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How to Harvest and Use Cat Mint

Hi Dear Friends,
Today we are talking about Cat Mint (Catmint) Or often called "Cat Nip". This is an easy to grow mint and is not only good for your cats, but it is also good for you! And it is a nice aromatic tea that helps ease fevers, stress and sleep troubles.
Nepeta cataria
Other Names: Catmint, Catnep, Catswort, Fieldbalm

Catmint is an easy growing, drought resistant mint that grows just about anywhere that it is planted. Rocky areas, sandy, dry areas, and places where things don't seem to grow are good places to plant this mint. Cat Mint can be started indoors in the early Spring as seedlings, from directly seeding into the desired location, from cuttings rooted in water on a windowsill, or purchased as a well established plant. 

That being said, however, my experience in growing Cat Mint, Catmint, or Cat Nip, is that anything but the direct seeding often brings unwanted Cats to eat your mint. This is not only from me, but also from many of my fellow gardeners all over the world. Now, I'm not saying that if you have it is potted up on your porch or in a window that cats will come, not usually, but in the garden, where it is out in the elements and the windy scent of cat nip wafts on the air, cats will  and DO come! Just be aware of this. 

The well established plant of two years, was hardly noticed this year, all year, by the neighborhood felines. But, we also had the chickens this year and they kept out most of the cats. One that seemed to not notice the Cat Mint, but loved to chase the chickens was "BIRD". Yes, you read that right, BIRD is the name of the down the road neighbor"s cat who is an inside and outside cat. Her name, ironically, is due to her love of chasing birds in her yard. This year BIRD became a daily visitor in our chicken area. We do keep an eye and ear out for her comings and goings. The chickens seem to make an unusual type of high pitched squawk sound when she is in the area lurking about. So you can imagine the crazy sound coming from the yard when BIRD is out and about!

And both our cats are crazy about the Catnip, weather it is fresh mint or dried, they become rolling balls of cat fur! Here are some cute photos of the "kids" being Cat Mint silly!

My first year trying to grow some beautiful well established Cat Mint plants ended in disaster. My lovely silvery green foliage was torn, tattered, broken and matted down to much of nothing. And my hopes of making Christmas goodies for our kitty and grandkitties was all but null & void! And my second attempt was not much better. 
The silvery under leaf and the jagged tooth leaves are the distinct features of the Catmint plant.

Finally, I got it right at this location by planting the seeds, sprinkling a small amount of growing mix over it, patting it down firmly, watering it in, and then waiting for the small seedlings to appear. They did and now it has taken over 1/4 of my Mint Herb Garden. Catmint is one of the toughest perennial that you can grow and the silvery gray foliage and blue purple flowers make for a showy flower border. And I am happy to say that mine gives me nice big harvests each year!

Each Spring, Summer & Fall I do a cutting of my Mints. Cat Mint is one of my favorites and since I get 3 cuttings a year, I have enough for tea and toys all year long. Fresh Catmint can be used in a nice tea also, it is not as strong as when it is dried. *As with all herbs, do be careful when taking herbal teas for any length of time. 

That being said, I use Catmint for my tummy disorders, diarrhea, fevers associated with flu, nausea, and during times of stress. I mean, who doesn't get stressful around the holidays or around company? Well, no more!! Grab yourself a cup of Catmint tea and relax and enjoy the festivities!   

For some great information, here is a well informed page on Catmint and it's uses. Take a read if you would like to know a bit more about it! HERE at Alternative Nature Online Herbal.

For Cat Mint Tea:
 1 Teaspoon of Fresh Herb Leaves
2 Teaspoons of Dried Herb Leaves
placed in tea bag or in tea baller
place in cup and pour 1 cup of hot water over the leaves
let steep or infuse for 5 minutes
Drink plain or with a touch of honey (and lemon) Yummy!

It's used for the following;
Nepeta cataria benefits:
• controlling fevers
• stress
• digestion
• inflammation
• sleep
• pain and headaches

• stimulating appetite
• rheumatism and arthritis
• anxiety
• colds and flu 

General warning when using herbal infusions;
• Only use the herbal material if you are 100% sure that it really the herb in question.
• If you are ill or have any health concerns, consult your health practitioner.
• Do not continuously drink the same infusion. At maximum use for 10 days and then skip 5 days.
• Only have one cup of herbal infusion per day, except during acute periods - such as when you have a cold or flu, you can then have it three times a day, but for a maximum of 4 days.
• When you use herbal remedies, be aware that they can be extremely powerful, and should you have any side effects when taking these infusions, immediately stop using the herb and consult your health practitioner right away. LINK
SaMi the Siamese and Fancy the Persian Cats enjoying fresh catmint leaves.

For Stuffed Cat Toys: Directions:
1 large square of felt
thread to match felt color
2 to 3 cotton balls
1 Tablespoon of Dried Catmint 

~Fold your felt piece in half making two pieces cut at the same time. ~Cut your desired shape; oval, round, square, rectangle, or "mice" triangle. Make your shape large enough to handle the cotton and the dried catmint. 
 ~Sew together all sides, leaving a 1inch space for stuffing.
~Stuff the mint into the shape, then put in the cotton balls (using all 3 will make a stiffer toy).
~Stitch the opening shut with whip stitches.
You can use Permanent Marker to make a face  on the shape or just leave it as is. If you crochet or knit, then you can make a shape and stuff it. Homemade pet toys are great!
I do hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Catnip and how to use it!
Have a Wonderful Relaxing Day!

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