Actinindia Polygama, as it’s known scientifically, is a deciduous climbing plant that grows best in mountainous areas of China and Japan at elevations between 900 and 1500m. The plant bears small yellow and white flowers in season and then small, kiwi-like fruits with orange flesh. The fruit can be eaten and the leaves used to make tea.
Most notably, however, Matatabi is also the most popular cat treat in Asia. It’s frequently cited in Japanese manga comic books, but its use as a cat pleaser goes back much further than that. Aside from tradition, there is scientific research to back up the use of Matatabi as a cat stimulant. Unlike traditional catnip, which contains only one ingredient that acts as a cat attractant – Nepetalactone – Matatabi contains two. The first is Actinidine, a pyridine derivative which invokes a similar response to nepetalactone. The second is dihydroactinidiolide, which has a light, sweet smell and is also said to act as a cat stimulant.