What are the Effects of "Matatabi" on Cats? What Happens if You Give Too Much?

What are the Effects of "Matatabi" on Cats? What Happens if You Give Too Much?

Just like the phrase "neko ni matatabi" suggests, cats love matatabi (silver vine).

Seeing a cat blissfully intoxicated, rolling around and rubbing its cheeks and chin on matatabi as if drunk, is both cute and amusing.

But why does matatabi have this effect on cats?

Moreover, is it safe to give it to them in excess?

This article explains the effects of matatabi and points to consider when giving it to cats.


Table of Contents

1. What is Matatabi?
∟ 1-1. "Matatabi" is the Name of a Tree
∟ 1-2. Effects on Cats
∟ 1-3. Are There Cats That Don't Respond to Matatabi?
∟ 1-4. What Happens if You Give Too Much?
2. Types of Matatabi for Cats
∟ 2-1. Powder Type
∟ 2-2. Liquid Type
∟ 2-3. Dried Fruit
∟ 2-4. Dried Branches
3. How to Give Matatabi to Cats
∟ 3-1. When to Give
∟ 3-2. Best Times to Give
∟ 3-3. How Much to Give
∟ 3-4. How to Give
4. Points to Note When Giving Matatabi


1. What is Matatabi?

What exactly is "matatabi"?

And why do cats respond to matatabi?

First, let's introduce the basic knowledge of matatabi.


1-1. "Matatabi" is the Name of a Tree

Matatabi (Actinidia polygama) is a tree in the Actinidiaceae family and Actinidia genus.

Matatabi bears white flowers around June-July and later produces acorn-shaped fruits.

However, when a fly called "Matatabi Mitamabae" lays eggs on the buds before the flowering stage, the shape of the fruit becomes uneven.

This is called "Insect Gall," and the deformed fruit is used as a herbal medicine effective for neuralgia and rheumatism.

The "matatabi" that cats love is the gall of this matatabi.


1-2. Effects on Cats

When cats sniff or lick the gall of matatabi, it induces a sense of euphoria, leading to behaviors such as:

  • Running around or rolling
  • Drooling
  • Rubbing their cheeks and chin on matatabi
  • Meowing loudly

This is said to be because the components like Matatabilactone and Actinidine in matatabi stimulate the "Jacobson's organ" located on the upper jaw of the cat.

Jacobson's organ is also known as the second olfactory organ, capable of detecting pheromones.

When the components of matatabi pass through Jacobson's organ, the central nervous system becomes paralyzed.

It results in a state similar to being drunk on alcohol in humans, and the cat exhibits the behaviors mentioned earlier.


1-3. Are There Cats That Don't Respond to Matatabi?

After reading this far, some cat owners might worry, "My cat doesn't respond to matatabi at all. Is something wrong?"

However, due to individual differences, not all cats respond to matatabi, and that's perfectly normal.

Especially kittens, senior cats, neutered or spayed cats, and pregnant cats often show little to no response to matatabi.


1-4. What Happens if You Give Too Much?

Generally, giving too much matatabi to cats doesn't pose health risks.

However, some cats may develop a tolerance to matatabi over time, requiring more quantity for the same effect.

It's essential to observe the cat's condition and adjust the amount of matatabi accordingly.

If a large amount is given at once, it might cause digestive upset or diarrhea, so it's advisable to start with a small amount and monitor the cat's reaction.


2. Types of Matatabi for Cats

Matatabi for cats comes in various forms. Here are some common types:


2-1. Powder Type

Matatabi powder is made by grinding dried matatabi branches and galls into a fine powder. It can be sprinkled on toys or scratching posts to attract cats.

This form allows for easy application and is a convenient way to give cats the benefits of matatabi.


2-2. Liquid Type

Liquid matatabi is an extract of the active components in matatabi. It can be applied to various cat items or directly to scratching posts to entice cats.

Some cat owners prefer the liquid form for its versatility and the ability to control the amount used more precisely.


2-3. Dried Fruit

Dried matatabi fruit is another option. Cats can chew on the dried fruit directly, providing them with the pleasure of gnawing and licking.

It's essential to ensure that the dried fruit is free from additives or preservatives that could be harmful to cats.


2-4. Dried Branches

Some cat toys come in the form of dried matatabi branches. Cats can play with these toys, promoting both physical and mental stimulation.

These toys are often more durable and can withstand a cat's playful behavior.


3. How to Give Matatabi to Cats

When giving matatabi to cats, consider the following factors:


3-1. When to Give

Matatabi can be given to cats at any time, but it's particularly effective when the cat is active and playful.

Introducing matatabi during playtime enhances the overall experience for the cat.

3-2. Amount to Give

When giving matatabi to cats, moderation is key. Start with a small amount and observe your cat's reaction. If your cat responds positively, you can gradually increase the amount.

It's important not to overuse matatabi, as cats may lose interest if exposed to it too frequently.


3-3. Supervision

While matatabi is generally safe for cats, it's advisable to supervise your cat, especially when introducing a new form of matatabi. This ensures that your cat doesn't ingest it in excessive amounts.

Keep an eye on your cat's behavior and remove any small or potentially hazardous pieces of matatabi to prevent choking or ingestion.


3-4. Rotation

To keep the novelty alive, consider rotating the types of matatabi you offer to your cat. This prevents habituation and maintains your cat's interest over time.

Alternate between powder, liquid, dried fruit, and toy forms to provide a diverse and enriching experience for your cat.


4. Conclusion

Matatabi is a wonderful natural stimulant for cats, providing both physical and mental enrichment. Understanding the different types and how to introduce them to your cat allows you to enhance their overall well-being.

Experiment with various forms of matatabi and observe your cat's preferences to create an engaging and enjoyable experience for your feline friend.

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