catnip

If You Don’t Talk to Your Cat About Catnip, Who Will?

catnip

Catnip has been called kitty crack and cat cocaine because of the way some cats react to its intoxicating scent or after ingesting the leaves.  However, only about 50% of cats are affected by catnip, and not all cats react the same.

What causes the catnip “high?”

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and is also a distant relative of the marijuana plant.  Scientists haven’t been able to figure out how or why catnip affects cats the way it does, but they have identified the part of the plant that causes the euphoric reaction.  The plant contains a non-poisonous chemical called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is an aromatic oil found in the stem and leaves of the plant. It’s the smell of the leaves rather than the taste that sets cats off.  It is believed that cats eat the leaves because chewing on them releases more of the oils.

Catnip can be given to cats fresh, or in its dried form.  Some cats will eat the leaves, and this is perfectly safe for most cats.  However, some cats with extremely sensitive stomachs may vomit or get diarrhea after eating catnip leaves.

Look for quality catnip

Reactions from cats will vary based on the strength and quality of the product.  Cats who like catnip usually respond by rolling around in it, jumping around, rubbing their face in it, salivating, and purring.  Typically, a catnip “high” last about ten or fifteen minutes, and aftewards, kitty will most likely be very relaxed and ready for a nap.  Whether or not cats respond to catnip appears to be genetically determined.  Kittens are not affected until they’re about two months old (if they fall into the category of cats that do respond).  Chances are that if your kitten hasn’t reacted to catnip by the time she’s six month’s old, she falls into the non-responsive category.

Use catnip to train cats

For cats who respond to catnip, it can be used for training purposes.  Sprinkle catnip on scratching posts to attract kitty’s attention.  Sprinkle it on cat beds or mats where you want your cat to sleep.   If your cat reacts by becoming relaxed and mellow after use, use it before car rides, trips to the vet, or other stressful situations.

Catnip cautions

Some cats react to catnip with aggression.  They become so stimulated by the herb that they may release their excess energy by picking fights with other cats in the household, or by attacking their humans.  Unfortunately, Allegra appears to fall into this category.  She recently was given a catnip banana, and while she had a ton of fun with it, after a few minutes of playing with it, she play-attacked my leg and sunk her teeth into my ankle.  I put the toy away for a couple of days and then tried again, with the same results.  I think we’ll be taking catnip toys off the list for her, at least for now.

Interesting catnip facts

Some interesting, not cat-related facts about catnip:  it is ten times more effective at repelling mosqitoes than DEET; it has a sedative effect on humans and can be used to settle an upset stomach (as a tea); it can heal cuts (damp leaves applied to a fresh cut).

How does your cat respond to catnip?

Photo is of Amber on a catnip high after I gave her fresh catnip for the first time.

Book Review: The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie by Allan Goldstein

As much as I love cat themed books, books about cats, and books by cats, it’s rare to come across one that I absolutely cannot put down.  I started Allan Goldstein’s The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie expecting to be entertained.  What I didn’t expect was that for the two days it took me to read it, I didn’t get much of anything else accomplished, so be forewarned – don’t start this book unless you  know you’ll have a good chunk of uniterrupted time ahead of you!

Written from the perspective of an orange long-haired cat named DooDoo, The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie is the account of DooDoo’s six thousand mile journey across America.  A self-confessed catnip addict, DooDoo lived with two much adored humans after having been abandoned by his mother in the backyard jungle of San Francisco.  However, DooDoo has an adventurous streak.   One day, a sudden impulse sends him into the wilds of San Francisco and beyond.  After the initial thrill dissipates, he realizes that he is lost, and he wants to find his way home again.  Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that it would take him a year, and that along the way he would encounter a subway cat named Rass who becomes his new best friend, help a homeless drunk find his way home, a minor league baseball player and a smalltown TV reporter find the big time, and a widowed pilot find peace.

DooDoo’s adventures will touch your heart while keeping you on the edge of your seat.  Goldstein has an amazing ability to present DooDoo’s breathtaking adventures from a cat’s point of view, and at times as you may recognize your own tamed tiger’s antics in the pages.  You will be routing for DooDoo and his sidekick, Rass, as they encounter one challenge after another.  At times, I got so caught up in the action, I had to actually skip some sections to make sure that DooDoo and Rass were going to be okay and then go back to catch up on the missed details – I just couldn’t bear the suspense!

This is a wonderful, entertaining, touching and well-written book.   If you’re looking for a fun, engaging summer read, you won’t regret picking this one up.

Allan Goldstein lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jordan, and a minimum of two cats. You can  learn more about Allan on his website, allangoldstein.com. Doo Doo cat lived in San Francisco with the above family. He wants you to know he was as beautiful, loving and wild as described in these pages, and continues to be so in the eternity beyond. He considers Mr. Goldstein to be his faithful literary executor and will expect his cut of the royalties when they meet again.