Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 239–253 | Cite as

Species-characteristic responses to catnip by undomesticated felids

  • J. O. Hill
  • E. J. Pavlik
  • G. L. SmithIII
  • G. M. Burghardt
  • P. B. Coulson
Article

Abstract

Thirty-three large felids belonging to six different species were exposed to catnip 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. Both males and females of the same species tested alike. Reproductive-age adults were more sensitive than either aged or immature animals. It was quantitatively demonstrated that catnip responsiveness is not limited to the domestic cat, that it is not limited to the female, and that it varies dramatically between species and age of felids.

Key words

catnip olfaction behavior threshold response felines sensitivity 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. O. Hill
    • 1
  • E. J. Pavlik
    • 2
  • G. L. SmithIII
    • 2
  • G. M. Burghardt
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. B. Coulson
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and ZoologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxville
  2. 2.Knoxville Zoological ParkKnoxville

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