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Cat Pheromones: What Are They? Do They Really Calm Your Cat?

Cat sitting in window

Do you ever wish there was something you could say to your cat to help them calm down when stress takes over? One suggestion to help calm your cat during stressful times is using cat pheromones. But cats don't just use pheromones to deal with anxious feelings.

Cat pheromones are a natural chemical your cat uses to communicate with other felines, mark objects, and self-soothe. They even help your kitty express when they're feeling happy. Your cat may even try to use their pheromones on you by rubbing against your leg or giving you an affectionate head butt.

But how exactly do these chemical messages work?

What Do Cat Pheromones Do?

When you see your cat rubbing their face on a piece of furniture or pawing at a spot on the ground, they're leaving behind a message. Cats secrete pheromones from various glands throughout their bodies, including the paws, chin, cheeks, tail, back, forehead, around the base of their ears, and rear.

When your cat rubs against something they leave behind a chemical trace that acts like hormones that affect the behavior of other felines. This marker sends signals to other cats but can also remind your feline that they've interacted with a particular person, object, or place before. 

Releasing pheromones is also a way for your feline friend to self-soothe. For example, maybe your cat gets anxious during thunderstorms or nervous around strangers. If you notice they start rubbing against you or other things during these times, they’re likely releasing pheromones to calm themselves.

Do Cat Pheromones Affect People?

When was the last time your cat gave you an affectionate head butt or purred as they rubbed against your leg? These odd cat behaviors are your feline’s way of showing affection and claiming you as their own. However, humans can’t pick up on cat pheromones because pheromones are species-specific.

This simply means humans detect pheromones from other humans, dogs only sense pheromones from other dogs, and cats only notice other cats’ pheromones. Your cat doesn’t realize you’re oblivious to the scent they’re leaving behind, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Using Synthetic Cat Pheromones

Many companies have created synthetic pheromones that replicate a cat’s pheromones. The goal is to provide a tool for pet parents to use to help alleviate their pet’s stress and fear. For example, you might use a calming diffuser or collar to ease your cat’s stress during a vet visit or help with motion sickness during a car ride.

Pet parents also use these products as training tools to help correct undesirable behaviors. For example, pheromones could help you teach your cat to stop spraying, jumping on counters, or scratching the furniture.

Are Scented Calming Products the Same as Synthetic Pheromones?

If you search for calming products for cats the results will kick back an assortment of items including pheromone-based products and scented ones. For example, a calming collar might use pheromone technology or it may be scented with a calming fragrance like chamomile or lavender. In some cases, an item will use both, but they are not the same things. 

If you’re unsure whether or not a calming product is pheromone-only or includes a scent, just take a whiff. Remember that cat pheromones are odorless (at least to humans). So if you purchase a calming collar for your cat and it smells like lavender, you have your answer.

Cats laying together

Different Types of Synthetic Pheromones for Cats

Synthetic pheromones for cats come in many different forms, including sprays, diffusers, and collars. However, several companies manufacture these products and some are rated more highly than others. The companies that tend to top most of the lists are Feliway and Comfort Zone.

Here are some of the top-rated synthetic cat pheromone products. If you’re new to incorporating these types of tools into your pet training or care, these options are a good place to start.

1. Feliway Classic

The Feliway Classic Starter Kit comes with a diffuser that lasts for 30 days and works with cats of all ages. It plugs directly into an outlet and covers roughly 700 square feet, mimicking your cat’s pheromones to reduce stress and undesirable behaviors.

When the solution runs out, simply purchase a refill for the diffuser. Feliway Classic also comes in a spray.

2. Feliway Optimum

Feliway Optimum Happy Family focuses on cats living together to help promote a harmonious living environment. The diffuser plugs into the wall and works up to 700 square feet. Therefore, pay attention to how much space your cats access in your home to decide how many diffusers you need.

As with the Feliway Classic, once the solution goes dry, you purchase a refill for the same diffuser. Refills are available in multipacks, which typically provide a better deal than buying single refills.

3.  Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser

Veterinarian recommended Comfort Zone also features a line of synthetic cat pheromone products. The Comfort Zone diffuser comes with a starter kit that’s designed for a multi-cat household. One unit lasts approximately 30 days and covers 650 square feet.

The company also carries pheromone spray for cats and kittens. Spray options are good solutions when you need something on the go or for traveling.

4. Comfort Zone Breakaway Calming Collar

The Comfort Zone collar is another good option for calming your cat on the go. Whether bringing your cat to the vet, to the groomer or taking a road trip, the collar helps them stay calm wherever they roam.

Each collar lasts roughly 30 days and multi-packs are available. The breakaway design ensures your kitty stays safe and sound in case the collar catches on something.

5. Feliway Multi-Cat

The Feliway Multi-Cat diffuser is designed for homes with several cats and claims to start making a difference within 7 days. It mimics a mother cat’s natural pheromones to help ease stress and create a calming atmosphere. The solution lasts 30 days before you need a refill and covers approximately 700 square feet.

6. Sentry Stop That! Spray

This training aid uses a blend of pheromones and noise to reduce unwanted behaviors like spraying and clawing. Sentry Stop That! Spray helps redirect your cat away from negative behaviors, reduce excitability, and induce a sense of calm.

When your cat starts to do something you don’t want them to do, spritz 12 to 18 inches away from your cat. The spray should go toward your cat but not in their face. Sentry also carries a collar option that mimics a mother cat’s pheromones to inhibit destructive behaviors and help calm your kitty.

Do You Need Some Help Calming Your Cat?

If your cat could use a bit of encouragement to correct certain unwanted behaviors or tends to get easily stressed, using synthetic pheromones could help. These types of solutions seem to work best when they’re used in conjunction with other methods. 


For example, combining behavior training, a Feliway diffuser, and a licking mat may be the ideal treatment plan for your frightened cat during a thunderstorm. For more helpful pet care tips, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog. As always, if your furry friend is experiencing unusual changes in behavior or concerning symptoms, your first step should be a call to your vet.

 

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