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Species characteristic responses to catnip by undomesticated felids


, : Species characteristic responses to catnip by undomesticated felids. Journal of Chemical Ecology 2(2): 239-253

Large felids (33) belonging to 6 spp. [Lynx rufus, Panthera leo, P. onca, P. pardus, P. tigris, Puma concolor] were exposed to catnip [Nepeta cataria] and catnip extract. The species-characteristic response to catnip and the sensitivity of the response to various concentrations of catnip were examined. Putative relationships between catnip sensitivity, species range, age, estrous cycle and behavioral complexity are discussed. The behavioral response to catnip shown by the domestic cat is seen in several different large felids. Lions and jaguars were extremely sensitive to catnip compared to tigers, cougars and bobcats, who gave little or no response. Males and females of the same species tested alike. Reproductive-age adults were more sensitive than either aged or immature animals. Catnip responsiveness is not limited to the domestic cat, it is not limited to the female and it varies dramatically between species and age of felids.

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