If you've got a grumpy moggy, there are 4 types of herbs you could plant in your garden to cheer it up: Cat Mint, Cat Thyme, Cat Grass and, the one we know probably best of all, Catnip.
You can grow all of them indoors or outdoors, as long as they're in a sunny spot. Remember to plant your Catnip seedlings 12 inches (30 cm's) apart, because they tend to spread like mint, and take over the garden!
Cat Grass (Dactylitis Glomerata)
This is a dense grass, which cats love to chew on. Chewing cat grass can help to eliminate fur balls by making the cat vomit! It might sound a bit gross, but it is actually very helpful in keeping your cat healthy and fur ball free. Cat grass is also great for moggies who are missing minerals and vitamins from their diet. A pot of cat grass left beside the water dish (for an indoor cat) can keep it happy and healthy.
Cat Mint (Nepeta Mussini)
This is a small compact plant with spikes of lavender or mauve coloured flowers. Cats like to rub against the leaves, purr contentedly and they might even lick and chew at the leaves too.
Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)
Cat thyme has a pretty pink flower display and emits a 'cat mint style' aroma that your furry feline friend will love.
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria)
This herb is the cat's all-time favourite plant and makes them go a little crazy!
What draws the cat to the plant is a chemical called nepetalactone, which is found on the surface of the leaves. When the membranes of the leaves are broken, the scent is released and triggers a pleasure centre in the cat's brain. The effect lasts around 10-15 minutes and you'll see your cat roll, rub, dribble, play and jump around in the plant. Then they'll need to sleep it off with a sweet little catnap!
Note: not all cats are affected. Kittens under 6 months aren't stimulated, and 1/3 of adult cats remain indifferent all their lives. Other members of the cat family such as lions and tigers can also get excited about catnip.
Another way of using catnip is to rub some of it on your cat's favourite toy. They will happily play with this, but you might want to think about taking it away from them for a few weeks so they don't get totally bored with the whole catnip thing! If you store the catnip toy in a plastic container, the effect can even last a couple of years.
You can make your own catnip toy by grabbing an old sock or stocking and stuffing the toe with dried catnip. Dry the catnip by tying it in a bunch and hanging it upside down in a cupboard, out of reach from your cat! Tie a knot in the sock and snip off the rest with scissors. When the catnip loses its potency, just untie the knot and replace the catnip.
Catnip for Humans!
Catnip can also be useful for us humans as well. It can sooth the symptoms of a cold, calm the nerves and also be rubbed on raw meat as a tenderizer in the kitchen, or even mixed with olive oil for a marinade! The leaves can also be used to make a yellow dye. It attracts bees and butterflies but repels other insects, making it very user friendly for gardeners.
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