they mainly do it for the protection or for the fun effect?

    That said I can't say I have really noticed a lot of cats getting flees, bugs and pests so I don't know how much repellent they really need. What do they do to their cats in Japan? If they have these problems.

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