WARNING: This column contains subject matter and parlance that may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.
Raven thinks she's participating in a show about cats who enjoy catnip. She has no idea that soon she will be confronted with … an intervention.
"Here's my toy basket. In here I keep a lot of my 'personal things,' " explains Raven. "I've got catnip toys of every description. My parents have to get them out for me, though; because I don't have opposable thumbs.
"They disapprove of my lifestyle. Sometimes they say, 'Wait a minute, I'm busy' or, 'You've had enough for one day.' How do they know how much is enough? They're not cats! They don't get it. I don't want to be straight — catnip is who I am."
"I blame myself," laments Cathy, clutching a tissue.
Raven is wrestling a long, weasel-shaped stuffed toy with a core of catnip. She's hugging it, rolling around with it, rubbing her face on it and lying on her back, juggling it on her paws.
"It's gotten so she doesn't even care if we're in the room anymore," Doug says sadly. "She just … doesn't … care."
Raven prefers high-quality, pure, premium catnip — also known as "catmint" or Nepeta cataria on the street — when she can get it. Although she won't turn down the cheap stuff, the catnip equivalent of a Muscatel-bottle-in-a-paper-bag, if that's all Mommy can find.
Raven will do anything for a catnip toy: walk back and forth, rubbing a human's leg and purring; allow a human to pet her for a few moments — but she draws the line at lap-sitting. "I have my standards," she sniffs.
"An intervention was the only hope," Cathy explains. "I admit I'm an enabler, but she's my baby. I can't bear to see her bored, or in need of exercise."
"Me, too," admits Doug remorsefully. "I love seeing her get all excited playing with catnip toys … she's just so funny."
"We accept responsibility for this," Cathy continues. "We're the ones who got her started on the stuff. Well, first it was gourmet cat food and organic cat treats. But those are gateway substances — we know that now. Anyway, before long, Raven was nipping three, four times a day."
The day of the intervention arrives. Raven thinks she's going to her final interview, but when she walked into the room she's confronted by her parents, her veterinarian and a guy from Petco.
"We want you to get well," sobs Cathy. "We can't watch you destroying yourself any longer."
"Do you see what you've done to your mother?" Doug asks sternly.
"That doesn't help any, Dad," intones the vet.
"I'm not listening!" yowls Raven. "You are such hypocrites! You're all, 'Here's a nice jingle-ball, Raven. Wanna play with a shoestring, Raven?' NO! I want my catnip toys! Why am I even explaining this to you? We don't even speak the same language!"
She bolts from the room. "Should I go after her?" asks Cathy.
"Give her some space," advises the vet. "She probably needs to cool down, watch a squirrel out the window for a while.
"Besides, catnip isn't going to harm Raven. You could even grow some in a planter so she can have fresh catnip whenever she wants," she adds.
"Really?" marvels Cathy. "You don't say!" says an astonished Doug.
"Really," the vet assures them. So the intervention is a success.
Update, three months later: Raven is still on catnip.
Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at firstname.lastname@example.org.