Not all cats enjoy catnip, which is why catnip alternatives can be a great solution. Most cat lovers are familiar with the euphoric effect that catnip can have on our feline friends. However, not all cats go cuckoo for catnip, with roughly 30% of cats showing no reaction to this herb. If that’s the case for your cat, it’s worth trying catnip alternatives. 

Some plants contain chemical compounds that elicit a similar response to catnip. Others may include pheromones designed to help your cat feel calm. Learn more about the top catnip alternatives and how to use them safely for maximum effect.   

Top Catnip Alternatives: Our Picks

If your cat doesn’t react to catnip, finding an alternative is a great way to offer them some environmental enrichment. We’ve outlined the most popular ones below: 

  • Silvervine: Also known as Silvervine, or matatabi, this fast-growing vine is becoming a popular alternative to catnip for cats as it can cause a similar (and sometimes even more powerful!) response. Silvervine is often available in matatabi sticks, gall fruits, and silvervine powder or in cat toys.   
  • Tatarian Honeysuckle: An invasive plant species, this is the only type of honeysuckle that elicits a reaction in cats. The active compounds are within the wood, so this option is usually available as fine chips or shavings to add to toys.  
  • Valerian Root: Well-known for its calming effect, this strong-smelling herb contains a wide range of chemical compounds that mimic natural cat hormones. Valerian root is found as a powder or within toys.  
  • Artificial pheromones: If your cat doesn’t react to plant-based chemical compounds, using an artificial pheromone can help encourage it to feel calm. Pheromones are usually available in diffusers or sprays. 

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Our Picks

girl plays with catnip alternatives with cat

Catnip Alternatives To Try 

Ready to find out more about the best catnip alternatives for cats? We’ve rounded up some more details about each option — from how they work and the percentage of cats that may show effect to the potential benefits and what forms you can buy each option in. We’ve also included some recommended products. 


In the battle of silvervine vs catnip — silvervine might be less well-known, but comes out as the winner! While around 70% of cats are affected by catnip, silvervine affects up to 80%. “Silvervine can have a more powerful effect,” said DeVoss.  This is because, in addition to the plant compound nepetalactone (found in catnip), silvervine contains other active compounds that may elicit a response. 

Silvervine for cats, found as matatabi sticks, is made from dried vine sticks or silvervine gall fruit, which is either whole or ground into a powder. The twigs are a great option to encourage dental health, while the powder can reduce stress and promote play behaviors. The powder is typically more potent. Silvervine also seems to have a stronger effect on older cats.  

Best Silvervine Cat Toy

Our pick: Spot Silver Vine Refillable Cat Toy 

Silvervine catnip alternatives

Most cats love playing with toys stuffed with active plant ingredients, and this cute little lion toy comes complete with a blend of silver vine and catnip. The Velcro opening means you can refill this when needed, but check for any signs of chewing in case your cat manages to pull it open. 


  • Cute design 
  • Resealable compartment 
  • Large size 
  • Easy to refill for repeat play sessions

Things to Consider 

  • A bit pricey 
  • Comes with fresh silvervine and catnip blend

Best Silverine Sticks for Cats

Our pick: Leaps & Bounds Silvervine Sticks Cat Toy

Silvervine sticks in a package

Chewing on silvervine sticks is a great way to help your cat keep their teeth free from plaque and tartar, and the active ingredients provide olfactory enrichment. Some cats love chasing these sticks around the floor before settling down for a good chew. Before use, make sure you peel the stick lining away.


  • Good value for money 
  • Long-lasting 
  • 100% Natural 

Things to Consider 

  • Less potent than silvervine powder

Best Silvervine Gall Fruits

Our pick: Catify Silvervine Gall Fruits

Catnip alternatives of dried fruit galls

Gall fruits are a potent version of silvervine, which occur when lumps or galls form around the fruit of the silver vine. You can give dried fruit galls whole to your cat, who may bat them around like a toy, or roll and rub around on them. Cats shouldn’t be unattended with these, as they might try to eat them (not recommended). 


  • All-natural product 
  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety
  • Fun for cats to play with 

Things to Consider 

  • Use under supervision 

Tatarian Honeysuckle

With the Latin name Lonicera tatarica, this wood contains the plant compound actinidine, which acts in a similarly to catnip. If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, they might enjoy this as a catnip substitute, and it’s thought to affect around 50% of cats. 

Tatarian honeysuckle for cats is available as small wood chips and sticks. Never give the wood chips directly to your cat, as they may inhale them, eat them, or get a splinter. They’re best used within a toy so your cat can smell, but not access them. The sticks can act as a great toy, but they’re not recommended for cats that might gnaw on them. Wetting the honeysuckle appears to make it even more attractive to cats.    

Best Honeysuckle Cat Toy

Our Pick: MPP Zanies Fruity Sweeties Plush Toys    

Fruity Sweeties cat toys

These brightly colored fruit slices are sure to attract your cat’s attention, and once they’ve pounced your cat will be even more pleased to find they’re stuffed with honeysuckle. They’re small enough for your cat to bat about the house and carry it around. Small toys like this are also a great way to encourage physical exercise. 


  • Durable design 
  • A great alternative to catnip
  • Good value for money 

Things to Consider 

  • The small size means they may get lost easily 

Best Honeysuckle Wood Chips for Cats

Our pick: SpaceKittyExpress Tatarian Honeysuckle Fine Chips 

Space Kitty Express tatarian honeysuckle

If you found yourself with some refillable catnip toys that your cat isn’t interested in, try stuffing them with this blend instead! Tatarian honeysuckle wood chips are great for any refillable toy. It’s best not to offer them to your cat loose, as they can have sharp edges that may hurt your cat.  


  • Choose from ¼ ounce or a 1-ounce bag 
  • Made from 100% wild Tatarian honeysuckle 
  • One bag lasts a long time 

Things to Consider 

  • For best effects, you’ll need to add water

Valerian Root 

Valerian for cats is probably one of the best-known herbal supplements and is also popular for anxiety relief in humans. It contains the active ingredients valeric acid and actinidine. Valeric acid is thought to mimic cat pheromones, while actinidine is very similar to the compounds found in catnip. 

“Studies show that only about 50% of cats respond to valerian root,” said DeVoss. Valerian root for cats also has a very pungent smell — it’s sometimes likened to a smelly cheese left on wet earth — which, , some pet parents aren’t that keen on! But if your cat reacts to it, you might decide that’s a price worth paying. 

Best Valerian Root Powder

Our pick: Meowy Janes Finely Ground Valerian Root Powder

Valerian root powder container

This 100% all-natural valerian root powder is incredibly concentrated, so a pinch goes a long way. Sprinkle this powder on your cat’s new toys, or anything you’re trying to encourage your cat to use or play with — and hopefully, they’ll come running! This powder is safe for your cat to both smell and ingest, in small quantities.  


  • Highly potent
  • Great value for money 
  • Can help relieve anxiety

Things to Consider 

  • Tin can be difficult to open 

Best Valerian Kicker Toy

Our pick: From the Field Bae The Hemp Body Pillow Toy 

Rae the Hemp body pillow cats

If you’re looking for a toy that combines the benefits of catnip, valerian root, and silvervine in one — this is it! Many cats love pouncing on kicker toys, and the tough fabric of this option can withstand plenty of playtimes. This kicker toy measures one foot long and is packed full of plant material with no fillers to dilute the effects. 


  • Contains organically grown plants 
  • Made from durable hemp fabric 
  • A great choice for large-breed cats 

Things to Consider 

  • Not possible to choose the color 
  • Catnip mix

Artificial Pheromones

Artificial pheromones are a popular option for helping cats relieve stress. They are available in two main blends: one that imitates the facial hormones cats use to mark their territory and another that mimics the calming hormones released by mother cats to make their kittens feel safe. You can buy them as plug-in diffusers or sprays.  

Artificial pheromones have a range of uses, from reducing tension in a multi-cat household to helping with anxiety-related issues like spraying or excessive vocalization. Make sure you choose the blend designed to help with the specific problem you’re trying to solve. Unlike with catnip, you won’t see a strong reaction from your cat, but artificial pheromones are usually pretty effective if you choose a clinically proven brand. 

Best Pheromone Diffuser for Cats

Our pick: Comfort Zone Cat Calming Diffuser Kit  

Comfort Zone calming kit for cats

This pheromone diffuser is proven to help reduce behaviors, including urine marking and destructive scratching. It’s designed for single-cat households. Remember to place this in your home in the area you’re looking to target, as diffusers only cover a specific range—in this case, one room. 


  • Veterinarian recommended 
  • One refill lasts for 30 days
  • Satisfaction Guarantee 
  • Drug-free

Things to Consider 

  • Expensive to use long-term

Best Pheromone Spray for Cats

Our pick: Feliway Classic Calming Spray

Feliway Classic spray for cats

This spray is ideal for home and travel. Feliway is clinically proven, with one study showing it was effective in 87% of cats. Use it on your cat’s bedding at home to reduce stress-related behaviors, or spray it in your cat’s travel crate to help them stay calm. Unlike pheromone diffusers, which only have a limited range, pheromone sprays are great anywhere you need them! But for maximum effectiveness, remember to reapply it regularly.  


  • Odor-free 
  • Proven results 
  • Use them anywhere 

Things to Consider 

  • Expensive 

Best Pheromone Collar

Our pick: Relaxivet Cat Calming Collar 

Relaxiv calming collar for cats

If you want to help your cat make the most of those calming pheromones wherever they go, then a calming collar is a great option. This collar releases the ‘harmony marker’ pheromone released by mother cats, so works best in multi-cat households when cats may not be getting along. The manufacturer also states it may help cats feel calmer around dogs, too. 


  • Suitable for long-term use 
  • Lasts 30 days 
  • Veterinarian recommended 

Things to Consider 

  • May take seven days to show the full effects  
Cat looks at toy

Why Consider Catnip Alternatives?

Do all cats like catnip? The short answer is no. However, providing indoor enrichment helps prevent unwanted behaviors like aggression or inappropriate elimination in cats.

About a third of cats don’t react to catnip,” says Molly DeVoss, Certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist and founder of Cat Behavior Solutions. DeVoss explained that when most cats eat catnip, it helps them feel calm and can reduce anxiety. It has the opposite effect when they smell it and acts more like a stimulant. Catnip can be a great way to enrich your cat’s environment.

“Pet parents like to give their cats catnip because it creates excitement and happiness for their cat,” said DeVoss. “But it’s also fun for humans to watch their cat roll, flip, flop, and zone out — and it makes great social media content!” DeVoss also mentions that if your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, they’ll miss out on the effects of this herb, but you’ll also miss out on the chance to watch your cat having fun.  

The lack of response to catnip could be genetic or could be down to your cat’s personality. Catnip also doesn’t affect kittens until they’re at least 3 to 6 months old, with some kittens taking up to a year to show a response. As cats age, the effect of catnip seems to fade as well. 

Though it isn’t addictive, catnip overindulgence may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Over time, repeated exposure can decrease the herb’s effect, with experts recommending limiting catnip use to once a week at the most. That means it’s a good idea to have some other options to hand.  

Catnip Alternative FAQs

Why doesn’t my cat like catnip?

“Some cats don’t have the gene that causes them to respond to Nepetalactone, which is the chemical that the catnip plant produces that attracts cats,” said DeVoss. Choosing an alternative to catnip is a good idea if that’s your cat.

Is silvervine safe for cats?

Silvervine is considered very safe for cats, and many pet parents think it’s better than catnip, especially as it affects more cats. “Plant-derived cat attractants are perfectly safe herbal solutions to enrichment for your cat,” said DeVoss. As with any toy or treat, silvervine (and other cat attractants) are best used under supervision so you can watch for adverse reactions.

Is Tatarian honeysuckle safe for cats?

As with silvervine, Tatarian honeysuckle is a safe alternative to catnip. 

Is Valerian root safe for cats?

Valerian root is also safe for cats, but some pet parents might find the smell offensive! 

How can pet parents help cats safely enjoy catnip alternatives?

Look for an organic product to reduce the potential for pesticide exposure. It takes trial and error with different options and blends. The only way to discover if your cat will embrace catnip alternatives is to try them! 

“Cats will build up a tolerance to herbal cat attractants, so it’s important to buy from a quality source, keep them fresh, and only give in doses, “said DeVoss. “Don’t leave a volume of them out 24/7.”