My cat responds to cat mint, but not excessively. That’s why I also wanted to try an alternative and that’s how I got to actinidia. Valerian may be used in stressful situations such as a visit to the vet or moving. Let's take a look at them.
Valeriana officinalis L – Valerian
Also known as garden valerian, garden heliotrope, setwall, all-heal and cut-finger. It is relatively well-known in the Czech Republic and you can normally buy it at the pharmacy. Since apart from cats, it is also used by people for its soothing and relaxing effects (among other things). The plant was previously used for the production of the valerian or “baldrian” drops.
The active substance that attracts cats is the enzyme actinidine. Whereas valerian calms people down and puts them to sleep, some cats are mad after it. It stimulates them and provides them with well-being and vitality. But again, not all of them. Some cats that love cat mint don’t show any interest in valerian and vice versa, some love both and some don’t respond to either of those herbs.
Effective parts are the roots and the rhizomes of valerian. Apart from the pharmacy, you can also buy valerian in pet supplies as a spray, dry in toys and it is contained even in spot-ons against stress. You can also grow valerian in the garden or go to pick it in ditches or moist willow and alder-tree bushes by streams and rivers. It can be picked throughout the whole summer up until the autumn, however, the greatest amount of effective substances is present in the root before it blooms.
Whereas cat mint smells like mint or Lemon balm, valerian smells more distinctively and less pleasantly.
Actinidia polygama - silver vine and Actinidia kolomikta – variegated-leaf hardy kiwi
These close relatives are not as wide-spread in our country, or their effect on cats, that is. However, you will find them in some e-shops with pet supplies under “Japanese catnip”. You can also see them under the names of silvervine or matabi.
Actinidia comes from China, so it’s no wonder that it is used also in Chinese medicine.
You can grow it in the garden as a vine and it usually produces fruit. The fruits are called mini kiwis and they are edible. But you have to properly protect the young seedlings from cats and expect to still have the little twigs and the root chewed.
Actinidia contains two ingredients that attract cats: actinidine, as well as valerian and dihydroactinidiolide which has a sweet tea scent. Cats are attracted by the smell of the twigs. A Japanese proverb “neko ni matatabi, joro ni koban” freely translated means “cat will be so happy with actinia as a prostitute will be with money”.
The wood of this vine usually excites even a greater euphoria in the cat than the cat mint is able to. And similarly, the effect will wear off after 5 – 30 minutes. But again, not all the cats respond to it. However, in my experience, it attracts more cats than cat mint.
Have you had the honour of trying one of these cat drugs? And was it successful with your fluffy friends?