..* CATNIP, CATMINT & GRASS *
Catnip is a variety of harmless mint often referred to as catmint, it can be bought dried or grown in your garden or on a windowsill.
All cats react to it in their own way but the majority will enjoy rolling in it, eating it or playing with it.
Some cats aren't interested at all, while some prefer one variety over another.
Out of three different species of catmint planted in one garden, different cats reacted in differing ways to each variety.
One plant caused a cat to roll around in it while another cat shyed away - apparently in fear, another just enjoyed chewing on the leaves.
The cat that had shyed away from one plant, would roll with pleasure in another variety across the garden.
It is an extremely hardy plant to grow that takes very little care, but you might want to stake an upturned basket over it to prevent it from being flattened or consumed completely by over eager felines.
Old toys rubbed in fresh or dry catnip can be refreshed to become more appealing to a cat.
Many toys can be bought ready packed full of dry catnip (It is a good idea to remove toys from time to time to give them back later. This will help to keep the novelty value of toys as cats can tire of the same old objects lying about the place).
It is unknown as to why this variety of mint particularly appeals to cats & can trigger different reactions. Perhaps it adds a little extra variety to their diet or has a similar smell to feline scents. Maybe they just enjoy having fresh breath. Giving a cat "Nip" regularly, is likely to de-sensitise it however. It can be a good idea to remove toys with catnip for periods of time, or cats may simply become bored of them if they are ever present.
Curiously, something else that cats like to eat is fresh blades of grass. There are different theories to explain this, one is that it adds a little vegetation to their carnivorous diet. Some say that if a cat is feeling unwell, it will eat grass to make itself sick, this is certainly true if they are trying to dislodge a hairball. In this observers opinion, they do it both to try & purge fur balls & sometimes just for the novelty of the texture & flavour. Perhaps it is a bit like idly chewing on a straw or a piece of gum. Big cats are known to chew grass blades from time to time also as if they were idly passing the time. Domestic cats can make themselves sick from eating grass, but the expulsion is usually just watery, chewed up grass & nothing to worry about.
Fur balls occur naturally in cats as they groom their coats and ingest the loose fur which usually moults twice a year when changing between winter & summer coats.
Grooming your cat especially at these times can reduce the chances of fur balls & keep your cats coat feeling comfortable for them & looking healthy.
These tangle & can form blockages in a cats digestive tract which they may then regurgitate with disturbing coughing or wheezing noises. Regular ingestion (& expulsion) or eating a large quantity of grass may indicate that a cat has an uncomfortable hairball that it is trying to dislodge.
There are pet foods available which are said to aid the dissipation of fur in a cats digestive tract, ask your vet for advice if you are worried.
Fresh catmint, a hardy plant provided it is protected from being completely consumed
Dry catnip can be bought in the shops, harmless fun
Plain old grass seeds can be planted for cats kept entirely indoors, so they wont miss out on this little leisure
Catnip toys can have cats writhing in pleasure
Catnip filled soft toys give cats the chance to vent hunting instincts