If you have a cat, you'd probably noticed that there are many cat toys with catnip. But, what is catnip and why your cat loves it so much?
Catnip is a plant similar to mint (they belong to the same family). In fact, catnip smells like mint. The aromatic oils of the plant make cats react in a playful, sometimes weird, way.
In particular, the substance the cats react to is nepetalactone. A molecule which causes a narcotic effect in eighty percent of the cats.
Once the cat smells the plant, the "pheromones of happiness" trigger. The cat will smell the plant, will rub against it and even will try to eat it. Your cat might even start playing as if he was hunting a mouse.
Not all catnip plants are the same. Some are stronger than others, depending on soil conditions, water availability, etc. You should also be aware that kittens (less than 3 months) and older cats might no respond. to catnip. Also, some cats do not react to the plant ever, although is uncommon.
The curious effect that catnip has on cats is used on toys and accessories to** make the game funnier** and force the cat to increase his activity. The cat will react during a couple of minutes. After that, he won't react again until one or two hours have passed.