Coty...in the mix...as usual.
Catnip, or Nepata cataria, is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae... European colonists introduced the plant...noted for its medicinal properties (such as soothing colicky infants) into the New World. The aromatic perennial probably originated in Asia.
Once established here, the aggressively propagating plant spread relatively quickly. You can now find it, distinguishable by its cluster of whitish-lavender flowers, growing wild along many of the highways of North America.
Some years ago, scientists discovered that this plant contains nepetalactone, a hallucinogenic chemical that can induce a "pleasure" response in cats. While many cats, both male and female, enjoy it...as evidenced by short-lived antics such as rolling, rubbing and purring crazily...not every cat responds to the mint.
This indifference on the part of some cats has led scientists to conclude that responsiveness is an inherited trait. Even though a cat appears zonked on the plant and is basking in the resulting euphoria, it will still spring to attention if it feels threatened in some way. Also, it may not respond to the mint if it's in a strange location.
The quality of the strain and the form it comes in, plant or aerosol propellant, will affect a cat's response. I have found that the aroma lasts longer with the plant version. It will not harm your cat.
Although we don't know precisely why cats respond as they do, the plant is neither toxic nor addictive for cats. Owners can feel free to let their cats "party" once in a while.