In 1973, a 4-month old baby girl was left on the doorstep of the Fraserview Mental Health Hospital in Gateway city. There were no hints as to where the child had come from, save a note in the child’s blanket stating that her name was Catherine Cannip. The nurse who found the baby took the child in, and immediately went to the Chief of staff, Doctor Wendell Maurice for advice on what to do with her. Dr. Maurice was quick to take charge of the child and tell the nurse he would contact the proper authorities. The nurse took him at his word, and never thought twice about leaving the infant in Dr. Maurice’s hands. Little did she know the Chief of Staff’s true agenda.
To Maurice, this was a dream opportunity: the chance to conduct behavioral experiments on a human being from close to birth, with no parents or rightful guardians to stand in his way. He took Catherine to his home where he spent years conducting cruel and sadistic psychological tests on the poor girl.
Maurice subjected her to all manner of inhumanity, from sensory deprivation, to sleep deprivation and everything in between. Catherine grew up a deeply disturbed young girl, barely capable of speaking. She became violent and despondent, and on the eve of her 17th birthday, she turned on a complacent Dr. Maurice, and killed him in a fit of rage. She fled his estate into the expanse of the Gateway Evergreens.
For nearly 2 years she lived like a wild child, hunting for food and steadily becoming more and more primitive and savage. In those 2 years, rumors began to circulate throughout Gateway City. It was said that a strange woman-child haunted the Gateway Evergreens. Authorities took it upon themselves to get to the bottom of these rumors and supposed sightings, and launched a man hunt. It took them nearly a week to find and capture Catherine, but eventually, they tracked her down. Ironically, she was admitted to the Fraserview Mental Health Hospital for treatment.
Catherine remained at Fraserview for close to three years after her capture. In that time she was taught to speak to the level of a kindergartener, but the damage had been done. Years of abuse at the hands of the inhuman Dr. Maurice had left her distrusting and violent.
One night, after attacking 2 attendants, she was thrown into a straight jacket and into the rubber room. It was that night that Jeanne Darque came to her. Ironically, Catherine reacted very calmly to Jeanne Darque, stating in her childish manner, that she had always known she would come to rescue her. In truth, the Cube had led Darque to Catherine. It instructed Darque to change Catherine into of its a Guardian. Admittedly, Darque did not quite comprehend the logic of appointing a madwoman to such a task, but she obeyed the Cube as she always did.
Catherine became Catnip, a perfect combination of madness and innocence, in the image of Catherine’s favorite character from Alice in Wonderland: the Cheshire cat. Catnip escaped from Riverview with Darque, who proceeded to tutor her in the ways of her new-found powers.
Catnip quickly endeared herself to the other Guardians, and she and Ghostboy especially became very close, sharing an almost brother-sister bond.
To this day, Catnip remains with the Guardians, using her powers to protect the weak and the innocent. But as a result of her childhood abuse, there lies a deep, dark rage within her which often resurfaces. In those moments, Catnip becomes a mindless animal, capable of the most horrible acts of violence, making her a formidable foe, but also a dangerous ally.
Catnip possesses superhuman strength and is capable of lifting (pressing) just a little under a ton. She is incredibly fast, agile and her skin is supremely resistant to harm. She possesses heightened senses, and can see perfectly well in pitch dark. She is skilled in hand to hand combat, though not formally trained in any particular form of martial art.
Her cube given-gifts seem to centre around her resemblance to the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. Though Catnip can become completely invisible, she rarely makes use of this ability. Her fractured mind seldom remembers to employ of this supernatural skill, preferring instead to resort to violence.
She also possesses paralyzing venom which she can spit from her mouth, but as with her invisibility, this is a skill she seldom takes advantage of.
It has long been thought that the human Catherine Cannip may well have possessed some form of telepathic powers. In fact Dr. Maurice attempted to bring these abilities to the surface with his research, but ironically foiled his own plans by traumatizing the child’s mind beyond complete repair. The possibility remains that Catnip might someday harness these powers, but in order for that to happen, she would need to regain control of her fractured psyche, something not even a telepath as powerful as Numa has been able to help her do.