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5 Must-Know Catnip Facts

5 Must-Know Catnip Facts

Q: What is catnip?

A: Everyone has a weakness. For me, itís salted caramel ice cream. For my dog, Lulu, itís expensive shoes. For most cats, itís catnip. Here are five things every cat lover should know about this mysterious product that drives cats batty.

1. Catnip is an actual plant.
A member of the mint family, Nepeta cataria L. (aka catnip) grows throughout the United States. The plant features small, lavender flowers and jagged, heart-shaped leaves that smell faintly of mint.

2. Itís easy to grow.
Cat lovers who possess a green thumb can grow catnip from seed after the last hard frost of the season. As a perennial, this herbaceous flowering plant will return each year with proper care. Keep in mind that catnip requires plenty of room to grow and flourish, much like most felines. Once it grows, you will have the most popular house in the neighborhood ó at least among the feline population.

3. Most cats love it.
Catnip leaves and flowers can trigger chemicals in a catís brain that lead to bouts of energetic euphoria or laid-back laziness. For that reason, dried catnip and catnip-laced toys make regular appearances on pet store shelves. Mary Ellen Burgoon of Park Pet Supply in Atlanta advises cat owners to sprinkle dried catnip leaves on scratching posts as a training tool. Pinch the leaves first to release essential oils, and a little goes a long way. You also can refresh old toys by placing them in a sealed jar along with a sachet of catnip. Itís a great way to jump-start a fat catís exercise regimen.

4. Use with care.
Once cats get a whiff of catnip, itís best to leave them alone until theyíve lost that loving feeling. Catnip also can cause excessive drooling, so you may want to retrieve those cat toys after use. No one wants to step on a soaking wet cat toy. Burgoon also suggests storing catnip and catnip-laced toys in an airtight container or a cat-proof area.

5. People like catnip, too.
Catnip also can be used for tea. The presence of a chemical called nepetalactone produces sedative-like affects in humans, making catnip a popular home remedy for headaches as well as insomnia. To make catnip tea, add one teaspoon of dried catnip leaves or three to four teaspoons of fresh catnip leaves to a mug of boiling water and let it steep.

As a pet lover, I get much more enjoyment out of watching cats enjoy catnip. Weird Natureís video of cats catching a whiff of the plant is pretty entertaining. I also like to partake in a bit of digital catnip, courtesy of sites like LOLCats or Catbook. My feline-loving friends also may want to bookmark Animal Planetís Secret Society of Cat People site, although itís not so secret anymore. Enjoy!

Read more: Cats, Pets

By Morieka Johnson, Mother Nature Network

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8:57AM PDT on Aug 22, 2015

Thanks for sharing. My cat is a druggie!

1:08AM PST on Dec 14, 2013

I was reading this when watching shreck 2 , then they found puss in boots catnip!

11:40AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

My cat did like catnip when she was younger, but I didn't buy it anymore since then. Maybe I should.

2:20PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

I'm not the greatest fan of catnip--and especially not cat grass for indoor cats. Sorry.

1:51PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Great information, thanks

12:12PM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

Cute and informative, thank you!

4:37PM PDT on Mar 21, 2011

catnip, for me too? zzzzzzzzzzzzz

5:43PM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

Non of my cats fancy it, so much for the efforts of planting it!
Like the flowers.

3:01PM PST on Mar 1, 2011

How much is required for a sedative effect in humans to help with insomnia?

8:15AM PST on Mar 1, 2011

my cat loves it

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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