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Catnip Ė by Jean Atkinson, Richbar Golf and Gardens

This article goes against my grain, so to speak, as cats and I donít exactly see eye to eye. In fact, Iím so allergic to them my eyes are getting itchy just thinking about them. But, I will take one for the team. Richbar Nursery does grow Catnip and the plant does have an interesting background, so for the sake of cat lovers out there Ė here goes.

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is a hardy (zone 3) perennial herb with white flowers, blooming mid to late summer. It resembles mint with its greyish green leaves and grows to an average height of 75cm. Plant it in sun or partial sun. Plant it for your cat, but also for your own entertainment. Youíll get a kick out of watching them roll around in it.

Itís a recreational drug for cats. So far, it is still legal. Cats can enter the United States even if they have previously dabbled in it.

Catnip does not affect all cats. Only 70 percent of cats react to catnip, but those are the only ones who filled out the questionnaire honestly. Kittens fewer than 3 months of age do not react, nor does it seem to have an affect on old cats. In fact it is an inherited reaction and so some cats and their offspring will never react to catnip.

Cats release the chemical nepetlactone when they bruise the leaves and stems by rubbing against them. The chemical is inhaled and the fun begins. They may roll around on the ground, paw at the plants, lick them and chew them. Every cat responds differently .Eating the plant may cause drooling, anxiety, hissing or sleepiness. No worries though; catnip is not toxic. These reactions usually last a few minutes then the cat appears to lose interest. It may return to the plants in a couple of hours and have some fun again.

I would suggest planting your catnip patch in an area by itself. Nepeta is a vigorous plant, plus who wants a bunch of drunken cats partying it up next to your prize Fern-leaf Peony. I have to hand it to cats. At least they have the sense to roll around in an aromatic herb, whereas, dogs love old fish carcasses!

If you want to see the effect catnip has on cats check out this video.

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