When presented with catnip, out of all three of my cats, one was completely uninterested; the second was mildly interested, but got bored quickly; and the third was a surly, mean drunk. Catnip is out around here, and perhaps you've had a similar experience with your own kitties. You've almost certainly seen tons of videos of frenzied felines losing their minds over the stuff, and maybe you wish you could see it in real time. Or maybe your cats just need a little excitement. Whatever the case, if catnip simply isn't cutting it, there is an alternative that is supposed to attract even the ficklest cat. This alternative is called Silver Vine. So what is Silver Vine? Well, today, we'll be discussing what it is, how it works, and how you can use it.
What is Silver Vine
Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama) - also referred to as matatabi, silvervine, and cat powder - is a deciduous climbing vine that predominately grows in mountainous regions of China and Japan. As its name implies, it has a silver or soft white hue, and grows pretty white flowers and tiny yellow-red, ovoid fruits.
How Does Silver Vine Work
To understand how Silver Vine works, you must first understand how catnip works. Catnip contains a volatile oil known as Nepetalactone. When sniffed, this oil enters the nasal tissue, then binds to the protein receptors that help to stimulate sensory neurons. Once stimulated, these neurons nudge the neurons in the olfactory bulb, which then projects to a number of brain regions - for instance, the hypothalamus, which plays a part in regulating pretty much everything, and the amygdala, which mediates responses to stimuli. What this boils down to is this: The hypothalamus is busy creating an excited, pheromone-style response, while the amygdala is sending some potent informational signals through the olfactory bulb cells, thus governing behavior. The result: Crazy kitty!
So that's catnip, but what is Silver Vine doing? Well, pretty much the same thing, the major difference being that it uses a natural chemical called Actinidine instead. Despite working in a similar fashion, Actinidine is said to affect more cats than catnip, and also has a stronger impact, and a longer "high" time - ranging anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. In instances where Silver Vine is ineffective, the lack of stimulation might be the result of improper preparation; although most of the plant contains Actinidine, it is found in higher concentrations in the fruit galls.
In addition to Actinidine, Silver Vine contains a secondary attractant known as dihydroactinidiolide. This sweet-smelling compound is a volatile terpene that acts as a sort of pheromone, meaning that as it is secreted it has a strong impact on the sensitive, receiving creature. To put it plainly, when your kitty smells it, it makes him go just a little bit mad.
Ways to Use Silver Vine
Silver Vine can be found in a dried herb form. Although you can get it all by itself, it often comes as a blend, usually with catnip or valerian. Whatever you choose, you can easily sew it into fabric pouches or toys, sprinkle it over plushy items, or create a stimulating spray by brewing it into a tea. If you'd rather not work with it yourself, some cat toys come with it already included. Silver Vine chewies are also readily available; however, the reviews for these are mixed.
Potential Side Effects
Silver Vine is considered to be very safe for cats. Like catnip, this herb may make some kitties temporarily aggressive, and may also cause a bit of drooling. As with anything else, moderation is key. Most cats will lose interest all on their own, but officially speaking, you should really only be giving him about a pinch. And, of course, it's always a good idea to speak with your cat's vet before giving him anything new.
So... what is Silver Vine? The answer is simple: A viable, and often delightful, alternative to catnip. Should you try it? Well, does catnip have little to no effect? Is your kitty feeling a tad stressed or bored? Do you want to incorporate something new and interesting into his life? Then certainly! Just be sure to find a quality preparation and use in small amounts.
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