Big Cat Rescue, based out of Tampa, Florida, provides a sanctuary for big cats such as tigers, lions, and leopards. One of the questions that workers get asked all the time is whether or not the big cats react to catnip like domesticated cats do, and the best way to find out is to give it a try!
Catnip is an herb from the mint family, and it contains an essential oil, nepetalactone, that causes cats to go nuts. However, the exact neurological response is not completely understood yet. The Humane Society's website claims, "researchers aren't sure what the neurological explanation is, but it's thought that catnip mimics feline 'happy' pheromones and stimulates the receptors in the brain that respond to those pheromones." Only about 50% of cats have a reaction to catnip, and this is because sensitivity to the herb is an inherited trait. For the cats that do have the gene for sensitivity to catnip, the reaction is amusingly bizarre. Many cats love to roll around, rub their face in the catnip, rub up against objects, or simply run like mad.
Seeing these huge, powerful creatures rolling around happily like their domesticated relatives is sure to bring a smile to your face! Did you know that big cats would respond to catnip this way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!