We got a couple questions about our Monday blog post asking what that silvervine stuff that made Pierre a mean drunk is. That’s a really good question!
Pierre: Who are you calling a mean drunk?
Silvervine is a plant whose actual name is Actinidia polygama. You probably aren’t familiar with it because it probably doesn’t grow where you live. It comes from the high elevations in the mountainous areas of Japan and China.
Cats respond to silvervine similarly to the way that they do to catnip, rolling, rubbing in it, drooling, and even licking it. The main difference is that in catnip, cats respond to the chemical compound nepetalactone. In silvervine, cats respond to the chemical actinidine.
Silvervine and catnip having different chemicals that make cats respond means that some cats who don’t respond to catnip will show interest in silvervine. Other cats, like Pierre in our video from Monday, respond to both. The amount of enthusiasm varies by cat.
A study published last year showed that 65% of cats respond to catnip, and almost 80% of domestic cats respond to silvervine.
The silvervine plant is often ground into a fine powder for use by cats. There is a big surge in marketing “silvervine sticks” for cat dental health like the one Cupcake was gifted recently. Keep in mind that these often aren’t actually the stem of a silvervine plant but are pieces of wood that have been impregnated with silvervine scent. If you happen to see dried silvervine fruit or fruit gall, it carries a much stronger payload of actinidine for a cat to enjoy.
If your cat does enjoy silvervine in a toy, always be sure the toy, whether it is a stick or other form, is safe and supervise if necessary. Enjoy the fun times!