Today is my cat Inky’s twelfth birthday! Full disclosure, Inky is not her real name. Back in 2006 we named her after the Egyptian goddess Isis…. Right, so instead of being flagged and monitored by the government for consistently typing “Isis” on social media, she was given a pseudonym.
Fortunately for Inky, her birthday is in springtime when the catnip in my garden is beginning to flourish. I had this great idea to give her a couple of leaves and take some birthday pictures of her. The result was predictably hilarious.
Before we get to the pictures, let’s talk a bit about catnip. Most people think of catnip as a party drug for cats. While it is fun to watch cats get a bit crazy with the catnip, it’s not just for recreation, it’s also medicinal. The active chemical in catnip, nepetalactone, along with other compounds in the plant help relieve muscle spasms, colds, fevers, diarrhea, and gas in cats as well as in people. Catnip initially acts as a stimulant, and then becomes sedative. It’s great for nervous cats. I like to give my cats a bit of catnip about fifteen to twenty minutes before I have to take them anywhere in my car. It is not recommended to give catnip to cats under six months old.
You can give your cats fresh or dried catnip leaves. Inky seems to prefer the fresh leaves, but enjoys them dried as well. My cat, Edith, however, has little interest in them fresh. She will sniff the leaves, maybe even chew it a bit, and then just walk away from them.
Catnip is super easy to grow. It is a perennial in zones 4-9 and requires full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. The more sunlight it gets, the more of the active chemical it will produce. It is also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. Catnip is in the mint family and like it’s relatives, it will take over if you’re not careful. I’d suggest growing it in pots if you’re concerned with it spreading. The nepetalactone in catnip is also a mosquito and fly repellent, so score there!
Okay, now for Inky’s birthday catnip montage!