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Monday, August 9, 2010

Do Lions, Tigers, and the Like Get High From Catnip?


Catnip a member of the mint family popular for getting cats high, much like medical marijuana is often confused with marijuana. Big Cat Rescue, a non profit has recently released a video which shows how Tigers, Lions and the like respond to catnip.

Catnip reaction consists primarily of a unique combination of body rolling and face rubbing and is found to be independent of sex. Cats are usually found to return to the source of catnip about once every two hours to get a new dose. While not every cat reacts, interestingly reacting cats show an increase in attention paid to catnip while showing a decrease to rats. Research has shown that the chemosensory stimulus evoking the catnip reaction is mediated through the main olfactory system. Catnip activates behavioral elements associated with several species-specific behaviors, including sniffing and chewing as associated with oral appetitive behavior, rolling and rubbing characteristic of female sexual behavior, batting the catnip source characteristic of play behavior, and a type of kicking associated with predatory behavior. These behavioral reactions have been said to occur randomly and intermittently.

While it has been documented at several sources that most members of the cat family react to catnip, this is the first time there is a single video (embedded below) which shows the reaction of several members of the cat family reacting to catnip.

Also embedded below is a video from Weird Nature (a BBC/DISCOVERY series) which describes in detail about cats reactions to catnip.

Photo Credit: Flickr