How Valerian works on Felines and it’s benefit in Toys

Hi everyone,

Today we want to take a closer look at toys that are filled with Valerian of which we’ve used many on our own two cats.

Many cat guardians always wonder why cats get so excited over Valerian toys and of course the next natural question is whether it is good or harmful to play with these pungent toys!

Many online articles offer different views of the valerian root (valeriana officinalis) and the effect of it on our cats. Essentially the bottom line is that these toys are safe but just like catnip toys that can induce ecstatic play behaviour should only be used under supervision.

So how does valerian impact your feline companions?

Most cats will cuddle up with the Valerian filled toys, lick them and play passionately with them! You can often see how they rub themselves all over the toys! Some will roll around on the floor and others will chase, kick or chew on the toy.


How does it work?

The Valerian root contains Actinidine which is also known as a cat attract pheromone that is found in Valerian, Catnip and a few other plants! Cats and other Felines (Yes even the big ones!) are attracted to this pheromone.

How long does it work?

This depends a bit on each individual cat and varies from 5 – 20 minutes. Once this phase has passed the cat will enter the so called refractory phase for at least 30 – 120 minutes during which time it won’t react to the fragrant material contained in Valerian toys.

How was it discovered?

Valerian was discovered as a stimulant for cats long before we started using it for our house tigers. Wild Felines have been captivated by so called “cat herbs” for centuries and scientists have been using Valerian as a lure to study small and large felines in the wild!


What are the benefits?

While the cat is attracted by the Valerian it can help them to relax during stressful situations such as shows, firework season and other events that are not part of their general routine. Most cats either get ecstatic and power themselves out or calm down and relax while “enjoying a timeout” with their Valerian toy. Best of all from our personal experience at shows we find that this beneficial effect remains even long after you’ve taken the toys away.

Valerian also often gets used in sprays and air diffuser to induce a calming effects on cats and other animals which is different to the impact of catnip. It leaves most cats calm and relaxed after use of the toys hence why there is a lasting effect!

Have you had problems in multi cat households?

We’ve successfully used Valerian toys in the best example of multi cat households – cat cafes where the Valerian toys have actually helped to calm down tension and help the cat caretakers with introducing new cats to each other. The thing to bear in mind though is that you want to provide sufficient toys as many cats are not good at sharing – not even while under the effect of Valerian.


Especially when you’ve got a very dominant cat they may decide to defend their new found prize! We would generally recommend to have at least one toy per cat handy so in case that they get territoriality you’ve got additional toys on hand!

But what about the smell?

Valerian has a very pungent smell so that does mean that toys filled with Valerian have a strong unique fragrance! 🙂 And really… your cat wants you to get these so what is there not to like if your cat overlord demands it?!?

On a more serious note remember you shouldn’t leave this toy out all day anyway so in a way it’s good as it will remind you to put them away once your cat is finished with them.

We would of course recommend that you leave these out to dry for a while after playtime though! Ideally somewhere the cat can’t get to! If you ever tried a Valerian toy you’ll know what we mean about the need for letting them dry… 😉

Where can I get these toys?

We are working hard on educating pet shops in the UK to stock Valerian toys from 4Cats and if your local shop hasn’t got them yet you can find both Valerian and Catnip toys made by 4Cats on our online shop!

And if you know someone that would like to stock them (or yourself) drop us a message as we can put you in touch with 4Cats for wholesale orders.



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30 thoughts on “How Valerian works on Felines and it’s benefit in Toys

    • Marc-André says:

      It seems to be more popular in Germany than the rest of the world. 😮

      If you can’t find one in your local pet shop we do have them in our blog shop as my friends in Germany manufacture them. 🙂

  1. The Swiss Cats says:

    We love valerian ! We received a Samba Mamba (snake) from Germany, it was our best friend, despite Claire said it was awfully stinky ! Purrs

    • Marc-André says:

      That is difficult to describe! 😮

      Unfortunately for us humans it’s not the most pleasant at first. But that’s why I always keep the plastic bags to put the toys back in. 🙂

      There are small little cushions you could try and see if you find the smell acceptable. ;o

        • Marc-André says:

          No onion, dead things or poop. 😮

          To me it’s like a sport sock. 🙂 But if it’s a small pillow it’s very localised, don’t stick your nose in the cushion LOL.

          We’ve got one of the big kickers out at the moment, when it first comes out of the bag you can smell it in the living room but after a little while it’s gone.

  2. Life of Janine says:

    Several years ago my physician told me to take Valerian for stress, and I find it really calming. So it’s interesting to read about how it affects felines. Just another reminder that what works for one species may work very differently for another!

    • Marc-André says:

      While it initially does work different the after effects are very similar tho. Calm, relaxed. The cat cafe I visited in New York was forever grateful that I brought some toys for them as it helped ease the tension of the new arrivals.

  3. Holly G says:

    How odd… Doesn’t Valerian have the opposite effect on humans? Supposedly it’s a relaxant and peaceful sleep inducer, especially when combined with melatonin. Valerian seems to have a catnip-like effect on this kitty!

    • Marc-André says:

      It’s because valerian contains actinidine which is the same chemical as in catnip.

      However once cats have played with it they are much more mellow, calm and relaxed – similar to how we feel with valerian. So a win win situation. 😉

  4. meowmeowmans says:

    We have some valerian toys here. Gracie and Zoe enjoy it, but seem to prefer catnip, just a little more. 🙂

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