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.

The Magic of Snail-Mail: Gjeometry Crafts

Who doesn’t like finding personal mail in their mailbox?  Nobody I know, that’s for sure!  It’s become a rare commodity, so much so that many postal services are going broke.  I’m happy to report that we bloggers are doing our part, one wonderful note, card or parcel at a time.

Through my blogging community and Craft-it-Forward projects, I’ve received numerous goodies in the mail.  Last week was no exception.  Catja, over at Gjeometry let me squeak into her pay if forward list, even though I was number six and the cut off was five.  You can read a bit more about it on her blog. (Thanks once again, Catja).

Look what arrived in the mail.

gjeometry apron collage-188

Catja sent me this beautifully sewn, dual-toned apron sporting three large pockets and several tabs for holding tools.  The body of the apron is an incredibly soft rayon tweed with a subtle pattern, a cross between herringbone and check.  The face of the apron is a sturdy, floral canvas, trimmed in brown.   I *love* it!

Catja included a thoughtful note written on a card embedded with annual and perennial seeds.  I’ll be able to keep the card, and slip out the seed insert for planting next spring.  What a treasure.

embedded seed card

Bloomin’ Flower Card

The spoiling didn’t stop there.  She also sent a volume of essays called The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden.  I can’t wait to dive in.  Here’s a quote:

There’s a mystery at the heart of gardening: Why would any sane person spend hours on hands and knees, courting aching joints and a ruined back, just to raise a bunch of plants? He simple answer, of course, is that gardening is an obsession that cannot be conquered or abandoned, only indulged.  The richer, more complex and more human answer can be found in the pages of The Roots of My Obsession.

I see joyful reading ahead.

gardening essays

Personal essays on why we garden

On the subject of spoiling, our resident felines received a treat as well.  It seems, Catja’s mom is also crafty.  She knit this wooly purple octopus for the kitties.  It arrived with a small opening for cat nip, with a length of yarn attached to sew it closed.  Our catnip plant is just now dying back for the winter. I pinched off a few of the leaves for their new toy.  Here’s a shot of Mighty Mouse checking it out.

knitted octopus

Tiny octopus

Mighty Mouse loves the new toy

Mighty Mouse loves the new toy

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Catja, for your thoughtfulness.  I admire your style, your grace and your creativity.

You can check out Catja’s blog at Gjeometry.  Her kitty features prominently in most of her posts. Here are a few of my favorites:

Three Out of Four Cats Agree: Nepeta Cataria Rocks!

The verdict is in, at least as far as our cats are concerned. It’s a resounding “yes” to fresh-picked catnip. I performed this highly scientific test in random order. In other words, whatever feline showed interest first. Since Lindy, 10, had her eye on the plant, I started with her. She immediately dove into the lawn where I placed the catnip, rubbing her chin against the leaves.  I pulled my hand away to take the picture, and she continued to nuzzle the leaves. Next up, Beijing, 15,who came by to see what all the fuss was about. She leaned down to smell it, rubbed it a bit, then picked it up and took a nibble. Tasty!  Slinky, 2, is a wild one, frightened of just about everything. She took some coaxing, but once she got a whiff of the catnip she immediately took to the scent as well.

Neighbor kitty hung out on the fence, observing the tests and making sure I didn’t falsify the results and jeopardize my catnip seed funding.

Lindy-Lu gives it a Paws-Up

Beijing Finds it Tasty

Slinky Says Yes to Catnip

Neighbor Kitty: I’ve got my eye on you!

You can read more about the properties of Nepeta cataria, also known as catnip or cat mint here.