The cat herbs.
Valerian and catnip both have a reputation of driving cats wild.
So the usual herbal cat toys contain either catnip (Nepeta cataria) or valerian (Valeriana spp.). Or one or the other milder aromatic mint (I've heard of Agastaches and Monardas being used, and I'm sure there's others) but they're used much more rarely.
The usual is, fill a sock with fresh catnip flowers or dried valerian root, tie it to a rubber band, tie that to a doorknob and watch your cat have fun.
But: I'm told that the reason for some (not all) cats going wild over one or both of these plants is pheromones.
The poor things think they're getting some.
And I've completely and utterly forgotten where I've picked this tidbit up, sorry. I can't even say in what language I've read (or heard) it, let alone who told me.
Anyway, the drooling, the mindlessness, the headrubbing all over the herb, the "can't walk straight" thing - that's all signs of a cat in heat.
Now, be honest: do you want to give your cat(s) that disappointment?
There's this saying that female cats like catnip while male cats like valerian.
A couple years ago one neighbor had a male and female cat, and I called them with fresh catnip flowers in one hand and dried valerian root in the other. Both went to the valerian. A year or two later, a new neighbor moves in, with another male and a female cat. I try again, and this time both cats go for the catnip - and sniff around. I knew I shouldn't have done that test so close to my garden -- that catnip plant was tall and proud before, but a day later only one branch was left, and that only because it was almost groundbound.
Anyway, I'm not giving either herb to cats, anymore. I believe in truth in advertising - and these don't advertise truthfully.
Lions and Tigers are said to like it too.
I'm glad I don't live where
I'm glad I don't live where they do ... worrying about big cats breaking into the room where you're drying valerian root is far worse than worrying about ordinary cats climbing in through the window.
Valerian & catnip
Big cats would be a concern!
My domestic cats are passionate about valerian. They play with it encapsulated as a toy, batting it in the air back to me when thrown - cat version of soft ball practice. Also "kick the can" ( pill actually) batting it ahead of them throughout the house. And finally, tied to a string on a stick, they catch it and rub it against themselves... with vigor.
I've read that catnip also serves as insect repellant for cats when they roll around in it and the scent remains on their fur.
valerian & cats
Yes, some cats loves valarian but you need to be *really* carefull how much you give them. I have had, at one time, 6 cats (not by choice, mind you, it was a blended family thing!) and only my male Main Coon really liked valarian. There have been a few times when I have let him have a little and he goes absolutley bonkers for it. Valerian is one of the "staple herbs" in my house. I usually keep it in a drawer so my cat can't get it, as he'll do just about anything to get at it. One time my ex left the drawer open and my kittyboy ate most of the valerian I had. When I got home that evening he was sleeping, and I went to say hello like I always do. He was almost non-response, and when I picked hime up his body was flopping all over. He was OK by later that night, thank all, but he sure gave me a scare!