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by K Marie Alto June 14, 2021 14 min read 8 Comments
Catnip for cats 🌿 is perhaps the most versatile pet supply you buy. There is a wide variety of options of catnip available for cat parents to choose from.
Do you ever wonder if you know how to buy catnip for cats that is actually safe for you kitty? And yes, this is a real question every cat parent should ask themselves.
Here is the thing, most pet parents won't think twice about buying any catnip 🌿 that comes in the cutest and funniest 😂 😹 container, and that also has an unthinkable number of great and inexplicably long reviews 👍.
With a price range of between $3 to $15 you may tend to think there is not much to consider before you make your pick among all the available alternatives.
Cute looking package ❤️, great reviews, and great price, what else do I need to know? In the end, catnip is catnip is catnip, right? 😧
Well...technically, not really 😳.
What most pet parents don't know is that the long-term implications of such a small quick purchase may range from irreversible damage, to cancer, to the death of their cats.
Further, it may even carry some serious health consequences for you and your own family as well ☠️.
Always remember that your fur baby trusts and relies on your sound judgment to make purchase decisions on his/her behalf. In support of our corporate mission, here are a few considerations to help you make the best decisions for them.
If you want to learn more about catnip, make sure not to skip the read further section at the bottom. Alternatively you can visit my blog and search by topic. Spoiler alert: it is loaded with useful pet parent resources 😁.
It is no secret that the pet products industry is flooded with unscrupulous manufacturers 🏴☠️ that have mastered the art of deception in product labeling at the expense of the health and happiness of our fur children.
So, before you purchase the first “best seller” catnip you find, you may want to keep in mind the Momma Knows Best® 7 golden rules of buying catnip for cats:
Not all catnip is grown, harvested, and packaged in a safe way.
Always be aware that labeling a product as “Natural” or “Organic” does not automatically make catnip safe for your fur baby.
Countries have different degrees of regulation regarding agricultural products. Even the requirements for obtaining organic designations can be very relaxed in some countries.
Unlike non-US grown products labeled as organic, or sometimes also labeled as "organically grown", products grown in the US that carry the USDA certified organic label are strictly regulated and may not be treated with chemical pesticides.
These pesticides include those that have been linked to cancer, skin disease, and organ disease.
Heavy metal contamination in herbal products is a global threat to all beings especially at levels above known threshold concentrations.
According to Frontiers in Pharmacology.org, concerns regarding the safety of herbal products coming from China has grown after studies indicated that high levels of heavy metals were present in some herbal products.
Introducing products with high levels of heavy metals to your home can not only expose your beloved cat to health risks but also your relatives and yourself.
"Frequent exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals is dangerous, because our bodies can’t easily break them down. And while a single serving might not cause harm, the health risks associated with exposure increase over time." - Consumer reports.org
We recommend every pet parent to play it safe and ONLY buy US Grown catnip.
A great rule of thumb to weed out bad actors, no pun intended, is to never buy catnip based on the cheapest price but rather focus on quality.
In fact as a general rule, try to stay away from buying bargain stuff for your cat. S/he will reward you with more years of life, happiness and fewer vet visits.
The reason is very simple: the cheapest catnip you can buy on the most popular eCommerce sites is almost guaranteed to come from China.
Think about the following facts.
These facts combined make a very dangerous mix for your cat and your family.
"Consider your total potential exposure to heavy metals. This is especially important if you have kids at home. Our tests are a reminder that you should take steps to limit your potential exposure from heavy metals from all sources." - Consumer reports.org
One does not have to be an economist to know that growing catnip in the USA is way more expensive than growing it in China.
And, so the next time you find a large tub or bag of catnip for less than $10 an ounce for non-USDA certified organic, you should stop, think twice and look the other way.
"Sulfur dioxides, pesticides and banned dyes are among the substances found in industrially produced herbs." - Radio Free Asia.org
Alternatively, you can do some thorough research on the product and make sure you don't fall for any of the 7 pitfalls of buying catnip for your cat.
For legit USDA certified organic catnip you can expect this retail price to be even higher.
The truth is that unless you are buying directly from the grower (which for most people is virtually not feasible) and in bulk, the economies of growing in the USA simply would not allow for US grown and packaged catnip to be retailed at such bargain prices.
We can tell you that with certainty as we sell the finest USDA certified organic catnip in the USA and we buy it in bulk from the finest growers in the USA. And so,we know a thing or two about the grower side of US catnip.
Bottom line is that such low retail pricing is only possible with Catnip grown in China.
In the world of self-reporting where sellers can easily make any unsubstantiated claims on their products without fearing repercussions, it's important to make sure claims such as "organic" can be verified.
USDA Certified Organic is the most trusted organic certification seal in the world.
Many unscrupulous sellers will greenwash their products making unverifiable "organic product" claims. Similarly, others will claim statements such as “organically grown.” Again, another unverifiable claim.
Additionally, beware of scammers! Believe it or not, there are many out there. We highly advise that pet parents stay away from products that claim "USDA Certified Organic" status without clearly disclosing the name of their certifying body.
Products carrying the USDA certified seal are required to disclose the name of their certifying body somewhere on their product label.
A statement such as "certified by PCO" should be visible on the product. Be skeptic of sellers that make it hard for buyers to identify who their certifying body is.
A cleaver tactic used by some unscrupulous manufacturers is to place the USDA certified organic seal somewhere towards the edge of an image in a way that you can barely see half of the seal but still recognize it.
An unsuspecting pet parent quickly perusing the page may unconsciously see that as a fact that the product is USDA certified when it actually is not. Beware!
Momma Knows Best ® Captivating Catnip is USDA Certified Organic by PCO. Products that claim USDA organic status without disclosing this information are likely to be everything but organic.
Likewise, products that claim organic product attributes without a third-party certification (such as the USDA) are likely to be sold by unscrupulous sellers seeking to make a quick buck!
BTW, did you know that as cat parents we have options to help curb abuses by unscrupulous sellers that apply deceitful and conniving tactics to trick consumers into buying fake "USDA organic" cat products?
If after reading this blog post you feel that you have been a victim of such sellers or simply want to contribute to a safer world for cats (and other living creatures), you can file a complaint with the USDA to report them. Taking action is caring!
If the country of origin is not easily identifiable on the product package (usually on the product label), there is a reason for that, and it's not a good one.
You can reasonably assume this catnip is sourced from China.
Wouldn’t you hope that the manufacturer would want to effortlessly display the country of origin if the catnip was grown in a country with high agricultural product standards?
Feline veterinarian Dr. Mardi Vargofcak-Apker says that questionable catnip from low-quality suppliers can lead to gastrointestinal problems because of mold exposure from improper storage, or from the pesticides or herbicides used on the plant before harvest. - Pet MD
The truth of the matter is that non-US sellers and manufacturers of catnip for cats, not grown in the US will come up with the most brilliant tactics to mask the fact that their catnip is not grown in the USA.
Some of the most common ones are discussed through this article. You may be wondering, but why would they want to mask this?
The answer is very simple, they know that the US consumer would panic at the slightest suspicion that a consumable came from China.
ConsumerAffairs.com hired ExperTox Analytical Laboratory in Texas to randomly chose just four Chinese-made pet toys for cats and dogs from a Walmart store and test them for the presence of heavy metals and other toxins.
One of the products was a cloth catnip toy. Here's what they found:
“The cloth catnip cat toy tested positive for a tremendous amount of the toxic metal cadmium 236 micrograms per kilograms. On the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7.
A cloth hedgehog dog toy and a plastic dumbbell toy for cats both contained cadmium. The lab determined these toxins were easily accessed and could be acquired from the toy with a simple lick of the dog’s or cat’s tongue." (source: poisonedpets.com)
Momma Knows Best® Organic Captivating Catnip is grown in the USA.
Beware of catnip products that claim, “Made in the US” instead of "Grown in the US." If it sounds the same its because it is meant to. Even when they mean different things.
For starters, catnip should be "grown" and not "made". Get it?
Why is this important? While it may seem a matter of semantics, this tactic is used a lot by non-US-based virtual sellers to target the "buy American-made" conscious consumer.
The main difference between catnip "made" vs "grown" in the US is that catnip made in the US is only packaged or processed in the US but not actually grown in the US.
A product with the "made in the US" designation can be assembled, processed, or just packaged in the US.
Ingredients or materials can be sourced from anywhere so long as the product was processed, packaged, or assembled in the US.
See the pitfall now?
"US made" catnip can be sourced from anywhere too, including China.
US packaged catnip is technically "made in the US." In order to minimize heavy metal exposure to your beloved fur baby, what every pet parent should look for is "US grown catnip."
Always make sure to know exactly the country where your catnip was grown. USA-grown organic catnip is your best choice.
Take a few seconds to think of what the following three country-of-origin catnip product label designations have in common:
“Grown in North America,” “Product of Canada,” “Made in the USA.”
For starters, they carry powerful keywords that provide a certain level of trust and false sense of safety to cat parents: “North America,” “Canada,” and “USA.”
Most pet parents would not hesitate to buy pet supplies that are “perceived” to come from any of these three regions, right?
Second, One thing that all these designations do very well is to avoid stating the actual country in which it was grown. See the pitfall now? I hope you do.
When it comes to buying catnip for cats, these are perhaps the most important words pet parents should be looking for, followed by the name of a country known for high agricultural standards such as the US.
Forget about all the fluff added by the use of greenwashing keywords (discussed in point 7) as well as the liberal use of the word “premium” in front of every catnip product label or listing, ugghhh.
You should simply focus on identifying where exactly your catnip was grown.
Next, let us talk about the “grown in North America” designation. This misleading product label tactic is despicably genius.
It is mostly used to avoid FTC complaints while providing pet parents with a false sense of safety and trust, which is very effective in the pet supplies niche where small purchasing decisions are not given much consideration.
We all know that North America is a continent made up of three countries and not a country itself. This is as much as labeling a product as “grown in Europe” or “grown in Asia.”
But when perusing an online catalogue and making quick decisions on catnip buying this sounds like a great pick, right?
In the end, does it really matter if the catnip came from Mexico, Canada, or the US? It doesn’t, right? Except it does.
Wonder why is it so difficult for these companies to instead label these products as “grown in Mexico” or “grown in the USA” or “grown in Canada?"
The truth of the matter is that odds are these catnips are not actually grown in any of these three countries but rather packaged in a country other than the USA.
For example, these catnips could be grown in China, packaged in Mexico and the shipped to the USA. The FTC would never file a complaint against these products as they are not claiming their product was grown in the USA.
At the same time, pet parents would happily buy it thinking it is a safe product. Double score!
When it comes down to the “Product of Canada” designation, this one is a variation of the “Made in the USA” designation.
Used to avoid the use of “grown in Canada,” the implications for this designation are the same as those in point #4 above.
In general, to eliminate the risk of exposure to heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals when it comes to buying catnip for your cat, we highly advise pet parents to avoid unclear or ambiguous country-of-origin label designations and only buy catnip that has been grown in the US.
When in doubt, go a step further and verify the specific state where the catnip is grown by contacting the seller.
Pet parents should not take buying catnip for their cats lightly. If you currently have catnip with an ambiguous country of origin designation label, we highly advise that you dispose of it immediately.
I do not think that I have to mention that product badges are used as a marketing plot, can be misleading, and may not mean what you expect. Any online buyer would know this. However, there are a few things worth discussing about product badges.
For starters, be cautious in assuming the “Best Seller" catnip, or the “Product Choice” catnip badges translate into safety or harmlessness for your fur baby.
Never take these badges as a proxy for high quality, harmless or safe for your fur baby.Be aware that these badges only mean that a given product makes the most money in each category.
That is, they are an indication that the seller is making a lot of money, nothing else. They do not tell you why consumers buy a given product.
Is it because its price? or, because the product offers great profit margins for the seller and thus, the product is promoted more than other products in the category? or, is it because all consumers in the category are well-educated about the product and conclusively determined that the product is actually the best product?
The truth of the matter is, more often than not, products become best sellers due to a combination of both generous profit margins and price.
The "best seller" product label does not, and will almost never mean best product.
Additionally, these badges are oftentimes "earned" by skillful sellers that have managed to be very successful in either applying the art of deception in product labeling (best seller) or applying other "savvy" selling tactics to get a higher-than-average number of unsuspecting pet parents to buy those products.
Some widely known tactics to get these badges include fake high product popularity driven by review manipulation.
This problem is so pervasive that the Federal Trade Commission has gotten involved.
Did you check the list of companies in the link above? Does this scare you?
In an article titled "Amazon Buyers Beware: Scammers Are Targeting the Best-Seller Badge" Bloomberg reports on product miscategoration a clever tactic employed by unscrupulous merchants on the largest eCommerce platform.
"The perpetrators win by boosting their own sales, which can jump by as much as 50% with the best-seller imprimatur, according to Lesley Hensell."- Bloomberg
The net effect of these tactics gets compounded by the consumer’s lack of knowledge on the subject matter, which makes it even easier for them to be misguided into buying those products. See the pitfall now?
Bottom line is do your due diligence and only get what is best for your fur baby. Don't be distracted by product badges.
Many commercially available catnip brands will greenwash their products by using terms like “Natural,” “Eco,” “Sustainable,” “Vet Approved,” “Premium,” “Vet Recommended,” “Made in the US", and even "organic".
However, they will use ingredients grown in and sourced from China, or “Organic” but “certified” in China where studies show presence of unacceptable levels of heavy metals.
This is the reason why recently the USDA started revoking the USDA certification of products certified in China and India.
If this surprises you, wait, there is more. Even on the largest Ecommerce sites, fake organic products are being sold everyday.
The main problem with sites like these is that their size makes it difficult and even impossible to verify the claims in every product they sell.
Momma Knows Best® USDA certified organic captivating catnip is grown in the USA. We work exclusively with carefully screened, vetted, and selected US companies that abide by US laws, regulations, and FDA standards.
All our organic products as well as our facility undergo a rigorous and strict certification and annual auditing process conducted by PCO that guarantees raw material and manufacturing process integrity.
Here is what we'd like to always emphasize about the use of the word "organic", if it is not "USDA organic" it may not even be organic at all.
Now, even when the product may show the USDA organic seal, you should verify that the listing easily discloses who certifies the product.
This is a USDA requirement and not a discretionary statement. Products without this disclosure should be investigated more or avoided altogether.
For us, safety is first.
Buying truly safe products for your cats can be a dangerous and daunting task in the wild west pet industry. We hope this blog post has empowered you to make better purchasing decisions for your fur baby.
Please leave us your comments or questions below. Do you know of any questionable "organic" catnip or any other cat/dog supplies?
And don't forget to spread the love by sharing this article with any cat parent you know. Sharing is caring!
Read Further Cat Care Guides
One more thing, if you are feeling like getting a little special something for your fur baby that is unique, made right here in the USA, 100% pup and cat safe, USDA certified organic and brought to you by a US company, check out Toe Beans online pet supplies store!
Also, if you found this content useful, can you do fellow pet parents a big favor by sharing this content? Use any social media button located around the post.
K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 40K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).
February 19, 2022
My cats seem to react better to silvervine rather than catnip. Why do you not carry silvervine?
I am buying them a couple of stuffed animals and I was thinking if spraying them with a silvervine spray. Any thoughts about this? Thank you.
November 14, 2021
Hi Valeria – I’m not sure where you’re located, but your best bet is to read the packaging of any catnip you’re looking to purchase. Ensure it’s grown in the US and even better it should be USDA organic so you know no pesticides were used to grow the plants. You could also always try our Momma Knows Best USDA Catnip and just have it shipped to you 😀 https://www.toe-beans.com/collections/cat-supplies/products/catnip
November 14, 2021
Whats a good local brand of catnip i should buy?
October 23, 2021
Teresa E – Our sincere condolences over the loss of your two babies. ❤️ I too believe contaminants caused my little boy to get cancer at the age of 12. Like you, I’ve been trying to learn more ever since. We love sharing information we’ve learned along the way so we can all make more educated decisions for our little ones. Thanks for your comment!
October 23, 2021
I never thought about where my organic catnip came from. I lost 2 cats recently who both died from a form of cancer. One was 14 & the other was 15. I’m constantly checking where food comes from after losing a cat several years ago to contaminated cat food with wheat gluten meal from China. After reading this article I will be paying more attention to the labeling information. Thank you for this enlightening read.
August 15, 2021
Hi Liz – that’s a great question!! The same rules/concerns apply to catnip sprays. The sprays are generally water based, but the oil is extracted from the catnip plant, so if it’s been contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals, the remaining catnip spray will also include them. Unfortunately, these dissolved particles can’t be seen with the naked eye, so they appear to be safe. After scratching these contaminants can ultimately be consumed through post-scratcher grooming, so it’s best to avoid uncertified catnip sprays.
August 15, 2021
What about catnip spray? I bought my cat a scratcher,, sprayed it with catnip to get her to use it!.this is the first time I ever used catnip.
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by K Marie Alto March 31, 2023 8 min read
by K Marie Alto March 23, 2023 8 min read
by K Marie Alto March 16, 2023 8 min read
K. Marie - toe beans team
February 19, 2022
Hi Deborah – Silver vine is grown in the mountains of Korea, Japan, and China and thus far we haven’t been able to find a source that can meet the organic certification standards. As such we can’t be sure what practices are used to grow the plants (i.e. pesticides, fungicides, etc.) Since kitties often orally consume silver vine, we believe it’s important to know the toxins that may be present in the plant. When pet parents shop our products we want them to have the peace of mind that what they are buying is as safe as possible for their fur baby. With that said, we haven’t given up our search.
Have you ever tried valerian with your cats? It’s another alternative to catnip that can give cats the same euphoric feeling. It’s also readily grown in the US so it’s easier to find in an organic form. We’re actually working through the organic certification process for our Momma Knows Best catnip/valerian spray. We hope to have it available in the next couple of months. Stay tuned.