Matatabi is far less well known than catnip, for example. But it is worth taking a closer look.
What is matatabi?
Matatabi is the Japanese name for silver vine and is a wild relative of the kiwi plant. Silver vine originally comes from Asia and grows there in the mountain forests of China, Japan and Korea.
In Asia, it has been one of the most popular cat toys for centuries and, unlike catnip and valerian, contains a mixture of different scents, all of which have an attractive and positive effect on our domestic cats.
All plant parts of the silver vine can be used. From the fruit, to the twigs, the leaves, to the roots – the entire plant is infused with the essential oils.
Good to know: In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant and all its components are also used to treat humans.
How does matatabi affect cats?
Matatabi, also called Japanese catnip by some, triggers comfort behaviour in cats (like catnip and valerian). The sticks, twigs, filled sachets, etc. are rubbed, rolled in, licked and nibbled. In general, the cat shows an increased playfulness.
Nibbling on the sticks or similar releases essential oils which are spread over the cat’s fur through its movements. This reduces stress, provides relaxation and promotes the well-being of the house cat.
There are also other very positive health effects that are attributed to the matatabi plant. For example, gnawing on the sticks is said to stimulate salivation and act as a natural teeth cleaner, loosening plaque and preventing dental disease.
Silver vine is also said to stimulate appetite, regulate blood pressure and even prevent diabetes.
Does Matatabi work for all cats?
Even cats that ignore catnip or valerian usually respond to Matatabi. It is therefore the most powerful cat herb there is!
Only with very young, not yet sexually mature and very old cats does it sometimes happen that Matatabi has no effect.
Tip: Matatabi sticks are a very durable toy. Offer it to your pets 1-2 times a week and if the cats lose interest in it after half an hour at the latest, take the sticks away from them, dry them and store them dry and preferably closed for the next cat-highlight-use.
Does Matatabi have any side effects?
Matatabi is not addictive and will not harm the cat even if they swallow small amounts of it while playing. Most of the time, cats just chew or lick the sticks anyway.
However, it is not suitable as a tranquilliser or food additive, as in large quantities, like all medicinal plants, it can cause undesirable side effects.
In very rare cases, and only if large quantities are swallowed, consumption can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.
Most cats love the effect of Matatabi. The calming and stimulating effect is a highlight for many cats. If you want to do something good for your cat, offer him some matatabi sticks or similar every now and then.