In humans valerian root is taken to help get to sleep, but in cats it gives more of a catnip style response. If you’re planning on giving some to your cat it’s best to get toys and other items that are already treated with it, rather than share some of your human-intended supplement.
We all want the best for our cats and when we find something like valerian root that can get your cat more involved with a toy, and could also have some side benefits as well, it only makes sense to wonder if it’s OK to give it to them. Even human supplementation is hard to dose, which might make it sound intimidating as the owner, because you don’t want to give them something that could harm them. That’s why we recommend only going with products that are especially made for cat use.
Your cat doesn’t necessarily have to ingest the extract to get the effects. The toys that are made for them are only coated it in, and your cat can simply rub their face up against it to get the full effect. In this respect it’s similar to catnip, where the scent of it is what causes the reaction, and sends them into a seemingly altered state.
Can I Give My Cat Valerian Root? Answer: Yes.
The most readily available valerian root is meant for human consumption, which is why you want to be careful with where you buy it from, and don’t just give them some of the same sort of supplement you would use for yourself. Cat toys and scratching pads that contain it will have it on the label and these are the items you want to buy. Remember that your cat doesn’t need these to survive, and there’s no reason to believe that they’ll sleep better or have more well-being because they have it in their life.
The effects that this has on cats is likened to the response that they have to catnip, although the reason is a little different. Valerian root attracts the cat to it because it smells a bit like cat urine to a cat. Many people say that their cat has more of a marijuana-like response to catnip, seemingly mellow and wanting more of the stuff. The response to valerian root is that they will play with the toy that is covered in it more than they would a toy that isn’t.
It’s safe to give your cat toys and other products that are sold for the express use by felines. These are formulated to contain just enough of the extract to get the job done, but not so much that it would constitute a large dose. There are unwanted side effects in humans from taking too much of it, and it only leads one to believe that there would be repercussions to your cat if they’re given too much at one time.
Any Extra Benefits?
Proponents of valerian root, aka those that are trying to sell you valerian products for your cat, say that it can work as a natural sedative without side effects like drowsiness, and that it acts to help regulate their nerves and keep them from getting anxious. These claims are anecdotal, and can be tested easily enough by trying it out to see how your cat responds.
One thing to keep in mind is that valerian root can also attract rats. If you don’t mind your cat killing a few rats in the process that’s fine, but if you live in an area that is prone to them you might want to keep that in mind, or be sure to keep it sealed up tight when not in use. You could also just opt for catnip, which doesn’t have this quality to it, but gives your cat equal amounts or even more enjoyment.
Aside from that it seems from all of our research that valerian root is something that you’ll want to keep handy for a special treat for your cat. It might also be a way to keep them from getting too worked up during stressful times, like on long car rides or during a bad storm.