Porky — what’s up with catnip?

Dear Porky & Buddy,

Well actually this is really directed toward Porky, as I have a question about catnip.

I was talking to a friend about my plans for a new garden this spring, which I want to make safe and enjoyable by my cats, Tom, Dick, and Harry. (It is how I get through January and February without going nuts.)

Anyway, I mentioned that I planned to include a big patch of catnip and she launched into a long and angry lecture about how I should not do that because ti is a “drug” that makes cats “high” and is not good for them.

Is she right or is she just an anti-drug zealot taking out her frustration on my boys?



Dear Karen,

Wait a minute until we exhale.  No, seriously we’re just kidding. You don’t smoke catnip, you roll in it.

We have no opinion about whether your friend is an anti-drug zealot, but she is wrong about this.

Catnip is the common name for Nepeta Cataria, a member of the mint family. It is native to Europe but  is now a widespread weed in North America.

It is, however, pretty in gardens and, speaking on behalf of about 50 to 60 percent of all cats, it should be in every garden.

No one is exactly certain how the plant works in its effects on cats. The chemical in the plant that is so intoxicating to cats has been identified as nepetalactone.

It somehow causes remarkable behaviors in the 50 to 60 percent of all cats that are sensitive to the chemical. The cat will rub it, roll over it, kick at it, and seem to be deliriously happy for several minutes.

Then he will lose interest and walk away. Two hours later, he may come back and have exactly the same response.

The catnip reaction is inherited, and some cats are totally unaffected by it. Large cats like tigers and leopards sometimes react to it in exactly the same way as Tom, Dick & Harry. Picture that in your mind.

Although scientists have not determined how or why the chemical substance in catnip affects cats, they do know that it does no damage and that after the catnip “trip” the cat is back to normal with no ill effects.

Basically, if Tom, Dick or Harry enjoy it then it is a really good way to get them to play with toys more often and with more enthusiasm. And when you are strolling through the garden with them, crush a few leaves to release the scent and watch their reaction.

If they crush your patch of catnip, know that it really is basically a weed and will grow back. So have fun this summer.

But speaking of getting through the winter, you can get your own personal warming device for only $20.14 at the Warm Up Oswego Adoption Day from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Oswego Armory, 265 W. First St., Oswego. Adoption fees for cats older than six months are only $20.14 that day.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone 207-1070. Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com  Website: www.oswegohumane.org

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