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There are many misconceptions about cats, drinking milk, pouncing on the nearest toy, and having an arsenal of nine lives, but how accurate are these things? Though we can disprove a lot of the latter, one stereotype is true – a cat’s love of catnip, and that love is verifiable with a scientific explanation!

Via: Flickr

Catnip and its close cousin silver vine seem like nothing special, these mint derivatives look just like any green plant, but for cats, they go into a euphoric trance that seems downright bizarre. There is actual chemistry behind this almost magnetic love. Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, and the silver vine has actinidine which means nothing to me, but according to scientists, it means something! The chewing, rolling, and smelling of catnip or silver releases the compounds and once they cling inside the nasal cavities, cats are sent into a sensory overload.

Via: Flickr

Seeing your cat so giddy may seem scary, but meddling with catnip is non-addictive, and the effect wears off after 30 or so minutes. Better yet, many good medicinal benefits don’t adversely impact your feline friend. Catnip reduces anxiety and stress, so after they leave that euphoric state, cats are more tranquil and are willing to cuddle or interact, which means playing with catnip is a good way to break their skittishness. Another benefit of catnip is its ability to reduce the inflammation, skin irritations, or stomach aches.

Via: Flickr

If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, you can upgrade from catnip to silver vine. This climbing plant has the same health benefits and effects as catnip, but with a stronger potency, almost eighty percent of cats react to silver vine. If you’re still not convinced of using silver vine consider this: silver vine functions like a bug spray. Biting and rolling in silver vine releases the actinidine which keeps those mosquitoes at bay.

Via: Wiki Commons

So there is a science behind a cat’s affinity for these plants! Though you can purchase the plant, many toys and products are infused with catnip or silver vine.