Hello, Fishtildeath1, & welcome to the Club Forums. If you've just joined the NAFC, too, welcome to the Club. By the way, "Fishtildeath" is a great user name. It's also a sentiment I happen to agree with totally.
Kvjgriff's absolutely right about larger cats (especially flatheads and big blues) prefering bluegills & other sunfish as forage. The only thing I'd add to that is make sure they're legal to use as bait in your state/province. They are illegal to use in some areas, & we don't want you getting into any trouble. Here, in Illinois, they're OK to use if you catch the gills from the same water you'll be fishing for the flatheads in. You can't import sunnies from other bodies of water to use for bait in IL, though. This not only makes sense from an "invasive species" standpoint, but it also makes sense because you'll be presenting baits the big cats are used to seeing around them, anyway. But, yeah, bluegills work great for the larger catfish, & they're tougher than most minnow or shad species you could try. They'll last a lot longer on a hook.
If you're chasing smaller catfish (channels, bullheads, smaller blues, etc.), there are a gozillion baits that could be used, from cut bait to chicken livers to 1" square chunks of Ivory Soap (yeah, really, I know a guy that's used it!). There are also millions of stinkbaits out there... some home-brewed by the anglers, themselves. It's about to the point where you ask ten catfishermen what bait's best, you'll get ten different answers. Personally, what I've caught 99% of my smaller cats on is the good, old, dependable, reliable nightcrawler. Catfish love them, & if the catfish aren't cooperating that particular day, you might get something else to bite using the "garden hackles". Just about anything that strains fresh water through its gills will hit a 'crawler. And nightcrawlers don't smell as nearly as bad as some concotions cat chasers use out there!
So, if your quarry is big cats & it's legal to do so, follow Kvj's advice & get those rigged gills out there. If the cats run smaller, like eating-sized channels, then use the nightcrawlers, cut bait, or stay with the chicken livers. But do your olfactory passages a favor & stay away from the stinkbaits, unless you're really hard up for a catfish meal & they're hitting absolutely nothing else.
Again, welcome to the Boards (& maybe to the Club), & if you get any big ones, let us know. Tight lines.
If I'm not fishing, I'm thinking about it.
Keep the line fresh, the hooks sharp, and have fun fishing. God bless you. -Sonny, Life Member since 2002