Catnip says she started writing songs at the age of seven when she took guitar lessons. That same year she also got her first job modeling. She wrote poetry and stories as a child, did skits with her sister and performed them for her parents, sang three-part harmony with her mother and sister, and took dance lessons. She loved having her picture taken and being on stage. She was in school talent shows, choir, and dance club.
She tried out new songs at a coffee shop across the street from her cottage, putting her phone on speakerphone and playing songs on the guitar and sing to her best friend.
Originally from San Diego, she moved to Los Angeles when she was cast in a production of Annie Get Your Gun. She worked as a dancer and singer in musical theater productions. One night while at the Derby listening to a swing band, she realized that she wanted to sing that kind of music.
A few months later, while performing with that band and traveling to Japan with them, she was inspired to write songs about World War II and Old Hollywood. She traveled with the Dry Martini Orchestra as their torch singer and was known as blonde Billie Holiday. A friend of hers took her to listen to the best blues musicians and she started sitting in with them, writing about the blues herself.