Cats go crazy for catnip. They’re supposed to anyway. I don’t think ours got that memo. It turns out that they’re not alone. The Humane Society has an excellent article about catnip, and they report that only about 50% of cats have a genetic sensitivity to catnip.
For the cats that are sensitive to catnip, it seems to be most effective from the scent of the herb, rather than ingesting it. Rolling around and rubbing the catnip gets them delirious, while eating catnip has the opposite effect.
Catnip can be calming and soothing for humans too. Catnip tea is reported to have similar results as a cup of chamomile tea. After hearing this, I tried it one day. It was okay, although the aroma made me think skunkweed tea. It tasted all right, with enough sweetener in it, which may have been counterproductive to the relaxation intent. Personally, I think I’ll stick with chamomile tea at bedtime.
Cat World recommends making catnip tea by placing 1-2 teaspoons of dried catnip into a cup and adding hot (not boiling) water. Let sit for 10 minutes and flavor with honey or lemon. They also report that
“Catnip is useful for settling an upset stomach. It has been used to treat headaches, scarlet fever, coughing, insomnia, and smallpox. It can also be used for cuts, studies show it has a natural healing quality. Crush fresh catnip leaves, damp them, and apply to your cut.”
Here’s an interesting recipe for Candied Catnip Leaves, from Herbal Treasures. I haven’t tried these yet, but I might later this summer, once the catnip is up and thriving.
Candied Catnip Leaves
Select medium-sized catnip leaves that are free from insect damage. Then the white of 1 egg with the juice of 1 lemon; do not beat them together, but gently stir until the egg and lemon are thoroughly mixed. Dip each catnip leaf in this mixture, then sprinkle both sides with granulated sugar. Allow to dry at least 1 day before use. If the candied leaves are well dried and kept in a tight container in the refrigerator, they will stay perfectly fresh and tasty for weeks.
Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a beautiful ornamental plant in the garden. It is drought tolerant and deer resistant. While attracting butterflies, it can be a repellent for certain insects including aphids, squash bugs, mosquito, flies, cockroaches and termites.