Facts & Folkore:
Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip, catswort, or catmint,is native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, and parts of China. It is also widely naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America. Catnip has a history of medicinal use for a variety of ailments and is consumed as a tea, juice, tincture, infusion or poultice, and has also been smoked. Catnip contains the feline attractant nepetalactone. Nepeta cataria is known for its behavioral effects on the cat family, not only on domestic cats but also other species of cats. Several tests showed that leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip in a manner similar to domestic cats and while lions and tigers can react strongly as well, they do not react as consistently. Common behaviors cats display when they sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. The main response period after exposure is generally between five and fifteen minutes, after which olfactory fatigue usually sets in. Roughly 33% of cats are not affected by the plant.
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