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Hooked On Catnip

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Catnip, catmint, catswort, kitty crack or whatever you call the plant with the Latin name Nepeta catania, one thing is certain: The essential oil it contains, nepetalactone, has a powerful effect on felines revving up their play skills and prey drive by instantly turning snoozing couch potatoes into an ecstatic, flipped out balls of fur.

And it seems that such toys have a money-spinning effect at the cash register, too.

Recently, Worldwise Inc. announced the expansion of its line of catnip to­ys— sold in specialty retail stores to appeal—to differing feline play styles and, ultimately, honing a cat’s natural prey drive instincts, too.

“We have essentially doubled our range of catnip toys available,” said Kevin Fick, Worldwise CEO. “Our catnip is organically grown and processed without chemicals. Further, it contains only leaves and blossoms, no inert fillers. This makes it exceptionally potent and ideal for attracting cats to the toys. It also makes them safer for playing with, and also better for the environment.”

New toys include the Snakey Nip, an oversized plush snake that’s fun for cats to kick and wrestle. It comes with a 2-gram tube of fresh, organic Pure Bliss catnip. Also new are the Tea Zing catnip-filled tea bags. Catnip euphoria from such toys temporarily increases feline activity levels and thus offers excellent, much-needed exercise. This heightened play drive usually lasts about 10 minutes.

Apart from soft toys that can be filled with catnip, there are also catnip sprays, which can be sprayed on anything, as catnip is primarily an olfactory sensation.

According to Dan Cook, vice president of sales for DuckyWorld, the makers of the Yeowww! Catnip toys, when it comes to toy designs, cats like all shapes and sizes.

“Some cats like their toys big, some cats like them small,” he said. “Some like them round and some curved. Cats have their preferences just like people do, too.”

Cook ranks amongst the company’s flagship toys, the banana, the cigar and the tin of stinkies, a recyclable tin of three sardine-styled catnip fish. Other firm favorites are holiday styles, from Halloween pumpkins to Christmas candy canes.

“They are perennial great gift item because they are the right size for stocking stuffers,” said Cook. “We also sell gift sets, which are ideal year-round gifts.”

And a new gift set offered by the company is a tin with three cigars.

New in JW Pet’s Cataction line are the Cataction Lattice Ball with Feather Tail, a rubber catnip-infused lattice ball with enticing feather tail. Other new products include the Cataction Butterfly with Feather Tail and the Cataction Black & White Bird, a catnip-stuffed plush bird toy with feather tail.

Petmate’s Fat Cat line also has some new shapes in the form of Fat Cat Appeteasers, plush dog, fish and mice characters, Fat Cat Kitten Little toys, consisting of plush kitten characters, and Fat Cat Fluff Bunnies featuring furry and fuzzy plush bunnies. All are stuffed with high-quality catnip.

At the Global Pet Expo, Rolf C. Hagen Inc. debuted new feline dental hygiene catnip toys, which are part of the company’s well-known Catit line.

“The Catit dental chew toys are designed to turn playtime into brushing time, too,” said Damian Hall, the company’s marketing manager. “The special cotton fabric with grid pattern gently but effectively removes plaque while kitty chews. They are available in three shapes, a half moon, a fish and a diamond shape with tassels. All are well-filled with catnip to attract feline attention.”

According to George Richter, who together with his wife Mary Kay, owns the Dog.Dog.Cat Petique in South Lake Tahoe, while catnip toys are big sellers, no one particular shape or styled toy stands out as a top seller.

“Our customers are very experimental and like to try different things,” he said. “However, little pillows filled with catnip are very popular. Customers report how their cats like to hug them and kick them around, and then roll around with them. We also sell a lot of catnip in bags and containers to refresh toys with Velcro-closing compartments that can be filled with catnip.”

And talking pillows, last month From The Field, based in Washington state, introduced its new Ultimate Blend, a mix of potent all-natural catnip and Silver Vine.

“Silver Vine is a plant that is wildly popular for cats in Asia, and barely known in the U.S.,” said Pascal Bedard, From The Field’s president. “Its active ingredient is actinidine. Not all cats react to catnip and thus Silver Vine presents a new opportunity for such cats. Simultaneously, for catnip-loving cats, it offers the best of both worlds!”

From The Field is launching Ultimate Blend in a large pillow shape made from a natural hemp fabric. Ultimate blend will also be sold in bags and containers.

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