I am a pusher. Yes, I dispense mind-altering substances at the drop of a hat ... or more likely the drop of a tail. And last week we took the dried product out of our garage and put it in a big tupperware bowl to be enjoyed through the winter.
Yes, I grow catnip. And I serve catnip. My audience? Four cats who willingly surrender to the mighty aroma of this pretty-damned common mint leaf.
According to Wikipedia: "Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their famed effect on cats—nepeta pleasantly stimulates cats' pheromonic receptors."
Pleasantly stimulating? Come on...my cats go NUTS--but to different degrees.
Backstory: Years ago (possibly ten or more?) I bought a solitary catnip plant from the grocery store and planted it in the backyard. It didn't do well. By the end of the summer, it was skanky and shriveled up and turned brown. It was a dismal disappointment.
The next summer, however, the children of most-disappointing plant said "WEEEEE!" and took off like wildfire. Said offspring of that one original plant are still seeding the backyard, much to the cats' delight.
Each kitty reacts differently to catnip. Betsy, our little black-and-white princess (also known as "the Kitten" or "Baby") eats it and rolls and rolls on the floor. But she usually only eats part of one leaf and is contented.
Chester, hubby's boy, thinks he likes fresh catnip, but he really doesn't. He'll pretend to eat it, lick it a lot, and spit it out. It's the dried stuff he likes. And not just any dried stuff. We ran out of our own catnip around March of this year. I bought him catnip from our local Petsmart. He let me know that this catnip was vastly inferior to the homegrown variety and he refuses to eat it. (Grrrr...and I bought two bags which he will not touch.)
Fred, my tiny son, loves fresh catnip. All I have to do is walk out the enclosed-porch door and he's sure I'm going to come back in with a whole handful of fresh catnip leaves. (NOT!--or not always, at least.) He's really good at being hand-fed fresh "nep" (as my hubby calls it). He will gladly eat whatever Betsy and Chester leave behind. He never gets silly, and he's always appreciative.
Bonnie, our gingerbread girl (because she has a nose the color of gingerbread), takes catnip best of all. She's not greedy, but she will patiently stand there and munch as long as you want to feed her. Often, she gets more than every other cat (despite Fred's vacuum-cleaner ways). Poor Bonnie has never adjusted to Fred's and Chester's arrival (and Chester arrived ten years ago). She's fearful of boys and constantly looks over her shoulder, anticipating attacks that usually don't happen. But all they have to do is LOOK AT HER and she will scream bloody murder. She particularly likes to do this in the dead of night when you're asleep, waking you with the sure knowledge that the house is about to explode!
I have never felt guilty supplying mind-altering substances to my cats. Hell, hubby and I observe happy hour every evening...why shouldn't the cats indulge, too?
And how do you spoil your pets?