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November 2, 2015

Cat owners will agree; a household with cats can never have too many catnip toys. Cats love variety, and this simple nontoxic plant has added health benefits. It revs up a cat’s play drive, providing much needed mental and physical stimulation as a result of frenetic play sessions with “nip” toys.

Refill It Up

“Our research shows that refillable catnip toys outsell regular catnip toys two-to-one, which is why it’s not surprising that our Petlinks Lil’ Creepers three-pack of refillable mice is our number one selling catnip toy in pet specialty retail stores,” said Aimee Diskin, director of product development and innovation at Worldwise. “Our Tea Zing three-pack of catnip ‘tea bags’ also does well. We believe this is because they’re stuffing-free and 100 percent catnip filled, which really allows the potency of our catnip to come through.”

Catnip is also an integral part of the company’s new Flitter Fly electronic motion toy.

“This whirl-and-catch wind toy blows colorful butterflies and lightweight feathers around a clear bowl with a gentle fan that’s safe for cats. Cats delight in poking a paw through the top opening, trying to catch the swirling butterflies,” Diskin said. “The toy comes with a packet of Pure Bliss organic catnip. The idea is to sprinkle a bit into the bowl to ramp up the excitement of playtime.”

Petlinks’ new Wild Clawz product combines motion toys and scratchers with a catnip component designed to add a new level of fun and excitement to this typical feline behavior and type of play. An erratically spinning electronic feather and ribbon toy attracts cats to the scratcher. Pure Bliss organic catnip is provided to sprinkle on the scratcher surface. The sturdy base offers two height options and adjusts to fit a standard corrugate block.

“It securely holds the reusable, home décor inspired scratch box that is refillable with a new Claw Therapy corrugated scratcher, a Scratcher’s Choice+ corrugated scratcher or any standard sized doublewide cat scratcher from the product line,” Diskin said.

The Wild Clawz also comes complete with replaceable batteries included.

Stuff It

Duckyworld, known for its quirky catnip toys, debuted a variety of new products at SuperZoo earlier this year. The Chubby Mouse is stuffed with catnip and comes in a special jug for counter display. The bright yellow Yeowww! Lady-Krinkle-Bug is a 100 percent stuffed catnip bug for additional play interest. It is also available in a countertop display jug.

The company has a variety of holiday-inspired toys—which make great stocking stuffers—such as the Dreidel Krinkle, Yeowww! Tide Candy Cane and Yeowww! Gift Bundle, containing company favorites like the banana-shaped toy.

According to Pascal Bedard, owner and toy designer behind the

“It sells well both nationally and internationally,” Bedard said. “From a retailer’s standpoint, catnip toys are relatively inexpensive items and we always recommend that stores invest between $50 or $100 in new cat toys in order to test a proper response to them in-store.”

The company is known for its biodegradable hemp cat toys and has just released a new toy called Jacques le Sock. It comes filled with its Ultimate Blend, a mix of catnip and silver vine. The sock-shaped toy comes in five colors and is being promoted as a stocking stuffer for the holiday season ahead.

From The Field was one of the first companies in the United States to experiment with silver vine, an Asian plant also known as matatabi. It contains three natural chemicals—namely nepetalactone, actinidine and dihydroactinidiolide—that provide cats with a euphoria similar to, but more intense than, catnip.

“The response has been phenomenal,” Bedard said. “Silver vine is great for cat owners who have cats who don’t react to catnip. Although still a niche market, word of mouth through the cat toy market is spreading fast.”

Catnip toys are also becoming an add-on accessory for other cat products, too.

Paige Wheeler, who manufactures feline yoga mats under the brand name Feline Yogi, includes  a catnip toy with her product as part of a package.

“The mats, which can be used as sleeping mats or scratching pads, are accessorized with a handmade sisal rope with a catnip-stuffed ball,” Wheeler said. “Its premium catnip and I get a lot of great feedback on how much the cats like the catnip toy, which inspires them to play on the mat.”

Live, Loose and More

Apart from catnip toys, tubs of dried loose catnip are another popular item for cat owners to keep the games going by regularly replacing the product in refillable toys. They are a great impulse buy item, especially if strategically placed near a checkout register.

Imperial Cat’s new Cat ‘n Around Catnip Bubbles provide cats with an alternative fun way to get their catnip fix.

The bubble solution, which comes in an 8-ounce bottle, is nontoxic, dye-free and infused with Imperial Cat’s own brand of catnip. Just like regular bubbles, there’s a wand with a ring in the solution to blow through to create the floating bubbles for cats to chase and pop.

“They can work with scratchers too by directing the bubbles to land on its surface to attract feline interest,” said Kristie Hamilton, director of sales for Imperial Cat.

Real catnip plants are not only decorative, but also equally popular with cat owners whose cats enjoy the herb live. The plant grows well both indoor and outside.

Bell Rock Growers of southern California sell a variety of pet greens popular with cats such as wheat and barley and, of course, its Live Catnip as part of its Pet Greens brand.

“We have seen solid growth in live catnip that has been slightly above industry standards,” said Caleb Barber, marketing director of Bell Rock Growers.

“This seems to be in line with the humanization trend. As more people are choosing to cook with fresh herbs rather than dry, the same is being seen in catnip. More people are choosing live catnip because it is fresher and more potent,” he said.

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