Joseph Enterprises, Inc.
425 California Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Okay, this isn't really a toy, unless you've got a strange definition of what constitutes a "toy", but I'm sticking it in with the toy reviews anyway, for lack of a better place to put it.
The set comes in a (roughly) 7 inch high x 8 inch wide x 4 inch deep cardboard box. The packaging is colorful and gives you a nice photo depicting what the planter, containing grown grass, looks like. I guess it's a little light on text, but then, how much do you really need to say about something like this? The exterior of the box is covered with transparent plastic wrap, but once you get that off, the box opens right up easily (no tape, etc). Inside the box you'll find the actual planter is entombed inside two Styrofoam halves, which are taped together. This "armor" did a good job of protecting the planter, as mine was free of any type of breakage or chipping. There's a small transparent plastic "saucer" inside the planter that you're supposed to use for the initial watering as well as a kind of cheap "greenhouse" roof for the grass' initial growing stage. The "growing mix", which is JE's fancy name for dirt, comes inside a small black plastic bag, and the grass seeds are in, big surprise, a paper seed packet. You should also find a combination instruction/registration card. For those of you that care, this is an officially-licensed Warner Bros. Looney Tunes product.
In a nutshell, the sculpt depicts Sylvester the Cat trying to find Tweety Bird, who is hiding on the other side of the pot. Apparently Sylvester would rather eat a bird than grass (as any self-respecting feline would), but the character choices are appropriate considering that this is a product intended for cats. I'm not a huge Looney Tunes fan, but I used to watch the cartoons when I was a kid and can appreciate the characters--your feelings may be different. At its' broadest points, the empty planter is roughly 7.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches deep, and 3.5 inches high. The paintwork is all gloss and looks okay, but you'll notice that the application is fairly sloppy upon close inspection. There's not a lot of color/detail, but that's in line with the cartoon source material. The planter feels quite solid and sturdy, but you certainly don't want to drop it on the floor.
Growing Some Grass:
Setting up your kitty grass farm is pretty simple and painless. All you have to do is dump 90-95% of your dirt into the planter, tamp it down a bit, spread your grass seeds over that, and then bury them with the remaining small quantity of dirt. Add a saucer full of water, invert said saucer (I assume doing this makes it function as a tiny greenhouse) and stick it on top of the dirt. You're done. Easy, no?
The grass will start sprouting pretty quickly. I planted mine on the morning of 12/25/07, and observed roots and stems starting to push up through the soil two days later on the morning of 12/27/07. This is consistent with what the instructions say: "In about three days you will see sprouts start to emerge."
Once the grass reaches a height of about an inch, remove the inverted saucer and take care of it much as you would any other plant (i.e., make sure it gets plenty of sunlight, stays warm, and water it as needed). The manufacturer recommends you let the grass grow to a height of about four inches before you let the cats start eating it. Otherwise, they might eat it to the point of killing the grass when it's too short.
Cats and Grass:
Do cats really need grass? I'm not a veterinarian, but I'd say no. There's lots of house cats that go through life without ever eating a blade of grass, and they're none the worse for it. They should be getting all the nutrition they need from the cat food you buy. I guess what I'm saying is don't feel guilty if you don't have a cat grass planter for your house cat. That said, the majority of our cats do enjoy eating it, even going out of their way to obtain it and "crying" for it if they see you have it. On the flipside of the coin, two of our cats has zero interest in eating grass and will ignore it even if you place some in front of them. I've grown grass, in the house, specifically for the cats to eat, for years now.
One other thing to be aware of: Occasionally a cat will vomit after eating grass, particularly if they eat a lot of it. That's my experience with several different cats, although obviously you may get different results with your pet. Just don't say I didn't warn you--cleaning up cat puke isn't much fun.
This was a gift, so it didn't cost me one red cent. And, in case you're wondering, I actually wanted to receive this item, it wasn't somebody's last-minute idea for a gift (which Chia products usually get a bad rap for being).
That said, I did look at prices for this item online, and it goes for around $15-20, depending on the retailer. That's at least $5-10 overpriced in my opinion. You could easily make your own "cat grass planter" at home for less money. Just get a small bag of potting soil, or even some dirt from your own yard/garden, add some grass seed, and put the mix in any suitable container you have lying around the house. Heck, if you're really lazy or impatient, just dig up a piece of sod from your front lawn and stick it in a pot. I'm guessing some of that money is going to Warner Bros. for the Looney Tunes license, but, even so, the asking price is too much.
On a related note, you can order replacement parts from Joseph Enterprises, but they are equally ridiculously overpriced. That little packet of grass seed? Seven bucks. Small bag of potting soil? Also seven bucks. And the planter itself? Sixteen bucks. Ouch. And don't forget shipping and handling on top of that. My advice? If you need more dirt, grass seed, or another planter, go to one of your local stores.
- Free. I received it as a gift, so it didn't cost me anything.
- Easy to set up/plant. You're good to go in just a few minutes.
- Grass really does grow quickly. Mine was about 4-5 inches high one week after planting.
- Packaged planter is well protected with Styrofoam.
- Gives your cat(s) a house plant it's actually allowed to gnaw on. Our cats, those that eat grass that is, enjoy munching on it, which is obviously the most important thing.
- Overpriced. You could make several "cat grass planters" yourself for less money than what this item costs.
- Not all cats like to eat grass. Depending on your feline(s) inclinations in that regard, you could be wasting your money/time. I strongly advise finding out if your cat, or whomever's cat you're buying this for, eats grass.
- Paintwork on the planter is a bit sloppy.
- Looney Tunes motif might be a turnoff for some people, although your cat(s) could care less what the planter looks like.
- Ordering replacement items (i.e., seeds, dirt, and planter) from the manufacturer is ridiculously expensive. $7 each for a bag of dirt or grass seed packet + shipping? Please. Potting soil and grass seed cost less than that at almost any store, and you can get both for free from Mother Nature.
Where to Buy:
This one came from our local Wal-Mart. I imagine you can find them at any number of major retailers/pharmacies. Numerous online stores also have this item for sale. I found out about this product from a TV commercial that I saw roughly two weeks before I received it as a gift.
There's no age recommendation on this thing from the manufacturer. Younger children might need help setting this up, but it really is quite simple. The main concern for a parent would probably be said child accidentally dropping the planter and breaking it. The instructions do say that the planter bowl is not suitable for food, so don't use it for that.