“My cat is doing the oddest thing. Whenever I bring home celery, she acts like it is catnip. I gave her some leaves and she went crazy. I’m wondering why.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff members are all pet lovers and found this question to be intriguing.
Looking for a possible connection between catnip and celery we examined books about cats. The Cat Owner's Manual: operating instructions, troubleshooting tips, and advice on lifetime maintenance by David Brunner and Sam Stall said that the herbs valerian and Canadian honeysuckle can produce a reaction similar to catnip [p. 85]. There is information about growing catnip, which is a member of the mint family, in The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care by Wendy Christensen. Wild Discovery Guide to Your Cat: understanding and caring for the tiger within [Discovery Channel] looks at how both large wild felines and house cats respond to this herb. “A chemical similar to the pheromones in female cat urine is present in catnip. This likely explains why male cats are generally more responsive to the charms of this vegetation than females. [pp.43-44].”
Unable to discover information about celery in the books about cats, we next tried Larousse Gastronomique: the new American edition of the world's greatest culinary encyclopedia. The entry on celery was very thought provoking and seemed to have the answer we needed for this question. Celery was used “. . . therapeutically, as smelling salts. For a long time, both popular opinion and gastronomic writers considered celery to be an aphrodisiac [p.209].” Staff members owning cats will have to see how their own pets respond the next time they bring home this vegetable.