Last week's post on why a catnip frenzy need not damage your self-esteem provoked some confusion among some of my readers. They wrote to ask, "What's catnip, and where's mine?"
Although I've learned that you can never underestimate human ignorance, I thought that even the most uninformed would know about catnip. I was wrong.
Deprived cats, go into action. You have an absolute right to the comfort, stimulation, relaxation, and psychedelic experiences that catnip can provide.
And a little Catnip 101 is in order, both for the inexperienced and you big-eyed felines who think you know it all. You know who I mean. You're the ones staring at a sunbeam as it makes it way around the room and leaves sparkling rainbows everywhere. Raise your paws if this describes you—unless you've forgotten what a paw is.
Why Do We Love Catnip?
Catnip contains an oil with a chemical called nepetalactone. (Relax, there will be no quiz.) It's found in leaves, stems, and seeds. Scientists say that sniffing it provides stimulation, and eating it is calming. You'd have to wonder how many cats they've observed. Most of us are sniffing, eating, and rolling in it all at once. When it comes to catnip, we're good at multitasking.
Scientists also say that catnip has no effect on some cats. I wonder if they're secretly dogs—the cats, not the scientists, although I wonder about the scientists, too. They also say that young kittens and senior cats also don’t react to catnip because its effects are connected to sexual hormones. My idea is that, since catnip makes cats act like kittens, the babies don't need it because they're already high. They certainly act that way. And maybe our senior cats prefer the quiet mellow joys of sleeping in the sun.
The catnip high lasts about 15 minutes, and a few hours have to go by before it's effective again. It's ok. You need the rest.
All Catnip Is Not Created Equal.
As long as your asking, ask for the best. You want certified organic catnip, grown under controlled conditions without pesticide involved. And let's make it pure, no fillers or additives. This also applies to catnip-filled toys, which should be marked as organic.
How Can I Get It?
If your house has a spice rack within your reach, visit it and stare longingly at items like basil and oregano. If there's any mint around, poke at it. (It may be a little too strong for you, so don't poke too hard.)
If you happen to see a catnip commercial on TV, paw at the screen—but lightly. Humans are very attached to those big flat things. Meow loudly.
If someone gives you a catnip-filled toy, tear it apart and get to the good stuff. Make sure that your human observes your state of ecstasy.
If all else fails, pray to the Great Cat Goddess that your human will become enlightened.
And don't let your humans see this video.