Sunday, September 5, 2010

Honest, Mom, I Only Inhaled!

Looking about for an agreeable task this morning, I decided
it was a good day to harvest and dry some herbs.
I used the dehydrator to process a cutting of basil last month and wasn't best pleased with it--all the bright green color faded away.
I wanted to experiment with using the oven on its lowest setting to dry mint for tea and catnip as a winter treat for the feline residents.
I headed out to the garden with my snips to gather a basket full.
Catnip [nepeta cataria] is naturalized in New England, particularly around old dooryards and gardens.
In Wyoming, I was lucky to nurse one feeble plant through the summer.
Early in April I scattered a few seeds in two small existing plantings I had partially cleared by the side door of our Kentucky house.
When no tiny catnip plants appeared, I sowed more seed--in front of the newly set out roses and in the end of the perennial bed.
Quite suddenly it all germinated and has grown rankly.
I usually remember to break off a few leaves for the cats when I come in from the yard.

I handed out a liberal serving of catnip and began stripping the rest from the stalks.
I spread it on baking sheets and slid them into the oven, set on its lowest heat.
Within moments the pungent aroma of catnip filled the kitchen end of the house.
Cats came out of the woodwork!
Those who had been peacefully dozing appeared from the bedroom.
They walked warily, heads up and nostrils flaring.
J.'s wiley old lady cat, Raisin, picked her way around the burners on the range, snuffing  the scent that wafted up through the stove vents.
Charlie gallumphed across the counter to get a closer look.
The whole lot of them acted silly, hyper, paranoid, bumping into each other,
dabbing quick paws out to whack at their companions.

I set a tray of crisp fragrant leaves on the counter to cool and went out to cut apple mint.
A clattering sound and a scrabbling noise drifted out the kitchen window.
"Oh, surely not," I thought.  "They have enough catnip on the floor to drug a whole army of cats."
I entered the kitchen, basket on my arm, to see Charlie and Teasel presiding over a mess.
A tumbler of water holding geranium slips had been overturned near the sink;
bits of dried green catnip from the tray were floating in the rapidly spreading puddle.
Teasel said that Charlie dumped the water [he likely did!] and that she was only up there to see what happened.

Teasel watches me clear up the spilled water and floating catnip bits.

"Oh, yummy. I'd like to try this now, please. Why wait til winter?"

Teasel, overcome by temptation, flings herself into the tray of lovely green treat.

She trailed dried catnip across the counter and onto the table, where she flicked the bits onto the cloth.

With the catnip safely stowed in zip-lock bags and a tray of apple mint in the oven,
my help has lost interest.

Teasel sleeping off her "high."

Mrse. B. in a position of abandon after inhaling.
As I have gone in and out of the house all day on various errands to garden and clothesline, I've thought
someone should capture the scent of drying mint [apple mint and peppermint] and catnip.
It is a far more refreshing scent than the cloying fug of the candle aisle in Wal Mart!

I offered the kittens a sprig of catnip several days ago and they were not interested.
When I visited them this afternoon they went quite silly over the herbal odor clinging to my hands and clothing.
I've considered making catnip "mice" for my feline-loving friends,
or sending neat packets of the dried stuff--but wonder what are the chances of it being mistaken for
another dried green substance?


  1. Don't worry about sending dried catnip through the mail...the drug sniffing cats will confirm what it is *g*. Actually, i've sent catnip gifts across the country and to Europe with no problem. Very funny about the mischief your kitties got into! Mine seem to like dried better than fresh most of the time...i think drying must concentrate the active ingredients.

  2. Some classic photo's of your stoned cats.

    And now your a smug druggler???

    OOPS! please don't drink I'm thunk!!!


  3. This made me smile, I grow nepeta too, for my cats, and they are equally as easily under the influence!

    Leanne x

  4. I've never grown catnip - I have obviously been depriving our felines of the best high since Whiskas was invented! Teasel made me LOL!! Daft lot aren't they?

    I have been toying with the idea of a dehydrator once we move. How cost effective are they - in terms of electricity usage needed to dry, say, fruit slices?

  5. Oh so funny! I couldn't give Bailey catnip because being the hyper sensitive soul that he was it would make him throw up with excitement. Thank goodness that wasn't your cats' problem! I wish I'd been there to see it!

  6. Those cats must have been in heaven!

    I love watching mine as they roll around in a csatnip bush. I keep the cats on daytime curfew in the summer, when swallows are nesting in the yard buildings, so a regular supply of catnip mice helps to keep them sane and happy.

  7. What a fun little tale. I'm wondering, like you, if humans have tried to smoke catnip? I'm sure someone somewhere must have been curious enought to try!
    I particularly enjoyed the photo of Mrs B, somnambulistic in the sun :D

  8. Funny, those are great pictures and they look like they had a great time. :-)


  9. Funny pictures. Our cat, a female, has no use for catnip, totally ignoring it. Thought maybe it was because we bought it and it might be old so we grew our own to no avail, she still doesn't like it.

  10. I'm laughing out loud here at the whole picture!!! A catnip brawl...