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  • [♪ INTRO]

  • Cats are creatures of mystery.

  • Why do they always orient  themselves to you backside-first?

  • Why do they scream for food  they're not going to eat?

  • And what's with catnip?

  • Well, a team of Japanese  researchers have done what might be

  • the most fun study in the history of ever

  • and they may finally have  an answer for that last one.

  • Many cats, though not all, exhibit  a behavior similar to intoxication

  • when they encounter catnip, as well  as another plant called silver vine.

  • They rub their faces in it, roll around  in it, and generally do hilarious things.

  • Catnip and silver vine don't cause  any physical or neurological damage,

  • the way intoxicating substances can in humans.

  • And it's funny, so we humans will happily  fill cat toys with the stuff so we can

  • elbow each other and make fun of Fluffy  for being in a state we technically caused.

  • We've known for a while that the feline  love of catnip and silver vine is inborn.

  • In fact, the catnip response  is at least partly genetic.

  • For most people, catnip is just  a fun way to play with our pets.

  • But the Japanese team wanted to  know more about the how and why.

  • So in a paper published in Science  Advances in 2021, they soaked filter paper

  • in nepetalactol, a chemical isolated  from silver vine that gives it that zing.

  • When they exposed cats to  the paper, the cats responded

  • in pretty much the same way that they  do to catnip and silver vine plants.

  • That is, adorably.

  • The researchers were able  to show that this compound

  • directly activated a reward  system in the feline brain.

  • Which is a startit tells us what's  going on in their little heads.

  • But the researchers wanted  to know why such a response

  • would evolve in the first place.

  • It's super cute, but cuteness is  probably not the evolutionary fuel

  • that powered this particular adaptation.

  • For example, you might guess that humans

  • had selectively bred it into our  pets because we think it's funny.

  • But it's not just domestic cats who like catnip.

  • Other felines like catnip tooeven big  cats like lions are known to indulge.

  • It's much more likely that these  plants provide some other advantage.

  • As a starting point for a hypothesisthe researchers observed that humans

  • sometimes use silver vine as a mosquito repellent.

  • And since cats do like to roll  in catnip and silver vine,

  • the team suspected they might be  transferring nepetalactol onto their fur.

  • Which means that for cats, the stuff  may serve as both a ticket to La-La Land

  • and a way to ward off blood-sucking pests.

  • So a win-win.

  • First, the researchers confirmed that mosquitoes

  • avoided both silver vine  and purified nepetalactol.

  • They once again tempted cats  with nepetalactol-laced paper,

  • and confirmed that the cats transferred  some of the compound to their fur

  • when they rubbed their faces on the paper.

  • Then, they exposed the kitties  to a bunch of mosquitoes

  • definitely the least fun part of the study.

  • But they did confirm that  mosquitoes landed less often

  • on cats with nepetalactol in their fur.

  • This gave them pretty clear evidence  that there's a mosquito-repelling benefit

  • to playing in catnip and silver vine.

  • More research needs to be done, however.

  • Just showing there's a benefit  doesn't prove that the catnip response

  • evolved for that reason.

  • So the next step is to do genetic studies  to learn more about the genes involved,

  • and how and when they came online.

  • So I guess those poor  researchers will just have to do

  • more super fun studies with cats and silver  vine until they finally learn the truth!

  • It's rough being a scientist, you know?

  • You know what's awesome, though?

  • Making videos with the help of awesome people.

  • Especially this month's President  of Space, Matthew Brant.

  • We are so lucky to have youand each  and every one of our patrons, too.

  • If you'd like to support SciShow, you can  go to to learn more.

  • [♪ OUTRO]



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B1 中級 美國腔

猫薄荷我们都错了(We Had Catnip All Wrong)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 05 月 14 日