Valerian for Cats: A Safe Alternative to Catnip

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
If your cat likes to get high (legally, of course) and catnip does nothing for him, there are alternatives. Try valerian for cats – it’s safe and natural!

Many kitties love getting their paws on some catnip. The herb can help them enter a state of euphoria, and it might help relieve nervousness and stress. But what if your pet doesn’t seem to like catnip or react to it at all? Well, there are other herbs that can help him feel blissed out, and valerian is one of them.

Even if your kitty is a fan of catnip, it might be worth adding some valerian root to the mix when you want to give him something that will make him feel happy, playful, and relaxed. So, let’s talk about valerian for cats and its effects on felines.

How Does Valerian Root Make Cats Feel?

Valerian can have a positive effect on your furry friend’s mood. On one hand, it can act as a stimulant that gives your kitty energy and makes him feel amazing. On the other hand, it can also help relieve stress and promote a state of relaxation. Here is a basic breakdown of how valerian works on kitties.

A Natural Herbal Stimulant

Valerian is a pungent herb that you can grow yourself, just like catnip. It is used primarily for helping people sleep better and relax when tension is high, but it can have the opposite effect on cats because it could actually end up stimulating your kitty into action. So if you have an overweight or lazy pet that needs a little bit of stimulation and motivation to get moving and stay fit, valerian might help.

A Way to Relax Your Cat, Too

Whether your cat is always tense or an upcoming trip to the vet is sure to send your kitty into a highly stressed state of mind, valerian might be able to ease his fears. After your kitty is stimulated to action by this herb, he may end up becoming really calm, and might even end up falling asleep, thanks to his relaxed and quiet mood. Just keep in mind that a good rule is to talk to your vet before giving your cat valerian, particularly if you are doing so to calm him down or if you plan on giving it to him on a regular basis.

Related: Why Do Cats Go Crazy For Catnip?

Different Cats Might Have Different Reactions to Valerian

In the same way that different cats can have varying reactions to catnip, two cats might have opposite reactions to valerian. For example, while one cat might get really energized and excited, and be totally ready to play and run after sniffing some valerian, another might not become as active and might feel calmer and more relaxed. Others might experience a combination of these reactions. And some kitties might even get a little aggressive, especially if they’re trying to keep a valerian toy all to themselves while your other cats are attempting to play with it.

Ultimately, you won’t know how your unique kitty will react to valerian until he is exposed to some. So you might want to give it a try and then proceed based on your pet’s reaction to it. You might discover that it has no effect on him or you might find that he likes it way more than catnip.

How Can You Let Your Cat Enjoy Valerian Root?

If you think that your cat might enjoy some valerian, there are several ways that you can go about exposing him to it, just like you would do with catnip. Below are some things you can try when you want to figure out what your feline friend prefers.

Side note: Just remember that it is best to stick with valerian-containing products that are made specifically for felines.

Related: Top 5 Gotta-Have-‘Em Cat Toys

Use Cat Toys That Contain Valerian

In the same way that you can purchase pet toys that are filled with catnip to encourage your kitty to play, you can find toys that have valerian. You might also come across toys that contain a mix of catnip and valerian, so this is also an option, especially if you already know your kitty likes catnip.

If you find it difficult to locate valerian cat toys from major pet supply retailers, you might be able to turn to independent sellers, such as those on sites like Etsy, who make valerian cat toys. Of course, if you are handy and the DIY type, another option is to make your own toys with valerian for cats that you purchase or grow yourself.

Sprinkle Valerian on a Scratching Post or Cat Condo

If you’ve ever sprinkled some catnip onto a scratching post, you know how quickly your cat can be attracted to it, and you might be surprised by how excited he is to start using a scratcher that he might not have been interested in before. Well, you can try this same strategy with valerian. Whether you want to introduce your kitty to a new scratching post or you want to redirect his attention to it so he doesn’t scratch your furniture, a bit of dried valerian root might do the trick.

Other areas where you might opt to sprinkle some dried valerian root include hideaways like cat condos. If your pet prefers retreating into those quiet little spaces, he might feel even happier if he discovers some valerian in there.

Switch Things Up!

Whether your cat loves or hates catnip, you can switch things up with valerian, which contains actinidine as the active ingredient. You don’t need to use a lot of it to get your kitty excited, and you can use this herb in the same ways that you would use catnip. For instance, you might sprinkle some on your pet’s scratching post or put some in his favorite toy, as discussed above. And because this herb is safe for your cat to ingest as well, you needn’t worry if your pet chews on the plant.

A Few Things to Consider

Valerian is known for having a pretty potent, unpleasant odor, so it is a good idea to store it in an airtight container. This will keep the odor contained, and will also keep the herb fresher for longer so your kitty will be able to continue enjoying it.

As you shop for valerian products for cats, you may come across supplements and sprays that feature it as an ingredient for promoting blissful feelings in your pet. If you are hoping to use valerian root as a natural remedy for your kitty’s unease, it’s best to talk to your vet first so you can get the information you need, and so you can understand how to administer this herb to your companion in a safe and effective way.

Again, while valerian is a great and safe alternative to catnip for your feline friend, if you ever have any questions regarding giving your kitty catnip or any other herb, including valerian, consult with your veterinarian, who can steer you in the right direction.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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