This almost empty envelope for Vo Toys Catnip probably dates from the 1940s. I have written before (16 October 2014) about the invention of the catnip mouse in the 1910s. When a household had an herb garden, catnip or catmint was a valued traditional medicinal herb used to soothe digestive upsets. But people knew that cats were susceptible to its active ingredient, which we now call nepetalactone. Loose catnip was sold in drugstores in the past; it is still sold in health food stores in bulk and in teabags as a tummy soother. (It works, too.) Around 1900, some companies that made over-the-counter veterinary remedies began to sell catnip for cats as a “tonic.” Pet shops began to include catnip and cat toys in their stock, although the real take-off point for cat products is the 1940s and 1950s, the era of this packet. (See my post of 26 December 2017, on the mail-order catalog from Felix’s General Store and the Katnip Tree Company of Seattle, Washington.)
For folks who no longer had access to fresh catnip, packets like this, sold in pet stores and five-and-ten pet departments, could be used to “recharge” the wooden and rubber balls with stoppers that were sold as cat toys, or rubbed on one of the new scratching posts offered for sale beginning in the 1930s. A pinch of catnip could also be administered directly to the willing subject, of course.
Vo Toys (now Vo-Toys, Inc. ) was founded in 1939 and is still around as a distributor of pet products including, of course, catnip toys for today’s feline consumers.
But the main reason that I’m sharing this now is, I just REALLY like the design on the front of the packet! Especially the red cat lounging across the word “catnip” while his companions play with catnip leaves.