We caught up with our makers Tracy and George from Alley Katz to find out why their herbal cat toys are so good for your moggy.
What inspired you to create the toys?
George: As part of my business I do essential oil therapy for animals, sometimes known as Zoopharmacognosy. I use dried herbs for cat clients as they are much safer than oils.
I used to ask owners to sprinkle herbs on a tea towel, which cats immediately roll around in and scatter the herbs everywhere. Not wanting to add hoovering the carpet to the list of their things to do I wanted a less messy way of offering herbs to my cat clients. So I thought about having a bag to put them in. I knew Tracy was a dress maker/designer and I told her about my idea and we looked through a few options. We decided on the alternative fish design from Urban Threads and use felt for the material. I wanted the owners to be able to be part of their cat’s selection process, knowing which herb was being selected (if the cat had more than one), so denoted 12 colours to a herb. I selected the most popular herbs for cats that I have used in my business so far.
How are the toys beneficial for cats?
The toys contain herbs, which are known to help with various emotional and physical issues. They are not a substitute for veterinary advice, they are complementary and more along the lines of environmental enrichment.
For example, Rose is a popular herb chosen by cats that may have any resentment, anger or those that need nurturing (i.e. young cats). It is also known to balance male hormones.
One client had a behaviour problem with her cat who had started defecating in the kitchen sink. Following veterinary advice the owner tried various behavioural tactics to no avail. I asked the owner to try offering rose herbs by sprinkling them onto a towel. The cat came over, sat in among the petals on the towel for a while, and then began pressing her face in them. The kitchen sink was left clean after that.
What toy is the most popular among cat owners?
The herbs I have to buy replacement stock for the most to date is peppermint, closely followed by rose - they are the most popular among cats themselves. As the toys are fairly new to the market, we have had a mixture of herbs sold, possibly because owners are drawn to certain colours. Chamomile, rose, peppermint and the very smelly valerian, have all been quite popular.
Herbal felt fish cat toy - brown
Filled with valerian herbs, which are good for calming down aggressive cats and helping them to focus.
Herbal felt fish cat toy - green
The fish is filled with peppermint and is good for cats that lack confidence or often find themselves bored and lethargic.
Herbal felt fish cat toy - red
Filled with rose herbs this toy is great for cats who have suffered a past trauma, need nurturing or those that need to release anger and resentment.
Herbal felt fish cat toy - yellow
The chamomile herbs in this toy have a calming effect on cats who are anxious or suffer from tension.