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Homegrown Recreation

Sandy Robins//May 24, 2017//

Homegrown Recreation

Sandy Robins //May 24, 2017//

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When it comes to cat toys, there is a growing number of local manufacturers who are proudly putting “Made in the USA” on their labels and producing a variety of products with feline appeal.

Kitty Boinks are small, flexible mesh tubes that cats can roll and toss and that, when compressed, can spring into the air and fly over 30 feet. They were originally created for children, but the item found its way into pet stores back in 2008.

“For years, we were told that cats loved them and, during the 2008 recession, we decided to put a cat on the label and change our marketing strategy,” explained Joyce Murphy, president of Endless Possibilities, the company that manufactures Kitty Boinks. “And we’ve never looked back.”

“They make a great impulse buy,” said Doug DuBrock, owner of Don’t 4 Get About Me, a pet gift store in Branson, Missouri. “We are situated in a high tourist trade area and, as the name of our store implies, people love to buy gifts to take home to their pets when they’re traveling. The Boinks are lightweight and lots of fun. And because kids love them as well, they are a great toy for children to interact with their cats, too.”

The products are manufactured in a factory in Southfield, Michigan, that is staffed by special needs employees. Following the success of the Boinks, Murphy designed the Bamboozler, a wand toy that utilizes a length of the same mesh fabric attached to a bamboo wand. And, according to DuBrock, they are also popular with customers gift-shopping for their cats.

DuBrock, who also has a wholesaling arm to his business, has collaborated with Murphy’s company and, as a result, Boinks and Bamboozlers are now sold in more than 300 locations nationwide through his distribution network.

Interactive Entertainment
Fred Ruckel, owner of SnugglyCat, Inc., and the inventor of the Ripple Rug, works with 10 companies in four states that collectively transform recycled plastic bottles into his polyester Ripple Rugs, which support a cat’s need to hunt, stalk, pounce and hide.

The rugs are designed to create ripples and tunnels when placed on the floor and have holes cut into them so cat owners can interact by dangling toys over them.
“Apart from being manufactured locally, our marketing and sales is strictly focused on supporting individually owned pet specialty stores,” Ruckel said.

Cat Dancer Products, headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, has introduced new products to its popular Cat Dancer line. The new Cat Dancer Pro Model has been designed to be used as an interactive wand in a cage or carrier. It comes with a special clip so that it can be attached to a cage or carrier for trips to the vet’s office.

“It’s also ideal for cats in shelters, too, so that they can get a bit of exercise while they are confined,” explained Jim Boelke, president of the company.

The Kong Company’s Kitty Kong, the feline version of the ever-popular rubber canine distraction treat toy, is also made in the U.S., along with the Easy Treat filler that can be squeezed into the toy to keep cats engaged.

“It’s an equally popular treat toy for cats as it is for dogs,” said Kathleen Ives, a member of the company’s marketing team. “Because it’s lightweight and rolls around unpredictably, it has great feline appeal as its taps directly into their need to pounce and play.”

Amusing Activities
Feline veterinarian Lisa Bahr is the creator of the Dezi & Roo line of cat toys, the most popular being The Hide And Sneak, a tunnel made from recycled paper materials.

The expandable cardboard tunnel is ideal for single and multi-cat households. It has re-enforced openings on both sides and appeals to cats that love the sound of paper being crinkled.

When it comes to catnip toys, Duckyworld Products, Inc., is known for the quirky designs in its Yeowww range of “nip toys,” such as the cigar and banana shapes. New to the line-up are the Chubby Mouse and the Lady Krinkly Bug, both of which are bright yellow and well-stuffed with catnip.

Catnip toys are ideal to hide in a product called Catty Stacks, designer cardboard boxes in fun patterns and colors that can be stacked in various combinations to build a fun amusement center for cats.

Made from industrial-strength recycled cardboard, they are colored using vegetable-based inks. The boxes have holes on all sides, and the newest addition to the line is a pack of two boxes and a bridge that links the two boxes together. This addition to the line makes Catty Stacks’ configurations even more appealing to felines.