Why Cats Love Valerian and Catnip: a Pet Secret Revealed

Catnip is a remedy that is very common in pet toys.

Many pet stores carry a large selection of catnip toys for cats. As it turns out, this product can make your pet become playful and cheerful, or conversely, it can calm him down to the point of complete relaxation.

What is catnip and what does it do for a cat?

The plant Nepeta cataria – better known as catnip – belongs to the family of sponges (among them are such herbs as rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, etc.).

The secret is that the leaves, stems and flowers of catnip secrete an aromatic oil containing nepetalactone, to which the cat reacts.

According to botanists, catnip, in addition to attracting cats, is an effective mosquito repellent.

How catnip affects cats

Experts say that it is the nepetalactone that acts as a pheromone to cats through receptors in the nose. Most cats react vividly to catnip. Some become aggressive, nervous, and playful, others quiet and relaxed.

The effects of catnip on an animal can last from 10 to 30 minutes. Some people describe the cat’s reaction to catnip as “intoxication.” Despite the popularity of catnip toys, not all cats react to catnip: it all depends on the animal’s genetics.

How to give catnip

Catnip can be purchased in several different forms: tubes, spray, and oil. It can also be grown in your yard. By diluting dried catnip in water, you can freshen your furry’s toys. You can also sprinkle dried catnip on your cat’s couch and scratching post, which will attract your cat’s attention to new toys instead of scratching the furniture.

Catnip can make some animals do strange things. In most cases, however, it is a safe addition to any cat’s toy basket. Cats are not addicted to catnip, but they may become addicted to it, which may cause their reactions to diminish. If catnip has a calming effect on your four-legged friend, you can use it as a mild sedative when traveling or meeting a new family member.

Can cats take valerian?

If catnip makes your cat more active, however, then you should consider valerian. But you have to be extremely careful with it! After all, in many cases valerian becomes a real “drug” for cats: the pet can literally go crazy! And all because the smell of valerian can remind cats of pheromones that are produced by the opposite sex.

But if you consult a veterinarian and give the right dose, then your cat may just fall asleep or become calmer for a while. The main thing is not to experiment, and it is better to see a specialist.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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