It’s no secret that I like cats. So I don’t mind the neighborhood felines visiting my yard—in fact, I encourage it because they keep the chipmunk and mouse population in check. There’s always fresh water and a bowl of cat food on the porch, but there’s also a little extra attraction—on one side of the walkway there’s a big clump of Catnip (above). On the other side is Catmint (below).
Catnip and its cousin, Catmint, are perennial herbs that are best known for the high they give cats. Nepetalactone, the active ingredient found in the stems and leaves, causes a hallucinogenic effect in about half of cats, but not in humans. Here's proof that some cats love it!
These perennial herbs are easy to grow. Just plant in full sun and give adequate moisture. If you want to harvest some for your indoor kitties, just cut it on a dry summer day and hang upside down in a well-ventilated area, away from the sun and moisture to dry.
Catnip and Catmint are also said to repel insects, rats, and mice. However, Catnip doesn’t appear to thwart Chipmunks because one has foolishly dug a tunnel entrance under a big clump. When I fill up the cats’ water bowl every morning, I bruise a few leaves on the Catnip plant to release the smell. I keep hoping one of them will get that pesky chipmunk, but I guess they’re too high to care!!