How to Buy Catnip for Cats

by K Marie Alto June 14, 2021 8 min read 2 Comments

Orange cat sniffing catnip by Momma Knows Best

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. Most pet parents won't think twice about buying any catnip that comes in the cutest and funniest container, and that also have 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?

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.

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.

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:

 

1. Always be aware that labeling a product as “Natural” or “Organic” does not automatically make catnip safe for your fur baby. 

Not all catnip is grown, harvested, and packaged in a safe way. Countries have different degrees of regulation regarding agricultural products. Even the requirements for obtaining organic designations can be very laxed in some countries.

Unlike non-US grown products labeled as organic, 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. We recommend every pet parent to play it safe and ONLY buy US Grown catnip.

2. Endorsement and third-party certifications are important - "organic" is not the same as "USDA Certified Organic."

US Grown Catnip Momma Knows Best Organic Catnip labelIn the world of self-reporting where sellers can easily make any unsubstantiated claims on their products without fearing repercussions, it is 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 us “organically grown.”  Again, another unverifiable claim.

Additionally, we highly recommend that pet parents stay away from products that claim "USDA Certified Organic" status without clearly disclosing 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. Momma Knows Best ® Captivating Catnip is USDA Certified Organic by PCO. Products that claim USDA organic without disclosing this information are likely to be sold by unscrupulous sellers seeking to mislead pet parents. Likewise, products that claim organic product attributes without a third-party certification (such as the USDA) are likely to be everything but organic, beware!

3. 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? 

The truth of the matter is that non-US sellers 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.

4. Beware of catnip products that claim, “Made in the US” instead of "Grown in the US." 

Catnip should be "grown" and not "made."  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 the catnip made in the US is only packaged or processed in the US but not 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.

"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."

5. 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, all these designations avoid stating the actual country in which it was grown.  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 available, ugghhh.  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.

US Grown Catnip Momma Knows Best Organic Catnip Cat PlayingWonder 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.     

6. Product badges are used as a marketing plot, can be misleading, and may not mean what you expect. 

Be cautious in assuming the “Best Seller" catnip, or the “Product Choice” catnip badges translate into safety or harmlessness for your fur baby. Be aware that these badges only mean that a given product makes the most money in each category. In many cases these badges are “earned” by savvy sellers that solely focus on revenue and not quality.

Some widely known tactics to get these badges include fake high popularity driven by review manipulation. The net effect of these tactics gets compounded by the consumer’s lack of knowledge on the subject matter that are misguided into buying these products. Do your due diligence and only get what is best for your fur baby.

7. Beware of “greenwashing” and hard selling tactics. 

Many commercially available catnip brands will greenwash their products by using terms like “Natural,” “Eco,” “Sustainable,” “Vet Approved,” “Premium,” “Vet Recommended,” or “Made in the US."  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.

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.

How to spot fake green products:

For us, safety is first.

Just our two cents for the long life of our fur family members!

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!

 

Interested in learning more about catnip?  Check out or blog Common Questions and Clever Ways to Use Catnip

K Marie Alto
K Marie Alto

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 19K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).


2 Responses

K. Marie - toe beans team
K. Marie - toe beans team

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.

Liz Nielsen
Liz Nielsen

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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