Everyone knows that cats go crazy over catnip. Well, most cats anyway. A third of the feline population does not. Midnight, for example, has never been affected by it. In fact, he merely sniffs it and then casually walks away.
Then I recently noticed that Auntie Judy's Christmas/Yule cat toys she gave to our kitties this year were getting a very good reaction from my Midnight. I knew that there was no catnip in these toys because I could not even get a hint of it. When I asked Judy about this, she said, "It isn't catnip. It's honeysuckle."
Honeysuckle? Whoa, really? Turns out that many pet stores are beginning to sell cat toys with honeysuckle in them as an alternative to catnip ~ mainly for cats such as my cat Midnight. And from what I have seen, it works pretty well!
So exactly how does honeysuckle work? Well, apparently there are over 180 species of honeysuckle shrubs and vines. But, only one species, Lonicera tartarica or Tartarian Honeysuckle, seems to have an effect on cats. Cats who are stimulated by honeysuckle tend to act the same exhibiting uninhibited playfulness and antics as those who are under the influence of catnip. This is because Tartarian Honeysuckle contains a chemical that is similar to the active ingredient in catnip. Most likely, it is this substance that puts cats into a frenzy state.
How safe is honeysuckle for cats? There have been no reports of serious side effects from honeysuckle toys and spray. However, some species of honeysuckle, and possibly the berries from honeysuckle plants, may be toxic to cats. To be safe on the safe side, you should only buy honeysuckle products from trusted vendors. Also, just as with catnip, some cats may be more aggressive than usual when under honeysuckle’s spell, so keep that in mind when giving your kitty anything with honeysuckle in it.