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Tooth Trouble in Cats

Recently, Minx has had terrible tooth trouble. A while back she started to be very picky with her food and I didn’t think too much of it. She is a cat after all and they are all prone to being fussy about their food. However regardless of what she was offered she was reluctant to eat and sometimes even ran away from her food!

Concerned at this development I took her to the vet. Minx is now twelve years old and I was worried there was some underlying health problem. After several visits, treatments and tooth extractions Minx was diagnosed with Gingivitis. Basically she has a virus which can affect any cat and causes very sore red gums and dental problems. As a virus it will always stay within an affected cats’ system but can be triggered by a build-up of plaque on teeth especially at the gum line. Plaque is a hardened organic material that slowly builds up on teeth and is made up of food particle, saliva and bacteria! Stress can also be a key trigger for a flare up so even with careful monitoring of her teeth there is no guarantee there will not be future problems.

Minx has always had her check-ups and has had her teeth cleaned so I was dismayed at this diagnosis. An infection you can get rid of but a virus will always lurk there waiting for an opportunity to strike. We all know the horror of toothache but it must be awful for a feline carnivore to not be able to eat and to be in such pain!

I am not a vet and I am not going to dish out medical advice here about anything but I really recommend that you try and inspect your cat’s mouth regularly to try spot issues before they become a really painful problem. Ideally you should be able to get your kitten used to a regular check of their gums but I know an older cat can be very resistant and it is not worth losing a limb for!

On your vet visits I think it is a good idea to ask the vet to have a look at your cats mouth. Also, an annual dental could save you a lot of money in the long term and give you some peace of mind.

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Interview with at the National Ploughing Championship

We had a great time at the NPC this year. We met some of our existing customers and the feedback we got was universally positive – it means such a lot to us to know that our hard work means that cats and their owners are having fun and creating memories with our products.

Here is an interview that carried out with Aideen. Here she explains where the idea for Fred’s Catnip Farm came from and why we believe our catnip is the best on the market.

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What is Catnip ?

What is Catnip ?

When I tell people that I grow catnip one of the first questions people ask is WHAT IS CATNIP ? So I thought it would be a good idea to write about what type of plant catnip is and how it is used.

Catnip is the common name for Nepeta Cataria, a perennial herb that belongs to the Mint family. It has similar leaves and the same square stem structure as other mints but is not generally used for cooking as the flavour is quite different to common mint. You probably do not want to use catnip in your mojito!

The main use of Catnip is as an attractant for cats and it is widely used in cat toys.

Cats react to catnip because of an inherited genetic marker that the majority of cats carry in their genes. So most cats react to catnip but a minority do not. Even big cats like tigers react to catnip so the genetic attribute that makes cats react to this herb must have evolved a very long time ago. Cats that have the ‘catnip gene’ just love catnip and each cat will have their own individual reaction to it. It is impossible to know how an individual cat will react until you actually see the cat react. I have seen cats react in all sorts of different ways. That makes it great fun to introduce your cat to catnip for the first time. When you do, make sure you have your camera ready to video it. You will want to watch it again and again!

Catnip can make a cat playful, rolling in the catnip and play hunting. This is how our Minx reacts to it. If she is given a fresh catnip toy she will ‘murder’ it thoroughly and when she has done that she will protect it from Fred and Barney. On the other end of the scale catnip makes Fred, (our CEO and main quality assurance expert) completely relaxed and chilled out. Fred’s eyes will become like saucers and he will snuggle up to his new catnip toy and snooze away for ages. Barney, likes to eat the catnip. He will nibble away at it and roll around in it. If the catnip is inside a toy, Barney will try very hard to rip the toy open to get to the catnip inside. I believe this reaction is due to the fact that cats can ‘smell’ through their mouth and that is why he wants to nibble it.

Whatever your cat’s reaction it is all due to the naturally occurring Nepeta Lactone contained in the leaves and flowers of the plant and the strength and freshness of the Nepeta Lactone is key to your cat’s reaction to catnip.
Catnip is a natural product and poor handling or long term storage will cause significant deterioration in quality. Nepeta Lactone can be lost from handling or exposure to light and this will be reflected in lower reactions in cats to the product. If you are going to give catnip to your cat you will want to give the best quality catnip both to ensure that your cat gets the best fun possible and also that the catnip is as natural and fresh as possible.

At Fred’s Catnip Farm we want every cat to be able to enjoy the best quality catnip possible and we put in the love and effort into our product so that cats and their owners everywhere can enjoy 100% natural top quality catnip fun.

So now you know the answer to the question “What is Catnip ?”

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Catnip Honey

Catnip Plant

Catnip is great for bees and makes great honey!

Nepeta Cataria is the wild version of the plant and it is not common in Britain or Ireland but is naturalised in many parts of North America where the early settlers brought the plant as a medicinal herb.

The plant has erect growing stems that can reach a metre high and which in good conditions will bear abundant flower spikes.  The flowers are white with purple and pink speckles and a field of catnip is an extraordinarily beautiful gift from nature.

We, in Fred’s Catnip Farm grow catnip for it’s well known qualities as an attractant to cats.  But catnip is also extremely attractive to all kinds of bees including bumblebees, solitary bees and honey bees.

Honey bees need to forage for nectar and pollen to feed themselves and raise young bees in the hive.  Catnip is a useful source of both nectar and pollen and therefore will attract honey bees in large numbers.  Honey bees only forage from one type of plant at a time and so it is good for them to find sources of food where there are a large number of the same plants grouped together.

Our catnip field in summer is absolutely covered in bees and if you will hear the steady hum of worker bees foraging in the flowers.  Fascinated by this I have done a little research and discovered that as far back as the 19th century, an early pioneer of commercial beekeeping, Moses Quinby, extolled the virtues of catnip as a honey producing plant and is said to have stated that if he were to grow any plant intensively for honey, he would grow catnip.

This year the beehives arrive at the catnip farm and all going well this autumn we will harvest our first catnip honey.  I am very excited about this and really enjoyed completing the Federation of Irish Beekeepers course.

And of course our bees will be the best looked after bees and will be very happy on Fred’s Catnip Farm!

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Catnip Reed Diffusers for Sale

Catnip and Patchouli Bottle

Reed Diffusers are the latest product that we are bringing to market in our quest to find new ways to use the wonderful catnip plant. Obviously the most important use of our homegrown catnip is as a stimulant for pet cats but it also has a great calming affect on humans. It has traditionally been used in aromatherapy for stress relief and to help with relaxation.

A Reed Diffuser is a great way to get the calming affect of catnip for those people that are not comfortable with using candles. The essential oils that we use are imported from quality suppliers around the world and are 100% pure. We then hand mix them with a soya based base which provides a lovely even throw of the fragrance. All of the diffusers come in a 100ml bottle with a silver cap and travel stopper. We also throw in a linen bag to carry it in.

Not only does a catnip reed diffuser provide a lovely aroma which creates a relaxing environment it has also been shown to be an effective natural insect repellent. In studies Iowa State University found that it was 10 times as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes without all of the nasty side effects. We have combined the catnip with 3 other essential oils that have traditionally been used as insect repellents to create a range of 4 great smelling and effective reed diffusers.

The 4 varieties are :-

Catnip and Patchouli

Catnip and Lavender

Catnip and Citronella

Catnip, Patchouli and Lavender

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We now have Asian Matatabi Silvervine for sale


Around 80% of cats are genetically predisposed to react to catnip which means that 20% of cats and owners are  missing out on the fun – we don’t think that this is fair which is why we have started selling Silvervine (or Silver Vine). Silvervine, (Actinidia polygama) is a deciduous climbing vine grown in the high mountainous regions of eastern Asia which has long been used in China and Japan as a cat stimulant.

When exposed to powdered Silvervine a cat will display behaviours similar to those associated with catnip eg. rolling, meowing, drooling and licking. With our own cats we have noticed that because it is an unfamiliar smell (and because they are surrounded by catnip) it takes them a little while to react, but when they do they play for 5-10 minutes and will return to it periodically afterwards. Because Silvervine is sold in powdered form it is a little messier than catnip so we are selling it with a refillable Fish or Heart toy.

The Silvervine is a deciduous plant that can grow to between 5 and 6m and is susceptible to frost. The leaves are silver and white and and roughly 9cm long and 6cm wide. They flower from late June until early July. Individual flowers only last 2 to 3 days before they develop fruits that are similar to Kiwifruits except that they are orange in colour. The Silvervine that we sell is taken from these fruit galls and powdered.

This year we will be experimenting with growing some Silvervine plants ourselves so we will keep you informed as to how that is going throughout the summer.



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Dublin Cat Fair 2017

On Sunday November 19th the very first ever Dublin Cat Fair took place in Wynns Hotel just off O’Connell Street.

I had never been to a Cat Fair before so when Alice, the organiser, asked me to attend as an exhibitor and to give a talk on catnip, I was delighted but nervous about the presentation.

Well it was a great day for cat lovers.  There was a full day of talks on all sorts of cat related subjects.  Some were very interesting topics on cat health and nutrition. Cat lovers had come from all over the country for the day.

And then there was me!  Well I did my best and people seemed to like the pictures of Fred in my slides!

It was a great day and I really hope the Dublin Cat Fair becomes an annual fixture in my cat diary.

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Supreme Cat Show – NEC Birmingham 2017

Catnip for Sale in UK

We had a great time at the Supreme Cat Show in Birmingham on 28th October. Although we sell the majority of our Catnip into the UK it was the first show that we had attended there and it was great to get all of the positive feedback from existing customers and others that did not know that there was a Catnip Farm in the British Isles !

The show was very well run but we wondered if we were out our depth on the Friday setup day when a stand just across from us had their stock delivered in a large DHL lorry and we had just two large boxes full of ours ! It turned out that we had just enough on the day so we were very happy.

Most people who passed out stall were encouraged to have a sniff of our catnip and they were amazed at the difference between ours and our competitors. It should have been the freshest dried catnip in the UK as it was in the field only 6 weeks ago !


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Cork Cat Show – Blarney 2017

Last year I had a lovely day at the Cork Cat Show which was in Cobh.  So I am delighted I am able to make it to the 2017 Cork Cat Show.

This year the Cork Show will be in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal in Blarney.  September 17th is the date!  As usual the show is on a Sunday.

The really good news is that I will be selling the very first batch of the 2017 catnip harvest at the show.  It is drying now and almost ready for bagging.  So for the very freshest dry catnip possible make your way to the Cork Cat Show.

I am looking forward to a great day out….and to meet lots of beautiful cats and their lovely humans too!

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Hand Made Mouse with 28g Bag of Catnip

A classic toy for the great game hunter!  This toy has a pocket inside that can be loaded with catnip.  The pocket has a velcro fastening so can be reloaded with fresh catnip when needed.  With the mouse is included a large 28g bag of Fred’s catnip which provides lots of refills and lots of mouse hunting fun too.

Each of our little mice are hand made with love and so can vary slightly from the pictures shown.