Cats don’t just roll over and rub against catnip for the high, a new study suggests. Chemicals in catnip called iridoids also appear to protect them from mosquitoes.
Scientists at Iwate University in Japan rubbed iridoids on the heads of several house cats or allowed the cats to rub the substances on themselves. They then placed the animals near a swarm of several dozen mosquitoes. The upshot: the mosquitoes went for the faces of cats who had not been exposed to the iridoids but largely left alone those cats who had the chemicals on them.
Catnip, in other words, appears to be a twofer for cats, acting as both a pleasure-inducing plant and an insect repellent.