Kitty Cat Secret


LOL! A cat rubbing its face all over its toys! SO CUTE! Or is it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Kitty LOVES catnip and SILVER VINE – a plant that has the same magic as catnip! But is it all about pure feline pleasure? A previous study shows the cat-attracting component in catnip can repel insects! Does silver vine have the same super-power?

Reiko Uenoyama from Iwate University in Japan and colleagues are scratching the surface on silver vine. First, they identified the HAPPY CHEMICAL inside. It’s called Nepetalactol and it increases the happy hormones in cats’ bloodstreams. 

Next, the researchers conducted a live mosquito challenge. They treated some cats with Nepetalactol on their heads. Then, they put treated and untreated cats in the chamber with mosquitoes. Mee-OUCH!? 

What happened? Treated cats were visited by about HALF of mosquitoes on their heads, as compared to untreated cats! Looks like cats ask for more than pleasure from silver vine!

Well, time to rub MY paws in silver vine!  It’s much more adorable than DEET!

References: Uenoyama, R., Miyazaki, T., Hurst, J. L., Beynon, R. J., Adachi, M., Murooka, T., Onoda, I., Miyazawa, Y., Katayama, R., Yamashita, T., Kaneko, S., Nishikawa, T., & Miyazaki, M. (2021). The characteristic response of domestic cats to plant iridoids allows them to gain chemical defense against mosquitoes. Science advances7(4), eabd9135.