Category: cat products

A Guy In Canada Wants To Open A Catnip Dispensary

Fuzz Aldrin. Meower Diesel. Freddie Purrcury. Pawnapple Express.

If a Toronto man gets his way, cats will soon get their catnip fix the same way their humans get their marijuana: In colorful, slickly-produced packaging featuring whimsically named strains purchased through a dispensary.

The aspiring catnip entrepreneur calls himself Mikey Fivebucks and has launched his business, Catnip Dispensary Inc., from his Toronto apartment.

Now he’s trying to take his business to the next level with a Kickstarter to help fund the equipment and growing space he’ll need to make a name for himself among the world’s stoner cats and the humans who enable them.

Catnip, also known as nepeta cataria, is a mint plant that produces euphoria and acts as a sedative for most cats via a naturally occurring chemical compound called Nepetalactone, which is found in the plant.

About two thirds of cats are susceptible to catnip’s effects, while other cats may respond to silver vine. The compounds in both plants bind to feline olfactory receptors, prompting cats to roll on the ground, purr, drool and mellow out.

Most cats sniff, lick or chew catnip, while others (like our very own Buddy) eat the plant. (Response from Buddy: “It’s delicious!”)

Catnip isn’t just for domestic kitties: Wildcats like lynx and Servals are susceptible to it, as are big cats.

Fivebucks says his product is not the same as the dried, flaky catnip found in pet stores. The leaves are kept moist by controlling humidity during the drying and storing process.

“It keeps it flavourful and it keeps the natural oils,” Fivebucks told blogTO, a local Toronto news site. “It’s moist, a bit like weed.”

Fivebucks isn’t the only entrepreneur pushing high-grade ‘nip in packaging and under names reminiscent of marijuana dispensaries. Meowijuana, a Kansas-based company, has been selling catnip in “medicinal” bottles and naming their strains after feline puns for years.

The catnip company’s packaging and tongue-in-cheek advertising has been so successful that sometimes people show up expecting a marijuana dispensary, employees say. On another occasion, someone called the police. Although the officers said they were required to follow through on the complaint, they joked around with Meowijuana employees and even posed with a staffer wearing the company’s cat mascot costume.

Like its counterparts in the marijuana industry, Meowijuana has enjoyed record sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as people practice social distancing and hunker down with their pets.

“People get that this is a little bit tongue-in-cheek that we’re having a little fun, but there’s a good quality product for pets under it,” said Meowijuana’s Scott Ragan. “Part of having pets is sharing time with them — not just feeding them — but sharing time and engaging in that emotional bond, and I think everybody here appreciates that.”

Cats On Catnip photos by Andrew Marttila.

MeowTalk Says Buddy Is A Very Loving Cat!

A while back I wrote a post about MeowTalk, a new app that uses AI — and input from thousands of users sampling their cats’ vocalizations — to translate meows, trills and chirps for the benefit of those of us who don’t fluently speak cat or might need some clarity on what our furry friends are trying to say.

Now that I’ve finally had the opportunity to give MeowTalk a spin, it turns out Bud is a much more polite cat than I thought he was!

What I thought was an unenthusiastic “I acknowledge your presence, human” turned out to be “Nice to see you!” according to MeowTalk.

Buddy’s next meows were “Love me!” and “I love you!”, the app informed me. Weird. I thought he was complaining that I was only half-heartedly simulating prey with his wand toy while watching Jeopardy.

After Jeopardy I headed to the bathroom, which was the real test.

I intentionally closed the door before the little stinker could sneak in the bathroom with me, then held up the phone to capture his muted vocalization. I was sure Bud was saying “Open the door!” but the app told me Buddy was saying “I’m in love!”

Awww. What a good boy. How could I not let him in?

Once inside, Buddy began talking again as I knew he would. He’s a vocal cat.

“I’m looking for love!” the app translated as Bud pawed at the door, demanding to be let back out again. “My love, come find me!”

MeowTalk Screenshot

What was going on here?

Was Bud really professing his undying love for me, his human, or was he workshopping cheesy dialogue for a feline romance novel he’s been secretly working on?

Thankfully, MeowTalk allows you to correct translations if you think the app’s gotten them wrong. This looks more like it:

The Translated Buddy
Translation from the original Buddinese language.

MeowTalk is in beta, and it can only get better as more users download the app, make profiles for their cats and make an effort to tag vocalizations with their correct meaning.

The app was authored by a software engineer who was part of the team that brought Amazon’s Alexa to life, and the algorithms that power it already show promise: When the app is listening (which it does only actively, after you have explicitly given it permission to do so), it does a great job of distinguishing cat vocalizations from background noise, human chatter, televisions and other incidental sounds. Even my fake meows were unable to fool it.

Each vocalization is sampled and saved to the history tab of your cat’s profile, so you can review and adjust the translations later. If you’ve got more than one cat you can make profiles for each one, and the app says it can tell which cat is talking. I wasn’t able to test this since the King does not allow interlopers in his kingdom, but given MeowTalk’s accuracy in distinguishing meows from every other sound — even with lots of background chatter — I have no reason to doubt it can sort vocalizations by cat.

In some respects it reminds me of Waze, the irreplaceable map and real-time route app famous for saving time and eliminating frustration. I was one of the first to download the app when it launched and found it useless, but when I tried it again a few months later, it steered me past traffic jams and got me to my destination with no fuss.

What was the difference? Few people were using it in those first few days, but as the user base expanded, so did its usefulness.

Like Waze, MeowTalk’s value is in its users, and the data it collects from us. The more cats it hears, the better it’ll become at translating them. If enough of us give it an honest shot, it just may turn out to be the feline equivalent of a universal translator.

And if it’s successful, its creator wants to make a standalone version as a collar, which would translate our cats’ vocalizations in real time. As far as I’m concerned, anything that can help us better understand our cats is a good thing.

Check out the free-to-use MeowTalk on Google Play and Apple’s app store.

Buddy the Cat
“Okay, fine. I love you human. But that doesn’t mean you can slack off with the snacks.”

Cat Toy Review: Floppy Fish

The toy: Floppy Fish, a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery powered soft toy fish that flops around to simulate the behavior of real fish and trigger cats’ predatory instincts.

Price: Between $15 and $25 online and in pet stores. The toy is sold as Floppy Fish, Flippity Fish, Floppy Fishy, Fish Cat Kicker and other names. Some come with catnip and a pouch inside the fish for “infusing” the toy with the ‘nip.

floppyfish2

The cat: Buddy

The result: After charging the fish with its included charging cable, I located the on switch and set the fish on the floor, where it started doing its flopping thing.

A cautious but curious Buddy approached. I could see the gears turning in his head: “What is this thing? Is it for me? It must be. Big Buddy placed it on the floor and called to me, and now he’s looking expectantly at me.

But…it’s scary! Look at it flipping and flopping! That’s terrifying! Oh man. I don’t like the sound it’s making. Look, it’s getting closer! Run!

floppyfish

Okay. Safe distance. It’s stopped flopping. Now I can approach, give it a sniff, maybe slap it with my paw and…

It’s moving again!!! RUN!!!

Is this what salmon is like? I don’t think I can ever eat fish again. Who knew they were such terrifying monsters?

I have to hide. It should be all right if I come out in an hour, right?”

floppyfish3

Verdict: This is obviously a well-received cat toy, as it’s got positive ratings online and there are plenty of Youtube videos showing cats having fun with it. It’s lithium-ion rechargeable, so you won’t have to buy separate batteries, and it’s motion-activated with an off timer so the battery won’t drain during periods of inactivity. Overall it looks and feels pretty durable.

However, if your cat is incredibly brave and daring a big wimp, it may not be the toy for him or her. Bud’s 0 for 3 so far on attempted play sessions.

Buddy may yet come around and relax enough around the fish to play with it. If he does, I’ll update this post accordingly.

floppyfish4

Dear Buddy: Help! Humans Have Invented A Cat Torture Device!

Dear Buddy,

I discovered this today, hidden in the garage with a bow around it, presumably a “gift” for my upcoming birthday:

I wanted to warn you about this dire development so you can pass the word along to the millions of other cats who read your blog. The humans have invented a cruel torture device for us! This is a declaration of war!

My birthday is Wednesday. I must flee on Tuesday night at the latest. Wish me well in finding new humans who will serve me to satisfaction and provide acceptable yums.

Backstabbed in Binghampton


Dear Backstabbed,

RUN! And I don’t mean on that…contraption. Run for your life!

That video is horrific. It’s hard to watch. There must be some invisible force field keeping that poor cat confined to the wheel so he has no choice but to keep running or be tossed around violently like a wallet in a clothes drier.

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Human cruelty: Clearly an invisible force field keeps this poor kitty from escaping.

Why can’t humans invent something awesome, like a device that feeds us snacks while massaging us at the same time? These sadistic creatures claim they love us, but every now and then they inadvertently reveal the depraved depths of their minds, like when they invented those “fun” puzzle feeders that make us work for every kibble and stop us from scarfing down our yums.

Thank you for the warning, my friend. Take heed, fellow felines! You may be next!

Buddy

 

Another Start-Up Offers Overpriced Cat Junk

From the same school of design that brought you $300 cardboard cat trees and $40 cardboard boxes comes a line of overpriced cat bowls and beds.

Cat Person collaborated with “design agency” Layer for the Cat Person Collection, utilizing what its creators call a “minimal, contemporary aesthetic” meant to be “proudly displayed in the home and on social media.”

If by contemporary they mean overpriced crap in pastel colors that wouldn’t look out of place on the 80s-era USS Enterprise D, then I suppose it could work.

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“Where do you want the litter box, Captain?”

The “collection” has two items — the $40 “Mesa Bowl” that was allegedly designed to combat whisker fatigue, but looks like one bowl stacked on top of another and placed on a cafeteria tray; and the “Canopy Bed,” an $80 cushion that your cat will never use.

(The $20 Tiny Tent is looking better every day.)

Both were dreamed up by Benjamin Hubert, a British industrial designer best known for creating $2,600 chairs.

The press release for the Cat Person collection, which contains much self-congratulatory language about “disrupting industries” and other marketing-speak, claims the “collection” was based on extensive research into the wants and needs of cat owners, particularly millennials.

As a millennial who almost qualifies as a Gen-Xer, I suspect someone swapped out that research with a home decor survey from 1986, and this is the result.

We don’t accept money from sponsors or advertisers — hell, we don’t even have any ads — so any mention of cat-related products and food on this site is purely for the benefit of our readers. If at some point we get greedy and some company buys Buddy’s loyalty with a lifetime’s supply of turkey treats, we’ll fully disclose that conflict of interest.