Second Chance: Got Catnip?

Second Chance: Got Catnip?

Does your cat like catnip (aka catmint, catwort, field balm)? Whether it is a wild or domestic feline, even lion, tigers and panthers just can’t seem to get enough of that crazy stuff, a fragrant herb.

Why is that?

Is it safe?

Does it mean your cat is not really a cat if he or she doesn’t like catnip?


Originally from Europe and Asia, minty, lemony, potent catnip – Nepeta cataria – has long been associated with cats. Even its Latin-derived cataria means “of a cat.” And research shows that cats big and small adore this weedy, invasive member of the mint family.

So after careful research, I discovered that a cat’s genetics determines whether your feline friend falls for this cousin to basil and oregano: about one cat in two inherits a sensitivity to the herb. But you won’t know if your kitten is one of them until sometime between ages three and six months.

Catnip’s allure is in its volatile oil, specifically one chemical in that oil – nepetalactone. Found in catnip’s leaves, stems and seeds, it only takes one or two sniffs of that magical elixir for susceptible felines to lick, chew and roll head-over-tail in kitty bliss.

Though intense, that bliss is usually short-lived, lasting only about 10 minutes for most cats. For some, the euphoria translates into aggressive playfulness. At the same time, it makes others mellow and calm. But no matter what reaction your cat has, once the pleasure passes it’ll be about two hours before kitty responds to catnip again.

The fact that cats do respond to catnip again and again, makes this a truly “special herb” to be used to both enrich its life, as well as assist with training. (Rub on scratching posts or kitty cushions to make them more appealing than furniture.)

For simple enrichment toys, sprinkle a bit of the herb into an old sock, then knot the top.

Or put a big pinch of catnip in a small paper bag and crush the bag into a tight ball.

The intensity of kitty’s response to toys and training will be affected by the type of catnip you use. While most cats enjoy the herb dried or fresh, they’re usually less interested in catnip sprays, which generally don’t contain enough nepetalactone to appeal. Catnip’s potency doesn’t last forever; the essential oils quickly dissipate. So if you buy dried catnip store, what you don’t use store in a freezer.

Catnip is non-addictive and safe to eat and this wonder plant is easy to grow in a sunny window (and will distract your cat from your other plants!).  So catnip away to give your cat happy cat naps!

My name is Spirit. I am a lovely female orange tabby of about 1 ½ years young. I am very energetic and love to run around inside the Second Chance Cat Castle. I enjoy treats, tuna, and yes – catnip. Although I am very sweet and loving to humans, I tend to play a bit too rough with other cats – so I would suggest you just adopt me and me alone – I am all the furry, purry loving you will need.


Or if you are a seeking a cat that wags its tail and licks your face, I would recommend Kelsey, a 2 ½ year young Shih Tzu weighing in at about 15 pounds. Kelsey is a sweet girl like me, but more timid at first as she is a puppy mill survivor. She has been gaining confidence every day though and gets along great with other small dogs.


Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.