Kat or Cat commonly refers to two types of drugs. Although similar, one is the leaf from the shrub catha edulis which contains Cathinone and is also called khat, quat, kat, gat and tchat. The other is a synthetic powder which contains Methcathinone and also has the street names Jeff in Russia and Cat in the USA. The leaves have been chewed for centuries by the people of eastern and central Africa and parts of the Arabian peninsula. They are bought in bundles which one chews on for a few hours after which you get a speed-like buzz. The active ingredient was isolated in the late 1970's as Cathinone and it was just a matter of time before a synthesised version was made. Kat powder has been on the dance scene in South Africa for a while, sometimes sold in capsules or pressed into tablets, but most often as powder which is snorted.
Cathinone is a natural occurring amphetamine and ephedrine-like substance. Methcathinone is a much more potent form. Both are psychoactive stimulants and part of the emphetamine family of drugs. Amphetamines work by triggering the release of dopamine molecules from their storage vesicles in the neurons in the brain. This causes them to flow out to the next neuron in massive quantities. They also block the re-uptake of dopamine but its understoond that this is not the principle mechanism of its effects. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that regulates motor behaviour.
Methcathinone can be highly psychologically addictive, and can produce methamphetamine-like withdrawals, which is somewhat less in intensity than methamphetamine. It is highly unlikely for a methcathinone user to experience addiction on their first or even several subsequent administrations of the drug.
White or off-white powder.
Street slang for methcathinone may include terms such as Cat, Stroof, Katestroof, Jeff, Bathtub Speed, Wannabe-Speed, Kitty, Meth's Cat, Meth's Kitten or Marzipan (from smell during synthesis).
In Europe, methcathinone is primarily known as Ephedrone.
In Australia, methcathinone may be known as ketone or bk (beta ketone).
In South Africa it is primarily known as Stroof or occasionally Kat. Other local slang names include Cadillac Express, Wonder Star, Wild Cat, The C or Gaggers.
Routes of administration
Methcathinone is usually snorted, but can be smoked, injected, or taken orally.
The effects of methcathinone usually last from four to six hours.
Cat users, like users of crystal and other stimulants, often stay on "runs" for days at a time, then sleep for a day or more before starting another binge.
Methcathinone hydrochloride increases spontaneous rodent locomotor activity, potentiates the release of dopamine from dopaminergic nerve terminals in the brain, and causes appetite suppression. Users can easily forget to consume fluids leading to increased thirst and dehydration. The effects of methcathinone are similar to those of methamphetamine, initially deemed to be less intense by the inexperienced user, and often more euphoric. The effects have been compared to those of cocaine, since it commonly causes hypertension (elevated blood pressure) and tachycardia (elevated heart rate). Reported effects include:
· Feelings of euphoria
· Increased alertness
· Dilated pupils
· Rapid breathing
· Increased heart rate
· Inability to stop talking
· Increased empathy and sense of communication
· Both decreased and increased sexual function and desire
· Loss of cognitive ability relating to the distinction of relative importance of matters (ie. one might spend days thinking that he or she is being productive but later realize that the activity and/or product was not even necessary)
Injecting this substance has recently been associated with symptoms similar to those seen in patients with Parkinson's Disease.
Chronic high dosage use may result in acute mental confusion ranging from mild paranoia to psychosis.
Withdrawal symptoms include lethargy, depression, nightmares and tremors.
Overdose on these drugs can result in ‘amphetamine psychosis’, a recognised psychiatric condition. Deprived of sleep and over-stimulated, the user
may panic and become violent, manifesting magnified physical strength. They may feel they have bugs crawling under their skin, and suffer from other delusions and paranoia. Pupils will be enlarged, and heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will all be increased. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are common.
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