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catnip :)

kevin k-mckenna at nwu.edu
Thu Jan 18 09:37:45 EST 1996

In article <Pine.A32.3.91.960117234342.37593N-100000 at nevis.u.arizona.edu>,
Sandra L Wegert <sandraw at U.Arizona.EDU> wrote:

> Hi nice people,
> I've always been curious about this, but couldn't find it
> anywhere.
> Um, does anyone know what the "drug" is in catnip?  And
> why does it only work on cats (or is that not true)?
> Any hints or conjectures would be very much appreciated,
> or you can tell me where to go (which newsgroup, that is).
> Always curious (as is Rollie, my beloved Tabby)
> P.S., I'm a grad student in Pharmacology, so I'll use this 
> information for good, not evil.

Catnip is actually not a drug. The active ingredient is nepetalactone. It
simulates a cat pheromone. It has no effect on cats if given systemically,
either by mouth or IV (unless the dose is high enough to activate
olfactory receptors from the bloodstream. It only causes the behavioral
effects by olfactory stimulation. Unfortunately, I do not know what is the
role of the pheromone that it mimics.

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