"Catnip" is the common name for a perennial herb in the mint family. Its scientific name is Nepeta cataria . It is native to Europe and was exported to the United States and other countries.
Given to the right cat, catnip can cause an amazing reaction! The cat will rub it, roll over, kick on it, and be crazy for several minutes. Then the cat will lose interest and walk away. Two hours later, the cat may come back and have the same response.
Although no one knows exactly what happens in the cat's brain, it is known that the hallucinogen-like chemical in catnip nepetalactone is the thing that triggers the reaction. This reaction is inherited, and some cats are completely immune to it. Large cats like tigers can also react to catnip or catnip.
The reaction to catnip only lasts a few minutes, then the cat gets used to it, and it may take one to two hours to react to the herb again. After this time, if it is stimulated again with mint, the same reaction mentioned above will occur. Very young kittens and older cats seem to have little reaction to catnip.