Catnip is a highly known item of interest to many a cat owner. Now, sometimes it may seem a bit mysterious to the uninitiated, or to a newer cat-owner, so my goal here is to give some history of catnip and dispel some myths as well.
What is Catnip?
Catnip is not just a toy, it is actually a plant. Since the 15th century, catnip was even used on humans as herbal remedies, including the absolutely delicious “catnip tea”, yummy. Known mostly for its interesting effect on cats, it has become associated with quite a many cat-stories and is embedded within cat-lore.
So, if wondering about catnip still has you feeling like the cat got your tongue, let’s delve and roll around in the subject. Catnip is almost compared to an aphrodisiac within cat mythology, and it has some basis. Cats less than 6 months old will not respond to its tempting effects. Additionally, only cats where catnip grows indigenously usually respond to the plant. Furthermore, there are actually genes found within certain kitties that will be affected by catnip, about 85% of cats.
What is Catnip?
Catnip is a safe psychedelic-like substance for our favorite felines, almost inducing a dream-like state. “Dude, have you seen my litter box”? can commonly be heard from cats under the spell of catnip. Different cats respond differently to catnip than others. Some meow and roll around in the catnip- in this case for those growing this herb, they may want to protect the plant with bamboo sticks so their cat can’t roll around too much and crush the plant. Some cats get into funny yoga positions and gaze up at the sky, contemplating life. Others skip around the room as if they were playing with an unseen buddy. Some focus on the specific area where the catnip was sprinkled and still others kind of veg out into a dreamlike state and not move much at all. But remember, about 15% of cats will not even respond to catnip.
Cautionary Catnip Tale
As a cat owner, I had to remove Conduit, my own little furry friend, from our secret stash of catnip. See, my wife, Cindy, was a bit too attached to our cat, and we have been having some back and forth on how to get rid of Conduit, or how to keep him. This cat has quite a personality, and if he gets within 100 meters of catnip, he starts acting a bit like a drunk. There are actually some botanical gardens that we are not allowed to enter anymore thanks to some “incidents” involving out cat Conduit rolling around in catnip and then distributing it to the local strays. The police had to arrive at 4:00am to pick up the cats and put them into animal control. When we got the one phone call, Conduit was kind of slurring his meows, and my wife Cindy just had to rush over to the station and pick him up. This is just one of many stories regarding our cat and catnip that have made me both appreciate the humor of the herb, but also to caution other cat owners of its side effects.