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What can I give my cat that doesn’t like catnip?

If you’re a cat owner, you know that each feline has their own unique personality and preferences. While some cats go wild for catnip, others couldn’t care less. It can be disheartening to offer your kitty a beloved toy filled with the herb only to have them turn their nose up at it. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to show your cat love and keep them entertained.

In this article, we’ll explore the different reasons why some cats don’t respond to catnip and what you can do instead. We’ll delve into new toys, games, and activities that will keep your furry friend engaged and happy. Whether your cat is a picky eater or simply uninterested in traditional playthings, we’ve got you covered.

So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about all the exciting options available for cats who don’t like catnip. From interactive puzzles to homemade treats, there’s something for every feline in this guide. Let’s dive in and discover how you can give your cat the best life possible.

What is Catnip?

Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a plant that belongs to the mint family and grows in many parts of the world. When cats inhale or chew catnip leaves, it releases a chemical called nepetalactone, which can produce a euphoric response in cats. It’s like a natural high for our furry friends.

However, not all cats are affected by catnip. In fact, only about half of cats have a positive reaction to it. This could be due to genetic factors or because the cat has not been exposed to catnip before. So, while some cats are getting high on catnip, others might just look at you like “what’s the big deal?”.

If your cat doesn’t seem interested in catnip, don’t worry. Silver vine and valerian root are two examples of plants that have similar effects on cats as catnip. But remember, not all cats may respond positively to these plants either.

While these plants may have a positive effect on cats, it’s important to remember that they should still be given in moderation and under supervision. Consuming too much of any plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats, and it should not be given to kittens under six months of age.

If your cat isn’t interested in any of these plants, there are other options available to provide them with stimulation and entertainment. Interactive toys like feather wands and laser pointers can provide hours of entertainment for your cat. Puzzle feeders can also keep your cat engaged while providing them with a tasty treat.

Why Some Cats Don’t Like Catnip?

The truth is, not all cats are created equal when it comes to catnip. Around 30% of cats lack the specific gene that makes them sensitive to its effects. So if your fur baby doesn’t respond to catnip, it could simply be a genetic trait.

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But age is also a factor. Kittens under 3 months old won’t react to catnip as their brains aren’t fully developed yet. Conversely, senior cats may lose their sensitivity to catnip with age.

Did you know there are different types of catnip too? Some cats may prefer one type over another, and others may even prefer similar plants like valerian root or honeysuckle. It’s worth experimenting with different plants and toys to see what your kitty likes best.

However, a cat’s emotional state can also impact their response to catnip. If they’re feeling stressed or anxious, they may not react as strongly. In that case, it’s important to address the underlying issue rather than relying on a plant to calm them down.

Silver Vine as an Alternative to Catnip

There’s an alternative that might just do the trick – silver vine.

Silver vine, also known as matatabi, is a plant that grows in the mountainous regions of Japan and China. Unlike catnip, it’s been found to be more potent and effective for cats who don’t respond to catnip. This is due to its active ingredient, actinidine, which triggers a response in cats’ brains similar to that of nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip.

So why should you consider silver vine as an alternative? For starters, it can help stimulate play and exercise in cats, improve their mood, and relieve anxiety and stress. This versatile plant can be given to cats in various forms such as dried leaves, sticks, or powder. Plus, it’s sure to provide your furry friend with hours of entertainment and amusement.

It’s important to note that not all cats will respond to silver vine – just like not all cats respond to catnip. However, it’s worth giving it a try if your feline friend doesn’t seem interested in catnip or other toys. You may be surprised at how much they enjoy it.

Stimulating Toys for Cats Who Don’t Enjoy Catnip

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Not every feline is fond of catnip, and that’s perfectly normal. While some cats may not react to it at all, others may even dislike it. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy playtime and have fun with toys. In fact, there are plenty of stimulating toys that can engage your cat’s interest and provide hours of entertainment.

Interactive toys are an amazing option for cats who don’t fancy catnip. Puzzle feeders or treat dispensers can challenge your cat to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to access the reward inside. What’s more, some puzzle feeders come in different difficulty levels, so you can adjust the challenge based on your cat’s skill level and keep them engaged.

Toys that mimic natural prey are also a great source of amusement for your cat. Feather wands or laser pointers can satisfy their hunting instincts and offer an opportunity to chase and pounce on their “prey.” Simply ensure that you supervise your cat during playtime with these types of toys to prevent any accidents or injuries.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to switch up your cat’s toy selection. Variety is the spice of life, and it can prevent boredom and keep your cat engaged in playtime. You could even rotate toys in and out of their collection to keep things fresh and exciting.

Herbs and Other Alternatives to Catnip

Some cats may not respond to catnip, leaving you searching for other ways to provide them with stimulation and comfort. Luckily, there are many other herbs and alternatives that can help meet your furry friend’s needs.

One herb that has gained popularity in recent years is silver vine. This plant is known for its euphoric effects on cats and has been shown to be effective even in cats who are not affected by catnip. If your kitty is looking for a new source of excitement, silver vine may be just the thing to pique their interest.

Valerian root is another herb that can be used as an alternative to catnip. While it may not produce the same euphoria as catnip or silver vine, valerian root has a calming effect on cats and can help reduce anxiety and stress levels. If your furry friend is feeling anxious or stressed out, valerian root might be just what they need to relax and unwind.

If you’re looking for a simple and affordable option, consider dried honeysuckle wood. This wood contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is similar to the compound found in catnip. Even if your cat doesn’t typically respond to catnip, they may still be attracted to the scent of honeysuckle wood.

Other herbs that can be used as alternatives to catnip include chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm. These herbs have calming effects on cats and can help reduce anxiety and stress levels. However, it’s important to remember that while these herbs are safe for cats to consume, moderation is key.

In addition to herbs, there are also other alternatives to catnip that you can try. Some cats enjoy playing with toys that contain silver vine or valerian root instead of catnip. Others may prefer different types of toys altogether, such as those that contain feathers or crinkle paper.

Experimenting with Different Textures and Scents

But fear not. If your feline isn’t a fan of catnip, there are plenty of other options available that can provide them with the stimulation and comfort they crave. One fantastic way to find alternatives for catnip is by experimenting with different textures and scents.

Cats are naturally curious creatures and love to explore new things, especially when it comes to textures and scents. So why not try out different types of grasses? Not only do cats love to nibble on grass, but there are several varieties available that are safe for them to eat. Whether you choose to grow wheatgrass, oat grass, or barley grass at home or purchase them from a pet store, these grasses provide a unique texture for your cat to explore and also offer some nutritional benefits.

Another texture that cats tend to enjoy is soft toys. From plush toys to small balls made of soft materials, these toys provide both mental and physical stimulation for your furry friend. Some cats like to carry them in their mouths or bat them around, giving them hours of entertainment. Just make sure to keep an eye on your cat while they play with these toys to prevent any choking hazards.

When it comes to scents, there are several options available too. Some cats enjoy the smell of catnip alternatives such as valerian root or silver vine. You can find them in either dried or fresh form and use them in toys or sprinkle them on their food.

Other cats may prefer the scent of essential oils like lavender or chamomile. However, it’s essential to note that not all essential oils are safe for cats, so always consult with a veterinarian before using any essential oils around your cat.


To sum it up, if your cat doesn’t react to catnip, don’t fret. There are numerous ways to keep them entertained and engaged. From interactive toys and puzzle feeders to alternative plants like silver vine and valerian root, there’s a plethora of options available for every feline.

It’s important to note that not all cats will respond the same way to these alternatives. Therefore, it’s worthwhile experimenting with different textures, scents, and toys to see what tickles your kitty’s fancy. Additionally, always supervise your cat during playtime with any new toy or plant to ensure their safety.

Lastly, if you notice signs of stress or anxiety in your cat, don’t solely rely on plants or toys as a solution. Addressing the underlying issue is crucial for their overall well-being.

In conclusion, by keeping an open mind and exploring various options, you can provide your furry friend with a happy and enriched life even without catnip.