Catnip can give your cat uncontrollable euphoria and excitement. It encourages him to play, to move, and generally makes him feel good. But why does catnip attract cats and how can you use it to keep yours happy?
What is catnip?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria, cat grass, or catmint) is an herb in the same family as peppermint that has medicinal qualities. People have been using it to cure all kinds of ailments since ancient Roman times and nowadays it has been used as a herbal infusion to aid digestion. In the case of cats, the grass seems to be very attractive to them.
Do all cats react to catnip?
The excitement that catnip causes in a cat usually only lasts a few minutes, until he gets used to the chemical. In order to trigger the same chemical reaction again, it will take an hour or so. But not all cats are sensitive to it. Some are not affected at all, while most go crazy with excitement. Even some of our cats' larger relatives, like tigers, for example, are known to have had some good times thanks to it.
Is catnip totally harmless?
Catnip is not addictive and you can rest assured that even if your cat nibbles on the dry leaves, it will not do him any harm. In fact, you can buy many toys made from this herb: all kinds of stuffed toys, balls, prizes, and blankets.
Catnip can also be a great gymnastics and training tool to keep your cat healthy without her even noticing that she is exercising. You can also buy it in the form of a spray. By spraying the liquid on a scratching post, you will encourage the cat to scratch and nibble on the scratching post instead of your best chair. Not only does it help your cat break bad habits, but it also acts as an immediate reward for good behavior.
Why not grow some catnip?
If your cat likes it a lot, you may be interested in adding this herb to your garden. It's cheap and very easy to grow, and you can buy a packet of seeds at any nursery. The best time to sow it is early spring, outdoors. Catnip seeds do well in plenty of suns, so it's best to plant them in the sunniest part of the garden.
Keep in mind that plants can become very large, so you will have to leave about 10 cm between one and the other. It is a perennial herb, so it will surely grow every year unless the winter is very harsh. The seeds will start to sprout after a couple of weeks. When the plants start to grow, let them continue until they begin to show signs of flowering. Then cut all the stems about 8 cm above the ground.
Preparation of cut stems
Once you have the stems cut, you will need to dry them. First, remove the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a tray. The leaves can be placed one on top of the other until they reach a height of between 7 and 10 cm. Discard the stems and place the trays with the leaves in a well-ventilated area, making sure that the cat cannot reach them. After a couple of weeks, the leaves will have become brittle and begin to shed. When they have turned into flakes, they are ready.