Keeping Cats Calm with Cat Calming Pheromones
Cats can be pretty anxious little creatures. Or, if they’re not anxious, they can be pretty…well…catty, especially if they clash with another cat in the household. See, e.g., Olivia and Emory. We have been using Feliway pheromone products for some time now to help keep the cats cool, calm, and collected in our apartment. Since these pheromone products are part of my regular Amazon and Chewy orders, I thought I’d share why I like these sprays and diffusers so much.
Update (4/23/2021): With our recent move, I was quick to plug in our Feliway diffusers once we got to the new place. The kitties settled in quite quickly! In this video, you’ll see that they were exploring calmly while we waited for the movers to arrive with our furniture:
The Best Cat Pheromones: Which Works Better, Feliway or Comfort Zone?
Before I get into how my brand-of-choice for pheromones, Feliway, works, I wanted to acknowledge the price. While this family of products are a bit expensive, our vet recommended sticking with the Feliway brand. There are more affordable alternatives to Feliway (which I have used before and probably will use again). According to my vet, though, the Feliway products are the best in the business.
I’ve found that the Feliway products seem to be stronger and, as such, work better because they appear to take effect more quickly. All this is based on my observations, though, since the cats can’t tell me exactly how they feel. That would make the whole process so much easier!
If you want to try out a more affordable cat pheromone option, Comfort Zone’s cat calming pheromones are definitely easier on your wallet. I’d recommend asking your vet about it for more information on easing anxiety in cats generally and with cat pheromone products.
What are Pheromones and How Do Cat Pheromones Work?
Cats communicate through pheromones, among other messages. Pheromones are odorless messages that can only be perceived by other cats — that is, people and dogs don’t sense the pheromones. Pheromone products are an over-the-counter option for anxiety relief in cats because they can mimic the makeup of natural pheromones.
Feliway’s website breaks down three types of pheromone messages cats can send: first, they can be conveying happy messages relating feelings of comfort and security; second, cats may communicate harmony messages, especially in cases of mother cats in kittens, that help maintain social bonds amongst cats; and, third, they may convey messages of a territorial nature.
Evidently, the pheromones for each of these three messages are distinct enough to merit a specific formula of Feliway. As I have no first hand knowledge of the Feliscratch formula regarding “territory messages” (inappropriate scratching) in the home, I’m not going to go into detail on that type. However, if you’re having an issue with scratching, I’d recommend giving this line of pheromones a try.
What is the Difference Between Feliway Classic vs Multicat?
There are a few formulas of Feliway for cats, each designed to treat different issues or stresses. The difference between Feliway Classic and Multicat, then, is that they are designed to target two different stressors: general stress with the classic and interpersonal conflict between multicat homes with the later. When determining which flyway to use, you’ll have to figure out what is causing your cat stress in the first place.
Classic “Happy Messages” Feliway Pheromone Products
There is a classic formula designed to send “happy messages” to cats to help them feel safe and comfortable. This is ideal for when you first bring a new cat home, or for when you have stressful one-on-one situations, like taking the cat to the vet.
How does Feliway Classic Work?
We have the Feliway Classic spray, for example, and spray the cat carriers down with them before traveling and vet visits. Royal Canin sent us a bunch of the Feliway Classic wipes to try out, too, when they sent us their #cat2vet goodie box. I’ve used the wipes in the carriers, as well as around the apartment.
Multicat “Harmony Messages” Feliway Pheromone Products
In my opinion, the Multicat products are the best Feliway products line. These pheromone products are the most-used Feliway products in our home. Like I said, Olivia and Emory tend to clash. Annoyingly, they tend to get into fights at night, after we get into bed and before we fall asleep. Typical cats.
How Does Feliway Multicat Work?
Anyway, Feliway’s multicat formula provides “harmony messages” geared towards restoring harmony between kitty cat roommates. Each diffuser refill covers an area up to 700 square feet and lasts about 30 days (I think it’s more like 20 days, in my experience).
How Long do Cat Pheromones Products Last?
A Feliway diffuser refill of cat pheromones is meant to last about a month, but I’ve found that they tend to last about three weeks before the bottles run dry.
You can note the date of when you insert the refill if you’d like; this could help you keep track of how long they last better.
A 60 ml bottle of the Ceva Feliway Pheromone Travel Spray for Cats, I’ve found, lasts us quite some time. Each bottle has approximately 128 sprays in it and it is recommended that you use 8 sprays at a time.
A note on how to use the Feliway spray, since It can be kind of pricy. The Feliway spray for cats is probably best for travel-related stress, since you can spray the carriers before travel. I prefer the cat pheromone plug-in options, though, and find those work best for our household.
How Long do Cat Pheromones Take to Work?
The answer to this question depends on what type of pheromone product you’re using.
If you’re goal is easing anxiety in cats before a short-term stressful event (such as a thunderstorm or a holiday with fireworks) or a larger disruption (IE: mitigating anxiety in cats when moving) you’ll want to make sure you’re giving the product enough time to get to work.
For a pheromone spray or wipe, the pheromones should kick in about 15 to 30 minutes from when you spray or wipe down the surface (IE: a cat carrier before going to the vet). The calming effect should then last 4 to 5 hours.
Alternatively, for cat pheromone diffusers, Feliway recommends beginning use of such pheromones about 24 hours prior to a stressful event.
For both short term events and longer term environmental changes (such as moving homes, adopting a new pet, or having a child), it is important to keep the diffusers plugged in for some time after the event occurs. If the stressful event is a shorter term event, Feliway recommends using the diffuser during the week following the event. For larger scale changes to the environment, Feliway recommends continuing use of the diffuser for at least one month. More information on these timelines can be found here.
Do Cat Calming Pheromones Work?
How I See Feliway Helping My Cats
I’m not saying that Feliway is a cure-all for any catitude issues in your home. But, does Feliway work? I think it certainly does.
We use the Feliway pheromone products for cat calming and to reduce aggression and anxiety issues. Olivia and Emory can still be pretty catty with each other even if we have Feliway diffusers going. That being said, I do see a correlation with an increase in aggressive behavior when Feliway diffuser bottles run empty.
The Number of Diffusers in My Apartment
If you’re wondering “how many Feliway diffusers do I need?”, my answer is it depends.
We generally have three diffusers going at a time in our 1100 square foot apartment. If we’re out of town and the cats are home alone with someone coming in once a day to check on them, I’ll stick an extra diffuser or two out just in case.
Either way, three to four at a time is more than what we should need, according to Feliway’s website. I’m chalking this up to the layout of our apartment, and the fact that we have three primary rooms — the bedroom, the living room, and the second bedroom/office — that don’t have a lot of circulation between rooms. Maybe, if we had a more open floor plan, the diffused pheromones would spread more easily. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but, either way, I’ll stick with what we have going.
How I Use the Feliway Spray
I like keeping the Feliway spray around — and the wipes, although the spray is easier to use in my opinion — for concentrated pheromone goodness. That is, if Olivia seems particularly wired and triggered by Emory (or vice versa), I’ll spray a bit wherever the girls are hanging out. Similarly, sometimes I’ll spray it on the foot of the bed where Olivia usually likes to sleep, if I think she needs a little help mellowing out.
Where to Buy Feliway
Where and how I buy Feliway pheromone products is a bit of a game. This is because, like I said earlier, they can be a bit pricy.
Typically, I get them from Amazon — both the spray and the diffuser refills. But I have gotten them from Chewy from time to time, as well. The Chewy Feliway selection has expanded lately; I’m probably going to go back to getting refills there because of their Autoship options and discounts.
A word to the wise: the prices on Amazon tend to fluctuate a lot. The other week, I went to order the multicat diffuser refills and found that the single packs were nearly $20 each, when they’re typically around $11.
In that situation, I ordered this ThunderEase “powered by Feliway” diffusers instead. The price was so much better (ironically, as of when I’m writing this, the ThunderEase single refill is $20 each and the Feliway option is $13).
Have you tried Feliway or another cat pheromone brand?
What has your experience been like?
*This post was originally published in 2020. It was most recently updated on November 29, 2021.