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Silvervine For Cats: All-Natural Catnip Alternative?

If you are a fan of catnip, then you may have wondered if there is another alternative. But, is silvervine a potential alternative for it?…

What is catnip?

A cat with a catnip toy in its mouth.

A cat with a catnip toy in its mouth.

Catnip is a natural growing plant that contains nepetalactone. It is known to have interesting affects on cats. For some cats they may get hyper and appear out of character. Or, for others, they can become ultra-chilled and be the complete opposite.

Some cat owners appreciate it as a way to help control their cats behaior. For example, if they are an aggressive cat. They may use catnip to calm them down. But, its important to monitor ans see how your cat reacts to it in the first instance.

Are all cats affected by catnip?

Not all cats are affected by catnip. This is normal, and statistically speaking, approximately 50% will not react. So, it is hit amd miss depending on your cat.

For those cat owners that do not see any reaction, or very little silvervine is a potential option fro them.

What is silvervine?

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Silvervine, or Actinidia polygama as it is formerly known as, is a plant. It is known as a climbing plant because of the way it grows. It is also known, by some people, as “Japanese Catnip”. It is found natively in China & Japan.

It gained its name for its silver-like leaves that stick out like a sore thumb, and look beautiful. Apart from this, it also bears fruits. But, for some reason it is more known for its leaves than this.

The silvervine plant is often used in Japanese medicine. But, apart from that it well loved by cats. 

How is silvervine used? 

Silvervine is dried and ground into a brown powder. Once it is in this state you will notice its sweet enticing smell. And, when a cat ingests it, it has an immediate effect.

What does silvervine do to cats?

When cats have silvervine they tend to roll around on the floor, lick their chin, and generally go crazy fro approximately 30 minutes or so. In Europe, or the United states it is not well known. But, in Japan and China it is well know for these effects.

As you can see it has similar effects than catnip. Hence the reason it has been compared to it many times.

How does silvervine compare to catnip?

There has been a study, originally published in BMC veterinary research, that compared the effects of several euphoric substances including silvervine, catnip, valerian root and Tatarian honeysuckle.

The outcome was that approx 33% of the cats had no reaction to catnip. But, approx 80% responded to silvervine.

It is believed that silvervine is more potent than catnip. And, the theory is, this is due to the olfactory attractants it has. Unlike catnip that has one. As discussed earlier, catnip has nepetalactone. Whereas silvervine has actinidine and dihydroactinidiolide. 

How can silvervine be used?

There are many ways that this silvervine can be used. One of the best known uses is to help with elderly or overweight cats. The idea is to help them become active, or exercise.

In the powder form cat owners have been known to use a quarter of a teaspoon placed on the ground, or placed on a toy or cat tree.

Some have even been known to use it to attract a cat to a cat bed that have had trouble getting their cat to use. 

IS silvervine safe for cats?

Silvervine is believed to be safe for cats. But, its always good to check with your vet, for your specific cats circumstance. And, at a minimum, keep them supervised while they aere using it. And, do not over use it. Best to follow the guidelines on the bottle.

Where can silvervine be purchased?

Silvervine can be purchased (click here for the price, on Amazon #Ad) online from various retailers. Make sure you check the quality of the vendor before purchase. It may have a unique brand name and have different concentrations, so its worth researching first. 

Whats the difference between catnip & silvervine?

In this section I will display some quick comparisons of catnip and silvervine




Family Name



Binomial Name

Actinidia polygama

Nepeta cataria


Matatabi, Cat Powder

Catwort, catswort and catmint

Bears Fruit?




Korea, Japan & China

Europe, Asia, Middle East


Dihydroactinidiolide, Actinide


Response from cats 



Known medical uses

Help with Hypertention, Arthritic pain relief

Help with Indegestion, fevers

Lowest Temperature toleration

-30º C

28º F


Can cats eat silvervine?

Cats can eat silvervine. You can find it in many different forms such as in poder form, as a spray, or even as sticks. Some can be fed directly, or others can be indirectly. WHen I say indirectly, I mean, for example, spraying it on a toy, or another surface that the cat may lick.

As mentioned earlier, some cat owners use it on certain surfaces not to feed it to them. But, a way to attract them to certain neglected items, such as their cat cat bed.

Do cats prefer Silvervine over Catnip?

Whether a cat prefers silvervine, or catnip is an individual choice. Meaning, some cats like catnip. While others hate catnip and love silvervine. However, accordign to the studies, 80% of cats are likely to respond to silvervine, as oppose to about 50% with catnip.

But, its worth mentioning that even though cats are more likely to respond to silvervine, it does not mean they will definitely want it, cats have individual personalities.

Can cats become aggressive with Silvervine?

No. Cats are not likely to respond aggressively with silvervine. In fact, it is usually the complete opposite. Meaning, they are more likely to be calm and better behaved with it, especially when interacting with other cats.

However, if you have a silvervine cat toy, then there could be competition for it, like any toy. So, in those cases its worth having a separate cat toy for each one.

Can Silvervine make cats sick? 

Cats are not known to be sick while consuming silvervine. This is because it is not a poisonus plant for cats. And, it is unlikely for them to overdose on it either. This is mainly because most cats will have had more than enough before it could be even close to being an issue.

LIke most things, if you are really worried, or anxious about it. Consult your vet first to clarify the situation for your cat.

How often can you give your cat Silvervine?

Silvervine should be limited to the maximum of 30 minutes at a time. Then remove the toy, assuming you are using a silvervine toy. This is more than enough to keep it happy and not over expose it to much.

Also, you can gauge it, based on your cats response. Maybe 30 minutes is way too much and it has had enough way before then? If so remove it earlier. But, do not exceed the upper limit. 

Does silver vine attract insects?

No. In fact it is the complete opposite. According to a study by Reiko Uenoyama from Iwate University in Japan it was found that it is a insect-reppellent. Meaning, it will keep insects away.

This may come as a surprise. But, it seems that it is beneficial in this respect. It may not compare to other more powerful insect repellents, but at least it doesn’t attract them.

Can you grow Silvervine Indoors?

You can grow silvervine indoors. Some cat owners have had success placing it in a hanging basket so their cats can have access to it. Also, if you have a catio, you could place it out there onto a trellis.

However, if you are not keen on growing it you can buy it in powder or spray form so you can store it and use it on demand.

Why should I consider Silvervine for my cat if catnip already works?

Its not required, but it offer variety to your cat. SOme cats will appreciate this. Also, the effect may be slightly different due to its potency, which your cat may appreciate.

Think of it like us humans. We like variety, right? Even if we love Fries, we will still appreciate rice some days, just to mix it up. Same with your cat.

Lindsey Browlingdon