Catnip is terrific stuff – we love it! The cats whiskers!
The whole subject of cat nip and cats has been extensively studied by yours truly, ‘normal’ responses to the catnip chemicals released when bits of the plant are bruised or broken (not too difficult when I down on top of the stuff) are –
- Lots of sniffing and purring
- Followed by rubbing the head and cheeks in it
- Followed by the whole body roll
- Followed by lying there in pure ecstasy
- Followed by the humans yelling at me to stop killing the plant!
Apparently about 10% of cats are not affected by catnip – but I am.
ALL ABOUT CATNIP
It is a perennial of the mint family. Catnip was cultivated for cats by the classical Greeks and Romans and reached English herb gardens in the 13th Century. Centuries ago the human used to eat catnip in salads and also used it as a seasoning – not available in Tesco these days though! The humans also make tea out of it (I’m just grateful they don’t roll in it like me – think of the damage they could do). Not all cats respond to catnip, it’s around 80% of us and only once we are over six months old. So if you have a kitten who does not respond to catnip don’t worry – they may ‘grow into it’!
Catnip is easily grown in any garden soil and may be increased by dividing the plants in spring, or by sowing seeds. The plant has an aromatic, characteristic odour, which bears a certain resemblance to that of both Mint and Pennyroyal. There is an old saying about this plant:
‘If you set it, the cats will eat it
If you sow it, the cats don’t know it.’
And it seems to be a fact that plants transplanted are always destroyed by cats unless protected, but they never meddle with the plants raised from seed. Weird but what else can you expect from us?
Butterflies also like catnip. So if you want another good reason to grow catnip you have one!
The principal culinary and medicinal use of catnip is as a tea, which is reputedly calming and sleep-inducing. Sounds like my humans need a few pots a day of the stuff! The English are famous for their tea drinking and in pre-Elizabethan times (the first one not the current one!), the beverage of choice was a relaxing cup of catnip tea. Today catnip remains one of the favourite herb teas for sending both adults and children off to sleep. Studies conducted in the late 1970s confirmed that catnip is indeed a potent sleep-inducer for humans.
For assisting in the relief of stress, headaches, tummy upsets and insomnia, a cup of catnip tea can help. It’s relaxing properties can help soothe pain, nervousness, tension and headaches. Good stuff eh?
HOW TO MAKE CATNIP TEA
To make a cup of catnip tea use 1 teaspoon of loose dried catnip with 1 cup of boiling water. Make sure the mixture is steeped only and not allowed to boil – this will spoil it. Strain and serve. Try it with lemon or sweetened with honey. Some enjoy this herbal tea with lemon and it can be sweetened to taste with honey. Catnip tea can be consumed up to three times daily.
IF YOU CANNOT GROW IT BUY LOTS OF CATNIP TOYS INSTEAD!
Yes I know we will often play with the toy for a day and then forget about it but that does not mean we do not appreciate the thought.