So, sometimes the writer wants to show a character acting stoned, drunk or hallucinating for the purpose of comedy. When the character in question is a cat or other feline, the "drug" of choice will often be plain ol' catnip.
This has several advantages. For starters, it prevents the writers from having to put any "real" drugs into the story to get the desired result, and secondly, for talking or humanoid felines, it serves as a Furry Reminder, giving an otherwise human-acting animal a realistic behavioural quirk for their species. Such a scene can also be used to avert the snobby, uptight stereotype often associated with cats.
If you really want to sneak past the radar, show Anthropomorphic cats smuggling/hiding catnip as if it were an illegal drug. If a normal human can get high off the stuff, it may serve to enforce an Animal Motif or give an impression of general quirkiness.
This is Truth in Television. Not only does catnip have similar effects to marijuana for felines, but it also can have a soothing effect on humans and has often been brewed into tea and, yes, even smoked. It is a muscle relaxant, and catnip and hop brew makes a good sauna water additive.
- Was part of a Christmas-themed Petco commericial a few years back.
Cat: I smell catnip!
Dog: Don't inhale!
Cat: Too late... whooo!
- Catnip is often sold in a package with art reminiscent of 60s-70s psychedelic posters. Yeowww! brand and Cosmic Catnip are especially prone to this, catnip toys shaped like a big spliff (with "Big Fatty" printed on the side in case anyone doesn't get it), or with Rastafarian themes.
- The Pokémon anime featured this with "poké-nip." Ash's Bulbasaur smelled some in one episode, at which point it got a big, goofy grin on its face, walked over to Ash and nuzzled against his legs.
- Queen's Blade: Hide 'n Seek. Done to Elina by Nyx to comedic effect when she surprises her with catnip powder, after learning Elina was susceptible to it. The accompanying flashback even reveals that her sisters used to use it to keep her under control. Sadly for Nyx, it backfires when Elina rapes her while under the influence.
- In Hyper Police catnip tea is Natsuke Sasahara's usual choice of intoxicating beverage.
- A filler episode of Inuyasha has a villain incapacitate Kilala with catnip. Some translations use Silver Vine (Actinidia) instead, an Asian plant with a similar effect upon felines.
- Happens in the dub of Digimon Adventure 02, when Gatomon picks some catnip to heal Hawkmon. A few scenes later, Hawkmon is alert and active.
Gatomon: I found catnip; it cures it all!
- This gag appears in one of the Maiden Rose bonus comics, where a chemical weapon attack against the cat side is actually bombing them with catnip, to great effect.
- Ranma ½:
- Despite being human, Ranma is just as susceptible to catnip as any other cat while under the trance of the Cat Fist/Nekoken (which turns him, mentally, into a cat.) It once stopped his berserk rampage at school and made him playful and affectionate... too affectionate, as he happily leapt into Akane's lap and rubbed his face against hers, giving her a mock "kiss" in front of the entire school.
- In another story, Maomolin the giant Ghost Cat wants Ranma to stay away from the Cat Shrine, where he's holding Shampoo captive until he can turn her into a cat. So, he brings gifts to the Tendo home and breaks a capsule of a mysterious powder that covers Ranma. Maomolin goes into a brief high, but Ranma and Akane don't notice that the powder was catnip essence until they're assailed by dozens of cats.
- Later in the story, Ranma stuffs a coat with catnip in order to draw away the hordes of cats while he rescues Shampoo. When Akane questions The Plan, considering Ranma's ailurophobia, he promptly puts the coat on her so she pulls the cats away while he goes and kisses Shampoo (long story.) Annoyed, Akane puts the coat back on him, tosses him at the cats, and simply takes the cat-covered coat off him and tosses it away to get rid of the felines.
- One chapter of Omamori Himari has samurai catgirl Himari take a catnip-based medicine to recover from some injuries. The drug reverts her mind to an animal state and she spends the night trying to play with Yuuto.
- In Rosario + Vampire, Shizuka Nekonome has been occasionally seen with a bottle of 'catnip wine'. Her behaviour during such times... predictable.
- Eris in Cat Planet Cuties accidentally got into some catnip. Considering that it made her hyper (well, more hyper than usual) it came across as being closer to an analogy for cocaine than pot.
- In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Alley-Kat-Abra/Felina Furr actually gets a catnip high, tells her team-mate Captain Carrot/R. R. Rabbit that he is "really cute, but would be cuter if he was a cat," uses her magic powers to turn him into one, and offers him some catnip. No, this comic wasn't from Vertigo...
- In American Flagg!, while serving as mayor of Chicago, Raul (an actual cat, albeit an intelligent talking one) becomes addicted to Gato Blotto, a super-potent variety of catnip.
- The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: Fat Freddy walks in with a little plastic bag full of crumbled leaves - his cat sniffs it and starts leaping and cavorting with delirious joy. Freddy bawls "I spent my last fifteen dollars on catnip!"
- Used several times in Garfield. One early Sunday strip takes a more literal approach to this: Garfield (looking visibly stoned) silently stares at his waterbowl as strange things appear entering and exiting it. The last panel has Garfield saying "That was some good catnip". Not surprisingly, the strip was never published after the comic premiered in 1978, though it was featured in the 25th anniversary book for the series.
- Get Fuzzy has this a few times.
Bucky: Have you ever, like, really looked at your paws? Like, really looked at them? Whoaa...
Rob: Bucky get into the catnip again?
Satchel: Yeah, he's kinda loopy right now.
- This is a periodic source of humor in Krazy Kat.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfnip Madness", Gargamel sees his cat Azrael staggering to the door, baked on catnip.
- In chapter one of They're Not Pussywillow Pixies, catnip is tossed at Azrael and this is the result. Gargamel even asks if he's drugged.
- The RWBY fic Nip is about Yang spraying catnip on Blake's pillow to troll her.
- Catnip has a similar plot, but is much, MUCH longer. This RWBY fic involves Weiss' (catnip-spiked) shampoo. Hilarity Ensues, as does a tenuous romantic relationship between Weiss and Blake.
- In the FusionFall fanfic Let Me Tell You Something, Ben involuntarily transforms into Rath when he comes in contact with potent catnip. As a result, Dexter gets to learn the hard way that catnip is the Appoplexiannote equivalent to speed.
- Played for Drama in What Worse Luck. Apparently, Emilie once give Adrien catnip to pass the time while his father was getting ready to cast something on him and he was stuck in cat form. Adrien only has very vague and disjointed memories of what happened next, but neither he nor, as far as he knows, anyone else ever saw his mother again.
- In Shrek 2, guards capture Shrek and friends and one finds a bag of catnip on Puss In Boots' person. Puss denies that it's his.
- The joke is repeated in Puss in Boots. Puss claims it's for his glaucoma.
- In The Secret Life of Pets 2, Chloe ends up wearing a lampshade after her owner gives her catnip. She then flops over on her back, gets surprised at her own purring, and makes a lot of weird noises.
- A scene in Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore has the heroes visit the house of a Crazy Cat Lady. Turns out a) cat ladies are such enablers for catnip addiction, b) cats on catnip act like comedic-variant stoners.
- Catwoman has a scene where the titular character reacts very... strangely to catnip.
- In Tailchaser's Song, Tailchaser has never seen catmint before but comes across a patch. Being strangely attracted to it, he ends up eating a lot of it. Afterwards Tailchaser overdoses, passes out, and has a weird dream. Most other cats ignore him and simply think he's a dunce who likes catmint too much, but Tailchaser's kitten friend Pouncequick freaks out thinking Tailchaser is dying.
- Warrior Cats:
- Warrior Cats pretty much averts this. It appears in the books and is used as a medicinal herb to help cats with greencough/pneumonia relax (though Fireheart in the first series remembers it from when he was a pet kitten and is extremely tempted to bite down on it when carrying some back). The authors have commented that, while they touch upon several serious topics in the series, one that will almost certainly never appear is drugs in any form.
- In Moth Flight's Vision, it finally gets played straight. Moth Flight, having never used catmint before and no idea what the proper dose is, guesses and ends up giving Rocky too much. The old cat gets high and plays like a kit, and tries hilariously to find any excuse to get some throughout the rest of the book.
- There's a brief mention near the start of The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency of a hippy commune of cats who were growing catnip but were able to show the authorities it was for personal use.
- Referenced in Red Dwarf: Cat comments on how the unreality pockets in "Out of Time" are worse/weirder than triple strength catnip.
- In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch Salem claims that a party got out of hand when "someone brought catnip". In another episode a female talking cat at a witch gathering got drunk off catnip.
- In Bewitched, a female cat is turned into an attractive young woman, who gains the attention of another young man before Samantha can change her back. Samantha 'spikes' the cat's drink with catnip, and the resulting intoxication (and angry hissing when the young man takes it away) is enough to cool his ardor.
- Knights of the Old Republic parody art sometimes involves getting Juhani good and baked on nip, usually in the context of Revan trying to take the edge off her temper.
- Hazama's gag reel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has him bathing in Spanish catnip. While Hazama himself isn't affected by it, when he goes to the Kaka village to cause some trouble, every one of its inhabitants exhibits strange behavior, as if getting high off the aroma. And then Jubei and Kokonoe get involved, and his cat allergies start to catch up. Things only get more wack from there...
- Catnip appears as a consumable item in the Postal series. In both Postal 2 and Postal III, The Dude can smoke it, creating brief Bullet Time. In Postal III, it can even be sprayed on cats in order to catch them.
- Played with in an episode of Cat Face. The title character rubs himself against some catnip, following with a close-up of his dilating eyes and psychedelic music, implying he's going on a trip. Then it automatically zooms out and Cat Face tells Box Cat to stop playing the "crappy music". After yelling at his friend, Cat Face flies up and purrs until he runs into a lit lightbulb. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
- This episode of Simon's Cat.
- In Gene Catlow, the eponymous character avoids catnip for this reason.
- El Goonish Shive has the mini-arc "Catnip"; also, the plant itself reappeared later.
- Subverted, oddly enough, in Two Lumps, which is actually about two cats, where the cat that appears to be high on catnip has actually been drinking vodka.
- Though played straight in this strip.
- In Sinfest, Percy on catnip. with quite strong reactions.
- In Homestuck, resident Cat Girl Meulin wonders if she "toked on some bad nip" after experiencing Kurloz's mind control, which at least implies that she's done it before.
- In Endtown, we see a background character kicked out of a restaurant here for being high on catnip.
- In Fur Will Fly, Natalie had a habit of smoking catnip cigarettes, until her apartment complex banned smoking.
- In The Cyantian Chronicles, not only are feline Cyantians susceptible to catnip but so are some foxes, particularly Khaelis who ends up naked and playing fetch after Julie discovers his weakness.
- In Faux Pas, a cat assumes this trope is in play.
- Questionable Content: Apparently, Dora's cat Mieville in this strip.
- In Housepets!, catnip is often presented in an analogous manner to drugs or alcohol for the feline characters. There have also been a couple of mentions of anise having a similar effect on dogs.
- This episode of Talking Kitty Cat. He tears open a small bag of catnip and sometime later goes completely catatonic, with visual effects simulating a catnip trip.
- This episode takes it even further, making it seem like Catnip has gone from being merely a marijuana stand in to some seriously warped version of LSD of the like. Sylvester completely seems to lose his mind. ...2 hours later, he jumps at the chance for more.
- Played straight in the 'Fionna and Cake' episode of Adventure Time. Cake is handed a bag of catnip, and she sniffs it, after which her pupils dilate and she remarks, "SWEET BABIES..."
- Parodied in the "Cat Orgy" episode of South Park. Mr. Kitty brings her tomcat friends in the house, dumps catnip on the floor, and one of the cats snorts it. And then... Well, see the episode's title.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, catnip causes the Cat Lady's cats to have a sudden dance party.
- The SWAT Kats episode "The Metallikats" opens with a gang of mobsters smuggling, well, catnip. Specifically, it shows a gang member who has clearly just tested his shipment proclaiming it "the good stuff" and rubbing powder from under his nose. We also see mob boss Katscratch giggling like an idiot while playing with one of the catnip balls.
- One Terrytoons:
- One short was about a cat who goes through a Disney Acid Sequence after sniffing some catnip.
- A Little Roquefort cartoon had Roquefort's feline nemesis Percy becoming best friends with him after inhaling catnip.
- An entire episode of Father of the Pride centered around Larry and Kate's assumptions that their daughter was smoking catnip. They ended up accidentally ingesting it themselves, and rather... pot-like effects took hold.
- One Kid vs. Kat cartoon had Mr. Kat trying to grow his catnip faster, with strange results.
- Catnip works on the feline brain similarly to how marijuana works on the human brain. However, the effects are much more short-lived. Some rare cats are naturally immune to its effects though, and even normal cats will become immune for a while if they're constantly exposed to it. It also has a calming effect on humans, and is a common ingredient in "calming" teas. It's not as pronounced, but the chemical effects are similar to how it works on cats. And yes, catnip does have that effect on the larger cats like tigers, lions, leopards and pumas.
- Valerian (the herb) has the same effect as catnip. In some countries such as Russia, valerian is the cats' drug of choice in popular perception. Especially because it is readily available in drugstores as an over-the-counter anxiolytic, hence, cats can readily obtain valerian from their masters' closets.