meta name="google-site-verification" content="GVVnphmDyZK4aCulqTFlYckK1HT-PjYqu1BL70ZazFA" /> Catnip Treasure: April 2009
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Sunday, April 19, 2009


Nepetalactone is an organic compound first isolated in the plant catnip, Nepeta cataria. Nepetalactone is bicyclic terpenoid, i.e. it is a ten-carbon compound derived from isoprene with two fused rings, a cyclopentane and a lactone. Nepetalactone is a cat attractant. The structure and the effects of the compound are similar to those of valepotriates. A number of isomers of nepetalactone are known.
Nepetalactone was first reported in 1941 after it was isolated by
steam distillation of catnip.[1]
The compound is also present in the wood of tartarian honeysuckle (lonicera tatarica), shavings of which are often used in cat toys.

Effects on animals
As 4aα,7α,7aα-nepetalactone it is the active chemical in
Nepeta cataria that causes its characteristic effect on cats. Around 75% of cats are affected; susceptibility is gene-linked. The chemical interacts as a vapour at the olfactory epithelium. The compound only mildly affects humans: it is a weak sedative, antispasmodic, febrifuge, and antibacterial. In high doses it also has an emetic effect. Nepetalactone also has effects on some insects: it repels cockroaches and mosquitos,[1] is poisonous to some common flies and is a sex pheromone to aphids.