Category Archives: catnip toys

Tips to Help a Senior Pet Stay Active

By Linda Cole

I have several dogs that are getting along in years. They move slower and are more content to sleep away the hours, but a lack of exercise and stimulation isn’t a healthy way for them to spend their senior years. Older pets can develop arthritis and other joint related problems that may keep them from enjoying activities, but it’s still important to keep them as active as possible. If you have a senior pet, here are some tips to help them stay active.

By the time a pet turns a year old, they are already a teenager in human years. The senior years for small dogs 20 pounds or less begin at the age of 7 to 9, and larger dogs are considered seniors at 6 to 7 years. Cats are actually living longer because of advances in veterinary medicine. An indoor cat can easily live up to 18 years or longer and are considered senior at around 9 years. Outdoor cats have shorter life spans, around 4 to 5 years.

How to Keep Senior Dogs Active

As dogs age, they may not be able to keep up a rigorous exercise schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to stop running, biking, hiking or any other activity you enjoy doing with your dog, but it does mean you may need to slow things down for your senior dog’s sake. Swimming and slower walks for senior dogs, especially one with arthritis, keep their muscles strong. Exercise helps keep joints limber, keeps their bowels functioning normally, digestive system working and helps your dog maintain a healthy body weight.

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Grow Catnip for Your Kitty – and for You Too!

By Julia Williams

If you have a cat, you’ve probably bought them a nip toy now and then. Some kitties will lick, bite and rabbit kick the toy exuberantly while others may run around like a cat possessed. Some cats will show zero interest in catnip toys, but it has nothing to do with what the toy looks like. Some catnip is more potent than others and will elicit a stronger reaction, which may account for a cat’s interest – or lack thereof –in a particular toy. However, it’s also possible that your cat is among the 10-30% of felines who won’t respond to any catnip toy. That’s because the attraction to catnip is determined by genetics, and their reaction is hereditary. In other words, some cats are genetically programmed to respond to catnip while others are not. Most senior cats and kittens under six months typically aren’t attracted to catnip either.

Although it’s been called “wacky tobacky for cats,” catnip is not a drug. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is an herb in the mint family, and it’s the essential oil in the blossoms, leaves and stems that are the main attractant for cats. But what you may not know is that catnip is not just for cats!

While catnip is a stimulant for cats, it’s actually a relaxant for humans, and it’s been valued for its herbal and medicinal properties for centuries. Combining one part catnip with three parts mint creates a soothing herb tea with a pleasant taste. Catnip tea can help you fall asleep, get relief from cold and flu symptoms or ease digestive upsets and tension headaches. Catnip is an excellent source of vitamin C, and like other mints can be added to salads, soups and other foods.

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How to Make Your Own Cat Toys

By Julia Williams

Every cat owner on the planet has experienced buying the most comfortable looking pet bed only to have their cat choose a cardboard box instead. The same is true for cat toys. I’ve lost count of how many cute toys I’ve brought home to less than enthusiastic felines. They would take one look at the new cat toy and proceed to bat around a pen. It became quite obvious that the store-bought cat toys were more for me than them, so I decided to learn how to make my own. Turns out, there are some really creative ideas for cheap cat toys, and some are even free!

Making Cat Toys from Household Objects

A toilet paper tube makes a great cat toy all by itself, but I found instructions online for making an even better cat toy from this throwaway item. Basically, you cut slits in both ends and fold them back so it resembles a spoked wheel (read the detailed instructions here). I made one of these in under five minutes and kitty-tested it. Belle liked it quite a bit; she chased it, batted it around and just generally mauled it. No worries – it’s free and simple to make, so when it gets destroyed I can always make another one.

Make a cat toy from an empty prescription pill bottle by adding some small beans to create a noisemaker. You could also fill it with a few pieces of dry cat food; if the child-proof cap happens to come off, your cat will be rewarded with a nice little snack. An alternative is those hollow plastic eggs used to hide treats for the annual Easter egg hunt. My cats like these better than the pill bottles because they have a more unpredictable roll. They do come apart easier though, so use crunchies instead of beans.

Portable baby gyms can easily be converted into a kitty gym. They have all sorts of toys and noisemakers hanging from them, and some of these might even interest your cat. If not, it’s easy to replace them with some cat toys, feathers and other dangly things your cat can play with. If you don’t have an old baby gym, you might be able to pick one up at a yard sale.

Those “fishing pole” types of cat toys are feline favorites. I bought a furry mouse-on-a-stick at the dollar store, and when the mouse got destroyed, I tied another cat toy to the plastic pole. You can easily make a fishing pole cat toy using a sturdy, straight tree branch, thick yarn or a shoelace, feathers (look around outside to get some for free), small ball or other cat toy. Just remember that the fishing pole toys are not designed for cats to use alone; always put them away after you’re done playing.

One day while cooking supper, I accidentally discovered another household item that makes a great cat toy. I dropped a carrot onto the floor and Rocky immediately pounced on it and claimed it as his new toy. He swatted it, rolled it, and carried it around in his mouth for the longest time. Since then, I sometimes give him a fresh carrot and he still thinks it’s the greatest cat toy ever. (Shh…don’t tell him it’s not really a cat toy).

Making Catnip Cat Toys from Scratch

Catnip is a kitty-safe stimulant that many felines are very attracted to. You can easily grow your own catnip, or buy it from the pet store. Take two small fabric squares, sew three of the edges together, stuff with catnip and stitch up the remaining edge to make a little pillow catnip toy. If you want to make something a little more creative, I found free patterns online for catnip-stuffed felt critters, including a fish, bird, and mouse. These super cute toys are simple to make, but the instructions suggest using beads for eyes; to make them safer for your cat, use felt for the eyes, or leave off the eyes altogether.

You can make a Knotted Catnip Cat Toy in a matter of minutes. Simply take a small scrap of fabric and place a pinch of catnip in the middle. Carefully fold the fabric over the catnip, then tie a knot in the fabric and voila – instant cat toy.

If you knit or crochet (or would like to learn) you can make a cat toy in under an hour. It can be as simple as two squares joined together (like the pillow toy above) or two round shapes to form a ball. More accomplished knitters can make mice, fish, birds and other shapes, or use this free pattern to knit egg roll and wonton cat toys.

Making your own cat toys is easy, it’s fun, and it saves money. Basically, anything that moves, rolls, makes noise or has feathers can become a cat toy. Just use your imagination! And for more inexpensive ways to entertain your kitty, read How to Save Money on Cat Toys.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Save Money on Cat Toys

Kittens are naturally more rambunctious than adults, but all cats love to play. Even “senior” cats enjoy playing with their favorite toy in-between naptime. Consequently, cat toys are an important element of good feline care. Cat toys do more than just entertain your kitty, though; they also give your cat an outlet for excess energy, provide needed exercise (especially important for indoor cats), and can be a fun way to bond with your cat. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on toys for cats. 
Since how to save money is on just about every person’s mind nowadays, I wanted to share some economical ways to keep your kitty entertained. There are basically three ways to spend less on toys for cats. The first one is seasonal: shop the after-Christmas clearance sales at your local pet stores. Most carry an inventory of holiday gifts for pets, such as stockings filled with cat toys or individual items that have a holiday theme. Last year I came home with a huge bag of cat toys that were 75% off, and I paid less than $10 for all of it. 
My three felines probably have enough cat toys to last a lifetime now. If not, my second idea for how to save money on cat toys involves buying inexpensive items that cats love to play with. My favorite of these is ping pong balls, which have an unpredictably wild bounce that cats find irresistible. If you buy them in bulk, they can cost as little as 25 cents each, and also won’t get stepped on later. Straws are another feline favorite in my house. I found this out after I caught my cat Rocky stealing them right out of my drink! He loves to flip the straw up in the air and try to catch it. 
If your cat enjoys catnip (some do, some don’t), you can buy some fabric and catnip to make homemade catnip toys. Little pillow-shaped catnip toys are what I usually make, because they’re incredibly easy to assemble. Just cut out two squares of fabric (about 3”), sew three sides closed, fill it with catnip and sew the fourth side shut. If you don’t like to sew, you can also fill a child’s sock with catnip, tie a knot in it and voila! Instant homemade cat toy.
My third idea for how to save money on cat toys (and my personal favorite) involves using readily available materials found in your home. Once you understand what makes a good cat toy – things that roll, bounce, simulate “prey” or make noise – the potential for free homemade cat toys is practically limitless. Crumple a piece of paper into a ball and throw it across the room for your cat to chase. My sister’s cat will even bring it back, over and over. None of my cats will fetch the paper ball, but they will run after it and bat it around for a bit. 
A piece of string or twine is the ultimate cheap cat toy. My cats will chase a string around the house for hours, and they’ll jump up for it if I dangle the string several feet from the floor. I also like to tie one of their furry mice to the end and drag it around so they can chase after it. It’s very important, though, to always put the string away when you’re done playing, because your cat might swallow it and become ill. 
Paper sacks are another classic cat toy that doesn’t cost a penny, and I’ve never met a kitty that didn’t like to get into them and rustle around. If you have 35mm film canisters, you can fill them with anything that rattles, such as pebbles, pasta or beans. Just make sure the lid is on tight before giving it to your kitty. Boxes are another great free cat toy. You can even construct a kitty playhouse by fastening several large boxes together. Cut out holes for your cat to walk through and stick their paws through, and place the box upside down on the floor. 
Empty toilet paper tubes make excellent toys for cats. I have a similar tube that is thicker, sturdier, and about half the length. I can’t remember where it came from initially, but I saved it because I knew my cats would enjoy playing with it, and they do. Before you throw anything away, you should always ask yourself if the item might somehow become a cat toy. There’s a very good chance that it can, and your kitty will have just as much fun playing with his homemade cat toy as he will with a store-bought one. That’s the beauty of cats – they’re easy to please, at least when it comes to their toys!

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.