Catnip, a member of the mint family, is a harmless "high" for felines. Although many cats will eat it, scientists say they're reacting to the smell rather than the taste. Felines bite, chew, rub against, and roll in catnip to release the volatile oil trapped in the leaves. Catnip is harvested when this essential oil production reaches its peak, and leaves and fragrant flowers are carefully air-dried to preserve essential oils at their best.
About 80% of adult cats -- including lions, pumas, and leopards! -- react to this irresistible, intoxicating, analgesic soporific. The tendency to like or ignore catnip is inherited, and it's true that some cats are immune to its influence.
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