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Catnip

Keeping your hippy cat happy.

Do you love your kitty? Do you really? Prove it. And forget the cat treats at 48.7 cents per ounce in the pet food aisle. There's no easier, elegant or more economical means to pamper your kitty than with homegrown catnip fresh from the balcony.

What do you need to know? In the early spring get some seeds or a small plant from a nursery. Put 'em in a pot. Keep the pot watered and in the sun. By the time things get warm, you've got nip.

Is it that easy? Basically, yes. You might want to be on the alert for the few good aphids that can make it past the plant's catphrodisiacal aroma. And there are caterpillars that will scarf the leaves down to the nub. Minimal diligence will keep these invaders from putting a dent in your annual yield. Catnip requires substantial water, and isn't crazy about blazing heat. It'll let you know that it's thirsty by wilting dramatically, but a quick and liberal application of H2O will bring it back in 45 minutes. Don't be frightened. The sky isn't falling.

Catnip is a perennial, but it'll try to fool you. In other words, it'll look like it has died by mid-winter, but come springtime it will shoot back up, hale and hearty. By the way, it's not just your cat that can get off on this stuff; ask your local herbalist: catnip tea is allegedly good for master's nerves as well. Rub it in your cat's face. Leave sprigs around the house. Most (though not all) of our feline friends go nuts over catnip. If we were cats, doubtless the stuff would be illegal. Lucky for Socks, we're human. Party on.