Are Valerian and catnip, bad for cats or can you give them safely?

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Valerian and catnip are both among the favorite plants of our cats. I will describe why this is the case in this article. Especially since these plants smell anything but good for us humans.

Valerian is a well-known medicinal plant and has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. In the main, Valerian has a calming, sleep-promoting effect on us humans.

Catnip is slightly different. It has no effect on human beings. However, catnip is often planted in the garden, as it has a natural active ingredient against insects and protects other plants in the surrounding area.

Why do valerian and catnip have such a strong effect on cats?

The active substance in Valerian and also catnip is the nepetalacton contained in the essential oil. This active substance is similar to the sexual lure that the cats release during the mating season.

However, it is the case that cats do not react to this active ingredient until they are sexually mature. Kittens therefore do not yet react to valerian or catnip. However, there are also cats in adulthood that do not react to valerian or catnip. Research has shown that this has genetic causes and about 10% of cats are affected.

How do cats react to valerian or catnip

Cats usually react very strongly to a valerian pillow or one with a filling of catnip. They get into a real state of intoxication and rub on the pillow. Here you have to be careful that they do not disassemble the pillow and eat the contents.

If you have several cats, it can go really high. With hangovers, the shreds can fly. If it is possible, it is better to offer the cats this toy individually.

Can Valerian and catnip become dangerous for cats?

When you have seen how much cats react to valerian or catnip, one inevitably wonders whether this could in any way have a negative effect on one’s darlings.

But you don’t have to be afraid for your kittens, they just feel really good and show that accordingly strong. The reaction subsides even after a few minutes. However, it is important to make sure that the cats do not disassemble their toys or pillows with the filling of valerian or catnip and eat the contents. They do not poison themselves, but diarrhea and vomiting can already occur if they have eaten a corresponding amount of the contents.

Can cats become dependent on Valerian or catnip?

You really don’t have to worry about that. The cats reacting to valerian and catnip is quite natural. Since the sex drive of the cats is also very pronounced, they react to the active substance nepetalactone in the plants so strongly, see above. However, this strong reaction subsides after a few minutes. The cats then react to Valerian or catnip again only after a certain time or break.

Our cats also occasionally get a valerian pillow.

If our cats lie bored on some days, we like to give them a valerian pillow. Then suddenly they become active very quickly and play and cuddle with the pillow.

Our cats get the Valerian Pillow for a good 5min and then we take it away from them again. The initial high then also decreases a bit and the pillow is really wet from rubbing and chewing through anyway. Our cats are completely relaxed afterwards and then chill at their favorite places.

Toys with valerian or catnip.

In the trade there are a lot of products with valerian or catnip. There are e.B. pillows, plush figures, treats or sprays.

valerian pillows
4x valerian pillows

We have already tried all sorts of products and found that only product with a filling of natural valerian or catnip, have the desired effect.

Sprays or toys with catninze smell, on the other hand, have not provoked any reaction in our cats. They just sniffed it for a moment and that’s it. Only the real natural products have strong reactions.

We like to buy treats with catnip and they are also very gladly taken by our cats. However, we cannot say whether this is due to the catnip or if they would find the treats so delicious. However, since there is no price difference to other varieties, we often take this variety.

Make cat toys with valerian or catnip yourself.

The dried catnip and valerian root can easily be bought loosely e.B. in the pharmacy of a natural food shop and of course also online.

A whole easy and quick way to make such a cat toy is to take an old but still intact sock and fill it with catnip and then simply to knot.

With Valerian root I would add other filling material e.B. a filler wadding for plush toys or similar. I find the valerian has a particularly strong effect and also smells more intense than the catnip.

If you have a sewing machine, you can also sew the cushions yourself and fill them accordingly. There are no limits to the imagination here. Which is also very funny when you make a cat angel out of a stuffed sock. Our cats are crazy about it.


If you offer your cats occasional lyty of a toy with a filling of valerian or catnip, that’s no problem at all. You can be sure that you will make your favorites a pleasure. Especially with pure apartment cats this is a welcome change and you can also bring older cats or cats into a ramification. If you like to tinker, you can make your own toys, otherwise there is a wide selection in the trade. Here we can only recommend the products with natural fillings.

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