Catnip and Cat Grass Products
Retailers should take advantage of the vast variety of catnip and cat grass options to please finicky felines.
We all know that cats are drawn to the wonders of catnip, but what exactly is catnip and why does it cause felines to act erratically? Nepeta Cataria, commonly known as catnip or catmint, is a member of the mint family that blooms from late-spring to autumn. What makes this plant so attractive to cats is the feline attractant, nepetalactone.
“Catnip is a natural, non-addictive plant that can provide friskier behavior for cats who need a little boost of energy, and for those cats that might be on the other end of the spectrum, it can help to calm them down, which is where you hear a lot about that euphoric high that cats get when they get a hold of some good ‘nip,’” says Chris Glissman, CEO of Kansas City, Mo.-based Meowijuana.
Meowijuana has over 40 different catnip products, including their flagship Jar of Buds, which contains unadulterated bundles of catnip that the company hand trims during peak harvest season. The company is also known for their King Catnibas Joints “which are the pinnacle of the whole tongue-in-cheek imagery” for the brand, according to Glissman.
Cats detect nepetalactone through their olfactory epithelium, which is a tissue in the nasal cavity involved with the sense of smell. The result is cats rubbing themselves on the plants, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it and chewing it. Consuming catnip can also result in drooling, sleepiness, anxiety and purring. The response usually lasts between five to 15 minutes.
“The sedative effects of straight catnip can really help calm cats down, helping with anxiety, depression and reducing the effects of stress,” says Leslie Yellin, executive vice president of Multipet International, based in Moonachie, N.J.
Multipet made the decision to expand their cat category from just toys to catnip, which the company grows in partner with a farm in Maryland that has decades of experience in the industry.
“We started with a small crop of the plant and have expanded to acres and acres,” says Yellin. “We grow natural and organic catnip as well as manufacture catnip sprays and bubbles from the catnip oil.”
One of the company’s best selling products is catnip filled K-cups, as well as the larger bags, which are great for owners with multiple cats or those looking to refresh or fill their cat toys.
Petlinks by Worldwise has been in the catnip industry for more than 25 years. The company’s cat scratcher is No. 1 in the U.S. This inspired them to begin selling loose catnip as well, which has been available for more than 10 years.
“We continue to work hard to innovate in this catnip category because catnip is the third most common consumable in pet, behind foods and litters,” says Lisa Davis, director product development for cat supplies and bedding for Worldwise, Inc., located in Novato, Calif. “This customer is regularly coming in to purchase catnip, so we strive for newness and innovation to help increase sales and help support our retail partners not only with their favorites/best sellers but also with new catnip offerings and new products that use our catnip to better serve the needs of their customers.”
To continue to meet the need of this consumer, Petlinks recently releashed HappyNip, which is a catnip and silver vine blend. Silver vine is another non-toxic plant that elicits similar responses to catnip, and is an alternative for the 30 percent of cats who don’t respond to catnip alone.
Meowijuana also incorporates silver vine into their catnip blends to be inclusive of the cats that aren’t responsive just catnip.
“Our blends match up our premium catnip with other strains of organic herbal plants like valerian root, dandelion, passion flower, silver vine and others to create the purr-fect options to satisfy the needs for the most finicky of felines,” says Glissman. “We have several different blends which make great stocking stuffers and gifts for the holidays, so we’re equally excited about giving consumers choices with Meowijuana.”
While loose catnip and buds are great for pet parents to use at their own discretion, infused and filled scratchers and toys are another great options for owners looking for new and fun ways to entertain their cats.
Petlinks’ new Catnip Infusion Technology, which is the company’s own unique method for getting catnip in and on corrugated cardboard scratchers, is definitely intriguing pet parents.
“It’s a great way to reduce the amount of loose catnip consumers find on their floors,” says Davis. “In our scratchers, the Catnip Infusion Technology refers to how we created a way to infuse catnip scent between every layer of cardboard and coat the top and bottom with even more catnip for less mess for the cat parents and a longer lasting effect that cats just love.”
Catnip filled or infused toys are also a great way to keep a feline occupied. Multipet has a variety of options to choose from including catnip stuffed stockings; compressed catnip balls with feathers; and crab, bird and mouse refillable toys.
“Giving a cat a toy with catnip inside is a great way to keep the cat mentally stimulated, encourage exercise and contribute to the pet/owner bond when there is interactive play,” says Yellin.
Once the potency of the toy diminishes, cat parents can refresh them with the company’s many fresh catnip options.
Fresh and Clean
When people think about catnip, the most common image that comes to mind is dried, crushed leaves. However, there’s another option for cat owners seeking to liven up the experience, and that’s by buying the live plant.
“Our live catnip provides an enriching experience, we find that cats are drawn to and more fully engage with catnip when in its fresh form,” says Karah Heidlage, customer experience, orders and digital marketing manager for San Marcos, Calif.-based Bell Rock Growers. The company sells live catnip and grasses, as well as self-grow grass kits, and dog and cat treats.
“It is softer on the pallet, more fragrant and has a quicker onset of effects than the dried version,” notes Heidlage. “Live catnip is also a more sustainable version for cats, because it can be replanted and endlessly enjoyed for years to come.”
Bell Rock Growers is also looking to educate consumers on the benefits of cat grasses, which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as a very effective digestive aid.
“We’re launching a series of social media campaigns all about cat grass and its wellness benefits for cats and many other animals as well,” says Heidlage. “In addition to our direct-to-consumer educational efforts, we offer support to our retailer partners with ongoing training efforts.”
Petlinks believes retailers should go above and beyond to ensure their customers are aware of all the benefits and varieties of catnip, cat toys and brands.
“With the ever-growing range of cat toys and cat brands available on the retail shelf, it’s paramount for retailers to find a way to attract and engage the consumer through visual merchandising such as displays, extra signs, shelf talkers, headers to tell the story of why the consumer’s cat needs catnip in addition to what they are already purchasing, etc.,” says Davis.
No matter what form of catnip a company is producing and selling, the general consensus is that the market for these products is continuing to grow and manufacturers and retailers should take advantage of that.
“Meowijuana will continue to innovate and release high-quality, exciting products,” says Glissman. “We have a lot of fun doing what we do, and we think people love their furry feline’s more now that ever before. Cats are family, and we want to give our family the best we can!” PB