Wednesday 26 November 2008

One Toke Over The Line

The top of my fridge has always been a hangout spot of intrigue and kudos for my cats. This is not only the place where Dee and I keep the cat food before we take it out the box, it's also a convenient spot for surveying territory, pouncing on your inferiors, and generally plotting world supremacy*. Janet's the number one fridge cat. The place has extra sentimental value for him, going back to when we lived in a rented flat in Blackheath (borders), London, and he would perch on top of a stack of 1970s copies of The Beano, watching wood pigeons through the window.. Much water has passed under the bridge since then: some of it being the very stuff that made the Beanos so damp and mushy I had to throw them out. Janet's wood pigeon obsession, meanwhile, has never been as strong since the time he forgot he didn't have wings and jumped out of a third floor window in an attempt to "make friends" with one of them. Still, one can often find him perched on top of today's new, better, non-rented fridge, possibly deep in thought about such topics as the strangely adhesive properties of his tail, and why, on the sixth day of every week**, his owners keep passing beneath him, opening the door, and popping the top off so many of those weird transparent things with the shiny, fizzy liquid in them.

It's perhaps Janet's vacant, oh-so-predictable love of the fridge that makes The Bear so disdainful of it. When he chooses a place to make his new lair, it's invariably highly original: the result of weeks of intense planning and research. Hence when, a few days ago, I went to retrieve some leftover lasagne and spotted him sniffing around above me, I knew there was some ulterior motive. I don't usually have the self-discipline to save toys that I buy my cats "for later" but The Bear had rooted out an oversight: a catnip cigar ordered from America several weeks previously and since left in its box and forgotten. For me, this was a little like feeling around in the pocket of a long-neglected coat and finding a five pound note. I would apply the same simile for The Bear, if not for the fact that he doesn't have pockets and, even if he did, would never be so fiscally remiss as to mislay a five in one of them.

I've now been buying catnip cigars for my cats for about two years, and their effect seems much more extreme than that of other catnip toys. It's probably unwise to read anything sinister into this: just because something is in the shape of a cigar, it doesn't naturally mean that it contains harmful drugs, but one might be forced to think again upon surveying the scene in my living room just after I've unveiled a new stogie. The Bear loses his cool to an extent, certainly, but it's nothing compared to the interaction between Ralph and Shipley during these occasions, which is perhaps most reminiscent of a fight I once saw between two meth-addled tramps near some bins behind Nottingham's Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. There's always seems to be the possibility, in Bootsy (pictured above) and Pablo's case, that after half and hour rolling around on the floor with their cigars, they might go off to Katmandu to find themselves, or at least stagger blearily over to the shelves where I keep my vinyl and pull out one of my Crosby, Stills and Nash albums.

I've also noticed that each brand of cigar has a very different effect. Last year, I brought a batch with "El Gato Muy Loco" written on them. Since this translates (I think) to The Cat Is Mental in Spanish, one might presume that they offered the ultimate cat high, but I'm convinced that there are harder catnip cigars on the market: one particularly undiluted batch of Ratherbees I purchased, for example, or the brand that I bought at the 2007 Supreme Cat Show which I can't for the life of me remember the name of (I would read the label, but it's been chewed to a pulp by Shipley and Bootsy), but which will forever live in the memory, if only for the reason that its mysterious chemical properties prompted Ralph to pick a fight with an entire four foot-high antique chest of drawers.

I'm also certain that the market for catnip cigars has got a lot bigger since I was last buying a batch online for my cats. A brief Google search today results in the following, to name just a few:

YEOWWW! 100% organic



Should cat-owners be warned by a concerned right wing newspaper about this new craze? Is it about time we introduced a system for classifying cat drugs? What are actually in these things? It's certainly made me want to further investigate the making of catnip. What are your experiences with the stuff? Is there an ultimate catnip cigar of all catnip cigars out there? And are there any banned types of catnip?

I'm off to buy some more now. It's going to be a drawn-out process, involving much prevarication, but you can bet that when the product arrives, The Bear will be first to sniff it out. He won't hurry in with the masses for the first toke, but at some point when the two of us are alone in the kitchen, he'll give me a look, along with a tiny, just-perceptible nod in the direction of the jiffy bag containing the remaining, untouched cigars, and I'll know what to do. Then, when he's had his fill, Bogarting the item just enough to make it lose its ultimate potency for those who come after, he'll let the braindead masses descend. I suppose you might call it the cat junkie's version of Setting A Pissident (see previous blog post).

*And the cats like it, too!
** Before you ask, yes, of course my cats know what weeks are. They may be truant-playing trailer trash, but they know a calendar when they see one. I've got SOME self-respect, you know.

Image courtesy of Jason Bye.


Kimi said...

My cats prefer powered catnip over catnip leaves, if that counts?

Anonymous said...

My cats love Yeoww! brand toys. No wonder The Bear found them! They are quite potent!

Anonymous said...

Just bought 3, one each. Can't wait to see the effect!

Liz said...

Squeaky prefers to roll around on the ground on actual catnip leaves.

Not sure if that is more or less hardcore than toking on a catnip cigar.

p.s. v cute photo of Bootsy

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! I bought just one of those things for my five (then six) cats last year, and they still can't get enough of it. My kids are usually, in varying degrees, indifferent to catnip, however something about the cigars makes them insane. I'm tempted to think it's at least partially due to the shape, which makes it perfect for them to wrap their arms around, like a body pillow. I'm eager to hear the results of your studies!

Quill and Greyson said...

I don't like to overdue it, or I lose all control of myself.

The Island Cats said...

We gotta get some catnip cigars...but mom won't let us smoke in the house...:-)

Anonymous said...

I'm a grow your own 'nip type of person-the fresh stuff sends my cats into space. Anything else just won't do!