Wanting to green up her garden a bit, Nikki Byrne didn’t realize what she was getting into. Without giving it much thought, the woman planted catnip in the backyard. To say the least, the cat magnet worked.
The drama began last year when Nikki decided her yard needed a makeover and took it upon herself to fill her terracotta pots with fresh plants.
To buy the goods, Nikki went to the local garden store. Since she came rather late, there wasn’t much left to shop. Nikki had no choice but to take the only product still available: catnip.
You may have heard of catnip under various names: catnip, nepeta, or catmint. Native to Asia and Europe, this herb belongs to the mint family. It has quite the effect on many feline friends, hence the name.
Cat’s can’t get enough
Once they discover catnip, some kitties just want to sniff it, rub against it, and chew it. They can’t get enough. People compare the herb to a cat drug although according to scientists, not all felines are affected.
Nikki, who never had a cat in her life, was unaware of catnip’s influence on kitties. She merrily filled her pots with her purchase. Satisfied with the completion of her garden, Nikki went to bed.
It didn’t take long for the catnip to have an effect. The very next day, an old tabby cat showed up in the garden.
A stray cat’s heaven
Nikki told the Dodo. “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.”
The stray cat became a regular. Nikki gave him a nickname, Mister. Since Mister looked dirty and wasn’t wearing a collar, Nikki Byrne decided to give him some food and water.
Soon, Mister came back with his offspring in tow. In mere weeks, Nikki’s garden was transformed into a playground for stray cats.
If Nikki didn’t think of herself as a cat lady, she leaned in. The gracious host even installed various accessories for the happiness of these cats: scratching posts, toys, a heated house…
The younger cats immediately showed Niki some love. They interacted with her and played with the toys she gave them. But Mister wasn’t so easily swayed.
He would watch from a distance, not letting Nikki stroke him at first. As time went by, Nikki won Mister’s trust. The old cat joined the fun.
Nicki went further to help her new neighbors. She contacted a local organization in San Luis Obispo County to spay and neuter the cats.
From someone who never had cats, Nikki Byrne became a foster parent for two generations of cats. And to think it all started with a little catnip.