Cat nip is the feline equivalent of a kilogram of Haribo to a 3 year old – one sniff, one lick and your cat lights up, everything becomes a target and multiple death rolls ensue. However .. over the years chatting with fellow cat enthusiasts we have heard that some cats are just not fussed, one cats ecstasy is another cats meh! SO with plenty of spare time on our hands we’ve been looking specifically at the best delivery system for this potent plant, spray? or raw? Are some cats really just not fussed on cat nip. The Kitty Mad house cats Jones and Mookie feature as unwitting participants in this experiment. (They have been reimbursed with food and strokes for their troubles.)
Products of Choice
For the experiment we used the following two products.
- Good Girl Catnip Leaves (25g)
- Johnsons Concentrated Cat Nip Spray (150ml)
Good Girl Catnip Leaves (25g)
Jones: Definitely had the desired effect although I had to point him in the direction of the leaves and after a couple of sniffs and a quick paw he started the trademark death roll.
Mookie: Less interested in general, actually seemed more interested in Jones performing his acrobatics than the actual cat nip leaves. Had a brief sniff but that was probably to check whether or not it was food!
Verdict: Not massively impressed if I’m honest, I’ve certainly had cat nip leaves in the past that have done the trick but this one is way off the mark.
Johnsons Concentrated Cat Spray (150ml)
Jones: Hard to put into words the magnitude of the sprays impact on Jones … it was like, for want of a better phrase, cat crack. I sprayed it on one of their toys and from another room Jones bolted in, grabbed the toy, licked off all the cat nip spray and went nuts. It’s at a point now where he recognises the bottle whenever I pick it up – desperately wanting me to spray something so he can demolish it. Wow.
Mookie: This guy is hard to please. There was definitely more interest but it was short lived, no homing beacon style pounce like Jones but certainly an elevated interest level compared to the leaf.
Verdict: The spray was a “game changer” as far as Jones was concerned. I’m slightly concerned he’s developing a dependency for it so maybe we’ll stick to the leaf!
What the scientists say
An article posted in Scientific American states how cats have a heightened response to the volatile oil found within cat nip, reacted similarly to queens that are in season. Responses can last for up to 10 minutes after which rendering the cat nip ineffective for around 30 minutes. Cat nip is part of the mint family and native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Cat nip is considered to be non-addictive and completely harmless to cats (although Jones behaviour when the bottle is picked up suggests otherwise!).
The clever part.
Nepetalactone, one of catnip’s volatile oils, enters the cat’s nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. These cells, in turn, provoke a response in neurons in the olfactory bulb, which project to several brain regions including the amygdala (two neuronal clusters* in the midbrain that mediate emotional responses to stimuli) and the hypothalamus, the brain’s “master gland” that plays a role in regulating everything from hunger to emotions.
The amygdala integrates the information flow from the olfactory bulb cells and projects to areas governing behavior responses. The hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses through the pituitary gland, creating a “sexual response.” That is, the cat essentially reacts to an artificial cat pheromone.
Source: Scientific American.
I think the spray has had a much bigger impact than the leaf purely down to it’s concentrated nature. The oils and tannin that give cat nip its potent impact are more present in liquid form then they would be from dried leaf. So in summary, if you are interested in cat nip of the nuclear variety our advice would be to stick to sprays. I’m sure Jones would agree.