Mention the word catnip, and it’s not only cats that sit up and get ready to pounce. Kitty crack—a popular moniker for the plant—has a positive effect on pet specialty retailers, too, causing frenzied activity at the cash register because cat owners believe that no cat can have too many catnip toys.
Whether you call it by any one of its other names, such as catmint or catswort, the plant officially known as Nepeta catania has a powerful effect on felines revving up their play skills and prey drive by instantly turning snoozing couch potatoes into ecstatic flipped-out balls of fur.
Catnip is becoming quite an industry, with manufacturers going to great lengths to include pure organic catnip in their products and owning their own catnip farms.
Now there is a new plant garnering interest in the herb garden. Known as silver vine or matatabi, it originates from Asia and is now being farmed commercially in the U.S., too.
“The secret of silver vine, which is a member of the kiwi fruit family, is that it not only contains nepetalactone that creates the feline ‘high effect’ in catnip, but that it also has actinidine and dihydroactinidiolide that cause similar reactions in felines,” said Pascal Bedard of From The Field.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Bedard has been growing silver vine and using it in his toys for quite some time. He’s also started mixing the two plants together to really capture feline attention in hemp toys, called Jacques le Sock and his latest, Suzy, a large hemp mouse.
“Suzy is also filled with buckwheat hulls for a crinkly effect and is fully biodegradable,” Bedard said. “This mix has proven very successful for cat owners who like to keep their cats engaged but whose cats are not interested in catnip.”
Worldwise, Inc., has just introduced their proprietary blend of catnip and silver vine under the name HyperNip. The company has also produced a number of new catnip toys.
Cuckoo Catnip is a pull-and-peek hanging catnip toy with dangling feathers that attaches to a window or hangs from a door. There is a large selection of refillable toys in different shapes along with new multi packs of cute critters with dangly rope legs and bugs with iridescent wings–all made from different textures to create different sounds and ultimately different pounce and play reactions from their feline playmates. The Petlinks range also includes compressed catnip balls and cigars, and roly-poly toys for kicking and cuddling.
Worldwise owns its own catnip farm and also produces USDA-approved catnip in shaker containers and bags as well as in spray form and bubbles so that kids can interact with their cats, too. All their scratchers come with a bag of catnip to initiate play and scratching.
Petstages, now part of the Outward Hound family, has also introduced a lot of new cat toys. However, the company’s most popular catnip toys are longstanding favorites–namely the Catnip Chaser, a toy that combines the scent of catnip with movement. The peek-a-boo openings at the top of the toy give an added glimpse of the ball and the open-and-close vents are for desired scent strength.
“This toy is designed to keep cats engaged for hours of independent play,” said publicist Krista Lamp.
The Petstages Catnip Chew Mice does double duty as a toy and dental teeth cleaner as the netting on the catnip-filled mice helps remove soft tartar and massages gums to improve dental health.
Imperial Cat has introduced several new shapes to their product line-up, including the new two-in-one nesting designs The Purr Lounge and the Purr Fish. They are available in a variety of prints. Each scratcher features sleek curves designed for scratching and snoozing, a scooped top for napping and tunnel areas for play—and of course catnip to rev things up.
Also new is the Scratch ‘n Cuddle, a design that features a corrugated cardboard tray and high edges to provide kitties with plenty of room for scratching plus a cozy place to sleep. The honeycomb texture of the Scratch ‘n Shapes corrugated cardboard imitates natural tree bark, so cats instinctively want to sink their claws into the scratchers.
According to Kristie Hamilton, director of sales for Imperial Cat, all the toys are made in the USA from postconsumer recycled materials and are 100 percent recyclable after use.
British company Beco Pets, who recently acquired national distribution in the United States, has a variety of eco-friendly cat toys in their product line-up, including Freddie the Fish, Bertie the Budgie and Millie the Mouse, all made from recycled plastic bottles and stuffed with alluring catnip to provide hours of chasing and cuddling fun.
According to Toby Massey, the company’s co-founder and design director, all the toys are named after members of staff. Freddie the frog, Beatrice the butterfly and Huma the hummingbird are all catnip wand toys with an elasticized bungee to allow the toys to fly around, encouraging a cat’s natural hunting instinct and providing hours of entertainment.