Tune in as Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder, talks with Scott Ragan, Meowijuana’s Managing Pawtner, about how catnip is grown, why cats love it, should you give it to them, and more!
This video is part of the Pet Voices LIVE series. CLICK HERE to see the full schedule of videos.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:01
Hello and welcome to Pet Voices LIVE where we’re talking all about catnip today. Everything you wanted to know, well maybe not everything because there’s probably a lot, but we’re really excited because we have with us today the Managing Pawtner and you heard that right, “Pawtner,” from Meowijuana Scott Ragan.
Scott, what I love about your company first of all, I went to I think it was Global Pet Expo a couple years ago and I got this. And I went purposely through TSA with it kind of out because I was curious if they would be like, “What is this?” But I did not get stopped for that. They didn’t care.
So, Meowijuana is coming around and kind of taking a step into a place that is familiar. You know, this looks kind of like a dime bag. But doing it in a playful way, and I know you have to make disclosures all the time. What I would love for you to start with is where did the idea come from? And how has it gotten to where it is now? Because it’s grown quite a bit.
CATNIP AND HUMOR
Scott Ragan, Meowijuana Managing Pawtner – 1:02
Yeah, it has. Well, Chloe, thanks for having us on today. I appreciate joining you and all the pet parents that are online with us today.
Meowijuana is a lot of fun. We certainly enjoy it. We think if we’re having a lot of fun, hopefully that translates to the kind of products and things that we’re doing and ultimately if, in this case the cats and the cat parents, are having as much fun then it was a big win.
We began about 2016. And it’s a team effort, always is. One of our partners, Chris, we’ll give him all of the credit as our founder. And candidly, like so many things you’d like to think there was lots of analytics and planning and analysis. And in this case, I can assure you, this was just good old, silly fun sitting around and him joking around about the name. And when catnip grows, and we’ll talk a little bit about this, it grows in a field and it has a big bud, and it looks a lot like something else. And guess what, when cats enjoy it and play with it and smell it or eat it, they act a lot like something else. And that is about as much research as went into the name, as you can kind of see.
And I’ll just say, Chris, is the first to acknowledge and our whole team. My wife Geralynn, and I, Chris, and a couple other folks are kind of the partners who have taken the business along. Very much tongue in cheek, right? We are not taking ourselves too… We take the quality and the product seriously, but the brand and the imagery and what we’re doing is just a lot of fun. And hopefully as I said, if pet pet parents get that and bring that into their home, then we think we’re winning a little bit.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:58
Definitely. Well, you have some fans, I think just in saying it. I always put that ‘j’ in there. I don’t know why. Meowijuana, right? I want to say “Meow-i-juana.” I don’t know why, It wouldn’t matter, but I think just the name of it, the products, and like you said, the idea that you’re always having fun and yet not doing it at the expense of the product.
The product is still a very quality product and you actually know… Even in our conversation we had before we got on, you shared some things about catnip in general, because I understand it’s a naturally grown product. It doesn’t need pesticides or anything like that, so it’s naturally grown. But you guys take it to another level in terms of what it can do.
Scott Ragan, Meowijuana Managing Pawtner – 3:42
Yeah, we certainly try it. You know, I would say there’s maybe two points. One, I think when Chris first started, he kind of had this name idea, Meowijuana. And, again, all was in parody. all in good fun. So he had a little tagline that he created, “For cats who need the weed.”
Well, there’s nothing untrue about that, right? So this was very silly. I think one of the things we did, certainly not to dumb down the idea, but as you can imagine, as we started kind of playing and seeing where the brand could go and what we could do. Maybe that tagline was almost just slightly too overt. There are going to still be a few people who were like, “Hmm, I don’t think that’s funny.” So we modified the tagline of the brand to become “Catnip so good it should be illegal.”
Which again in the same kind of parody, kind of communicated the same thing was not quite… dialed it back 10% and with that and then the expansion of some things… And I will share what we think we do that is kind of special and different. We have really enjoyed some tremendous success and are very thankful for all the pet parents who have, like I said, enjoyed it and brought it into their homes and found the smile that tongue in cheek granted, but also the real impact of catnip.
Catnip is interesting. First of all, we didn’t invent it. I always like to say that the Egyptians were doing a great job of catnip 2000 years ago, or whatever the case may be. And catnip so grows naturally as you said, it’s an organic perennial. It comes back every year. It’s like many other things if I say that the part of the plant that has the oils in it. It’s an essential oil, catnip oil.
And catnip oil has all kinds of really neat science that goes into it. And there’s a part of that oil, a chemical called nepetalactone. And that’s about as much science as we’re going to get into.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:53
HOW CATNIP WORKS
Scott Ragan, Meowijuana Managing Pawtner – 5:55
Nepetalactone. When cats ingest that, or even smell it, have it in their whiskers or on their tongue, then it has a really interesting effect on cats and it affects about 80% of cats. They have receptors and it connects with those receptors and in most mature cats, small kittens not as much so, and we don’t recommend it for cats under nine to 12 months. Those receptors are still developing kind of in their bodies. As that receptor develops, then most cats become very receptive if you will, or the catnip can be impactful for them.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 6:31
You said 80%, so there is a portion of cats who are unaffected by catnip?
Scott Ragan, Meowijuana Managing Pawtner – 6:39
Either unaffected or significantly less affected and then we will always get emails or people will reach out to us and say, “Well, which cats?” and as I like to say if I’m talking with a large group of customers, “Okay, of all of you, some of you are gonna like Doritos. And some of you’re gonna like Cool Ranch Doritos. Now which one’s gonna like Cool Ranch and is that because you’re short or tall? You’re Caucasian, you’re African American, you’re Asian? You’re male or female? Does not matter. It is body chemistry. It is, do you have those receptors that you like Cool Ranch? Or do you like Jalapeno or Zesty Cheese?”
So it really differs. It’s not by a breed of cat. It’s not by age of cat. It’s really just body chemistry. And some cats will have a much higher reception and some will just have much lower.
I think that as catnip has been grown… Some people will say, “Well, then you’re just growing weeds out there and you’re harvesting.” And I think what we’ve tried to do is say that there’s a lot you can do with catnip to turn that 80% into 95%. We don’t know there’s a perfect science for getting 100% of cats to like it. But what in my silly Doritos example is that Doritos made Doritos and they were wonderful. And let’s just say 80% of people like those. But then somebody said, “Oh, well, if we got Zesty Cheese and we got Cool Ranch, there’d be a few more people who liked it.”
And what we’ve done and what Meowijuana has really done, I think uniquely and really well and pet parents have really liked is some variety and there’s some efficacy. There’s real product benefits, kind of problem with solution. So we do blending without in any way biasing. Some women will get that immediate, “Oh, it’s like potpourri.” There’s different flavors or aromas.
And so we take our catnip and we will blend it and as an example, one of my favorites is a one of our blends, we call it “Mice Dreams.” That’s a lot of fun. I use that just as an example because what we’ve done is taken good high quality organic catnip and we’ve cut that with dried passion flower, and with lavender from France. And we blend that and now that has got a lot of catnip, but it’s got some other aromas. Now that Doritos just became Cool Ranch, And so for cats, when we think about those, and I’m using, we have many blends. I’m just using that one as an example.
So passion flower has traditionally been used over time in homeopathic medicines, to alleviate anxiety and help with insomnia. It’s really a calming agent. And then lavender, as many people recognize, lavender is a more common smell has a lot of those same benefits. Grown in France. And really helps, I’ll say calm down the jitters, take off the edge of anxiety. And so that blend makes that catnip very attractive and has a little bit of a floral to it.
And so as I say, Meowijuana, big tongue and cheek, a lot of fun, but we do that blending and we have seven or eight different blends, proprietary blends, that we’re known for. Each of them having a little bit different aroma, each of them having a little bit different benefit. And we think we’re maybe one of the only brands out there doing something like that.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:24
I find that so interesting because I’ve recently had a lot of talks with behaviorists. Last week we did a Pet Voices LIVE with a Veterinarian, Dr. Lynn Bahr, and a Certified Animal Behaviorist, Amy Shojai. And they talked about bringing the outside inside for cats and one of the things they talked about was aromas like flowers that you could bring outside inside so that they could just smell them. It sounds like you’re actually taking that idea of things they might encounter outside that are safe for them and have potentially health benefits and blending it with your organically grown catnip so that it becomes more than just a treat at that point.
Scott Ragan, Meowijuana Managing Pawtner – 11:04
We think it’s a neat approach and my wife, I, our family, and I think all the partners have all recognized the name is fun, and so we don’t get into a lot of the science because let’s be honest that there’s probably science behind your favorite dog food or cat food and an ingredient that’s better or less better for them based on an allergy. At the same time, if we deliver fun names, fun packaging, a variety of profiles, so that candidly, let’s be honest, pet parents don’t want to go back and buy the exact same product every two weeks every month. So a little bit of variety allows for rotation. And then you are playing in that homeopathic wellness. Now I call it natural wellness. And catnip itself has a lot of benefits.
Find out more about catnip and Meowijuana by watching the full video above!
For more information on catnip and Meowijuana:
Website – www.meowijuana.com
Facebook – Meowijuana
Instagram – @meowijuanallc
Twitter – @meowijuanaville