Why does catnip make your cat go crazy?

You hand your cat a catnip mouse and she rubs it all around her cheek scent glands, then she starts ripping around the house. Or she dozes with the catnip mouse clutched in her paws. It is curious behavior. So what is it about catnip that makes your cat go crazy?

Catnip comes from the aromatic mint family that includes plants like spearmint and basil. The main ingredient in catnip, which makes some cats go crazy, is nepetalactone. Contrary to popular belief, not all cats have this reaction to catnip. For a cat to have an olfactory response to the plant, they must have inherited genes that respond to nepetalactone.

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