Cat Tips

To train your cat to scratch acceptable objects, sprinkle catnip and a few food treats on a sisal-wrapped scratching post, a corrugated cardboard scratcher or even a non-treated fireplace log. Place it next to the object you wish to protect.

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Expert Q&A

My cat never gets excited over catnip and catnip-filled toys. Should I try growing catnip or buying another brand?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, enjoyment of catnip is an inherited sensitivity, with only 50 percent or so of all cats possessing the genes that make felines go berserk for this herb. My guess is that your pet is in the 50 percent that are not sensitive to it. You could, however, try growing your own catnip. It's easy to plant and maintain, even on a sunny windowsill, if you have enough room. A substance called nepetalactone, present in the herb's leaves and stems, is responsible for the kitty "high." While this substance is still active in dried catnip, it can lose its potency over time. The fresh herb may get more of a rise out of your pet, so long as your cat is predisposed to react to catnip. You might also try growing valerian. Many cat owners don't realize that this herb is another safe, leafy delight for cats. Once the plant has grown, just snip a bit off and see if this interests your feline more.

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