The Catnip Conundrum
When it comes to the inspirational herb, it’s often best to just say yes
To ’nip or not to ’nip—that is the question.
Is it better for cats to suffer the fingers and coos of outrageous visitors without relief, or for shelter staff to take up medicinal herbs against this sea of boredom and, by indulging, liven things up a bit?
While the subject of catnip has provoked the occasional heated discussion on shelter listservs over the years, the experts interviewed for this story agreed that, for the majority of cats, there’s nothing to ponder: Life is much more interesting with catnip. And in a shelter setting, a daily pinch of it can be a simple, inexpensive, and superbly effective way to spark up a cage-bound cat’s routine.
Just ask Rudy, a cat awaiting adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) in Virginia, where staff regularly use catnip to add variety and excitement to the feline guests’ days. Well, you couldask him, if he weren’t busy flipping, rolling, and kicking madly at his catnip mouse. Or Helen, an affectionate 8-year-old female at AWLA who purrs loudly and rubs her face and body in loose catnip until she’s covered from head to tail.