Now that June is winding down, I thought I would end the month on a playful note: Catnip. All cats in favor, raise your paws! Here are some fun facts, along with a great local resource for some organic goodies!
You probably have seen catnip and not even realized it! A very pretty perennial with gray / green foliage and lavender flowers (Yessss – that one!) it’s ancestry traces to the Mint family – which is why you have most likely also heard it referred to as ‘catmint’.
Cats enjoy catnip by either ‘smelling’ (stuffed in a toy) or eating, which will provide two completely different reactions.
When cats play with catnip filled toys, the organic compound nepetalactone binds with their olfactory receptors and in turn stimulates sensory neurons (in other words, the smell drives them crazy), creating the urge to rub their faces against the toy, roll around and salivate. This usually lasts about 10-15 minutes. However, eating catnip actually has a calming effect, which is why it is sometimes used as an anti-anxiety aid for vet visits or travel by placing a little bit in their food.
Only cats who carry the gene will react to it, and even then cat sensitivity is not developed until your cats are at least six months old, so catnip has no effect on kittens.
It is really important to think of catnip as a special treat, and provide it in small doses infrequently. Too much can make a cat ill, and overexposure can lessen the response in cats. In fact, once the stimulating sensory experience fades, he / she won’t be able to enjoy it again until at least another 30+ minutes pass.
Finally, did you know that not all toys that contain catnip are good for cats? In fact, some add a poly fill or stuffing along with the catnip which can be dangerous if the toy is ripped open and it is ingested. Be sure to carefully inspect the toys and supervise playtime. Ideally, fresh catnip is best, but for sure hard to find and it is doubtful most toys use it.
However, if you live around Columbus, Ohio, I have a great resource for you! Janet Courtright, aka ‘Silly Grandma’, hand sews organically grown catnip into cute little pillows that your cats will love! I met Janet recently through a client who gifted me with a few of her pillows. Not only is Janet passionate about cats, her enthusiasm is contagious, which is why I am so excited to introduce you!
Each pillow sells for $2.50 (a bargain!), and comes in a variety of patterns and colors. To make sure they stand up to hours of playtime – Sharps – Janet’s sweet, 18 lb. part Main Coon is her product tester and CEO!
You can find the pillows at The Vet Clinic in Worthington (if you are lucky – they are popular and sell out quickly so call ahead). Or better yet, meet her at one of the following Farmer’s Markets (look for the Golden Harvest Honey tent):
Upper Arlington – Wednesdays 4:00 – 7:00 • 2850 Tremont Road / in the Northram Park parking lot
- Reynoldsburg – Thursdays 4:00 – 7:00 • 1520 Davidson Drive / Huber Park
- Canal Winchester – Saturdays 9:00 – 12:00 • 36 S. High Street / The square with the fountains.
Her patterns vary, and she makes special, limited edition holiday pillows along with some really fun Ohio State designs. Super cute, they also make great gifts so be sure to stock up for all of the cat lovers in your life!
Hope you get a chance to meet her and try her pillows, and learned a thing or two about catnip. You just never know when this info may come in handy! (Full disclosure: I was not aware that catnip acted as a sedative when cats eat it, so this enlightened me, and provided some ideas for future use ; )
Do you have a catnip story / tip / fact? Do tell! Drop a comment below or on Facebook, and please share this post so more cats can enjoy the fruits of Janet’s labor of love!