Do big cats like catnip?

You know that domestic cats generally like catnip. If you have a pet cat you have probably bought some catnip for your pet. Catnip is one of the treats given by cat owners to the pet. Cats would usually receive fresh catnips. Toys that are filled with catnips are given to the cat as well. Seconds after the catnip is sniffed or eaten, the cat will be in a euphoric state. It is believed that the effects of this herb on cats are not unlike the effects of marijuana on people. Catnips of course are non-addicting and cats appear to have the ability to regulate themselves. This is why even if there are catnips growing in the yard; cats would not be in perpetual state of euphoria. Aside from the obvious difference in size, the domestic cats are pretty much similar to big cats. Domestic cats love catnip. Does this mean that big cats like catnips too? Just as with domestic cats, some big cat like catnips…other would not show any kind of reaction to this perennial herb.

What is catnip and why does it has the effect of making cats go gaga for a few minutes? Catnip is a member of the mint family. It is believed that catnip is distantly related to marijuana. The hallucinogenic effect is caused by a chemical called Nepetalactone. Sniffing this chemical found in the leaves and stem of the catnip plant would cause the euphoric effect as the protein receptors in the cat’s olfactory system are stimulated. The cat will frantically sniff and lick the plant until a high is produced. The cat would roll on the ground to rub its head and body against the plant. The cat would emit loud purrs and even growl while salivating until foams form at the mouth. It is also possible that the cat would manifest an aggressive behavior towards other cats.

Pretty much the same thing would happen to tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars that happen to find catnip. An experiment on the effect of catnips to big cats was conducted. A handful of catnip was place in a brown bag and tossed to a tiger. After the first sniff, the big cat frantically tore the paper bag. After exposing the catnip within, the tiger rubbed the head and the body against the catnip. The scattered bits of catnips were licked as well. After a while the tiger is already high. It appears that catnips have the same effects on big cats. But just as with domestic cats, lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards would show different reactions to catnip. Some would appear to be in a euphoric state. Others would be hyperactive and do a lot leaping and rolling. Some big cats would manifest an aggressive behavior and would pick a fight with other animals. This reaction will last only for a few minutes. Sniffed catnip acts as a stimulant but once ingested, this herb becomes a sedative. Indeed big cats have different make up. Not all domestic cats like catnips. The same thing is true with big cats. One lion may be ecstatic at finding a catnip patch while another lion would have no reaction at all. Scientists believe that the sensitivity of cats (domestic or big) to catnips is inherited. The wiles of catnip on big cats can be associated to the response of the cats’ progenitors to nepatalactone. Some big cats would not be affected by catnips if its parents would show no reaction to this herb at all.

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