Valerian for Сats

Valerian for cats is also known as “cat drugs” among animal lovers. But why do the velvet paws react euphorically to the smell of valerian toys?

Good to Know: Valerian and Its Effects

Six facts about valerian

  • All types of valerian contain essential oils that have a strong scent after drying.
  • “Real valerian root” from real valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is used in cat toys.
  • Many people find the smell of the dried plant unpleasant – it reminds them of old socks, or rather: of stinky feet.
  • Valerian tea has a sleep-inducing, calming effect on people.
  • Some velvet paws love valerian – others are not interested in the herb.
  • Even some big cats like lions or tigers get raptured with valerian.

This is why cats love valerian

Valerian has a calming effect on many people – the opposite effect often occurs in cats. As soon as valerian lovers have sniffed out the herb among the four-legged friends, there is no stopping them! They wallow in it, begin to salivate or purr at the object of their desire. Some then rip through the apartment or garden as if stung by a tarantula. Others act as if the scent had clouded their senses – as if intoxicated.

The cause of the behavior lies in the fragrant components of the valerian root. These remind the fur noses of certain hormones that female conspecifics send out during the mating season.

Why do some cats love the smell and why does it leave others completely cold?

The experts don’t yet have an explanation for everything to do with cats and valerian. For example, it is unclear why neutered male cats and female cats react to the odor. If the cat shows no interest, it is usually a very young or old animal.

Varied: Valerian Fun for Cats

There are numerous toys for cats filled with valerian. A small disadvantage compared to catnip: Valerian smells far more unpleasant for us humans. But if you opt for a “fragrant cat present”, valerian friends will be particularly happy with their velvet paws.

The selection is huge: there are valerian pillows in many colors and sizes, as well as various valerian toys. A spray that encourages play also inspires some velvet paws.

Make valerian pillows yourself

If you want, you can make valerian toys yourself. To do this, fill an old cotton sock with a mixture of dried rice and two teaspoons of dry valerian root. You can get this at the pharmacy, for example. As an alternative to rice, you can use filling material for pillows. Commercially available valerian pillows are often filled with spelled husk. Then tie the sock tightly. The fun can begin!

Whether bought or homemade: do not leave your cat unattended while playing. Otherwise, there is a risk that she will swallow large amounts of valerian or filler material.

Valerian tips for cats

After about ten minutes of fun, put the toy back out of reach. So the charm is retained. Because if you leave valerian pillows and the like in the apartment, the cat will soon lose interest in them. It is best to keep cuddly pillows and Co. with valerian in an airtight container. Let them dry well after the game if the cat has drooled on them.

It rarely happens, but: If your cat is reacting aggressively to valerian, don’t give her a toy or comforter with the dried herb in it. Since it has a stimulating effect on most fur noses, it is not suitable for targeted relaxation before traveling or other exciting events.

Is your cat not interested in valerian or catnip? Try Japanese catnip, also known as silver vine or matatabi.

Is Valerian Poisonous to Cats?

Some velvet paws try dried valerian if they can get hold of it. Valerian is not toxic to cats. Nevertheless, the velvet paws should not eat large amounts of it. This could lead to an upset stomach and vomiting. Lots of valerian can damage the cat’s liver. So it is true once more: The dose makes the poison! If your cat only ate a small piece of valerian while intoxicated, you need not worry about its health. However, ingested filling material in the toys can also pose a risk. So stay around when giving your cats a valerian toy. This is how you can intervene if the velvet paw destroys the seams. By the way: although valerian is often called the “cat drug”, it is not addictive.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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