When I first welcomed Socks into my home, I bought a cardboard "scratchpad" for him to use. It came with a little Ziplock baggie containing leafy green stuff. At first, I thought a rather hip clerk at the store had slipped a little extra bonus inside the box, but it just turned out to be catnip.
I don't think anyone quite understands the appeal of catnip to our feline friends. It seems so simple - a leafy, slightly minty-smelling substance - but it causes cats to behave in strange ways. Or sometimes not.
That's the odd thing about catnip. Some cats seem to be hypersensitive to the stuff all the time - rolling around in kitty bliss, chewing and covering their furry bodies in the stuff while others sniff and rub on it a bit with no hint of being slightly interested. Some only show interest once in a while.
Socks seems to fall into the latter category. The first few times I put some catnip on his scratch pad, I swear he acted like he was tripping - rolling around on the floor, his eyes wide, just the slightest stimulation would provoke strange behavior.
One time, after he sniffed and rolled around in the stuff, he jumped up on my bed where I was sitting. He saw part of the flannel sheets exposed at the head of my bed and just stared at them, very slowly moving his paw over a folded part of the sheet, over and over again. I touched him on the side of the neck to rub him a bit and he jumped with a start, his eyes wide. Then, he went back to pawing very slowly, over and over again at the flannel sheets.
He must have done this for a good ten minutes, leaving me to wonder if he was seeing some pretty colors and patterns coming off the fold in the sheet. A few minutes later he was back to normal, exploring around the apartment and staking out his usual place at the window.
If only mind altering substances for humans were so simple ...