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Catnip: Why Cats Love It

Here is an article that Isis vet shared with me.  Enjoy!

Few things stimulate a cat’s pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant.

Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. Giving catnip in small doses does no harm. Using it as a treat can be quite good for your cat’s emotional health. It relieves stress and can help them get rid of nervous energy.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a type of mint plant found  in many countries throughout the world. It can grow up to three feet high and has many branches filled with purple flowers and heart shaped leaves.

The catnip plant has an aromatic oil called nepetalactone. When cats smell this compound, it triggers the part of the feline brain that responds to happy pheromones. This is why cats react the way they do.

Many cats seem to go crazy when they smell catnip by rolling, rubbing and running around. Eating catnip seems to produce the opposite effect. Cats often become mellow when they ingest the plant. This response to catnip usually lasts up to 10 minutes before the cat loses interest.

Catnip as a Training Tool

Creative cat owners can use catnip as a reward or incentive to promote good behavior in their felines. Rubbing dried catnip on a scratching post or cat tree can entice your cat to go there when they need to sharpen their claws instead of tearing your couch to shreds.

Lacing a cat toy with some catnip can be beneficial for inducing an indoor cat to exercise. It will encourage them to be more active and play and prevent obesity. These cat toys should be stored in an airtight container when not in use, so the catnip stays fresh longer.

Growing Catnip

You can grow your own catnip plants in a home garden. You can buy more mature plants from a nursery or plant the seeds after the last major frost of the season. It is important to put the plant in an area where it has plenty of room to grow. Take steps to protect the growing plant from your cat so they don’t tear it out of the soil before it is fully mature.

Is Catnip Right for Your Cat?

Catnip does not have the same effect on every feline. Some cats don’t care about it at all.

The love of this plant is inherited, so only 50 to 70 percent of cats respond to catnip. Kittens typically ignore it until they are three to six months old.

Catnip is non-toxic but cat owners should use caution in giving it out too often. Some cats exhibit aggressive behavior when exposed to catnip and should not have it under any circumstances.

Consult your veterinarian if you notice problematic behavior when your feline uses catnip.

 

Sources:

“Catnip Confidential,” Veterinary Practice News. February 1, 2012.

Product Review – West Paw Design Hair Ball

When purchasing this toy, remember if you leave it on the floor, or at 3am, if you get up, you might find this toy and step on it, and scream, thinking you just stepped on a mouse.  Okay, maybe that was just me, but this toy definitely scared me several times when I would spy it out of the corner of my eye.

The West Paw Design Hair Ball is a small ball, with synthetic hair/fur on it, making it look like a long haired hamster.  The toy has organic catnip inside to attract the cat to get your cat to play with it.  It is similar to stuffed mice that seem to be very popular with many cats to pounce on and throw in the air, or kick with their back feet.

I bought two or Isis to play with and at first I let her smell the wonderful catnip aroma emanating from the belly of this strange looking toy.  She became mesmerized very quickly and once I threw it on the floor, it was game over for the hair ball.

Pouncing, chasing, and kicking of this toy ensued for several hours off and on.  The toy was batted across the floor and chased after and even I got involved and shook the toy on the floor and enjoyed some play time and interaction with Isis.

Even after one month of having this toy, it is still a favorite for Isis to play with.  Every other day she seems to have a pounce or two, then puts it in her mouth and walks around with it, like she just killed her prey.

The downside to this toy is the long hair/fur.  It can come off easily and for some cats, if they swallow it, it cannot be digested so they may have it come right back up.

Final verdict: If you can get past the way it looks, and the fact that sometimes the fur falls out, it is a great toy that your cat should enjoy thoroughly.  Hours upon hours of fun can be had by your cat, and you can get involved with this toy.  I did buy two and I took the second one and tied it to a stick and I will play with Isis by swinging the toy around and swishing it just overhead so that she has to jump and play that way.  It is for sale for a modest price on wag.com.  I hope your cat enjoys it as much as Isis has.

 

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Product Review – Catit Senses Massage Center

The Catit Senses Massage Center is an interactive toy for cats that includes a brush type mounted on the side so that cats can rub their faces along it, or their body.  If your cat is stressed, wants a gum massage, or a ripple massage, this might be a great toy.  If your cat is into that sort of thing.

Many cats are picky, Isis being one of them.  She looked at the toy and hissed at it for a while, and walked widely around the toy, sizing it up, not really sure what to think.

I sprayed some feliway spray, as well as put some catnip on it and rubbed my fingers along the bristles to see if Isis would come and enjoy the wonderful, relaxing, stress free massage.  No such luck.

For weeks it sat there, not being touched by anything but my hands, begging and pleading for Isis to just try to relax and enjoy her new massage center.

So far, Isis has used the toy twice.  Once was when she was feeling particularly in a sweet mood, she rubbed her face along the bristles and I think she surprised herself at how it was kind of a bit too rough for her.  She ate the catnip off the massage center.  The second time she used the gum massage for about 30 seconds.

Final verdict: If your cat likes massage type toys, or likes to rub up against things often, this is probably great for them.  For Isis, it was not.  I donated the toy to our local shelter.  Hopefully the cats there can use it and enjoy it.  I am sure Isis was happy to see the strange alien object go.  I would not recommend it unless you know for sure your cat would like a massage type toy.  It is for sale on wag.com.

Product Review – Go! Cat Go! Wing It!

This is one crazy toy that is sure to please your kitty and offer hours of fun, interactive playtime with your kitty.

The toy Go! Cat Go! Wing It! is a ball with a stuffed toy bird inside that looks like it is kind of flapping around when you throw it.  That attracts your cat’s attention and the rolling will get your cat to play, bat at and possibly get on their back and kick at it.  Your cat may even try to bite it.  There may be some hissing as well (at least Isis did that a few times when she first saw the ball, but don’t despair, she got right into playing with it after her hissy fit, and I am sure your cat will too!)

The toy seems quite durable, made of plastic and has withstood biting and chewing and batting and being hidden under the couch and bed several times.  It even withstood almost being sucked up the vacuum.

Final verdict: I recommend this toy if your cat likes to chase and bat at things.  If your cat likes to play or if you have a small kitten that has endless energy, this may be a great toy to help expel some of that energy.  For even more added fun and to get Isis to play with the toy and not hiss at it, I marinated it in a bag of organic catnip for 24 hours and really rubbed the catnip into the stuffed bird.  This seemed to enhance the intensity of the playing, and jumping, and biting and all round fun she had with this toy.  The price is right as well.  Find it on wag.com and order it for your cat today!

Product Review – Petmate Fat Cat Classic Crackler

This is a toy that is soft, stuffed and has organic catnip inside, with some crackle type material inside that when played with, sounds like a plastic bag crumpling up.  Your cat may play with this for hours on end, and then we all know what happens next.  They tend to like to have a long nap after hard playing.

We bought this for Isis and in order to get her to play with anything, we have to play with it ourselves.  So we did for a while, then we doused it with our own catnip.  I then left it in the middle of the floor.  Isis began to stalk it, then wiggled her butt and pounced on it a good four or five times.  She continued to play with it, until she dragged it off somewhere to play on her back and bite down on it.  Each time the crackling material would make noise, it seemed to encourage her to play harder.  After all that, she had a nice, long nap.

She continued to play with the toy quite a bit over the next two months, so much so that we needed to buy a replacement because the stuffing began to spill out of it.  But at $4.49, it’s not a big deal.  We should have bought two to begin with, and if you have a cat that plays hard, you might consider buying two so that your cat never runs out of it.

Final verdict: Highly recommend for any cat that likes to play hard and likes catnip toys.  Especially recommend for kittens as this toy seems to help teach and encourage stalking and hunting skills.  The only downside is having to replace the toy, but I would think that happens to toys that tend to get played with often.  The price can’t be beat, and it is offered on wag.com.

 

Product Review – Firstrax Carpet Chase Cylinder Base Swat Toy (For Cats)

The swat toy is a cylinder shaped toy with a spring and a furry ball at the end that the cat is supposed to bat at and it will bounce right back up to give hours of playtime fun.  The carpet covering encourages the cat to use it as a “scratching post” in order to not use furniture to scratch on.

The idea of this toy is great, and if you have a kitten or a cat that likes toys that pop right back and there is no real “catch and win” with the toy, meaning the cat cannot catch the ball and drag it away, then this is the toy for your cat.  Your cat will be able to grab onto the ball but then when they release it, it pops right back up in place.

This toy…annoyed Isis to no end.  We knew it was time to get rid of it when she actually hissed and growled at it, which she NEVER does to anyone or with anything else.

We showed her how to play with it, encouraged her to play, we played with it to get her to play with it.  We put her favorite catnip on it to get her interested.  Finally one day she started to play with it and then just hissed at it and growled.   Every time she would pass by it, she would go around it with a wide birth and just never got into playing with it.

Final verdict: I would not recommend this as it sees that not many cats are interested in playing with it (after reading the reviews from other pet parents on the website).  It did not provide any fun for Isis, it was far from anything she would ever play with.  If your cat likes toys of this sort and doesn’t mind not being able to win, this is the toy for them, otherwise, steer clear of this toy.  Not recommended.

The toy is available on wag.com for $8.99, at least it wasn’t a huge waste of money.

 

Recipe Friday – Kitty Cupcakes!

Your cat is bound to love these yummy cupcakes made especially for them, with an added touch of catnip!

 
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup flour (if your cat has allergies to gluten, use about 3/4 cup of rice flour)
  • 1 Pat of butter
  • A few pinches of catnip
  • 1 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/4 Cup shredded cheese (whatever kind you have on hand will work fine)
  • 1/4 Cup milk (all kinds are good, unless your cat has an allergy to cow’s milk or to soy, then an alternative can be almond milk or coconut milk, goat’s milk, or hemp milk)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
  3. Mix all ingredients (EXCEPT the catnip) together in a medium mixing bowl, making sure that all ingredients are mixed well.
  4. Pour into the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.  Test before pulling them out with a toothpick.  Poke the toothpick into the middle of the cupcake, if it comes out clean, they are done.
  5. While still hot, lightly spread some cream cheese on the top of the cupcake as a “frosting”.  Then sprinkle the catnip on top of that.
  6. This should make about 2 cupcakes, if you wish to make them smaller, that is fine, just adjust the cooking time according to the size of the cupcakes you are making.
  7. Let cool and then serve.  You can chop it up into small bite-size pieces.  I use this as a “birthday cake” for Isis.
  8. Leftovers can be saved in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe Friday – Pancakes For Cats

These treats are different than what a human would eat, but cats love them!

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz ground beef (lean is best) (if your cat cannot eat beef, chicken is fine, fish is a bit moist for this but can kind of work)
  • 3 Tablespoons Oatmeal (you can buy gluten free if your cat has allergies)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Catnip

Directions:

1. Knead all ingredients together and form balls with it.

2. Put on a cookie sheet and flatten out to desired thickness but not so skinny so that they will burn.

3. Put under the broiler (or 425F), for eight (8) minutes, four (4) on each side OR until crisp.

4. Put on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes

5. Cut into bite size pieces and give these to your cat as a treat.  Store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.  These should keep for about 2 weeks.

Our Nocturnal Furbabies (Cats)

You know the scenario: You’re just settling down to go to sleep for the night and all of a sudden you have your crazy furball pounce on your face, or perhaps your kitty jumps on your bed and starts to meow for attention and doesn’t stop.  Why are our cats this way and what can we do to possibly change this?

As we know, wild cats tend to do their best hunting at night, thus this behavior has trickled down to our domesticated cats.  Another reason for this behavior is that our cats don’t get enough playtime during the day (because we are gone to work during the day), therefore when we get home from work, and offer food and socialization to our cats, by the time we go to bed, they are just hitting their mid-day stride.

How can we try to fix this?  We need to offer more playtime for them before we go to bed.  Make sure to feed them before bed to make sure they are full.  Also, if you work from home during the day, try to play with them more often and get them to be tired out enough by the time you go to bed.

For more information on how to make your cat tired enough to sleep at night and not use you as a springboard/jungle gym, here is an article that explains more ways to tire them out.

 

Weekly Recipe – Flaxseed Catnip Treats

I found this great recipe and tried it out, Isis is a huge fan, hopefully your kitty will be as well.  Remember to feed in moderation only.  Also, if your cat cannot handle goat’s milk you can substitute.  Cow’s milk would probably be all right as well.

Flaxseed Catnip Treats

Ingredients (makes 100 treats)

  • 1-1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup goat’s milk
  • 1/8 cup dried catnip

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, mix together the first three ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.

If the dough is too stiff to mix well with a spoon, flour your hands so you can handle the dough without it sticking and knead it.

Using a spoon, scoop up 1/4-tespoon-sized bits of dough. Form each into a small ball and place on greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper instead).

Bake for 5 – 7 minutes or until the bottoms of the treats are golden brown on both sides.

Remove from oven, let cool thoroughly, and store in an airtight container.