Catnip Tomfoolery

Slinky Malinki has impaired hearing and her overall senses are dulled, but her sense of smell is superb. How else to explain her catnip tomfoolery?

A domestic cat’s sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as human’s. Cats have twice as many receptors in the olfactory epithelium (i.e. smell-sensitive cells in their noses) as people do, meaning that cats have a more acute sense of smell than humans. Cats also have a scent organ in the roof of their mouths called the vomeronasal (or Jacobson’s) organ. When a cat wrinkles its muzzle, lowers its chin, and lets its tongue hang a bit, it is opening the passage to the vomeronasal.- Source: Wikipedia

Working in the garden at dusk, I looked up to see Slinky crossing the patio with determination. She headed toward a small mulch-covered patch of earth. Mouse the Cat looked on with interest, but kept a respectable distance. Slinky is a cranky, aging cat, and not one to be trifled with. He (generally) knows his place.

slinky finds some catnip

Mouse the Cat keeps his distance, hiding behind the love-in-a-mist

As I watched, she bowed her head, twisted it to one side and dove in. What odd behavior.

I crawled towards her since I was down at her level anyway pulling weeds, to see what she’d discovered. Sure enough she’d found a tiny sprig of catnip (Nepeta cataria) growing near the edge of the patio.

slinky finds some catnip

Slinky enjoys a catnip moment

slinky smelling catnip

Mmmmm, this catnip smells yummy

I planted catnip several years ago and it thrived.  Last year it died off, another causality of the drought. This year, thanks to the recent rains, volunteers are sprouting everywhere.  There are many things I didn’t set out to grow, happily filling patches of bare earth. Nepeta is one of them. It’s nice to see this perennial come back, and even nicer to see Slinky enjoying it. The plant is small and partially crushed after her romp, but it looks like it will recover.

slinky guards the catnip

This is my catnip. Don’t make any false moves

I suspect that once Slinky is slumbering on her cushions nearby, Mouse will help himself to. Lindy is quite a fan as well.

I too enjoy the subtle, herbal scent when you crush the leaves. The herb is also sold as a tea. It’s easy to understand why the kitties enjoy it so much.

I guess I better get in line.

Blooming Thursday: Flowering Catnip and the Demise of a Rose

Flowering Catnip

Here….kitty, kitty, kitty!

The catnip flowered this week, sending up delicate purple flowers, tiny in proportion to the plant.  The cats prefer the leaves anyway and we have plenty of those so the felines will be set for awhile.

Intermingled with the catnip, also known as cat mint, are peppermint plants. I inherited the mint from my friend Karen when she moved back to the east coast in the mid-nineties. She also entrusted me with her miniature pink rose, an anniversary gift from her husband. The peppermint survived three city moves, along with the rose. I’ve joked that I needed to keep that rose alive for the sake of her marriage. Truth be told, her marriage is solid and so was the rose until two summers ago when it failed to survive the final transplant. What a let down after all those years of tender care.  I console myself with the fact that her marriage thrives along with the peppermint, and further, remind myself not to take my garden failures personally.

What’s blooming in your garden today?

Flowering Catnip

Spiderweb Basket of Morning Dew

Did you hear? She’s growing this catnip for us!

Peppermint and Catnip Intertwined

Catnip: Intoxicating Perennial

Catnip Seeds

Not all cats like catnip. (Not everyone likes chocolate either, to my dismay). In my own personal experience, however the vast majority of  felines take some pleasure from this fragrant herb.  My cat Estare literally drooled the first time I introduced it.  He rubbed his little chin through the crushed leaves, over and over again.   His brother liked it okay, but for Estare it was an experience.  Our current passel of kitties also enjoy it.  We have a few handmade cat toys, sewn by our local vet and  I buy loose-leaf nip as well. It seems to relax, intoxicate or invigorate, depending on the mood.

I planted catnip several years ago and  enjoyed watching it grow into a magnificent plant.  I didn’t know it would produce such pretty little flowers or that it would grow so large.  It filled most of the space below the lemon tree, supplying us with fresh leaves for a year.  Unfortunately the lemon tree split in two during a storm.  When we removed the damaged tree, the catnip went along with it.  I never got around to planting it again.

Earlier this year Unleashed by Petco passed out a catnip-embedded card as a thank you for supporting one of their programs.  Perhaps one of the cats slipped them a fiver to remind me to get back on track.  Catnip here we come!

Freebie from Unleashed by Petco