Staying Home With Your Cats - Catnip Marinade Jar

Create a catnip marinade jar to keep your catnip toys fresh

If your cat loves catnip then the "catnip marinade jar" is a fun thing you can do at home. This clever trick stimulates feline senses and can be used to start up playtime. Your cat will quickly learn to associate a distinctive sound with the pleasure of catnip. 

How Do I Make A Catnip Marinade Jar?

This is a really easy project and I think it offers good ROI. All you're doing is getting a good jar, the best jar you can, then you're filling it with good catnip, the best catnip you can get, then you cram the toys inside the jar. Now let me give you some pointers for the best success. 

Example of a good jar to use as a catnip marinade for storing cat toys

Why did I choose this jar to use as a catnip marinade for our cat toys? 

How Do I Choose the Right Jar?

What I've learned is the best jar is made of glass, it's roomy, it's transparent, it has a wide neck, and it has a lid that makes a distinctive sound when you open it. Here is why these characteristics are important.

Glass - I recommend glass because it won't have a smell like plastic is likely to have. Cats have a much better sense of smell than we do, in fact they use scent to communicate in a way that is hard for us to even understand, so I want the catnip and toys stored in this jar to be unaffected by weird odors. Additionally glass jars are transparent and easy to clean. You'll be able to find one with a  neck and with a lid that makes a distinctive noise, which is even more important.
The Lid - The lid of your catnip jar needs to make a distinctive sound when you open it. See the jar I used? You can remember the sound it makes when you lever the thing open, and so can your cat, and that's the next step.

I used this glass jar with hermetic lid to create a catnip marinade storage for our catnip toys

I always add a variety of catnip toys to the catnip marinade jar

Training Your Cat 

If your cat likes catnip she will quickly learn what this jar is, thanks to the lid. This is how I did it. 

  1. I put the best, freshest, stinkiest catnip I could into the jar
  2. I added a few toys
  3. I shook it all up, coating the toys
  4. I let it sit
  5. I waited until the cat was awake and interested in playing
  6. I got the cat's attention, shook the jar up, and opened the jar. The lid makes a distinctive sound. I placed the jar under his nose and let him smell , then gave him a toy
  7. I repeated steps 5 -6 a few times and it really didn't take long until my cats would come running when they heard the jar opening

Some cats learn that the sound of a can opener might mean a can of tuna, and my cats learned that the sound of a hermetically sealed glass jar means catnip. All of my cats have been able to make this association. 

Don't worry if you don't have exactly the right jar right now, you can start with the best thing you've got. I think that you can transition them to a different jar later. 

I really love the catnip marinade jar because it's a way to store bulk catnip and to keep your catnip toys as fresh as possible. You can absolutely use this system to "recharge" and catnip toy that can fit into the jar. 

Does your cat like the laser pointer? I learned that some leader pointers make a noise that cats can learn to recognize. This blog post shares more information on my favorite laser pointers for cats. 

Or You Can Buy One

Cat behaviorist and TV celebrity Jackson Galaxy also knows about this trick of storing catnip and catnip toys in a jar, and he's created a tool for the job, the Jackson Galaxy Vault Catnip Marinater. His clever design stores the toys next to the catnip, so they are infused with the odor, and his multi-chamber design reduces the potential mess. 

Facts About Catnip (and Other Herbs)

Catnip is a common herb. It's in the mint family and like other mints it is frequently used to calm an upset tummy or to soothe a headache. You can steep the dried leaves in hot water (do not boil herbal leaves) and enjoy the tea, which is slightly minty and has a strong odor. Cats will respond to this tea and may spill your glass or shove their heads inside as they try to get to it. 

Cats also like fresh catnip plants. When I grew catnip I secured old birdcages over the plants to protect them from the neighborhood cats, who wandered into the yard and ate stray leaves. I frequently found collars stuck on the birdcage, the dangling ID tags would drop down into the cage, get snagged, and the cat would break the collar away (as designed to for safety). You can also grow it in hanging pots. Like other mints, catnip is easy to grow and will spread (unless overharvested).

Not all cats like catnip. About 30% of cats don't respond to this herb, so you can try honeysuckle, valerian, or silvervine, and if one of those plants works, you can substitute it for the catnip. Note that silvervine is often mixed with catnip.

I personally like valerian a lot for cats. This herb is usually known for insomnia or to help one to relax, but it turns out that cats also respond to it. The dried root is ground to a powder so it works fine in the marinade jar (and can be used to fill catnip toys). In my opinion the smell is unpleasant but I tolerate it because the cats like the stuff so much. Here's a funny story; once I dug up a valerian plant to move it in my garden and came back later to find a cat rolling and lazing in the hole where the plant had been. I left the hole for a few days and saw cats in it several times. 

 A cat inspects the contents of a catnip toy marinade jarRetro now recognizes the sound that this lid makes and he will come running when I shake the jar and open the lid 

Reader Feedback and Ideas

I'd love to hear how this worked for you. Do you have any tips or tricks to share? 


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