Last year, Nikki Byrne decided that she wanted to fill the terracotta pots in her backyard with herbs, but when she arrived at the nursery the only healthy plant was catnip so she bought some anyway.
She had never had cats in her life while growing up and so didn’t realise that most cats find this delectable plant irresistible – but she was about to find out!
For those of you that don’t know, catnip is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. As well as being extremely appealing to cats, its benefits can also aid humans.
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“Shortly after planting it,” Nikki explained. “I heard a little commotion outside one morning. I looked out the window, and there was a big old tabby cat up on the fence. He’d managed to knock one of the pots of catnip down when he was going after it.”
This wise old tabby cat, whom she named him Mister, began to visit her patio every day. Nikki presumed that he was a stray as he had no collar and was a little rough around the edges, so she started putting out food and water for him.
Within a few days, her yard was full of cats. Mister had obviously spread the word that this was a safe place with food and water – and of course, catnip!
While Nikki was watching all the younger cats jumping and playing around, she decided to buy some toys to keep them amused, along with some scratching posts, tunnels, and even a heated cat home.
She had created a cat’s paradise.
All the while Mister kept a watchful eye on the younger members of his community, but he remained indifferent to Nikki.
But with time and patience she earned his trust and was soon be able to stroke him and even eat food from her hand.
Nikki loved watching the cats playing in her backyard but realised that what they really needed was to be put on a trap neuter return program.
So she contacted a community cat organization in San Luis Obispo County and they agreed to help.
Due to Nikki’s diligence, generations of cats have been saved in her neighborhood in just one year, all because of a few pots of catnip.