A fun post on the science behind the feline allure for catnip. Thanks, Aida Hazlan !
Originally shared by Aida Hazlan
The Chemical Behind Catnip’s Effects on Cats
☠ – 4aα,7α,7aα-Nepetalactone is the specific isomer responsible for the catnip effect
☠ Firstly, nepetalactone will enter the cat’s nasal tissue, and there it will bind to certain receptors.
☠ These can then trigger particular sensory neurons to signal to other neurons, and eventually the brain; in particular, the ‘olfactory bulb’, a region at the front of the brain responsible for processing smells.
☠ This region then signals other regions of the brain, including the amygdala, responsible for emotional responses to stimuli, and the hypothalamus, responsible for behavioural responses to stimuli.
☠ This results in the observed response in cats – a response that is actually similar to their response to natural sex pheromones.
☠ The effect of catnip lasts for around ten minutes, and afterwards there will be a refractory period of around an hour where the cat will remain unaffected.
☠ Interestingly, not all cats are affected by catnip; the response is genetic, and autosomal dominant, which means if one parent passes on the gene, then the offspring will inherit the response.
Article source: http://goo.gl/lTHpY7
Video by BBC Nature: http://goo.gl/wLvZ5B
Read more : Inheritance of the catnip response in domestic cats , J. Hered (1962) 53 (2): 54-56 http://goo.gl/cCxU5a
#caturday #chemistry #scienceeveryday