Spoil Kitty With Home-Grown Catnip – Here’s How
Although approximately 1/3 of cats couldn’t care less about catnip, the rest flip for it. And drool. And race around! Why do they love it so much?
This plant produces Nepetalactone oil and that acts something like an aphrodisiac for cats. Is it harmful to them? Experts say no (pdf), there are no short term or long term ill effects on them.
It’s great for those that are a little too laid back (ummm, lazy). They get a good workout and a little exercise with their happy time. If your little friend is really old or has health problems, it’s probably not a good idea to give it to her since she will get excited and hyper.
Catnip is a 50-100 cm tall herb resembling mint in appearance, with greyish-green leaves; the flowers are white, finely spotted with purple. Source: Wikipedia
Fresh leaves provide the most pleasure. Pull off a leaf or two and roughly crumple and rub the leaf a bit to release the natural chemical before giving it to kitty. If she responds to it, she’ll roll around in it, do a couple flips, maybe even drool a bit.
This plant is from the mint family and it is very easy to grow. You can try it outdoors or keep it as a houseplant. Be careful to position in a location that a cat can’t get at–they will destroy, shred and strip the entire plant if they get their little paws on it!
- The best luck I’ve had with it is in a hanging basket, then hanging it off a tree branch at the very end. Strong enough to hold the pot if it’s windy out, yet out of reach of climbing critters.
- If you live in an apartment but have a balcony, see if you can’t have a hanger bracket off the outside wall to hang the pot on. You could also try a high stool or tall legged plant holder with nothing around it for sly critters to crawl up on and tear into it. Make sure it’s very sturdy–cats are smart and they’ll bulldoze the legs out from underneath if they realize they can flip it over!
- As the plant grows, pinch the the new leaves frequently so that it bushes out, it will produce a lot more that way.
- The downside of growing it outside is neighborhood animals. I don’t get armies of them milling about, but I did have a nightly visitor or two trying their best to get at the plant.
- If you decide to try it indoors, you will need to choose a place that gets some sun–but protected from the cat somehow. The high stool or tall legged planter are probably your best choices. If you don’t mind ceiling hooks, try an indoor hanging basket. The sunnier the spot–the better.
- You can grow it from seed, but check the local greenhouse for one that’s already started. It’s a little more money, but well worth it since it’s healthy and hardy, raring to go right from the start.
If you’d like to try your hand at growing it, these are the best instructions I’ve found: wbryant.com. My goodness that’s some crazy catnip! lol!
- Don’t let your little friend have it more than once a week or so, it will lose its effect on them if they have it too often.
- Try drying some or freezing batches if you’re just going to grow it outdoors and not inside year round. I find this much more potent than any of the store bought dried variety.
- If you think your feline can’t be bothered with catnip because you’ve given her some dried stuff in the past with no effect, try some fresh. Although not all will respond to it (about 1/3 don’t), you may have a different result with fresh. My cat is one happy drooler in the summer ;).
By growing your own you’ll not only have one happy camper–you’ll also benefit by having a lush, bushy plant on your patio or hanging in the window. Win-win!
Quick Tip: Training to Use A Scratching Post
For some cats your furniture and expensive drapes are much more exciting to shred and sharpen claws on instead of a scratching post. Try rubbing some catnip in the carpeting of the post, that should do the trick in attracting kitty to use it.
Also be sure to spend some time showing her how to use the scratching post. Gently take her front paws and drag them down the post (carefully) so that she gets the idea.