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Catnip vs Honeysuckle

You’re probably familiar with catnip (Nepeta cateria) and the fun reaction it can cause in cats. But what if your kitty doesn’t seem to like catnip? There’s an alternative: honeysuckle!

The ability to respond to nepetalactone (the active ingredient in catnip) is hereditary and is a dominant trait in felines. Approximately 70% of cats possess the gene necessary for enjoying catnip, leaving about 30% of the population to delight in a honeysuckle habit. (Never give honeysuckle berries to cats as they are poisonous – the safe part used by toy makers is the woody part of the plant.) Honeysuckle, or Lonicera tartarica, contains a natural chemical that is remarkably similar to the reactive chemical found in catnip. These chemicals produce a scent that the cat’s pheromone receptors respond to, and this only occurs in sexually mature cats (approximately 6 months of age). Spaying or neutering has no effect on whether or not your cat will react to these chemicals.

Reactions include rolling around, meowing, purring or growling, drooling, kneading, chasing invisible prey, and a dreamy or spaced-out mood. This sleepy side effect can last for up to two hours. Many people report that their cats play hard for a short while and then crash out after indulging in catnip or honeysuckle play. This reaction can even be seen in big cats and some zoos use catnip for environmental stimulation!

You can find catnip and honeysuckle in many forms: loose, in toys, even in sprays. There’s also a combination catnip / honeysuckle spray available here at Cats Exclusive that all cats can enjoy! If your kitty has never had catnip, try some soon. And if your kitty has never reacted to catnip and you wondered what all the fuss was about, try some honeysuckle instead!

Published on October 4, 2010.

AAHA Cat Friendly Enviro Star Certified Care Credit