A calm cat is a joy to live with, but if the cat is not calm it is not so joyous. In my never-ending quest to keep the cat happy, I asked myself ‘is Feliway the best way?’ and then I went on a mission to find out.
Artificial pheromones can be a great way to deal with all sorts of cat behaviour issues, whether it be territorial spraying, litter box problems or simply a stressful trip to the vet, but as we know the wheezy little asthmatic types are extra sensitive. The good news is Feliway products are safe, effective and generally seem to be a pretty good idea.
At a Glance
- What: Feliway Diffuser, spray and wipes
- Who: Ceva Animal Health
- Price: Variable, depending on where you buy. Best price: Amazon.com
- Does Sparrow Approve? YES, but with a few disclaimers.
Why Are Facial Pheromones Important to Cats?
Pheromones are chemical messengers produced by animals that act as a stimulus to others of the same species. When a cat feels safe in its environment it will rub its cute little face against the furniture, carpet, drapes or people and leave facial pheromones behind.
When a cat smells these friendly pheromones it triggers a natural response that produces feelings of contentment and comfort. It’s this friendly environment factor that can significantly reduce unwanted behaviours such as spraying, scratching and litter box avoidance and help to keep your cat calm in times of stress.
What is Feliway?
Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural pheromones cats produce to mark their territory as safe. Feliway was created by some clever scientists at Ceva Sante Animal in France and has been around since 1997. Because pheromones are species-specific, Feliway will not have any effect on other pets or people in the home, but will create a feeling of wellbeing and calm for the felines.
When used in combination with positive behavioural modification and environmental enrichment, Feliway products have been reported to be an effective way to reduce the anxiety that makes cats act up.
However, if your cat’s problem is being caused by a filthy litter box, for example, Feliway will not fix the problem. It’s not a plug-in-make-the-badness-go-away cure, but rather a method to make your kitty feel safe and at ease in times of disruption or stress.
Ceva’s research shows there is an 86% success rate with their product and cats who are not effected at all are in a small minority.
Feliway is available in a few different variations to suit the environment and the cat(s) in question:
- Original Feliway Diffuser – recommended for problems with spraying and urine marking, this stuff has been reported to reduce the unwanted behaviour within 7 days. Diffusers are also great for moving house or changes around the home such as new furniture.
- Feliway Multicat Diffuser – contains feline appeasement pheromones and help to reduce conflict within multiple cat households.
- Feliway Spray – can sprayed on to surfaces to help with stressful situations such as trips to the vet, travel, thunderstorms or fireworks
- Feliway Wipes – for wiping surfaces such as the inside of your cat’s carrier or bedding.
You might have seen products marketed as ‘Comfort Zone With Feliway’ which are also available as diffusers or sprays. It’s the same pheromone but in a lower concentration, less expensive product. As with anything, you get what you pay for and quality is always important when dealing with our delicate feline friends.
What’s Good About Feliway?
- Has a calming effect on cats who are nervous or jittery.
- Helps to reduce stress and fighting in multi-cat households.
- Safe for use around children and other pets.
- Synthetic pheromones are not absorbed into the cat’s bloodstream and produce no known side effects.
In my experience: nothing…so of course I went searching for horror stories, but to my cynical surprise there weren’t many. There were, however, quite a few reports from angry people using a lot of exclamation marks, saying it didn’t do much for their cat – which is to be expected with only an 86% success rate. Those who did rate it, seemed to rate it highly.If you go for the Original Feliway rather than the Comfort Zone range (which you should, for the sake of quality) there’s no getting around it: it’s not cheap, especially for something that might not work.
Does Sparrow Approve?
I read up on Feliway last year as a way to help Sparrow settle in when we moved house. I bought a diffuser and plugged it in a few days before the big move and it seemed to do what it said it would. Sparrow moved into a completely different, totally indoor environment without a single hitch and no complaints other than his usually noisy Sparrowness. I switched the diffuser off after a few days and haven’t needed to use it since.
I haven’t been able to find a great deal of information on whether or not this is going to mess with the freaking asthma and I’m not going to try it just for the sake of experimenting – and definitely not without having another crazy catlady chat with the vet.
My other disclaimer is this: Sparrow is not normal. He’s the most relaxed, friendly and sociable cat I’ve ever met and he trusts me explicitly so there’s every chance the Feliway diffuser made no difference and he would have settled into his new home just as well without it. We’ll never know, but for the sake of an honest review I thought I should mention that my cat is freaking awesome with or without the help of science and our results may not be typical.
Having said that, most cats will find Feliway soothing; it’s a handy tool to have in your kitty kit for any time there’s a potentially stressful situation coming into your cat’s life.
What’s your experience with Feliway, did the love potion for cats work at your house? Comments and questions are welcome in the box below…