Catnip, it’s not just for cats! It’s easy to grow your own too!

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb of the mint family native to Europe, Africa and Asia. Legend has it that Captain John Mason introduced catnip to Newfoundland around 1620 as an essential plant for settlers’ gardens. https://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/catnip-and-cousins Catnip enjoys a long history worldwide as an important herb with both culinary and medicinal uses. Although undocumented, the Egyptians, known for their love of cats, may have been the first to discover catnip’s recreational aspect by providing the herb to felines in their care. http://catniptoy.co.uk/the-history-of-catnip/




Isaac Newton

Have you ever wondered who put the “cat” in catnip? Catnip has long been a mainstay of herbal medicine, but it is taken orally for its calming effect and to soothe digestive upsets. The ingredient that makes kitties leap for joy is nepetalactone, a volatile oil. Although many cats enjoy nibbling on catnip, the euphoria (and downright silly behavior, if I do say so myself) comes from sniffing the nepetalactone. Due to our special nasal receptors cats (as well as our wild cousins: leopards, lynxes, lions and tigers) are the only mammals who can enjoy the delightful sensations. http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/nepetalactone/nepetalactoneh.htm

Do all cats love catnip? As a matter of fact, no. Sensitivity is genetically controlled so not every cat will feel the effects. It is commonly thought that 10-30% show no interest at all as they did not get the “catnip gene.” In general, kittens are not affected until they are three months old.

Fresh catnip is the best (especially just before flowering), but it is hard to grow if you can’t keep the local cats away from your garden. If you must buy the dried variety consider quality. The active ingredient is highest in flower buds and leaves, but inferior commercial blends may be 80% stems. https://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/catnip-and-cousins

Wanting to grow your own? The seeds have a rather poor germination rate, so plant lots! Also plant them away from your house or every cat in town will be loitering and rolling around crushing the plants! Some parts of the US produce very good catnip and other parts produce catnip that’s not so potent – it’s all about soil and weather.

All of the cats at my house enjoy catnip to varying degrees. I have to admit that I am a bit of a “nip head” and am a little down if I don’t get my daily dose. I positively adore it! Fortunately it is nontoxic and non-habit forming. We cats know when we’ve had enough. Some people don’t want to give catnip to their cats because the crazy behavior makes them uncomfortable. However, a little catnip can encourage play (especially in older cats), elevate moods and ultimately act as a mild sedative facilitating the all-important ritual of cat napping. A little loose catnip on the scratching post can also encourage proper manners around furniture.

Cat Faeries Legendary Catnip Toys are my favorite way to enjoy catnip. The catnip is wildcrafted from catnip which grows in a secret place in the US where, due to soil and weather conditions, the level of nepetalactone is the highest on the planet! The smell is irresistible right through the box and the toys are adorable and are very durable. I know mine get a lot of use. Of course, if you’re not a cat you may prefer a soothing cup of catnip tea while you watch Kitty enjoys her new toys. Just keep in mind that a big cup of catnip tea can cause you to doze off to slumberland!

Catnip has some surprising health benefits for people including: sleep aid, menstrual cramp killer, hot flash cool down, and upset tummy settler! For cats it’s great for their immune system.
 
 
 
 

Do cats feel love? Do we get a hormonal boost from loving cats?

When someone I was buying greens from at the farmers market wished me Happy Mother’s Day, she put a caveat on it and said “That is IF you are a mother.” Not one to let poor manners slide I very kindly told her “I’m a mother to 4 cats, 4 bunnies, a business, and I’m motherly to countless people including my husband, and my customers.” While her reaction was not positive, she gave me the stink eye, I’m hoping that if she thought about it later in the day and that she might have changed her closed minded thinking.

After that encounter a fascinating National Geographic article crossed my path about the feel good hormone, Oxytocin, which increases significantly when someone gives birth and takes the newborn into her arms and gazes at her child. The article goes on to tell us that a grandmother will get a similar Oxytocin increase when she sees her grandchild for the first time. And just as exciting, men are absolutely capable of this hormone being released, it takes them a bit longer but it’s a comparable rise as well. Also fascinating is that transgender people in various stages of their transition will get the same increase of Oxytocin with their babies. These numbers were gathered when tests were done before and after contact with the baby was made.

This had me wondering – does the Oxytocin hormone increase in us when we hold or look into the eyes of our cats or other animals? I consulted with good old Dr. Google and found articles about what happens to us when we gaze into the eyes of an animal, any animal, and yes, Oxytocin kicks in when we gaze into the eyes of a cat just as it does for a woman who’s given birth! I know you are thinking “Of course, I could have told you that!” but now we know that it’s not just us crazy cat ladies and crazy cat gents who think so, science confirms it – it’s for real! Our cats give us the Oxytocin feel good hormone, and anything that feels good is healthy and live extending, and we are all about that!

Curious to learn more I went to Professor Google to ask if animals release Oxytocin. I found more articles telling me that yes, they do. The Atlantic says: “That animals of different species induce oxytocin release in each other suggests that they, like us, may be capable of love. It is quite possible that Fido and Boots may feel the same way about you as you do about them. You can even call it love.” You can read the entire article, written by a scientist who is also a cat person! https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/does-your-dog-or-cat-actually-love-you/360784/

Here’s the National Geographic article that inspired this newsletter: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/science/is-maternal-instinct-only-for-mums-heres-the-science.aspx

Read more about Oxytocin here: http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/oxytocin/ and here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/oxytocin.aspx

If you like videos here’s one about Oxytocin that has equal amounts of science and sarcastic humor, and it’s done in a very 1960’s television news style! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acka4SopuAY

One of our favorite customers, The Gettysburg Cat Mom, had this to say:

“I can certainly relate to the feelings we experience when we gaze into our cats’ eyes! Especially my lovely long-haired, blue-eyed beauty. She is superb at looking directly into my eyes without blinking and it is indeed totally relaxing and rejuvenating, the same feeling I get after a really good Qigong session. No words or sounds are necessary, because we’re communicating on a totally different level. Our animals are so much more in touch with the energy in our world that surrounds us. We humans can learn so much from them!”

 
 
 
 

The Power of the Purr

Are you or your cat under stress now or occasionally? Having a hard time sleeping? (you that is, cats don’t have insomnia) Are you or your cat sick and recovering? Do both of you find the sound of a cat’s purr soothing? We say yes to all the above and we’ve found something you are going to love.

Purrli is the brainchild of, research engineer & sound designer Dr. Ir. Stephane Pigeon and it’s non-stop soothing feline purring right on the internet available to you whenever you want to hear it!

Calm your nerves, heal your body, and your mind, and your spirit starting RIGHT NOW! Note that this website is funded by donations – please make one, no matter how small. It’s good cat-karma! https://purrli.com/

Lately, we’ve been playing this in our work room where we pack and ship your orders. We’ve noticed it’s very calming to everyone here, including our house rabbits who share half of the workspace. We find it quite impressive that another species, besides humans, find the sound of a purring cat to be relaxing.


Newton’s Purrspective – The Power of the Purr

How cats purr was a mystery for many years. Scientists now believe special muscles cause the vocal chords to vibrate at a certain frequency resulting in that lovely soothing sound. Purring is the first sound a newborn kitten feels. Kittens are born deaf and their ear canals don’t start to open for two weeks. However, they can feel the purring vibrations from their mother and siblings (yes, newborn kittens purr!). This serves as a survival mechanism to keep the family together and safe.




Isaac Newton

We generally associate purring with happy, relaxed cats – and this is usually the case. The soothing sound is also relaxing to humans. In fact, there is increasing evidence that stroking a pet can significantly reduce blood pressure and elevate mood.

Cats also purr when stressed or sick. The purr occurs in a consistent pattern during both inhalation and exhalation and stays in the range of 25 – 150 Hz. This frequency has been shown to promote healing and even increase bone density. So, when your ill cat is purring the cat is self-medicating, and when you are sick the cat is helping you. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-cats-purr/ This healing power extends to Kitty’s human family too!

 
 
 
 

How nature restores and maintains health – discovering Vitamin “G.”

Several times a year we like to devote a newsletter to you, the person who is the caregiver, the Maid or Butler, the guardian, the Cat Mom or Cat Dad – whatever ways you refer to yourself as a lover of cats and all animals who lives and cares for cats, or who wishes they could. It’s important to us that YOU are as happy and healthy we wish to see your cats be!

The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” was coined in Japan decades ago, and the practice has spread globally. In Japan people would walk slowly, bathing in the sights, sounds, smells and energy of the forest. They found that they felt better, got healthier, and diseases would reverse. This is not macho hiking with a pedometer! It’s done slowly and purposely with intention and an open heart and mind. It has been so successful that since 1982 it’s been part of the Japanese national health care program. No water is involved! And you keep your clothes on, unless of course you know you are alone and are brave!

Earthing one’s feet is equally beneficial and you can do both practices at the time of any outing into nature. Earthing, sometimes called grounding, connects you with the electrical charges of the earth, directly from the earth. Since many of us are indoors most of the time we have lost this vital health restoring and maintaining connection. Think of this earth as a giant-sized battery which can in turn charge your cells, your organs and every system in the body.

Dr. Josh Axe tells us: “Because of our modern way of living — for example, always wearing shoes and living most of our lives above ground in our homes or offices that are located several floors up in tall buildings, we’re losing touch with the earth’s natural “electrical” force. It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charges can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms, and balancing cortisol levels.”

When one is electrically grounded to the earth you should immediately feel:

  • Centered
  • Solid
  • Strong
  • Balanced
  • Less tense
  • Less stressed

If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll see that inflammation goes down dramatically. Other benefits are:

  • Better sleep
  • Less Anxiety
  • Better Circulation
  • Less Pain
  • Less stiffness and soreness
  • Improves autoimmune disease such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowl, and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lowers free-radicals and oxidative stress

Dr. Josh Axe goes on to tell us that he and his friends have discovered a new vitamin – they humorously refer to earthing or grounding as Vitamin G, as in grounding! So, go outside, get barefoot and absorb some Vitamin G – it does not come in a bottle and its free!

One last thought about earthing/grounding, it has been proven by scientists and veterinarians that when a cat or other animal is sick they seek out soft earth to lay upon to get well. We found many articles about this and we encourage you to read a few of them. And you thought this story was just about people!

Worried about cooties in the dirt on your bare feet? Us too, so we apply one drop of Oregano Oil to each foot will kill any parasites lurking in the soil. Make sure that the earth you stand on is free of herbicides like Round Up which your feet could absorb. To find out if the area you want to earth in has been sprayed with herbicides ask a ranger if one is available ask them, or before you go seek out maps that would have this information. When you return home soak your feet in cool water with a bit of Epsom salt or apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes. Worried about cooties in the dirt getting on your bare feet? Us too, so we apply one drop of Oregano Oil to each foot which repels parasites and other unwelcome critters.

Using www.meetup.com I found a forest bathing group in my city which is a group activity. I think doing it solo and with a group can both be beneficial. If you don’t have a Meet Up group near you, start one. All you need is some sort of forest or woods, and a bit of reading up in advance on how to instruct your fellow forest bathers.

Using Flower Essences in Nature

While taking a leisurely “forest bath” Sunday, then stopping to earth my feet, (this is also known as grounding) on a bench surrounded by 3 ancient trees I noticed that one of my favorite wildflowers was growing nearby: Forget-Me-Not. These small plants with small blue flowers were pushing themselves up through a large area of non-native and invasive ivy. Their message was loud and clear – remember the love of nature you had as a child or a youth, or during periods of time in your adult life when you could go out into nature to refresh and renew yourself and push through all barriers!

To deepen your forest bathing and earthing experience we highly recommend using flower essences during that time you are surrounded by the plants, trees, birds and the general vibe of the place. Cat Faeries Single Flower Essences can be mixed ahead of time or you can pop a few of them in your bag or pack and take them under the tongue when you arrive. You can create your very own I Love Nature formula! Instructions come with your order!

Are Forest Bathing and Earthing Two Activities that are Appropriate for Your Cat?

I think we all wonder if our house cats are missing out on the joys and health benefits of their feet touching dirt like we do. That’s one of the many reasons we like and have written about CATtios which are outdoor enclosed patios just for your cats where they can bird watch and roll around on grasses and dirt. If your cat has at least one year’s experience on a leash and harness, consider taking your cat on your forest bathing and earthing outing! But remember, it can be risky, so only use a 6-foot leash – never a retractable leash, and be ready for anything which could spook the cat.

The only harness that we recommend is the step in harness from our buddies at Cetacea: http://www.cetaceacorp.com/pets/step-in-harness.html They are made in the US and when fastened correctly your cat cannot back out of it like they can with collars and many other harnesses.

If you take your harness experienced cat be prepared for dogs and cyclists and the need to grab the cat quickly to get out of their way.

Or build a CATtio in your own backyard that your cat can enter and exit as they wish. They will be safe from predators and cars. Stray cats can’t get inside the CATtio to fight with or bother them. And because it’s your own backyard you know exactly what is in your own soil.

Now that Spring is popping up in many parts of the country it’s a great time to get ready for some forest bathing and earthing. When you come home you’ll energized, happier and healthier. Your cats and other beloveds will love to be around the energized you!

A short video about Forest Bathing:

http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

Do you want to run off to a forest or woods right now, but can’t? Enjoy the sights and sounds from these videos. Just watching, listening and imagining that you are there can work wonders! This video lasts 8 hours! Seriously! Turn it on and go about your day listening to the chirping birds which will also entertain your cats!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G8LAiHSCAs

Usi the cat on his first hike in nature! Notice the short leash – this is so his person can keep control of the cat for the cat’s safety. We recommend walking much slower than the man is and stopping to breathe deeply, gaze upon, and touch the sights of the forest, park or woods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmmyGo8eZnk

 
 
 
 

Caticons, a gorgeous book that celebrates “4,000 years of Art Imitating Cats”

Sometime in 1996 I discovered a new renegade lipstick company called Urban Decay whose motto was: “Does pink make you puke?” I immediately snapped up tubes in colors called Bruise, Smog, Roach, Plague, and Asphyxia and wore them boldly to cat shows and on the streets of San Francisco while wondering who might be behind this maverick company.

When the San Francisco Chronicle had an article about Sandy Lerner I learned that she was the person who created Urban Decay after she’d co-founded, then sold, Cisco. The article had a photo of Sandy, a top a regal horse, dressed in armor! Turns out that this woman jousts. Totally impressed by this inspiring woman with her horses, cool outfits, brains, and joyful eccentricity I can honestly say she’s been a muse of mine since founding Cat Faeries in 1993. Fast forward to 2017 and we learn that she’s a serious cat-woman with a collection of astonishing museum-quality collection of art pieces from centuries back to modern which depict cats, and a new book to showcase them in. She’s also a major philanthropist who donates heavily to cat welfare and rescue.

There are absolutely no mundane or common objects photographed in Caticons. Every single object photographed is a new experience to the senses. Look at this book time and time again to find overlooked details or grasp something new in Sandy’s writings about a particular piece or era. Caticons a beautiful text book of sorts on the history of cats in art, literature and poetry, music, and culture that does not exist elsewhere. Caticons should be required reading for any student of art and history, and school children everywhere. Sit a child down at a table with this book and watch their eyes and hearts open to the wonders of cats and art – what a great way to study history.

A massive amount of work went into creating this book. It was very intensive and therefore very expensive to produce. It was a true labor of love. The miniscule amount of profit from sales of Caticons are personally guaranteed by Sandy to go directly to her ongoing donations to cat and animal welfare.

Sandy still jousts and raises those beautiful shire horses she rides when jousting. She practices this intriguing sport at her ranch in Upperville, Virginia. Urban Decay and Cisco are memories now as her thoughts and work are 100% devoted to organic, stewardship and regenerative based farming, and to cats. Her philanthropy ranges far and wide. Her heart is generous and kind. Sandy Lerner has many irons in the fire, always creating new and exciting projects, often involving the betterment of cats, other animals like horses, environment, and promoting land stewardship, regenerative farming, and preserving our food supply.

If you are stumped about what to give to a dear cat loving friend, or what to reward yourself for being a good cat-parent this year we’ve found the ideal gift, “Caticons, 4,000 Years of Art Imitating Cats”. A few of Cat Faeries catnip toys or an Amethyst cat shaped crystal will make the season even merrier!

A few of Cat Faeries’ favorite pages:

  • Page 14 is her first mention of her fixation on all things blue, including blue porcelain cats.
  • Page 17, Sandy tells us what the word Caticons means and how it originated
  • Page 171 has a cat chess set
  • Page 200 has a yummy double scent bottle with a cat’s head on each end from 1880
  • Page 203 shows “Purple Princess Flats” divine ladies’ footwear from Spain, a stunning cat on each foot
  • Page 212 and 213 show portraits two regal ladies each with her cat
  • Page 216 begins a few pages of cat themed sewing implements
  • Page 240 for an ink, pastel and watercolor on paper called A Study of Kittens by Henriette Rozner-Knip circa 1896
  • Page 251 has a porcelain Meiseen from 1730 or so of a cat carrying her kitten
  • Page 296 is the last page before the Endnotes with a painting of Sandy and her cat Ratty (on roller skates!) painted by Carolina Gronholm in 2016.
  • Lastly, Page 288 has a Georgian era brooch of a cat. Such jewelry from the Georgian and Victorian eras with cats are extremely rare – dogs are more common. Should you ever stumble upon one like it notify Auntie Cat Faerie immediately!

 
 
 
 

Cats on walks with harness and leash… a good idea?

Lately you may have seen all over social media photos and videos of cats being taken on walks with a harness and leash. Or maybe you bumped into the book “Adventure Cats, Living Nine Lives to the Fullest” which we reviewed on 6/19/17 (see the review here at the Cat Faeries Blog).

Before we go any further we must state loud and clear that this is not for every cat, and in fact probably only a small minority of cats will like this or have the right personality for it. If after 2 months of indoor practice with your patient big heart, along with a proper harness and leash, and you see that your cat isn’t taking to it, then give up trying.

Here is a training video that our dear friend and Feline Editor at Large, Newton found for us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qSMk8tJB20

WARNING – Robert Dollwet, the Australian cat trainer who produced this video learned the hard way that cats belong indoors unless protected by carriers or proper leashes (very sad – of course the servant had to fetch a box of Kleenex – couldn’t even stand to see the dedication to his poor cat at the start of the video)

While it’s a good video with some very good instruction there are a few things that we feel are missing and we’d like to share that with you before you enjoy the video.

  • When you put a harness on 99.9% of all cats they will promptly lay down and play dead! They don’t understand this new “thing” on their body. Take the advice from the video and start with a collar, then lead up to a harness. And remember those food treats! Be patient!
  • A 6-foot leash is mandatory – do not get a longer one or a FlexiLead – you must be in control at all times and keep the cat close to you.
  • The video implies that a cat can be used to the harness and leash in a few days – we could not disagree more. In our opinion it should take a minimum of 2 months of acclimating the cat to wearing the harness, and walks about the house indoors before even consider going outside.
  • Your first venture outside should be in your own backyard and for just a few minutes. You need to build up your cat’s interest and comfort in being out of the house.
  • Have a cat carrier with you in case a dog crosses your path or something causes the cat to freak out. You don’t want to end up scratched or have a traumatized (or worse) cat. Keep your wallet and house keys in the carrier and think of it as a purse!
  • Notice that the cat in this video is very young and more adapt to a harness and its adventures. This is likely to be very difficult for many older cats.
  • Remember, personality is everything. Not every cat wants to traverse the great outdoors, just like some people, many cats prefer the gracious and safe indoors!

The harness we recommend is a step-in product from Cetacea located in Foster City, California where they also manufacture them. Many harnesses are not engineered correctly for a cat, who can easily “back out of it” and disaster could happen. We know this product extremely well, and completely endorse it as we once sold them when we first started Cat Faeries in the early 1990’s.

Most cats will take a small-dog-size S but to ensure the correct fit you should measure your cat first and read the sizing guidelines. But if you need assistance don’t hesitate to call Cetacea’s owner, Victor Nayyar. He will make sure that you get the right fit for a custom order. Interestingly, Martha Stewart’s cats wear Cetacea’s harnesses and of course, Martha being Martha, they are in a custom color!

Visit: http://www.cetaceacorp.com/s-step-in-pet-dog-harness.html

Call: 800-223-2833 and speak to Victor