Catnip has long been hailed as the go-to option for cat owners who want to give their feline friend a little head rush.
Nepeta cataria, the plant behind that 'nip, has long been considered a mysterious plant that somehow gives your cat serious case of the kitty giggles. But for many cats, the substance doesn't really do the trick.
Luckily, a new study has unveiled several more options to get your cat stoned.
After years of mystery surrounding just why and how catnip works on cats, scientists finally isolated the substance that has this Cheech and Chong-style affect on the furballs: the magical compound known as nepetalactone. Researchers don't exactly know how it works, but they at least know it does something.
With this new information, molecular biologist and cat lover Sebastian Bol searched for that active compound in other substances to see if maybe they'd also have the same effect as catnip — or maybe be even more effective.
Bol, who runs a self-titled Cowboy Cat Ranch, funds his independent research often based on observations and curiosities about his own cats. In this case, one of his cats didn't respond to catnip. But his research was able to find several safe alternatives.
BEHAVIOR: Why Do Cats Like Catnip?
Compounds similar to nepetalactone were found in silver vine, Tatarian honeysuckle and valerian root. So he decided to test the substances, along with catnip, on 100 domesticated cats. It turns out, a large percentage of the cats all responded positively to each of the substances.
In fact, silver vine actually trigged an 80 percent response rate from cats — more than even catnip, which 70 percent of cats responded to. The honeysuckle and valerian root both received about 40 percent response rates. About a quarter of the cats responded to all the options, while a small handful didn't react to any of them.
The results don't explain exactly why these compounds affect cats the way they do. But, hey, if catnip isn't doing the trick for your four-legged friend, now you at least have other options to try.
Do your cats enjoy the pleasant effects of catnip? Tell us all about it in the comments.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.