Feliway for Cats

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Feliway-what is it?  Why should you use it?  There are two types of Feliway-which one should you use?

Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics pheromones cats release naturally.  Cats release pheromones from several areas on their body: top of head between ears, cheeks and chin, mammary chain (areas around the nipples), and their paws.  These pheromones are a way to communicate with other cats via scent.

Common actions of cats release these pheromones into their environment.  Scratching on items such as furniture, trees, and rugs helps that cat mark that they were there and this is their territory.  Rubbing their cheeks on items, even humans, leaves pheromones behind.  Cats who bunt, or ‘head butt’ people or items, are laving pheromones.  These types of pheromones are aimed more towards labeling the item or person and recognition of the item or person.

For example, my cat will bunt or head butt me, as her way of marking me as hers.  Yes, she’s doing it in an affectionate way, but there’s also a purpose behind it.  Both of my cats scratch on their cat trees.  Yes, this helps them maintain the health of their claws, but they are also leaving pheromones behind that say this belongs to me.

The cat who hangs around my porch will constantly scratch on my wooden flowerbed barriers.  She is marking that area as hers to other neighborhood cats.

Mother cats will release a different pheromone from their mammary chain that kittens get when they nurse.  This helps bond them to mom and recognize her via scent.

There will be times in a cat’s life where it will be exposed to stressors.  These can be a new home, new family member, a trip to the vet (should happen at least yearly to all cats), even moving furniture around or a change in schedule or routine.  All can be stressors to a cat.

So how can you help?


There are two types of Feliway on the market.  Both come in plug in diffusers (similar to air freshner diffusers) that last about 30 days.  This is great for a continuous level of pheromone for a larger area.  The original Feliway also comes in a spray which lasts 6-8 hours.  If you put your nose really close to the diffuser, or if you walk into the mist of the spray, you can smell the preservatives in it.  However, after a few minutes, that smell dissipates and humans cannot smell the actual pheromones. 

The original Feliway is indicated in stressful situations as a way to make things seem familiar to the cat.  Cats do not like change, so anything that seems familiar to a cat will bring a level of comfort.  Original Feliway can be used in new homes, on new furniture, in the carrier, on bedding, or for new people.  In the veterinary clinic, we will spray cage bedding for cats staying the day with us, as well as towels used in the exam room.  The tech and vet may spray their clothing as well.  This helps the cat recognize something that seems familiar to them and can have a calming influence on them.

Feliway Multicat is good for multicat homes where there may issues between cats in the home.  Cats are solitary creatures…we force them to live together and share resources.  Sometimes they get along, sometimes they don’t.  The Multicat Feliway mimics the pheromone that mother cats release to their kittens, so that hopefully the cats will better accept each other.

Neither Feliway is a miracle worker.  They may help a little, they may help a lot.  But it’s certainly worth trying and having on hand.  When I think of cats in human homes, I think of a person traveling to a different country.  The person likely does not speak the language, and is entering a strange country with strange (different) people and cultures/customs.  Bringing a cat home is similar.  We do not speak cat, and cats do not speak our language.  They do not understand our routines and such right away, yet we expect them to conform to our way of life.  It takes time, and a little give and take on both sides to make things work out.  Feliway can help cats adjust to new situations a little easier.

For more information on Feliway, visit http://www.feliway.com/us or ask your veterinarian if Feliway could help your cat.