Catnip Isn't Just for Fun! New Research Says It Can Also Protect Your Cat from Mosquitoes
Most household cats have adopted a reputation of being the serene, calm pets. Well, that's true until they get their paws on their favorite joy-inducing treats, including catnip. Not only will this herb send them into frenzy as they roll around and play, but the dried leaves—along with silver vine—can also help them fend off insects. According to a published study in Science Advances, researchers found that cats with catnip and silver vine on their fur actually protected them from pesky mosquitoes and other parasites, the Daily Mail reports.
To test out their theory, the researchers had 25 laboratory cats, 30 feral cats, and larger cats, which included an Amur leopard, two jaguars, and two Eurasian lynx for the study. They also wanted to see how these felines responded generally to catnip and silver vine. "Domestic cats and other felids rub their faces and heads against catnip (Nepeta cataria) and silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and roll on the ground," the researchers noted in their paper.
The team went on to explain that both silver vine and catnip repelled against A. albopictus (mosquitoes) since nepetalactol or nepetalactone ingredients from these herbs were on their fur. From there, they counted the mosquitoes that landed on the cats' heads if they did or did not have nepetalactol exposure.
"We compared the mosquito reaction between cats that responded to silver vine leaves and nonresponsive cats," said Masao Miyazaki, professor at Iwate University and study author. "Mosquitoes avoided the responsive cats. From these results, we found that the cats' reaction to silver vine is chemical defence against mosquitoes, and perhaps against viruses and parasitic insects. This was the most significant finding of our study."