Although approximately one third of cats could care less about catnip, the majority flip for it. And drool. And race around! Why do they love it so much?
This plant produces Nepetalactone oil which acts something like an aphrodisiac for them. Is it harmful? Experts say no (pdf), there are no short term or long term ill effects.
It’s great for those darlings who are a tad too laid back (ummm, lazy). They get a good workout and a little exercise with their happy time. If your friend is really old or has health problems, it’s probably not a good idea to give it to her since she will be 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 plants provide the most pleasure. Pull off a leaf or two and roughly crumple and rub a bit to release the natural chemicals before letting kitty sample some. If she responds positively, she’ll roll around in it, do a couple flips, maybe even drool a bit.
This herb is from the mint family and is very easy to manage. Can be kept outdoors or inside as a houseplant. Be careful to position in a location where a frisky feline can’t access it–she will destroy, shred and strip the entire pot if she can get her little paws on it!
A Few Notes
- The best luck I’ve had is growing it in a basket then hanging it off a tree branch (at the very end). Strong enough to hold the pot when the wind is brisk, yet out of reach of climbing critters.
- If you live in an apartment with a balcony, see if it’s possible to attach a bracket off the outside wall to hang the pot. Another idea is to use a high stool or tall legged holder with nothing around for sly critters to crawl up and tear into it. Make sure it’s very sturdy–cats are smart and will bulldoze the legs out once they realize it can be flipped over!
- As new growth develops, pinch the new leaves frequently so it bushes out, production will increase that way.
- The downside of having it outside is neighborhood animals. I don’t get armies of them milling about, though I did notice a nightly visitor or two doing their best to stampede the treat.
- Going to grow it indoors? Choose a sunny location–but protected from kitty. The high stool is probably the best choice. If ceiling hooks are doable, an indoor hanging basket is ideal. The sunnier the spot–the better.
- It’s possible to start from seed, but check the local greenhouse for a seedling already started. It’s well worth the little extra money since it’s healthy and hardy, raring to go.
- Don’t let your buddy have it more than once a week or so, it loses its effect when they have it too often.
- Take advantage of the bounty! Dry the extra or freeze in batches to dole out over the long winter months. I find this much more potent than any of the store bought dried variety.
- If you think your feline won’t bother about the herb because you’ve given her a sample of the dried stuff in the past and there was no effect, try fresh. Although not all respond to it (approximately a third don’t), fresh stuff could give a different result. My boy is a happy drooler in the summer ;).
Quick Tip: Training to Use A Scratching Post
For some cats furniture and expensive drapes are much more exciting to shred and sharpen claws on instead of a scratching post. Try rubbing 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 it, gently taking her front paws and dragging them down the surface (carefully) so that she gets the idea.
My cats also enjoy the flowers of a fresh catnip plant. They smell a bit different from the leaf, but still have the same effect. Pinch blossoms off the plant after first bloom and they’ll rebloom and spread, too!
Hi! Over the years, I’ve noted that this tipnut.com page has referred an enormous number of folks to my “Killer Catnip Bud” page.
While my site is famous (or infamous) for all the sailboat projects, I’m amazed that the catnip page has been in the top five for many years.
I just wanted to say thank you.
I’ve said, for over a decade, that when k/c Stella Blue (the Cat) was gone I was going to sell everything and take off on the boat, and that is the plan.
However, I’ll keep the site up as long as possible. These days, keeping a web site up is cheaper than one good lunch, so we should be okay until I lose interest in lunch.
Wally I just want to say how sorry I am bout the loss of ur beloved cat stella blue..ty for the site n God bless!!!
Thanks for your note Wally :). I just checked your site again and I see that miss Stella is gone now, I’m sorry, she was a lovely cat. You really do have the best info on growing catnip, I hope you’ll keep the page up. If you decide to take the site down, please let me know–maybe I could beg you to host the catnip page here on Tipnut.
I’m wondering how I can store fresh catnip without drying it out? I’m not sure how long the individual leaves will last…
Could I potentially store fresh leaves in the fridge/freezer for a short amount of time?
Chop catnip up like you would parsley and freeze it spread out and flat on a tray and it will keep.
Spread dried catnip round the edges of the floors in your house and you will never get cockroaches!
Hi, I’m growing some catnip for the first time, and it’s been growing pretty nicely. When is it okay for me to take the leaves off the plant? It’s only been about a month and a half.
I have some very potent catnip in my garden. I try to transplant it each year to the inside but it the plant always molds on me. Can you give any suggestions? Thank you.
My wife and I are in my third set of “stray or otherwise” cats. This time sisters. Maybe forgotten by some, they are wonderful companions. Their pasts include “Stumpy” (lost his tail to abuse) B.B. (Bad Boy because at first he hated everyone), Bozo, (being hit by a car, following much care he still looked like Bozo the clown). Now “Gabby” ,no explanation, and “Tazzy” the the cartoon devil.
Both are wonderful companions. I’ve grown wonderful plants, but drying like my tea is not working for the cats. they will willingly eat all cat grass plants, not catnip leaves. Recommend?
My Russian Blues love this stuff so much I’m growing it for the first time. Remarkably easy to grow, and looks good in the garden. Only once did a neighbor cat lie in it, crushing the leaves. It sprang back nicely.