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Catnipwas first brought to this country by early colonists as an essential component of their medicinal gardens. Before long, the hardy plants escaped and soon grew wild over much of the United States.
Not every cat responds to the effects of catnip. If the cat doesn't have a specific gene, it won't react. About 80% of cats DO have the gene, and enjoy the effects of catnip, which is purr-fectly safe and non-addictive!
CATNIP is a gray-green, leafy member of the mint family. This hardy, robust perennial is native to the dry regions of the Mediterranean, inland Europe, Asia, Eurasia and Africa. It was introduced in America long ago as a popular plant in herb gardens. Catnip came to the United States along with the pioneers as a vital element of their kitchen gardens, since it is useful as a medicinal tea to alleviate coughing, cold symptoms, upset stomach and to aid sleep. The plant soon escaped the confines of cultivation and naturalized throughout much of the continent. As an herb, catnip is also employed as a remedy in the treatment of tension and anxiety, and is mentioned as being a useful calmative for hyperactive children. Also listed as a mild diaphoretic, catnip can be helpful in eliminating toxins from the body. Distilled oil from catnip can be procured from an herbal apothecary, and this oil is supposed to be a very effective appetite stimulant, and has been used in the treatment of anorexia.
CATNIP has a citrus-like scent and is sometimes called catmint. Bruising the leaves is what releases the powerful oils in catnip that so many cats find irresistible. Catnip is now mostly recognized for its use as a feline "aphrodisiac," although it's estimated that about 15 to 20 percent of cats don't have a response to catnip. The presence (or lack) of a response to catnip appears to be a genetic trait for cats. Since catnip triggers responses that are sex-behavior linked, kittens generally don't begin responding to catnip until they have started to sexually mature, at the age of six months. Studies have shown that the Big Cats (lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, etc.) also enjoy the effects of catnip.
It's the scent of catnip, not the consumption of it that has such a dramatic affect on cats. When cats are enjoying the plant, they do often chew the leaves, but this may be merely to release more of the scent that is in the essential oils. It's the chemical nepetalactone, a volatile oil similar in structure to the sedative ingredient found in valerian root, another well known sedative herb, that triggers the response in cats' brains. However, because human brains are physiologically different, we must be content to gain any vicarious pleasure through watching our cat's enjoyment of the herb.
If you would like to grow catnip, buy some seeds. Fill several four-inch pots with potting soil. Plant 10-15 seeds in each pot and water the soil. Place the pots in a warm, dark area for a few days until the seeds begin to sprout. Then move them to a sunny spot and let the plants grow until there is enough for your cat to nibble.
A cat’s sense of smell is 14 times stronger than a human’s. Besides their noses, cats can smell with something called the “Jacobson’s organ”, located in the upper surface of their mouths. This is what cats are using when they scrunch up their eyes and open their mouths after sniffing something intently.
Choosing a Cat
History, Lore, N Superstition
Words, Phrases N Expressions
Cat Quotes I
Cat Quotes II
Cat Quotes III
Pet Adoption Myths Debunked
10 Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat
Your New Cat
Introducing Your New Cat ~ Helpful Hints
Cat Body Language
Cats and Personal Hygiene
Kitty Litter Cake
Feline and Canine Internal Parasites including Heartworm
Plants Poisonous to Cats
12 Plants Poisonous To Pets
How to Tell if your Pet is Ill
Obvious Signs of Illness
Choosing a Vet
Herpes and Calici - What's The Difference?
What are Coccidia?
Examining and Cleaning the Ears of Your Cat
Naso-Pharyngeal (Nasal Pharyngeal) Polyps in Cats
How can I protect my cat from FeLV and FIV?
“Feline diabetes is NOT the
natural fate of hundreds of thousands of
pet cats world-wide. It is, rather, a human-created disease that is
reaching epidemic proportions because of the highly artificial foods that we
have been feeding our feline companions for the past few decades. Without
the constant feeding of highly processed, high carbohydrate DRY foods, better
suited to cattle than cats, adult-onset feline diabetes would be a rare disease,
if it occured at all.” — Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, JD
What Causes Diabetes In The Cat
Diets for Diabetic Cats
Feline Hi-Rise Syndrome
HOW TO TRAP A CAT
Feral Vs Stray - What's the Difference?
Understanding Feral Cat Colonies: Video Series
Low Cost or Free Spay and Neuter Programs in the US
Keeping Pets Safe In Winter
Kitty New Year
What Constitutes Animal Cruelty
I Am Your Cat
Safe House Plants for Pets N Kids
Freud N Cats
Damned Human Race
by Mark Twain
Pets are a life-long
commitment, please choose wisely!
Please Spay and Neuter Your Pets.
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