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Chewed and Rolled: How Cats Make the Most of Their Catnip High

Cats, for the most part, are a mystery, even to those who know them best. Why do they sleep so much? Why do they want your full attention one minute, no next? How can they find their way? Back Home After being stranded for miles Year? Author Haruki Morakami, known for putting cats in his novels and essays, once Confessed I don’t know why he does that. A cat “slips naturally,” he said.

Another mystery: why do cats like catnip? When exposed to mint, which is related to mint, Majority Domestic cats will lick it, rub against it, chew on it and move around in it. They are filled with excitement, they rise above the goods. They also become wild for other plants, especially the silver vine, which is not closely related to canapپ but shows the same reaction from cats, including large cats such as jaguars and lions.

Over the years, this treatment has been another mystery about the cat. But a New studyThe journal iScience, published Tuesday, suggests an explanation of the reaction of catnip and silver wine. Bug اخترشک Effect Iridoids, the chemicals in plants that cause high.

Researchers led by Masao Miyazaki, an animal behavior scientist at Iwate University in Japan, found that the amount of iridoids released by plants increased by more than 2,000 percent when cats were harmed. So perhaps the height of the kitty offers an evolutionary advantage: keep blood-sucking insects away.

Christine Whittle, a cat behaviorist at Unity College who was not involved in the study, noted that the study was based on strong previous work. Last year, the same lab published a study that found that Cats will try their best to indulge in iridoids like DEET., Whether by rolling over chemicals or by rubbing them with your cheeks. “This suggests that cats may benefit from having compounds in their body physically,” said Dr. Vital.

Carlo Syracuse, an animal behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research, agreed. He said the evidence showed that he wanted to paint his body with a scent. But, he added, “Keep in mind that a large number of cats do not reflect this behavior. So why would they have been selected that way?”

As an evolutionary adaptation, bug avoidance iridoids Instead of helping cats avoid insect bites, vegetarians may do more to protect plants from insects. Plants are often irritated when damaged, which helps to ward off invaders, and they release other chemicals that endanger their neighbors. “Plants are experts in chemical warfare,” said Marco Gallio, a neurobiologist at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the new research.

Last year, Dr. Gallio and his colleagues Published a report Which binds the primary bug repellent, Napatalactone, to a receptor protein in catnip that irritates mosquitoes and related insects. The receptor, which is also present in humans and cats, can be blocked by tear gas. But Dr. Galloway found that although napatalactone had no adverse effects on humans and sent out spasms of ecstasy, it did activate this specific receptor (called TRPA1) in many insects – one for cats. Extra bonus that revolves around the medicine of their choice.

In their latest study, Dr. Miyazaki and his colleagues measured the chemical composition of the air above the leaves – which have become intact and deteriorated – of catnip and silver vine. They then measured the iridoid level in the leaves themselves. They found that caterpillar leaves released by cats emit at least 20 times more naphthaleutone than intact leaves, while damaged silver vine leaves emit less iridoids than intact leaves. Leave eight times more. The interaction of cats with silver bulls also changed the structure of the plant insect repellent cocktail, which made it even more powerful.

After rubbing their faces and bodies with plants, cats are sure to get a strong layer of paste eggplant.

The discovery, paired with previous research by Dr. Miyazaki and his team, supports new claims that at least part of the benefit of Kitty Catnip’s obsession is to control mosquitoes and flies. This practice, called “self-wiping,” will not be the first of its kind in the animal kingdom. Mexican spider monkeys are known. Smear yourself With a variety of addresses, perhaps for social or sexual purposes, and hedgehogs often Toxin rubbing On their spine.

Still, many questions remain unanswered, including why seemingly only felines react enthusiastically to catnip and silver wine, and why only a few of them do. Dr. Galloway, excited about the new study, offered a cautious approach. “What do I know?” They said. “I wasn’t there to watch evolution.”

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