Ask Aunty Zoo: What Do Catnip & Silvervine Actually Do?

This month we hear from a scaredy cat and her 'fat cat’ brother in need of a little pick me up... 


Dear Aunty Zoo, 

I feel quite nervous about writing to you, but don’t take it purrsonally. I feel nervous most of the time. My mum doesn’t know why I’m so stressed. She tries really hard to help me feel safe and relaxed, and she’s even had me checked out by the vet! They said there was nothing physically wrong with me, and that I’m what the hoomans call ‘high-strung’. I don’t mean to spend my days trembling, withdrawing, and sometimes even getting destructive. (Sorry, curtains!) I just can’t seem to help it. The thing is, I know I have a playful side in me somewhere… but I have no idea how to bring it out. I don’t know what to do. Please help, Aunty Zoo!

Ps. My brother also wants to know why he’s such a fat cat? He’s wondering if it’s because he is quite lazy and doesn’t ever feel like exercising? 

- Fearful in Fortitude Valley


Dear Fearful in Fortitude Valley,

Keep calm and read on, because I have not one but TWO suggestions to help deal with your scaredy-cat-itis. Both these natural remedies have been proven to help felines with anxious purrsonalities like yours. Not only that, but they can also help motivate your ‘big boned’ brother to get out of bed and start moving his body. Here’s everything you need to know: 


Get excited about catnip and silvervine:

Both these herbs have the power to bring on euphoric effects in cats and are commonly used as a safe treat for kitties in need of a good time. The more well-known catnip is part of the mint family, and contains an aromatic stimulant called nepectalone. Found inside the stems and leaves of the catnip plant, this organic compound is said to activate the reward and pleasure centre in cats’ brains, making it irresistible to about 50-75% of felines. (Because of their underdeveloped or weakened sense of smell, kittens and senior cats are not usually affected by catnip.)

Silvervine on the other paw, comes from the kiwi fruit family and has traditionally been used by hoomans in Asia as a health tonic. Just like catnip, silvervine is a non-toxic and non-addictive way to help bring on those feel-good feelings in cats, since it has two additional ‘natural attraction’ ingredients: Actinidine and dihydroactinidiolide. Silvervine is a great option for kitties that aren’t affected by catnip or are simply curious to try something new. (Makes sense, after all most hoomans like to switch up their red and whites every now and then!)  


Bliss out vibes… naturally.

So, what can kitties expect from sniffing and chewing on catnip or silvervine? A floor wiggling good time, that’s what! These natural herbs help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while stimulating more energy, excitement, and euphoria. When exposed to catnip or silvervine, cats often roll on the floor, rub their chins and faces on nearby surfaces, drool, lick, bounce around or become hyperactive (and sometimes, sleepy). 

All these reactions are purrfectly normal. In fact, they’re so common that in China and Japan hoomans even refer to this kind of kitty bliss out as a Matatabi Dance! The effects usually last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes for catnip, and up to 30 minutes for silvervine sessions. This makes catnip and silvervine a great way to inspire sedentary cats to get moving! (Did you hear that, ‘Big bones?’) 


Go crazy for feel-good toys

Do you like the sound of catnip and silvervine? So did the Kazoo Krew! That’s why they decided to put them into a huge new toy range for kitties of all shapes, sizes, and cattitudes to enjoy. Not only are they designed with special stimulating and interactive features designed to help cats enjoy a better quality of life, reduce behavioural problems, and bond with their hoomans… the toys with catnip and silvervine inside also help make playtime even more fun. Plus, there’s no mess to clean up afterwards, which can sometimes happen with other forms of these herbs. (I got you, fur pawrents)!


Always play it safe

Just like all treats, catnip and silvervine should be given in moderation. Neither is harmful, although there is the potential for mild side effects in the case of over-indulging – although usually your cat will lose interest before this happens. (Note: The only exception is pregnant cats. Because catnip is a uterine stimulant and could cause premature labour, it’s best to bring out the catnip toys when there’s no chance of a new litter arriving anytime soon. There have been no reported side effects for silver vine.)

Are you one big furry family? I have great news for you, too! If you share a house with cats and dogs, know that both catnip and silvervine are pawfectly harmless in case you hound ‘accidentally’ gets their snouter stuck in some. Oh, and in addition to the benefits already noted, catnip can help keep those pesky mosquitos and fleas away for both cats and dogs. 

Perhaps it’s time to change your moniker to ‘Fearless in Fortitude Valley’?

Till next time, 

Aunty Zoo x


Got another question on your meow-nd? Send us a pupdate or leave a comment below, and we’ll put it to Aunt Zoo to lend a helping paw. 

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