Most cat owners will have known at least one cat in their lives that were a sucker for catnip. In fact, with only 1/3 of cats unsusceptible to the appeal of catnip, the vast majority of cats go crazy for the stuff. Moreover, they particularly enjoy fresh catnip. So, why not try growing your own? It is simple and your cat will be very grateful.
Catnip: The Basics
Catnip, which is also known as catmint, is a herb that belongs to the mint family. The reason that cats are so attracted to it is an active ingredient known as
Nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is very similar to a chemical that is found in female cat urine, so it is the scent of this chemical that is so appealing to a cat.
Growing Your Own Catnip
Growing your own catnip really could not be any easier. Firstly, you will need to acquire some seeds. These can be bought from most garden stores or, if your local garden store does not stock them, a simple online search will lead you to a site that does. The best time to plant your seeds is early spring, as by mid-summer your plants will be flowering.
Catnip is a robust plant that can thrive in almost any conditions and needs very little care. However, it prefers an area that is sunny or slightly shaded. Catnip will spread quickly, so it is wise to ensure you have room for it to grow. In addition, you may find it helpful to trim the shoots of the plant, as this will promote bushy growth.
Typically, you will be able to obtain three harvests from your catnip plant in one year. The good news is that the catnip is perennial, so it will return the following spring. When your plant is flowering, you may wish to collect the flowers, top leaves, and stems, which can be either given to your cat fresh or dried for use later in the year. Some cat owners prefer to allow their cats to play with the catnip plant. Your cat will love this, but it might not do the plant any good. Therefore, if your cat is damaging the catnip plant, you may need to protect it in some way.
Drying Catnip for Toys
As the scent of catnip quickly dissipates, it is nice to keep a store to replenish any toys that your cat may have. To dry your catnip, simply place the flowers and leaves in a well-ventilated area. Once the catnip is dry, it is advisable to place it in a glass jar or another airtight container, because this will keep it nice and fresh.
Of course, you may like to make your own cat toys by sewing some fabric, such as felt or fake fur, into a pouch that can be stuffed with your homegrown dried catnip. These simple toys are cheap to make, especially if you have access to your own catnip, and your cat will have hours of fun.
Don’t Give Your Cat Too Much Catnip
Believe it or not, it is possible to give your cat too much catnip, which will cause him, or her, to lose the pleasurable affect derived from it. Generally, it is best to provide your cat with catnip, or a catnip filled toy, just once a week. Therefore, of your cat has free reign of the yard or garden, it is best to cover the catnip to prevent your cat from overexposure.
Growing catnip in your yard or garden is really very simple. So, if you have a cat with a yearning for catnip, why not grow your own?
Samantha Markham is a UK-based professional freelance writer. Currently, she is proud to be working on behalf of Remmeer.com, an online supplier of unique pet products, including toys for cats and gift ideas for cat lovers, such as cat lover home décor.
Photo. R. E. Beck