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Catnip: Why Cats Love It

Here is an article that Isis vet shared with me.  Enjoy!

Few things stimulate a cat’s pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant.

Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. Giving catnip in small doses does no harm. Using it as a treat can be quite good for your cat’s emotional health. It relieves stress and can help them get rid of nervous energy.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a type of mint plant found  in many countries throughout the world. It can grow up to three feet high and has many branches filled with purple flowers and heart shaped leaves.

The catnip plant has an aromatic oil called nepetalactone. When cats smell this compound, it triggers the part of the feline brain that responds to happy pheromones. This is why cats react the way they do.

Many cats seem to go crazy when they smell catnip by rolling, rubbing and running around. Eating catnip seems to produce the opposite effect. Cats often become mellow when they ingest the plant. This response to catnip usually lasts up to 10 minutes before the cat loses interest.

Catnip as a Training Tool

Creative cat owners can use catnip as a reward or incentive to promote good behavior in their felines. Rubbing dried catnip on a scratching post or cat tree can entice your cat to go there when they need to sharpen their claws instead of tearing your couch to shreds.

Lacing a cat toy with some catnip can be beneficial for inducing an indoor cat to exercise. It will encourage them to be more active and play and prevent obesity. These cat toys should be stored in an airtight container when not in use, so the catnip stays fresh longer.

Growing Catnip

You can grow your own catnip plants in a home garden. You can buy more mature plants from a nursery or plant the seeds after the last major frost of the season. It is important to put the plant in an area where it has plenty of room to grow. Take steps to protect the growing plant from your cat so they don’t tear it out of the soil before it is fully mature.

Is Catnip Right for Your Cat?

Catnip does not have the same effect on every feline. Some cats don’t care about it at all.

The love of this plant is inherited, so only 50 to 70 percent of cats respond to catnip. Kittens typically ignore it until they are three to six months old.

Catnip is non-toxic but cat owners should use caution in giving it out too often. Some cats exhibit aggressive behavior when exposed to catnip and should not have it under any circumstances.

Consult your veterinarian if you notice problematic behavior when your feline uses catnip.

 

Sources:

“Catnip Confidential,” Veterinary Practice News. February 1, 2012.

Product Review – Omega Paw Mouse Pom Pom

The Omega Paw Mouse Pom Pom toy promises hours of fun for your cat with a pom pom ball on a spring and a carpet layer on the base that the cat can pounce on.  It claims that it will become your cat’s “favorite playmate”.

I bought this for Isis and set it down for her to play with.  It sat there for two days without being touched, just looked at and passed by for other toys.  I then put some catnip on it because that normally gets her interested in playing.  Even with that, she wouldn’t go near it.

Finally, about two weeks after I brought it into the house, she started to play with it.  It did not take long for her to kick the majority of the fuzz off the ball on the spring.  As for pouncing on the base carpet, that never happened.  She did try to chew and swallow the carpet though.  After her eating a bit of it and then throwing it back up, I took the toy away and threw it in the garbage.  Luckily the price was such that I didn’t mind wasting that money.

Final verdict: Do not buy this toy.  I think it was more of a health hazard for her than anything else.  She didn’t play with the toy unless I was playing with it and wiggling the spring.  Even then, she didn’t play with it for long, and it ended up losing most of the fuzz (this was after playing with it for maybe a half hour total).

I was very disappointed in this toy and I wrote to the company to tell them what happened and how Isis ate some of the carpeting and threw it back up.  I have yet to hear from them, and I will not get my hopes up that they will respond back.

If after all this you would still like to purchase this toy, it is on sale on wag.com.

Steer clear of this toy!

Product Review – West Paw Design Hair Ball

When purchasing this toy, remember if you leave it on the floor, or at 3am, if you get up, you might find this toy and step on it, and scream, thinking you just stepped on a mouse.  Okay, maybe that was just me, but this toy definitely scared me several times when I would spy it out of the corner of my eye.

The West Paw Design Hair Ball is a small ball, with synthetic hair/fur on it, making it look like a long haired hamster.  The toy has organic catnip inside to attract the cat to get your cat to play with it.  It is similar to stuffed mice that seem to be very popular with many cats to pounce on and throw in the air, or kick with their back feet.

I bought two or Isis to play with and at first I let her smell the wonderful catnip aroma emanating from the belly of this strange looking toy.  She became mesmerized very quickly and once I threw it on the floor, it was game over for the hair ball.

Pouncing, chasing, and kicking of this toy ensued for several hours off and on.  The toy was batted across the floor and chased after and even I got involved and shook the toy on the floor and enjoyed some play time and interaction with Isis.

Even after one month of having this toy, it is still a favorite for Isis to play with.  Every other day she seems to have a pounce or two, then puts it in her mouth and walks around with it, like she just killed her prey.

The downside to this toy is the long hair/fur.  It can come off easily and for some cats, if they swallow it, it cannot be digested so they may have it come right back up.

Final verdict: If you can get past the way it looks, and the fact that sometimes the fur falls out, it is a great toy that your cat should enjoy thoroughly.  Hours upon hours of fun can be had by your cat, and you can get involved with this toy.  I did buy two and I took the second one and tied it to a stick and I will play with Isis by swinging the toy around and swishing it just overhead so that she has to jump and play that way.  It is for sale for a modest price on wag.com.  I hope your cat enjoys it as much as Isis has.

 

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Product Review – PetSafe Slimcat Treatholder Ball

If you want to keep your cat slim, yet give them something to do in order to get their treats, PetSafe Slimcat may be right for you.

The ball is made of durable plastic, with holes to add the treats into the ball.  Then roll the ball on the floor and watch your cat chase after it to get the treats out.  Your cat might grab it and roll it around on the floor, or they may get on their back and kick the treats out.  Either way this will provide your cat some mental stimulation and provide you hours of fun and laughter, watching the antics your cat will get into.

Chasing after this toy will help overweight cats to slim down.  For cats that are a healthy weight, having their treats in this ball will help keep them entertained and stimulated.  You can choose what types of treats to put in the ball.  I cooked up some chicken jerky, cutting the chicken into tiny, round pieces and then putting them in the ball when cooked. (Chicken jerky can be made by greasing a cookie sheet with olive oil, cutting up chicken into small bite size pieces, putting it in the oven at 200F, check after an hour, leave in oven until cooked, cool and then serve.  You can use this recipe for cats OR dogs).

Final verdict: I would recommend this toy, especially for those with overweight cats.  I recommend letting the cat sniff the ball and get interested in it, with treats already inside it, and then throwing it and letting them chase it around.  If your cat is into chasing objects, this should provide them some great play time.  Isis loves to chase things around, and she has loved this toy.  It is one of her favorites.  The chicken jerky is just an added touch that makes her even more excited for playtime.  I also sit there and throw it for her, interact with her, which helps to create a bond between pet and pet parent.  It is for sale for a very reasonable price on wag.com.  I hope your cat enjoys it as much as mine does!

Product Review – Go! Cat Go! Wing It!

This is one crazy toy that is sure to please your kitty and offer hours of fun, interactive playtime with your kitty.

The toy Go! Cat Go! Wing It! is a ball with a stuffed toy bird inside that looks like it is kind of flapping around when you throw it.  That attracts your cat’s attention and the rolling will get your cat to play, bat at and possibly get on their back and kick at it.  Your cat may even try to bite it.  There may be some hissing as well (at least Isis did that a few times when she first saw the ball, but don’t despair, she got right into playing with it after her hissy fit, and I am sure your cat will too!)

The toy seems quite durable, made of plastic and has withstood biting and chewing and batting and being hidden under the couch and bed several times.  It even withstood almost being sucked up the vacuum.

Final verdict: I recommend this toy if your cat likes to chase and bat at things.  If your cat likes to play or if you have a small kitten that has endless energy, this may be a great toy to help expel some of that energy.  For even more added fun and to get Isis to play with the toy and not hiss at it, I marinated it in a bag of organic catnip for 24 hours and really rubbed the catnip into the stuffed bird.  This seemed to enhance the intensity of the playing, and jumping, and biting and all round fun she had with this toy.  The price is right as well.  Find it on wag.com and order it for your cat today!

Product Review – Catit Senses Treat Maze

Want to give your cat a challenge to try to get their treats and keep them busy for hours at a time?  Well the Catit Senses Treat Maze may be just the toy for your cat.

Place the treats on different levels of the maze and your cat must reach into holes or on the top to push the treats to the feeder area.  Simple enough, but if the treats are high value for your cat (meaning if they just cannot get enough of the treat), your cat may spend tons of time trying to get the treats out and have fun playing at the same time.

Isis tried this toy and at first, she stopped playing with it and left it alone for a few days.  Then, she ended up spending a better part of a day (off and on) trying to get her treats to eat.  It was really interesting to watch her to see how she was able to get the treats (she was able to pick up some treats with her paws sort of) and move them around and how smart she is!

Final verdict: Your cat may enjoy this, try to interact with them and show them how to work the toy first.  They may try for a bit, and leave it alone for a few days.  If the treats are something they love, that should lure them back to play with the toy. The toy is sturdy and made of good materials and I did not have a problem worrying that it might break, fall over or fall apart.  I would recommend this toy with that as a caution.  It is on sale right now on wag.com.  Try it, your kitty might thank you for it!

Product Review – Catit Raffia Toy Mouse On A Stick

This toy is pretty basic, it is a fake mouse attached to a stick with a string.  The price is right on for this simple, yet hours of fun toy.

The best part of this toy is that it is interactive and you can play with your cat, teach it hunting and prey skills, and watch your cat pounce, jump and have fun.  My favorite part is to watch Isis stalk the toy as I drag it along the floor.  She is a butt wiggler before she pounces and that always gives me a good laugh.  Of course, she runs away when I laugh at her shenanigans.  Then comes right back to play more and more with this toy.

The one drawback is that the string tends to break, but an easy fix is tying it tighter or double knotting it, or even drilling a hole and tying the string through two holes.  It really is a simple toy that can keep your cat occupied for hours.

Final Verdict: Isis really enjoyed this toy and loves it when I drag it out once a week for playtime.  She does not get tired of it because I don’t keep it out for her to play with all the time.  I think that is the best way to keep toys “fresh” and from getting old and boring for cats.  She loves to bat, stalk, pounce and run away from the toy.  It is well worth the price on wag.com and can’t be beat.  Hopefully your cat will love it as much as Isis does.  Since it’s Christmas soon, this is a great present for your fur baby!

Catit Eco Terra Raffia Mouse Teaser Wand Cat Toy

 

Product Review – Petmate Fat Cat Classic Crackler

This is a toy that is soft, stuffed and has organic catnip inside, with some crackle type material inside that when played with, sounds like a plastic bag crumpling up.  Your cat may play with this for hours on end, and then we all know what happens next.  They tend to like to have a long nap after hard playing.

We bought this for Isis and in order to get her to play with anything, we have to play with it ourselves.  So we did for a while, then we doused it with our own catnip.  I then left it in the middle of the floor.  Isis began to stalk it, then wiggled her butt and pounced on it a good four or five times.  She continued to play with it, until she dragged it off somewhere to play on her back and bite down on it.  Each time the crackling material would make noise, it seemed to encourage her to play harder.  After all that, she had a nice, long nap.

She continued to play with the toy quite a bit over the next two months, so much so that we needed to buy a replacement because the stuffing began to spill out of it.  But at $4.49, it’s not a big deal.  We should have bought two to begin with, and if you have a cat that plays hard, you might consider buying two so that your cat never runs out of it.

Final verdict: Highly recommend for any cat that likes to play hard and likes catnip toys.  Especially recommend for kittens as this toy seems to help teach and encourage stalking and hunting skills.  The only downside is having to replace the toy, but I would think that happens to toys that tend to get played with often.  The price can’t be beat, and it is offered on wag.com.

 

Product Review – Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy

This week’s product review is the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy.  It is a blue, round toy, with cardboard in the middle and a track around the outside of it for a ping pong ball to roll around in.

The idea is that if your cat doesn’t like to use a scratching post, sisal rope scratcher, or any other kind of scratcher, they may use the cardboard as a scratcher/claw sharpener.

The cat is supposed to bat the ball around the track and is supposed to have hours of fun playing with this toy.

At first, Isis wasn’t into the cardboard, but we took some catnip and rubbed it into the cardboard, this caused her to scratch and bite at it, so that did the job well.

She will sometimes bat at the ball in the track, other times it seems to freak her out.  If we play with it, with her, she will get into it for a while, but grows tired of it sooner rather than later.

Final Verdict: This one is a toss up.  While Isis does play with it and does use it as a scratcher (she uses her kitty condo and sisal scratcher as well), she wasn’t too keen on the ball in the track.  I would recommend it for younger cats who are just learning that the furniture is not their playground/scratching posts.  Also cats who like to chase things will love the ball in the track.  Isis does like it, just not as much as I hoped.  Slight recommendation.

 

You can buy the toy here.

Product Review – Firstrax Carpet Chase Cylinder Base Swat Toy (For Cats)

The swat toy is a cylinder shaped toy with a spring and a furry ball at the end that the cat is supposed to bat at and it will bounce right back up to give hours of playtime fun.  The carpet covering encourages the cat to use it as a “scratching post” in order to not use furniture to scratch on.

The idea of this toy is great, and if you have a kitten or a cat that likes toys that pop right back and there is no real “catch and win” with the toy, meaning the cat cannot catch the ball and drag it away, then this is the toy for your cat.  Your cat will be able to grab onto the ball but then when they release it, it pops right back up in place.

This toy…annoyed Isis to no end.  We knew it was time to get rid of it when she actually hissed and growled at it, which she NEVER does to anyone or with anything else.

We showed her how to play with it, encouraged her to play, we played with it to get her to play with it.  We put her favorite catnip on it to get her interested.  Finally one day she started to play with it and then just hissed at it and growled.   Every time she would pass by it, she would go around it with a wide birth and just never got into playing with it.

Final verdict: I would not recommend this as it sees that not many cats are interested in playing with it (after reading the reviews from other pet parents on the website).  It did not provide any fun for Isis, it was far from anything she would ever play with.  If your cat likes toys of this sort and doesn’t mind not being able to win, this is the toy for them, otherwise, steer clear of this toy.  Not recommended.

The toy is available on wag.com for $8.99, at least it wasn’t a huge waste of money.