What's your catnip regimen?
July 25, 2009 3:22 PM   Subscribe

What's your catnip regimen?

I've been a cat owner for many years, but I've never yet got the hang of catnip. I buy catnip-infused toys for my cat, and she loves them. Every once in a while I'll get some catnip and rub it into the toys, and she loves that.

But I can't help but think I'm doing something, uh, incorrectly. Like, how often do you rub your cats' toys in catnip? How often do you get new catnip? How long does catnip keep effective? If I do it too often, will my cat become a junky? And if so, how often is too often?
posted by Flunkie to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Eh, you might be overthinking this just a bit. If you supply catnip, and the cat loves it, then it is by definition effective. Ergo, if kitty stops loving it, the catnip has gone stale. I can't speak to addiction psychology (or physiology, for that matter), but I'm pretty sure that you can give her all she can stand and she won't develop a jones. Although if she starts stealing your money and pawning your stuff, it might be time for an intervention.
posted by scratch at 3:26 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

every now and again you can dump some loose 'nip on the floor and watch her roll around in it and go crazy. good times.

and, don't worry if your cat eats some of it. we used to worry, but it's safe.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:43 PM on July 25, 2009

and i now realize that didn't answer your question at all. but, i agree with scratch that you're kind of overthinking it.

we give our cats nip a few times a month. mostly just because we're lazy.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:45 PM on July 25, 2009

I tend to use catnip medicinally - for when the cats are stressed or unhappy. Say if we go away for a day or two, or there have been repairmen in the apartment (strangers scare them). I also use it to introduce them to new items that they are allowed to play with (sprinkle dried catnip on the item).
And sometimes I'll just give them a cool catnip toy for no reason, but very rarely so they don't get in the habit of begging for it.

On the other hand, one reason it's a rare treat in our house is that I buy good-grade dried catnip that has a very pronounced effect on them (crazy playing for a few hours then stoned dozing for the rest of the day). If I had milder stuff that just made them enjoy playing with something I'd probably let them have it more often.
posted by Billegible at 4:15 PM on July 25, 2009

How long does catnip keep effective?

Forgot to answer this. Dried catnip lasts forever. I've had the last batch for some five+ years (keep it in a plastic container on an inaccessibly high shelf), and it still makes 'em crazy when I sprinkle it around (I also take care to crush it with my fingers as I go along).
The container isn't even airtight, lots of teeth holes in it from earlier storage in an inadequately inaccessible location.
posted by Billegible at 4:19 PM on July 25, 2009

I probably give my cat nip 2-3 times a week, whenever he seems to be in a really playful mood. Rather than buying toys with nip already in them, I buy big bins of xtreme catnip to put in those velcro mice toys, which he likes more and ends up being much cheaper overall.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:23 PM on July 25, 2009

I store fluffy toys in bags or jars of catnip. This encourages me to rotate Bug's toys on a semi-regular basis. He loves getting the 'new' toy.

Once upon a time, I purchased a resealable plastic bag of catnip and stored it where I believed Bug couldn't get it. A day later, I woke to find my living room covered in catnip and Bug happily stoned out of his furry little gourd. Since then, I've let him keep that plastic bag (it's not soft plastic like a zippock but the harder, crinkly plastic like what you might buy dried cranberries in) and occasionally put a little more catnip in it. Bug goes crazy with that bag.

He has 24/7 access to his drug of choice. I don't think he's addicted to the stuff. Most days, he prefers playtime with me (Creature Under the Bedsheets) than with his catnip toys.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 4:34 PM on July 25, 2009

Yeah, overthinking. I give my cats catnip (loose, on a throw rug) whenever I am willing to sweep it up. They will absolutely eat through whatever packaging you keep it in. It lasts forever.

My cats get bored with catnip toys in about 3 seconds, so I just give them all the dried stuff. I am incredibly curious about the high-grade catnip.
posted by jeather at 4:50 PM on July 25, 2009

I am incredibly curious about the high-grade catnip.

Maybe I'm overstating. It was also a bunch of years ago so I'm a little fuzzy. I just remember it was local, in a big ziploc baggie and a homemade label... and it has always made my cats absolutely insane in zero seconds flat.
posted by Billegible at 4:54 PM on July 25, 2009

put some in a paper grocery bag..... you'll be amused for a while...

We grow our own.... harvest it in the fall, hang it in the garage to dry... bag it in the spring... it's a perennial, so it comes back stronger each year...
posted by HuronBob at 5:20 PM on July 25, 2009

I keep the cat toys in lock&lock container with pellet-ized catnip.

Quite simply, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is presented with an infused toy (and the accompanying human interaction) whenever she indicates she wants one.

And she indicates. A lot.
posted by Incognita at 5:22 PM on July 25, 2009

You're overthinking it.

Some years ago, I gave my old kitty a ball filled with catnip. I filled the ball to the brim. In the middle of the night, I woke up to a weird meowing. I looked under the bed and found the catnip ball broken in half and catnip everywhere. Kitty was so stoned out of her tiny brain that she was totally floppy when I picked her up. I called the emergency vet - they laughed and said she would be fine (and she was).

My current cats get high regularly. I tend to give my boys a dose about once a week. More if they're being serious PITAs. I have a special rug for them - I dump a nice pile on the rug and let them have at it. They're pretty happy with the arrangement. Are they junkies? Judging by the fact that I always come home and find the catnip container removed from the cabinet (but still closed) I would say, yes, they are. but it's ok, because they'll never go through withdrawal because I'll always be their pusher.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:32 PM on July 25, 2009

I sew up little triangles, stuff them full of nip and give them a little ribbon tail. One goes nuts. The other plays for a bit and then is done. I gave on to a friend's cat who is declawed and she said he ripped it to shreds in a matter of seconds. It is totally dependent on the cats. I try to not overindulge them, and I'm also lazy, so they get a mouse every month or so. After about two days, Absinthe has made it so nasty from slobber and dragging it around that I toss it. In my experience, catnip has never gotten ineffective from being stored in a mostly airtight container.

In my imagination you are asking about the human "catnip" and are sitting at your computer in severe disappointment at all the responses who actually think you are asking about catnip....(I have an overactive imagination) .

posted by silkygreenbelly at 6:57 PM on July 25, 2009

My catnip regimen:

1. Buy a container of catnip (my guy seems to like Cosmic Catnip best. Don't buy Hartz brand; it smells like it's about 90% mint. My female cat still likes it, but my male cat, the one who really likes catnip more anyway, is not interested).

2. Decant the container into a glass jar (I keep food in glass jars because I think logos are uggers).

3. Drop all cat toys (little balls, furry mice, etc) into the jar of catnip. Shake to coat.

4. Every couple days, give the cats a catnip-coated toy from the jar. Watch the cats go insane. Pick up the old toys off the floor and swap them into the catnip jar for a couple days.

5. Every other day or so, I give my male cat a teaspoon of catnip on the table or floor. Watch him eat it. Female cat will come over after and roll around on the same spot. I don't think you can OD them on this, so you could do it every day if you wanted.

6. If I'm not going to be home for a couple days, or if the cats seem lonely or bored, I hide teaspoon-sized amounts of catnip and little cat snacks around the house- under the table, under the bed, in the bathtub, on the windowsills, etc. Like little easter eggs for the cats to find. I usually have to feed them immediately before doing this to distract them, or else they follow me around while I do it, which kills the surprise.

7. I always clap the side of the catnip jar with the palm of my hand before giving them any catnip (ditto shaking little jars of treats). My goal is to train them to associate certain sounds with pure joy, so that when they hear those sounds they come running. This way, if they ever escape or get lost or there's a fire or whatever, they'll come bounding over to me when they hear those sounds. A couple years ago, my male cat snuck out and got lost, and my roommates called him fruitlessly for 20 minutes before I got home. I took the catnip jar into the street and beat that thing like a tambourine. 30 seconds later, he came running over, tail up and meowing happily, from way down the street.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:02 PM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Catnip is a tool. We slip it to the cats when we need to borrow their bedroom for activities (it's so nice of them to share their queen-sized bed with us, don't you think?). They also get some to calm them down when there are personality conflicts or someone needs to be lured to the vet. It doesn't get rubbed on their toys because they'll play with those anyway.

The best catnip I've found is that sold for people, anywhere where fine, legal herbs are sold. (I think people sometimes put it in capsules and take it for stomach ailments - at least that's what the guy at the health food store told us.) I keep it in a small, glass jar in my herb cabinet next to the amchoor powder and cumin seeds.
posted by zinfandel at 8:13 PM on July 25, 2009

I agree with zinfandel on "people" catnip. I get organic catnip from these guys and every now and then I hand some out to the kitteh. She never had any response to 'nip bought in pet stores but this, she likes.
posted by zadcat at 10:32 PM on July 25, 2009

Never seen it, never used it. Have happy cats. I'd presumed it was some weird Americanism. What do you want out of drugging (?) your pets?
posted by pompomtom at 9:29 PM on July 26, 2009

We also grow our own; stripped off the leaves and keep it in a big yogurt container in the kitchen. Every now and then (once every 2 weeks or so, when we think of it or when they seem to need some special attention), we sprinkle some on the kitchen floor for them to roll in and nibble. Two of our cats love it; our other seems repelled by it (actually ran from her food dish because my stepdaughter sprinkled some into it the other day! Poor kid, she meant well!).

If anyone wants to grow outside, as we do, you'll want to put some kind of cage over the plant so neighborhood cats don't rip it to pieces. We found this old cage--maybe 1.5 feet cubed--in our garage and put it upside down over the growing plant. As it grows, the plant pokes through and our cats can climb on top and nibble some fresh leaves off the plant without ruining the entire thing. At the end of the season we just dig up the whole thing and let it dry in the cage before stripping it.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:40 AM on July 27, 2009

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