Wee Bit of ‘Nip

Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is a downright irresistable herb to some cats. To others, it’s just another green thing, with no special appeal. Somewhere around 50-60% of all cats show some kind of reaction to catnip, such as rolling on it,  eating it, or racing madly around the house chasing imaginary prey.

don't even THINK about messing with my catnip

Sidd says “don’t even THINK about messing with my catnip”

At Happy Acres two out of three of our felines love the stuff. They will fight over it unless we make sure each has their private stash. Sometimes I just bring it in fresh from the garden, lay it on the floor, and wait for the fun to begin. The third cat is not much interested in it.

Puddin' is rolling around on it

Puddin’ is rolling around on it

Other times I strip the fresh leaves from the stem and stuff them into an old sock and tie the end to keep the catnip in. The herb will dry inside the sock, and the cats will be happy for weeks. For the crafty, here are the plans for a neat homemade catnip mouse from the folks at Cats Ahoy Mobile Adoption Centre.

Sidd, crashed after a brief catnip high

Sidd, crashed after a brief catnip high

The catnip plant is a hardy perennial and an easy to grow member of the mint family. It grows from 3-5 feet tall, with soft greenish-grey leaves. And cats are not the only creatures that love it. Bees and other pollinators flock to it when it’s in bloom. I have a few plants growing at the edge of the vegetable garden, and the plants are never without bees when it’s blooming. Catnip grows best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Like most herbs, it does best in a soil that’s not too rich. It can be started from seed, or propagated by stem cuttings. Large, mature plants can also be lifted and divided.

Catnip volunteer

Catnip volunteer

But beware, catnip can be invasive. The seeds sprout easily wherever they land, and they can quickly wind up in places where they’re not wanted. If you cut the plants back when they start to bloom, you will keep them from going to seed, but also miss the blossoms and those insects that love them. I let them bloom away, and deal with the volunteers as necessary.

potted up volunteers make nice gifts

potted up volunteers make nice gifts

They are easy to dig up and give away as gifts for other cat lovers. Or, pull them up and give the leaves to your cats. The cats here can always use a “wee bit of nip”.

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4 Responses to Wee Bit of ‘Nip

  1. Kathy says:

    Great post on catnip! Your cats look very pretty. I have 2 cats also, one who loves the stuff and one who couldn’t care less. So, maybe it is just a food preference? They are sisters, so I don’t get it. Instead of growing the species catnip, I grow Nepeta, “Walker’s Low” from the same family, but is not invasive. It has very pretty flowers for about 6 weeks straight in May-June.

  2. Villager says:

    Thanks for stopping by Kathy. I have no idea why some cats like catnip and some don’t. I had 2 sister cats also, and one loved it and the other didn’t, so it isn’t just heredity.

  3. Gloria Bonde says:

    love your pictures and the recipes. I have a combo gardening & cooking blog. My blog is new and I’m not sure which dominates. Gloria

  4. Villager says:

    I’m not sure what dominates for me either! I grow certain things just for eating and cooking, but then I also like to grow things like yacon and then figure out how to cook them. Glad you liked what you saw here. I’ll be sure and check out yours also.

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