What is Catnip ?
When I tell people that I grow catnip one of the first questions people ask is WHAT IS CATNIP ? So I thought it would be a good idea to write about what type of plant catnip is and how it is used.
Catnip is the common name for Nepeta Cataria, a perennial herb that belongs to the Mint family. It has similar leaves and the same square stem structure as other mints but is not generally used for cooking as the flavour is quite different to common mint. You probably do not want to use catnip in your mojito!
The main use of Catnip is as an attractant for cats and it is widely used in cat toys.
Cats react to catnip because of an inherited genetic marker that the majority of cats carry in their genes. So most cats react to catnip but a minority do not. Even big cats like tigers react to catnip so the genetic attribute that makes cats react to this herb must have evolved a very long time ago. Cats that have the ‘catnip gene’ just love catnip and each cat will have their own individual reaction to it. It is impossible to know how an individual cat will react until you actually see the cat react. I have seen cats react in all sorts of different ways. That makes it great fun to introduce your cat to catnip for the first time. When you do, make sure you have your camera ready to video it. You will want to watch it again and again!
Catnip can make a cat playful, rolling in the catnip and play hunting. This is how our Minx reacts to it. If she is given a fresh catnip toy she will ‘murder’ it thoroughly and when she has done that she will protect it from Fred and Barney. On the other end of the scale catnip makes Fred, (our CEO and main quality assurance expert) completely relaxed and chilled out. Fred’s eyes will become like saucers and he will snuggle up to his new catnip toy and snooze away for ages. Barney, likes to eat the catnip. He will nibble away at it and roll around in it. If the catnip is inside a toy, Barney will try very hard to rip the toy open to get to the catnip inside. I believe this reaction is due to the fact that cats can ‘smell’ through their mouth and that is why he wants to nibble it.
Whatever your cat’s reaction it is all due to the naturally occurring Nepeta Lactone contained in the leaves and flowers of the plant and the strength and freshness of the Nepeta Lactone is key to your cat’s reaction to catnip.
Catnip is a natural product and poor handling or long term storage will cause significant deterioration in quality. Nepeta Lactone can be lost from handling or exposure to light and this will be reflected in lower reactions in cats to the product. If you are going to give catnip to your cat you will want to give the best quality catnip both to ensure that your cat gets the best fun possible and also that the catnip is as natural and fresh as possible.
At Fred’s Catnip Farm we want every cat to be able to enjoy the best quality catnip possible and we put in the love and effort into our product so that cats and their owners everywhere can enjoy 100% natural top quality catnip fun.
So now you know the answer to the question “What is Catnip ?”