Why your cat goes crazy for catnip | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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via Why your cat goes crazy for catnip | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

Here’s what’s going on inside your cat’s brain when he gets a whiff of this common plant.

By: Laura Moss

Tue, Sep 23, 2014

You come home to find your cat rolling around on the floor, rubbing his face on a favorite toy and perhaps even drooling a bit, and you know what happened — he got into the catnip again.
But what is it about catnip that makes your cat react this way?
Catnip is a plant in the mint family that produces a chemical called nepetalactone. When a feline inhales nepetalactone, the chemical binds to receptors in the cat’s nasal tissues, which activates sensory neurons in the brain.
This stimulates activity in the olfactory bulb of the brain, as well as the amygdala — the part of the brain that controls emotional…

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