Friday, 19 October 2007

Friday Finking and lots of about d'nip!

Now as many of you know I like to spend my Friday's finking about stuff that interests me and the like. So I finked it would be good to put all my awesome brain power to finking about somethin' big and important like the true value of d'nip! I hope that what you are about to read will educate you and your humans and hopefully get you more good 'nip more of the time! ;) Well I do aim to please you know... :)

The true wonder of catnip (nepeta cataria)

and why it should be planted absolutely everywhere!

I have found that catnip is a native plant of Europe. A perennial with heart-shaped leaves, that grows from one to three feet high. Catnip requires a sunny location but will tolerate poor soil conditions. To start growing d'nip it is best to sow the seed directly in the ground instead of transplanting. This will allow the herb to become well-rooted quickly, making it harder for us kitties to kill in our excitement of finding a stash of fresh 'nip in our own garden!

Once the plant is growing nicely, full sun and adequate moisture are all that is needed. D'nip will grow happily in pots on a patio or as a part of the vegetable or flower garden. This amazing little plant is nearly pest-free, so it can be grown organically with ease, which saves our humans from the need of worrying about keeping icky chemicals and stuff out of the reach of everykitty. Once fully established catnip can survive long periods of drought, and being a perennial herb it will keep growing year after year, while affording you all its amazing benefits.

Why should your human plant catnip and risk becoming the local hangout for all the cats in the neighborhood? Because catnip has a multitude of useful applications that can only but benefit most households. This humble little plant is so hated by mice and rats that they will not approach it even when driven by hunger, so if a house is infested with mice or rats, a thick planting of this herb against the walls will quickly eliminate them. Neither mice nor rats will not cross a planting of catnip!

Oh yes catnip is more than just a feline narcotic of the highest grade, or even a pretty lavender/blue flowered little herb to beautify your garden with. In fact it’s only in recent years that scientists have been looking at this most wonderful little plant more fully and learning some of its amazing secrets! You see, the active ingredients in catnip that drives us cats crazy also repels cockroaches, ants, aphids, Colorado beetles, darkling beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, weevils, mice, rats and deer!

There has been research on catnip done in Iowa, which should pave the way for the development of natural repellents that could be added to food packaging to deter marauding insects in the future. Just think brown paper bags infused with d'nip! :)

Additionally it’s been found that mosquitoes hate the aroma of common garden catnip, and not only are the extracts safe, but they are more effective than Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, the chemical used in most commercial insect repellents. So soon the shelves could well be stocked with catnip spray as an ecologically and environmentally sound alternative to this chemical insect deterrent!

The fact is d'nip has long been used in folk medicine to ward off insects, but still most people turn to DEET when they want to be sure they won’t get bitten. But those wonderful researchers at Iowa State University have shown that a relatively weak solution of catnip extract repels mosquitoes as effectively as a DEET solution ten times more concentrated. They tested this by putting groups of 20 mosquitoes in a glass tube which had filter paper in one end treated with either a catnip extract or DEET. Ten minutes later, just over half the insects remained at the end containing DEET-treated paper. In contrast, an average of only 25 per cent remained closer to paper treated with the most potent catnip compound, a monoterpene called nepetalactone.

But the benefits don’t stop there the d'nip smell turns out to be akin to a natural pheromone, a chemical that female aphids produce in order to attract a mate. The components of the scent are so closely related to chemicals in catnip that it should be possible to use catnip to keep aphids off of your roses and other garden plants susceptible to infestation. Oh and it also works as an insecticide and microbial inhibitor too!

It can also be made into a tea which is excellent for a woman’s monthly cramps. Start drinking it before the cramps starts and make it strong. Just steep the fresh or dry leaves for 15 minutes or more before pouring out and drinking. This tea also has a calming effect for children and adults, and all you cats know a calm human is much easier to fuss!

All these amazing benefits from one small plant and that’s even mentioning the fact that cats love catnip! This is because of the nepetalactone it releases when crushed, which stimulates their olfactory (vomeronasal) love receptors, sending many of us felines into ecstatic raptures. Nepetalactone closely resembles a chemical found in the urine of female cats and binds to cat olfactory receptors that are involved in sexual stimulation, including those of large wild cats such as cougars and bobcats. This chemical actually induces orgasmic behaviour followed by a period of resolution. Yes, Skeezix it's kinda like the urges you get when looking at Daisy!

This response is genetically determined; and therefore some of us cats remain unaffected. Which in turn supports the suspicion that nepetalactone is structurally different from the real pheromone. It is not easy to see what selective advantage the plant could gain from stimulating carnivores with what amounts to a recreational drug, and really a cat's response to catnip just amounts to an evolutionary joke or accident. But the benefit to the plant over the past few centuries has been substantial. This little herb that originated in the Mediterranean has been spread around the world by cat lovers, and is now considered a weed by some people in certain areas of North America.

So why not beautify the Inner City areas with catnip and cut the rat problem? Why not add a few hanging baskets and pots of catnip to your patio and cut the likelihood of getting a mosquito bite while barbequing or eating outside? Plant it in and around your roses or tomatoes and cut aphid problems down to size. Grow it and brew it up into tea and gain inner calm without the need for Prozac, while warding off cramps too. But most of all grow it and your cat will love you!


Kaze, Latte, or Chase said...

OK now we need to grow this stuff. Its really quit amazing! I don't think that even the Woman could kill it and she's good at killing stuff.


Dragonheart said...

Wow, Ramses, thank you for sharing all that information about catnip with us! Who knew that catnip had so many excellent qualities? I wish my humans didn't have black thumbs, so that they could grow some for me. Most catnip sadly doesn't affect me, but whatever they put in the 'Nip Raviolis must be good stuff, because those make me wild!

Ramses said...

For those cats who're not driven to heights of ecstasy by d'nip it might be worth while seeing if your humans can get hold of some honeysuckle wood - basicly it's super'nip! ;)

The Crew said...

My, you certainly know a lot about 'nip!

Have you considered joining
Catnip Anonymous
and acting as a Consultant for cats needing help?

Daisy said...

Wow, this proves that catnip truly is a magical and wondrous plant.

HRH Yao-Lin said...

Oh that is a great article..i just skimmed through it but will fully digest it tomorrow.

I do like the idea of catnip as a pest repellant. Hmm, I wonder if it deters wasps? x

Pet's are 4 Life said...

wow, its amazing you mentioned the nip plant. Me, napoleon, I don't react to it, nor does my sister belle, but our big brofur Hunter loves that stuff! Momma is growing a plant in the forbiddeen room...Hunter is insane with trying to get in there!
And yeah, while momma is away, we is having a huge party and she doesn't evens know!!

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Nip, nipnipnipnipnipnipnip! We all love our nip. Funny yoo should mention da hunysukal wood on da day when mom was trying to amember what was in da Little Pink Pig dat turns us all anjelic and nice.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I think that is the most fascinating and informative post I have ever read about catnip -- thank you so much for sharing that with us! Mom got so excited about it that she read it out loud to my Dad!

Purrs and snuggles from Marilyn.

Ramses said...

Wow, that's everykitty I'm so glad my doing lots of finkin about d'nip is so appreciated. I must say even my beastly housemate Tigmut'hep has been completely lovely to me since told him he could be the test subject for any experiments with 'nip! ;)

Now off to check out Catnip Anonymous... :)

HRH Yao-Lin said...

that is so interesting you know. I just re read the whole thing and I am happy to say that I do have two pots in the garden with cat nip in them. I am glad to know they will grow back year after year.


The Cat Realm said...

What a nip expert! I just eat it.... and leave the tending and growing and stuff to the butler....

Team Tabby said...

Thanks for the horticulture lesson, we are going to try growing it - again.

Moe & Mindy

Ramses said...

Glad to have been of help to everykitty! :) After all d'nip is something we cats should take seriously as well as frequently! ;)

The Meowers from Missouri said...

wow!! we'da nefur guessed!! mom & the gardener (dad) are gonna get on the ball come spring!