How to Use Catnip - For Starters, Don't Smoke It! - Cat Crack Catnip

How to Use Catnip - For Starters, Don't Smoke It!

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This week saw the launch in Whisker City – or whatever humans call it – of the largest and most significant ever human study of cat behavior. A team of human scientists – who genuinely believe that they have selected cats to participate in the study, rather than those cats simply agreeing because it suited them!! – have set out to explore once and for all the ways in which we use, and benefit from, a cat's best friend: catnip.

Humans are believed to have understood for hundreds of cat-years that cats like catnip - so the fact that they still know so little about it might strike some cats as odd. But here's the thing about humans: they are incredibly self-obsessed. Think about mirrors, for example: who invented those? Humans. Or, to bring things back to science, consider the following real studies that humans have conducted about themselves when they could have been studying catnip (Editor: these really happened):

  • A study on why biscuits break in their packaging.
  • A study on whether chickens prefer attractive humans.
  • A study on why swearing works as a pain relief mechanism.
  • A study on whether wearing socks enhances sexual activity.
  • A study on how cheese is affected by different types of music.

Thankfully, finally, they now want to study catnip: why?

Catnip Effects and How to Give Cats Catnip 

Some anti-human protestors claim that the real reason humans want to understand catnip is so they can appropriate it for their own benefit. Cats from this particular school of thought will point to the title of this new study – Can you smoke catnip? – as clear evidence that they are correct. But I have it on good authority that this is not the case. 

The problem is, that while all humans are mentally challenged compared to us, some of them are so dim, they genuinely want to know if they can smoke catnip! It may seem amusing, but there really are humans who are that silly. Human beings like a buzz as much as the next species, and smoking things is a popular way for them to achieve that. And it seems that amongst students, slackers, and others who listen to Pink Floyd and enjoy Cheech and Chong movies, catnip has been considered an option, along with banana peels, nutmeg, and tea leaves. In fact, researchers recently listed 'Can you smoke catnip?' as one of humankind's Top 100 most ridiculous search terms, alongside the likes of 'Is the earth flat?', How do I Google something?',  'Why do men have nipples?', 'What is what?' and 'If I die, will I still be able to eat burgers?'.

Is Catnip Safe?

But let's give humans some credit.  While WE all know that you should NOT (of course!) smoke catnip, and most humans clearly DON'T know it, the human scientists behind this extensive new cat nip study hope they can dispel such myths for other, more generous reasons. The real reason that humans want to better understand cats and catnip is that they love us, and have a lot of well-meaning questions, such as: 

  • When can I give my cat catnip / how old do cats have to be to have catnip  / what age can cats have catnip? (Editor: note to humans, it's fine to give kittens a small amount of catnip; it just may not work until they are six months old or so).
  • How much catnip can I give my cat / how much catnip is too much? (Editor: note to humans, catnip use is always safe as it's non-toxic: while a cat can have too much and feel a bit sick, and that's not 'good' for them, it's never a poison).

The real reasons for this study? They want us to be safe. They want our catnip use to be optimal. (Editor: note to humans, just get us a free hit of the best quality stuff, that really helps!). And why now?

Cat 'ownership' (Editor: yes, of course, we all have to laugh whenever we hear this term) spiked around human years 2020-21. There are lots of new 'owners' (lol!) out there who want to know more about catnip. Some know it's all about the naturally occurring compound called nepetalactone, which triggers a neurological response like pheromones. Beyond that, they simply think it 'makes us go crazy.' Simplistic. But if a much-needed deep dive means we get more and better catnip, great!

What is Catnip Used For? The Top Ten Ways That Cats Use Catnip

So what will they discover? Will it match the reality? No one knows for sure, but to get the conversation started, we're sharing our top ten ways us cats use catnip. So grab a free hit and check out the list below, which counts down from ten to one. What do you think No.1 will be? Do you have any different suggestions? If so, there's a link at the bottom where you can share them.

10. Chasing

Some cats may not know about catnip-infused bubbles. They are a recent but incredibly exciting invention which can be blown into the air for cats to chase and pop. Interestingly, human beings love bubbles even more than we do. An infant of the species enjoys little more than chasing a bubble. Which then pops as soon as they catch it. It's a fitting analogy for the futility of human existence.

9. Drooling, Meowing, and Purring

There's nothing wrong with drooling. Many cats drool when they get excited by cat nip, being stroked, or being old. Those are the only three things that make us drool. Humans also drool when they see something they find alluring, but that could be absolutely anything from an ice cream to a new car to another (photo-shopped and cosmetically adjusted) human. After several thousand years of human evolution, there still really is no such thing as a consensus amongst humans re: any major subject worthy of discussion, EG what's drool-worthy – they still can't agree on anything, and have no idea what's good for them. As an added note, vocalizations such as meowing and purring are also common expressions of catnip enjoyment.

8. Kicking

Fun, harmless expressions of violence are common amongst catnip users. Some of us like to paw and chase things as if we were playing hockey or soccer. Others like to lie on our sides and use our hind legs to kick and fight an object -  preferably while no one is looking, as losing oneself in the moment like this can be embarrassing. (Humans have a saying: 'Dance like no one's looking.' It's a silly saying because they all dance like no one's looking – if they thought anyone had noticed what they looked like, they would surely stop. But we get the principle: we like to kick catnip like no one's looking). If we're on our feet and ready to chase, then ping pong balls – with their noisy, unpredictable nature - are perfect for zoomie-moments. If we're horizontal, catnip balls - hard balls made from compressed catnip – are ideal.

7. Biting and Chewing

Many of us like to alleviate boredom by chewing on things we shouldn't, but we're also willing – if it's our idea – to chew on catnip toys and other items infused with catnip, such as scratching pads. Chewing is a strong cat instinct for many reasons, helping to keep our teeth strong and clean and reminding us of hunting.

6. Scratching and Pawing

Humans mistakenly believe they can encourage cats to scratch in designated areas only, not understanding that we often simply prefer to damage their furniture. However, there is no doubt that cat nip makes things even more scratchable. While we would never admit that we could be manipulated or influenced - we are not dogs! - a scratching post that has been sprayed with cat nip spray or sprinkled with loose, dried cat nip is somewhat blissful. A change is as good as a rest: a designated scratching device makes for a nice little variation before we go back to the real deal, ruining that new carpet.

The Countdown Concludes As We Go From 5 Down to 1…

Do you use any of the above methods to enjoy catnip? Has your favorite method not yet been mentioned? Is it coming up? Will it be number one? Take a free hit, stick around, and find out.

5. Sniffing

A common initial reaction to catnip is intense sniffing. Cats are drawn to the strong scent of a catnip plant, dried leaves, catnip spray, or products such as catnip toys and cat scratch pads. Sniffing isn't a big thing for humans, so they don't really understand it. Snorting happens, but that's different and extremely illegal. Simply 'enjoying the smell of something' is not a big thing in the human world. It's thought they do appreciate certain smells – freshly baked bread, freshly ground coffee, freshly cut grass, basically anything you can put 'freshly' in front of. And it's rumored that these scents can be 'evocative,' triggering their tiny little minds to recall and re-experience a particular moment, feeling, or emotion. But as yet, they've done little with this discovery. If any discovery does not then proceed to them greedily consuming something, humans don't really see the point of it.

4. Running, Playing, and Fighting

Mock battles played out in the mind are an important part of cat life. A recent pussycat poll revealed that the most common things cats like to imagine they are fighting include other cats, birds, and, of course, water buffalo. Catnip only serves to make solo play fighting even more satisfying, perfect for those embarrassing moments when you forget, just for one blissful second, that you are not, in fact, a cheetah. Soft catnip toys filled with dried catnip or infused with catnip oil are great to play with, providing both exercise and mental stimulation. Toys shaped like mice or small fish are a little patronizing, but we will still get stuck in as long as no one's looking.

3. Snoozing 

It's believed that humans are aware that cats like sleeping. Cats who have bothered to observe human behavior – and let's face it, it's a thankless task – report that humans wish they too could cat nap whenever they suited. Well, they can't. Hilariously, they aggressively try to force themselves to go to sleep at one set time of day only, which includes the most fun point of any 24-hour period, that bit just before dawn when we head off hunting. And then they wonder why they can't sleep! They have a thing called 'insomnia,' which has given rise to tablets, herbal remedies (not catnip), boring podcasts recommended by their friend Linda, and deep breathing techniques, which they then don't do properly. Cats are good at sleeping, and for some, catnip is less about crazy time and more about chill time: some cat bedding - or, if we're really lucky, the inside of a mysteriously appealing cardboard box - sprinkled with a little Cat Crack, is lovely for a snoozy, woozy nap.

2: Licking and Eating

Licking and eating loose dried catnip that's been sprinkled straight onto a favorite bit of floor is a nailed-on favorite amongst most cats who use catnip regularly. Yes, we can eat it; yes, it's harmless. It's tasty, plus, what with our human-enforced diets and domesticated lifestyles resulting in a lack of nutrients, we sometimes like a little bit of green on our plate. Catnip is not a meal, though – we don't want a bowl of the stuff. This human misunderstanding is based on the fact that when humans like something, they have to keep consuming it until it makes them sick. They don't have an off switch. Edible catnip treats are also a good snack option, although laughably, some humans believe these can be used for 'training'! Or, if you want to go 'back to catnip's roots,'  an indoor or outdoor catnip plant makes for a renewable, chewable source of catnip.

1. Rolling and Rubbing

Kitty drumroll, please! The most popular way for cats to enjoy their favorite loose, dried catnip is to…roll around in it. We do this to help spread the catnip scent on our fur. Similarly, many humans fantasize about bathing in ice cream and fudge sauce but don't have the guts to follow their dreams. It's tragic. You only get nine lives, so live each as your best. Rubbing our faces and bodies against objects covered in catnip is equally enjoyable. Mmmmmmmmm. Catnip makes us feel energized and exhilarated, but the rolling and rubbing are as much about peace of mind as anything else - catnip is also used by many cats to assist with managing stress and anxiety. 

Are you a cat? Do you disagree with our list? Do you use catnip in different ways? Then show/tell us HERE.

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