Silver Vine: Better than Catnip? The Plant Cats Go Crazy For
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
Cornelia J. Ketz-Riley1, DVM, DACZM; Louise Q. van der Does2, PhD; Valerie Loew2
1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Center of Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA; 2Matatabby, Inc., CA


Silver vine (Actinidia polygama), also called matatabi, has been used in Asian cultures over centuries for medicinal purposes. Studies have shown it to have a strong stimulating effect on cats. Matatabi acts as a physical and mental stimulant via olfactory receptors. Over almost 3 years, silver vine has been researched in the United States in its stimulating behavioral effects on domestic cats and a variety of large exotic felids. The herbal essence was sprinkled in powder form onto commonly used toys or cage furniture. Shortly after investigating the area, the cats (domestic, feral, and exotic alike) demonstrated strong interest for the toy, by pouncing on the toy, playing with it, and rubbing their body against it. One African leopard (Panthera pardus) even exhibited marking behavior on one of his toys. The cats kept their interest on the toys for more than 30 minutes at times and usually returned for playful interaction thereafter. While tigers (Panthera tigris), in general, did not respond to the presence of the silver vine powder. In conclusion, due to its strong repetitive stimulating effect, silver vine could be used for behavioral enrichment in most captive exotic felids.


Speaker Information
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Cornelia J. Ketz-Riley, DVM, DACZM
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Center of Veterinary Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK, USA

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