Feline Attractant, cis,trans-Nepetalactone: Metabolism in the Domestic Cat

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Science  13 Jun 1969:
Vol. 164, Issue 3885, pp. 1281-1282
DOI: 10.1126/science.164.3885.1281


cis,trans-Nepetalactone, the biologically active component of catnip, was force-fed to the domestic cat. When the 14C-labeled compound was fed, 86 to 94 percent of the radioactivity was recovered in the urine, 1 to 2 percent was found in the feces, and 1 to 12 percent was collected as carbon dioxide. The major (50 to 75 percent) metabolite was α-nepetalinic acid, which was excreted in the urine together with small amounts of dihydronepetalactone, unchanged cis,-trans-nepetalactone, and several unidentified compounds. No marked physiological or histological eflects were observed when 20 to 80 milligrams of cis, trans-nepetalactone was administered orally. This is the first report on the metabolism of a mammalian attractant.

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