Animal photographer and cat lover Andrew Marttila has become well known for his cat photography. Once photographing his cat for fun, Andrew's career has transformed into something incredible. Andrew lives in Washington D.C. with his girlfriend, Hannah Shaw... who you may know more notoriously as The Kitten Lady. Together, the pair has 3 cats of their own and a never-ending revolving door of foster kittens waiting for their purr-fect forever home! According to his website's About Me section:
My photography depicts the lives of celebrity cats, shelter cats, and house cats with intimate detail. I reach thousands of cat lovers through my social media (Instagram: @iamthecatphotographer) where I document my travels promoting shelters across the country, taking photos for clients, and snuggling my cat, Haroun.
In his latest cat-themed adventure, Andrew has published a book called CATS ON CATNIP. (no relation to us!) It's even better than your wildest dreams. If you don't believe me, check out this delightful sneak peek!
According to Wikipedia:
Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip, catswort, catwort, and catmint, is a species of the genus Nepeta in the family Lamiaceae, native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, and parts of China. It is widely naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America.
The volatile oil that causes the “catnip reaction” is nepetalactone.
According to catingtonpost.com:
The catnip buzz only lasts for about 10 minutes. Then your kitty gets used it you’ll have to wait about two hours before your cat is susceptible to its powers again!
Male cats are more likely to respond to catnip than female cats because the same chemical can be found in a female cat’s urine.
According to Cat Behavior Associates:
The catnip response is hereditary. It is estimated that about 1/3 of the cats lack this gene.
Approximately 30% of domestic house cats who do not react to catnip will react in a similar way to Tatarian honeysuckle sawdust.
When will your purr-fect puss take a shining to the nip? Cat Behavior Associates says:
Kittens less than three months old don’t respond to catnip and often even show an aversion. With many kittens, the response doesn’t even occur until they’re almost six months old. Kittens don’t really need catnip exposure though anyway – they’re already motorized and ready to play at a moment’s notice.
Humans can enjoy the delightful treat, too! In tea form, though. Per Catington Post:
If made into a tea, catnip can be used by humans as a calming aid, similar to chamomile.
Catnip is just filled to the brim with usefulness! Especially when it comes to pest control... Catington Post reports:
Nepetalactone is an excellent mosquito repellent. It’s said to be ten times more powerful than DEET, a common chemical repellant. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a few hours before it becomes ineffective. It’s also effective against cockroaches and termites.
Your cat cannot get addicted or harmed by catnip, so if your cat loves to play with catnip you can let them, worry free! But some cats lose interest over time. It's not uncommon for elderly cats to not be down with the nip. However, too much consistent exposure to catnip can contribute to your cat's dwindling interest over time much faster, so experts usually recommend limiting your catnip time to once a week. That sounds reasonable.
Speaking of genetic predisposition, Dr. Lauren Demos, veterinarian and president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners says:
The catnip response is actually inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Therefore, it’s inherited from a cat’s parents—if both parents don’t respond, neither will their offspring.
Demos also expands on the varying ways cats may or may not respond to catnip from rubbing, sniffing, licking, chewing, to rolling and vocalizations:
In the clinic setting, we routinely give cats a catnip pillow when they arrive as a new patient. Most cats seem to enjoy it, but one or two get a little too aroused and are cut off for future visits.
If you really want to ensure a life-long love of catnip for you cats: grow your own! Here are some helpful tips from HerbGardening.com:
Catnip grows best in full sun combined with average, well drained soil. It grows well in hydroponics as well. It is a perennial herb of the mint family that will grow from 3-5 feet tall. Water them regularly. Cut out last years spent stems in early spring, which creates room for new ones. Cutting the plants completely down after the first bloom set will allow enough time for the plant to completely regrow and bloom again.
Other delightful critters of the Earth may be attracted to your home-grown catnip:
Catnip is known to attract bees, butterflies or birds and has fragrant blossoms.
Barbara Pleasant of growveg.com says:
When catnip blooms for weeks for the benefit of bees, it sheds sufficient seeds to give rise to a sprinkling of volunteer seedlings the following spring.
Barbara also offers some advice for drying your catnip for your cats to enjoy:
Catnip is easy to dry at a low temperature in a dehydrator, or you can hang the stems in small bunches to dry in a warm, airy place. A dehydrator does the best job of preserving the leaves' color. I like to place catnip on dehydrator trays with the leaves still attached to the stems, and then strip off the leaves when they dry to crisp. As with other leafy herbs, I get the best results by drying catnip for an hour or two one day, then letting the stems rest overnight in the dehydrator, and finishing them the next day. Store dried catnip in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
Andrew Marttila loves photographing cats, he says:
The best photos of cats are taken when they’re relaxed, so I do my best to make them feel safe around me.
When reflecting on his Cats on Catnip project, Marttila says:
Many of the cats had never seen nor experienced the sheer amount of catnip I gave them. This led to a ton of incredible freak-out moments (most of which I was able to capture) for both the cats and guardians alike.
Marttila's Cats on Catnip book's release date is June 19th, you can arrange a signed copy for yourself here!
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