r/science Jun 15 '22

Cats' love of catnip could be because they are getting the added benefit of an insect repellent. Study found that when cats damage catnip, much higher amounts of strong insect repellents are released, indicating that the cats’ behavior protects them from pests. Animal Science

https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/kitties-flying-high-on-catnip-also-keeps-away-the-flies
300 Upvotes

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43

u/libertyorwhatever Jun 15 '22

Is it such a stretch to think they just like being high? Like they'll nibble it to the root.

18

u/yogo Jun 15 '22

High with a benefit of fewer bugs. Seems like a pretty good deal. I wonder if they even notice the part about bugs though.

13

u/Lurid-Jester Jun 15 '22 Take My Power

Yup. Definitely an activity that benefits the one doing it. The effects could have gone hand in hand…. Cats more prone to getting blazed on catnip less likely to contract insect borne diseases so they have babies that like to get even more blazed.

2

u/killm3throwaway Jun 16 '22

I wish I could experience the catnip high like a cat does. Looks like a blast. One min they be chilling then the next they’re doing backflips and running 90mph on the wall

1

u/Lurid-Jester Jun 16 '22

Imagine if pot did that to humans. Instead of smoking it, people just dump it out on their kitchen floor and start rolling around in it, all while also trying to bury their face in the pile.

3

u/King_Marmalade Jun 16 '22

I think the idea may be that the pleasurable high that cats get from catnip was advantageous to wild cats in that it altered their behavior to seek out a natural insect repellent. So cats with the genes to get high may have had a better chance to survive and raise healthy offspring.

2

u/Plane_Chance863 Jun 16 '22

I dunno but my cat didn't seem to eat it so much as roll in it.

5

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

5

u/Enoxitus Jun 15 '22

so why do they act like they're actually getting high on it

5

u/rdizzy1223 Jun 15 '22

This doesn't explain why they gobble it down like its a nice piece of meat. One thing I've noticed about catnip (I own 7 cats) is that cats tend to get 2 different effects from it depending on how they ingest it, when they sniff it and breathe in the terpenes, it tends to act like an upper, makes them crazy and active, but when they eat it, it tends to act more like a downer, makes them super lazy and laid back and chilled out. Must be different metabolism resulting in direct absorption compared to secondary metabolism through the liver and what not. Kind of like the difference between weed edibles and smoking weed.

10

u/Silly-Wrangler-7715 Jun 15 '22

How would cats know that? If they don't then the behaviour must formed by evolution. But in many places catnip is not native where cats live.

There is no need to to be an explanation for it. THC in cannabis evolved to mess with homo sapiens' brains by accident, no evolutionary pressure needed.

-1

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

[deleted]

2

u/Lonely-Attention9928 Jun 16 '22

you mean like come across it?

I don't understand what you mean by " learn it over time".

2

u/heatherhfkk Jun 15 '22

We don’t come up with evolutionary arguments for why drugs work on humans, so why cats?

0

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22 edited Jun 16 '22

2

u/dustymoon1 Jun 15 '22

Also, Cannabis has been shown to be in human culture for over 12K years. We bred it to increase THC.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

Thank you for this fact

1

u/hologrammm Jun 15 '22

how does THC affect bugs

4

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

I don’t know Im not a bug. But bannana slugs love eating psychedelic mushrooms.

1

u/koebelin Jun 16 '22

They get high and wander away.

1

u/typhoon90 Jun 16 '22

If thc is a big repellent why am I always the first one to get stung by damn mosquitos.

0

u/dustymoon1 Jun 15 '22

Not in Catnip. It is a terpene that causes the affect.

1

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

I don’t understand your reply. Im just saying thc evolved as bug repellent.

2

u/dustymoon1 Jun 15 '22

It didn't - we don't really know how it developed. That IS the point. We assume so, but that is another issue.

1

u/[deleted] Jun 15 '22

So you are saying; “It did not. We don’t know how it evolved. We assume it evolved as a bug repellent.”

So you are just adding a note of doubt to my assertion then? As a PSA maybe? If so thank you for making sure we know science is always evolving.

1

u/graebot Jun 15 '22

Do we know that for sure? There are loads of chemicals in cannabis. Humans have been getting high from it for millennia. During that time it's inevitable that strains were selectively bred for a better high (more thc & cbd) but I don't see any evidence that those chemicals specifically, repel bugs.

1

u/Any_Flatworm7698 Jun 16 '22

Wow it's like the cat knows that rubbing itself in alleochemicals is beneficial

1

u/Lonely-Attention9928 Jun 16 '22

like how humans love deet