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Catnip Clues & STARE-‘o-DEATH!

by | Jul 26, 2013 | Ask Amy Videos, Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 21 comments

Okay, my blog “burped” last Saturday…and posted this blog early. So if you already read it, sorry about that.

I’m repeating this blog covering catnip and why dogs stare from 2011 because…well, I’ve got a whole bunch new followers, AND the schedule for fiction-ing leaves me little time these days. Besides, it’s my blog and I make up the rules as I go along. So there! Also, I figured the blog needed a serious influsion of sparkle-icity to keep with the “bling” theme. I’ve not posted any “new” Ask Amy videos in a while but that’s on my to-do list so please offer suggestions for topics in the comments.

To start things out on the right paw, today I’ve posted two. Here’s one about cats and catnip:

And just to offer equal fair play, here’s an Ask Amy about doggy eyeball communication:

Please share–do your cats carry the “catnip gene?” How often do they get a kitty fix? Did you get ’em on film? *snicker*

And for the dog-matic followers, have you ever experienced the canine stare-‘o-death? Of course my Magical-dawg also stares at me when he wants me to read his mind….  “Time for a car ride, yes yes yes???!”

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!


  1. Angela/Curiocat

    Of the ten or so cats I have only a couple go bonkers for catnip. I just thought the others sat around and watched because they were more interested in the catnip kitty’s antics to do anything else. Now I know it’s a catnip gene and the others are really being entertained! Lol.

    Our dogs hate the stare. Belle Amie, our mixed feist, doesn’t get aggressive but acts upset if you stare at her too long. I found this out accidentally when I was trying to see if something was in her eye. Now I try to avoid staring unless circumstances dictate. Jade, our black lab, just avoids our eyes.

    Good info, thanks.

    • amyshojai

      Lotta, just checked out your blog–nicely done, and some great kitty content! Cat loving folks, check it out, too.

  2. amyshojai

    Hi Angela and Lotta, thanks for visiting! I’m fascinated by catnip–for years my Seren-kitty didn’t react and I thought she was that 1/3rd of cats who don’t give a crappiocca. Then I brought home some REALLY POTENT STUFF from a cat show and she went nuts! So sometimes it’s the …er…quality of the weed. *s*

    As for the stare–some dogs will “defer” and look away from a staring human. It’s what they’d do with a dog-stare challenge to ward off any altercation. You might notice some lip-licking or yawning, too. But for those dogs who take issue with being the boss (especially when you’re a stranger and they’re on personal turf) it can be serious biz.

    • Karyl

      Simba never cared for the stuff until a few months to a year after she had moved indoors. Now she goes nuts over it.

      • Amy Shojai

        ‘Nip reaction also depends on the quality of the herb. Ahem. 🙂

  3. Donna Tajik

    Amy I had a gray and white male tabby named FoPaw (he had extra toes). Anyway he did love catnip to the max, but he also went crazy over the smell of BenGay,Vicks, and any other menthol like smells. You just had to stay away from him if heaven forbid you needed to wear that aroma. He would tear you up! He would also rib into any towel or sheet that had that smell! Have you ever heard of this?

    • amyshojai

      Hi Donna, yes, I’ve heard of this! Catnip is a member of the mint family and many cats react to spearmint or other “minty” scents…including menthol. Other cats hate menthol scent, so vets often recommend “painting” around the spay incision with Vicks to keep kitty from licking. *s*

  4. Carol Shenold

    My cats are not that thrilled with catnip, take it or leave it. Jasper will gaze into my eyes like I’m fascinating or he’s trying to tell me something. Not too agressive because if I stare he’ll look away, or lick you to death.

  5. amyshojai

    Jasper’s a big luv-puppy, and the cats already have him whipped into shape as to who’s in charge! *s*

  6. Tiffany A White

    Great addition to your site with the video! I have a question for you to answer – do the Gas-B-Gone pills really work on dogs? My vet says they’re safe but do they work?

    • amyshojai

      Tiffany, great question–and I can have a lot of fun with that in a video. *snicker* So I’ll add that to the list. Thanks, and keep ’em coming!

  7. Damian Trasler

    Ok, evening things up for the Dog Folks… Moose doesn’t give us the Stare o’ Death, but…Ok, our living room has two sets of glass doors, one set from the kitchen, and one from the hall by the Front Door. Even if the kitchen set are open, Moose will go and sit by the other set and stare at us, waiting for someone to come round and open those doors to let her in. You can wave all you like, yell “Go round! Go round! The kitchen doors are open, bonehead!” but nothing. Just the patient stare….

    • amyshojai

      Damian, you’re absolutely right! Dogs “expect” us to read their minds and…when we do (you eventually go open the door) you reward their expectation. A friend and I were just talking, and he mentioned his dog has different “looks” for each thing–one for going outside, one for playing ball, another for food. When we live with ’em long enough, we really do get to the point we can read their minds.

      Or at least, we guess and “throw behaviors/options” at them until they tell us we picked right. So who’s training who? *s* Of course this is a very different use of the “stare” but also incredibly interesting.

  8. Karyl

    I am one of those strange people who can sometimes get away with “staring” at a dog. But then, I’ve noticed there’s a difference in types of stares. They seem to “get” my body language pretty well, so apparently my mood and intent carries over in a way they can understand (if only I had it that easy with people!).

    Haven’t gotten stares from any dogs for a while (not around dogs as much as I’d like lately), but we get plenty from the cats. There’s the “I know you’re talking about me” stare, the “hey you have something I want so gimme” stare, the “I am cute give me a treat” stare… Anubis seems to have mastered full control over his pupil dilation – that thing Puss in Boots does to get out of trouble in the Shrek movies? Yeah he can actually do that.

    • Karyl

      second comment because I forgot to check the box to subscribe to comments. d’oh!

    • Amy Shojai

      Yep, context with what the rest of the body is doing makes a big difference to dogs AND cats! Love your interpretation of the various kitty stares, LOL!

  9. Andrea Dorn

    Of my cats, I have all types. Mewdy Blue and his brother Question really got into catnip but they got really aggressive if anyone approached. I had to make sure they were alone when they got it. Gooseberry likes to eat catnip but he doesn’t seem to play with it at all. Lady Butterfly loves to roll around and love up her catnip mice.

    I never stare at other dogs but with Blizzard we hold staring contests, which he usually wins. I just can’t keep my eyes open that long! He doesn’t seem to view it as a challenge as you would expect. Instead he acts like it means we are ready to start playing. Maybe I taught him that. Who knows.

    • Amy Shojai

      Love that they’re all such different personalities and reactions. I’ve heard of cats acting a bit aggressive when on the ‘nip before. Do Mewdy Blue and Question act aggressive to other cats when under the influence or just toward people?

      I do know dogs pay close attention to context and their people’s body language, and certainly could have “learned” this new way of interpreting the staring. I used to play “eye tag” with my cat Seren, peering around corners and opening my eyes very wide until she’d race forward and WHAP my ankle, and then dash away.

      • Andrea Dorn

        MB & Q were mostly aggressive to other cats but I never dared to bother them myself when catnip was involved so who knows 🙂



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