Most cat owners know catnip as a treat for their feline friends to roll in and chew, but a new study finds that the common herb has qualities that repel mosquitoes.
The study, published Tuesday in iScience, revealed that compounds of catnip (Nepeta cataria) and silver vine (Actinidia polygama) — called iridoids — can act as insect repellants.
When a cat rubs against and damages the plant leaves, much higher amounts of those iridoids are released, ultimately protecting the cat from insects like mosquitoes.
“We found that physical damage of silvervine by cats promoted the immediate emission of total iridoids, which was 10-fold higher than from intact leaves,” Masao Miyazaki, lead author of the study and a professor at Iwate University in Japan, said in a press release.
According to the Humane Society, when a cat sniffs, licks, or eats catnip they experience a short-lived high. The high causes some felines to act calm and mellow, while other cats can become hyperactive and aggressive.
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