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A herb belonging to the family Lamiaceae (the mint family), the smell of which has the effect on cats of a euphoriant and intoxicant. Its main active ingredient is nepetalactone, whose structure resembles a sex pheromone in the urine of female cats and happens to fit the neuroreceptors for this pheromone in the cat's vomeronasal organ. In the presence of catnip, most cats roll around in it, paw it, lick and chew it, purr, and meow for several minutes. The response is genetically determined, approximately a quarter of cats being unaffected. When consumed by humans, usually in the form of an infusion, it can occasionally produce mild sedative effects. Also called catmint or catnep. [From Latin Nepeta cataria, its botanical name]

Subjects: Psychology — Medicine and Health.

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