Why do cats like strawberries?

A family of Turkish Van cats cluster around spilled strawberries, apparently attracted by a smell similar to catnip. [Photo courtesy Stephanie Lockwood]

I recently received the following questions about cats, birds and lizards.

Q. I have had pet cats and dogs for years, but just witnessed something I have never seen before. When I set a bag with strawberries on the kitchen floor, my cat walked in, sniffed the bags, then lay down and started rubbing his face all over the plastic box that held the strawberries. Why would a cat go crazy over strawberries as if it were catnip?

A. Having had several cats myself, I long ago decided I will never understand what makes them decide to do what they do. I asked a friend who keeps inside cats about your observation. She said, “Strawberries and mint plants apparently have a chemical profile similar to nepetalactol, the attractant found in catnip. I have seen videos of cats rubbing their faces on strawberry baskets. Something definitely appeals to them.”

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