Asked by: Rachel Coss, Littlehampton
The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone. This is a volatile oil, which binds to the sensory receptors in a cat’s nose that are normally used to detect sexual pheromones. This creates a ‘high’ that lasts for about 10 minutes and is perfectly non-addictive and harmless to the cat. But about a quarter of cats lack the gene that allows them to enjoy catnip, and kittens under eight weeks seem to be actively repelled by it.
Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.