Silvervine & Cats, A Purrfect Match!
What is Silvervine?
You can think of Silvervine as Catnip 2.0; it causes the same fun reactions in kitties of all types but is even more likely to be enjoyed! While catnip primarily comes in the ground form, silvervine can be enjoyed as whole fruits, a ground powder, or even an all natural chew toy known as Matatabi!
The Silver vine plant is a flowering, fruiting vine that is native to the mountains of East Asia. In the right climate the vine grows very quickly all over trees, stone walls, and more. There is a Japanese saying that translates roughly to “Silvervine to a cat, a coin to a prostitute. Needless to say, wherever there is silvervine, you will find happy kitties!
It is the most popular cat attractant among cats and their owners in Japan and Asia. It is sometimes referred to as “matatabi” or “Japanese catnip”. The vine and fruits contain the essential oils that cats love with no additives or processing necessary.
Scientific studies of cat stimulants showed that 1 in 3 cats do not react to catnip however 8 in 10 cats DO react to silvervine. Moreover, 75% of cats who did NOT respond to catnip had a positive reaction to silvervine! So regardless of whether or not your cat enjoys catnip, silvervine is the perfect alternative to catnip to try. Even if your cat does love catnip, they likely will have a different reaction to silvervine as well!
How does Silvervine work? Is it a cat drug?
Silvervine works its magic entirely through your cats super sensitive sense of smell – none is ingested or metabolized to cause their reaction. The scent is said to be similar to cat pheromones which kick all of their senses into high gear and makes them more likely to play or be loving towards you.
It aids in relieving stress and anxiety and helps to promote play and exercise for house cats who prefer to lay around all day. It also helps to promote a bond between pet parent and kitty.
Reactions from silvervine vary for each cat, but common behaviors include rolling, chin and cheek rubbing, meowing, pouncing, drooling and licking. Some cats become more ‘kitten like’, while others become more relaxed and show a more ‘chilled out’ reaction. Effects of silvervine usually last anywhere from 5-30 minutes. Kittens (under 8 months old) may not have a reaction to silvervine.
What does Silvervine look like? How do I give silvervine to my cats?
Silvervine powder is the most common way for cats to enjoy this wonderful treat. The highly potent powder is made from the ground gall fruits of the vine. A whole handful is fruits is need to make a pinch of powder so a little goes a long way! But be careful, many brands will use the regular fruit of the plant which cats likely will not react to. It is difficult to find gall fruits and hard to identify which powder is which from photos alone. The only way to tell the difference is the smell! It’s almost impossible to describe the gall fruit but once you smell it, you know it.
Matatabi Chew Sticks are another very popular way that cats enjoy silvervine! They are made from trimmings of the actual vine from the silvervine plant. The vine sections are the perfect size and shape for cats to hold them between their paws while they chew, rub, and bat around! Matatabi also acts as a natural tooth brush for chewers and the vine like texture helps to gently exfoliate teeth and gums. The vines are actually a softer squishy type material as opposed to hard wood so they are safe for teeth!
The whole silvervine gall fruit is also enjoyed by kitties. These are very hard to find sold which may account for why they are less common with cat owners. The whole fruits are perfect to be given whole to lets cats bat around the house or crushed into pieces and put inside of a toy. The whole fruit is so attractive to cats that they are sometimes even used as bobcat lures!
Is Silvervine safe for my cat?
Like catnip, silvervine is totally safe to give to your cat and can even be beneficial to their health! In fact, where silvervine is native, people even eat the silvervine fruits. Silvervine is completely safe for your cat to smell and ingest in the amounts used in play. Silvervine is not a drug that needs to be metabolized by your cat for them to feel the effects of. Thus it they can not overdose on, be addicted to, have withdrawal from, or gave any long lasting physical effects from its use.
The Joy of Silvervine
We think Silvervine should be even more popular than catnip! It is more likely to be enjoyed by any particular cat, comes in many fun forms, and is totally safe. The only drawback is that it is more difficult to find and ensure it is of high quality. While catnip grows wild in much of the United States, Silvervine needs a different growing climate to thrive. But after much research and planning we finally found a farm that was perfect to work with! From that, we are able to make many cats from all over the country just a bit more happy!