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Should I give my cat catnip or Valerian Root?

Catnip is by far the more common of these two cat-friendly plants, and is a real household name; Valerian Root, however, is starting to make an impact too.

Catnip can be found in its fresh form, dried, in a spray as well as in numerous kitty toys. Most cats have picked up this recreational habit, and if your cats are anything like my four, they are serious catnip addicts.

Keeping it interestingcat-with-toy

Catnip is offered in a few forms around my house: There is a fresh plant in a pot in the courtyard, a tub of the dried stuff in the lounge and a few catnip-stuffed toys scattered around the house.

Catnip in its natural fresh form is a gorgeous looking plant and can be found at just about any nursery in the herb section. I think it’s a great idea to have some fresh catnip on offer for your cats in your garden if you can. It adds some extra excitement into their lives and a nice dynamic to your garden.

The dried catnip provides me with the most wonderful entertainment watching how each cat reacts differently to it. Rolled in, groomed in, eaten, played with, you name it, a messy affair but oh so worth it.

To curb the mess, I have resorted to sometimes sprinkling a bit in the empty bath tub and confining them to that area – it works like a bomb with less mess to clean up.

Then come the toys: There is always much excitement when bringing home a new catnip-infused toy; it doesn’t last long, though, and I think the smell may wear off and then they lose interest. What I have found works well is to add some dried catnip to an old sock and tie it closed – a quick and easy DIY toy and one that provides endless hours of fun. Plus, I don’t get mad when one of the dogs destroys it because it’s easy enough to make another one.

But why do my cats go crazy for the green stuff?happy-cat

Well, it’s simple. It’s a natural high for a kitty. Not all cats react to the effects of catnip, however. But those who do are attracted to the essential oil hidden in the plant that is released once the leaf is torn or bruised. Catnip provides your cat with a “high” that lasts around 10 minutes or so and then is generally followed by a good old cat nap! More than anything else the way cats react and their behaviour is absolutely amusing and it provides your cat with some entertainment and a great feeling too.

If your cat is one of those felines on which catnip has no effect, don’t despair. Valerian root has a similar effect on cats. Although it has a pungent smell – unlike catnip with has a faint sweet smell – it drives cats crazy!

It’s important to note that only dried Valerian Root must be given to cats – it is a common human supplement too and comes in pills. Dried Valerian Root is the most natural form, free of harmful additives, and has a similar effect to catnip but is also used in calming stressed and anxious kitties.

My cats love both, but as catnip is more readily available in South Africa I stick with this as their “habit” of choice.

This article first appeared on ePETstore and is reproduced here with permission


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