Valerian and Cats

Valerian is a herb (V. officinalis). Cats are attracted to it. The plant lives for more than two years and it is hardy. It is not written about that much today (2012) but in the past it was. For instance in 1658 at page 81 of Four-footed Beasts by Topsell he writes, "The root of the herb valerian (called Phu), is very like to the eye of a cat, and wheresoever it groweth, if cats come thereunto, they instantly dig it up for the love thereof, as I myself have seen in mine own garden, for it smelleth moreover like a cat".

Valerian - Photo by helen.2006 (Flickr)

The roots and leaves of valerian have a similar effect on cats as the much better known catnip. Valerian contains a chemical called actinidine. It has a similar effect on cats as the chemical nepetalactone, which is found in catnip.

Both are called "cat attractants" by the Wikipedia authors. We know what some cats do when they smell catnip. It's a kind of mild, safe, recreational drug for the domestic cat.

Associated: Unified Catnip Theory and The Cat Drugs of Catnip and Matatabi.

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