Mmmm, does that smell good! Many cats almost feel magically drawn to catnip and valerian. These smells beguile and stimulate cats and encourage them to play.


Valerian, lat. Valeriana, has a calming, soporific effect on people. Cats also like this plant, although it has the exact opposite effect on them. While there are approximately 150 different species of valerian, it is the essential oils (sesquiterpene) from the “true valerian” plant that drive our feline friends so mad. Specialty retail stores offer toys and accessories that can be filled with these essences or with chopped valerian root – a gift that’s sure to delight any cat.

Just try giving your kitty a little pillow full of valerian, and you will see how she really is drawn to it as if by magic. Your cat will give the toy a good sniff and then experience a euphoric response similar to the effect of an aphrodisiac. Valerian contains alkaloids that titillate cats and make them go crazy.

The same holds true for catnip, lat. Nepeta Cataria. This plant also contains essential oils plus actinidine and nepetalactone, which will transport your armchair tiger into a state of rapturous delight. Most cats love catnip-filled toys because the bewitching scent encourages them to frolic, making them more lively and active. Kitties also like to play with valerian pillows.

A toy with a positive influence

Do not make catnip or valerian constantly available to your cat, or else it will lose its magical effect and may turn ecstasy into stress. Furthermore, cat owners should only use products available in pet specialty stores. Tinctures available from the chemist usually contain alcohol as well.

Please note: Only healthy cats may play with catnip. If you aren’t sure, consult with your vet before giving any to your cat. As a general rule, do not make these toys constantly available to your cat. Instead, limit the time your cat plays with them to no more than fifteen minutes once a week, under supervision. In addition, make sure that pillows and other toys filled with valerian or catnip do not come in contact with other toys, as the scent can rub off on them. Store toys in an air-tight container so that they stay fresh for longer.

In rare cases, catnip can lead to slight aggression or have no effect whatsoever. Both of these reactions depend on genetics. In these cases, as with animals who are not in the best of health, it is better to avoid catnip altogether.

For healthy animals, however, occasionally playing with a catnip or valerian filled toy is harmless and promises lots of fun. These toys will stimulate your pet and will put a spring in the step of even the laziest kitties. Stores offer a huge selection of catnip and valerian toys and accessories just for this purpose. You are guaranteed to find something for every cat. What’s more, you can find refill packages with liquid or dried catnip so that you can freshen the appeal of the toy once the initial scent has worn off.

Call into your local store today to discuss your cat’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.