Feliway – Helping to Solve Issues with your Cat

Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway® creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment.

As a result, Feliway can be used to help comfort and reassure cats, while they cope with a challenging situation and/or help prevent or reduce the stress caused to a cat during a change in their environment.

Feliway DiffuserUse Feliway to help with stressful situations such as:

  • my cat is scratching the new furniture
  • my cat is spraying everywhere
  • my cat doesn't like travelling by car
  • I'm moving house.  How will my cat cope?
  • My cats don't get on...
  • My cat doesn't like new people...
  • I am adopting a new cat...
  • We are going on holiday. What about our cat?
  • My cat doesn't like visiting the vet…

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Signs of Stress

Cats may react to stress in a number of ways and also to a varying degree.   Some cats may be able to cope very well with a stressful event or a change in their environment and may only feel uncomfortable for a few days or just for a few hours. In this case, stress is unlikely to have any serious consequences. However, others will have serious problems coping with even small challenges. These cats are far more likely to suffer acute or chronic stress, which can have a real impact on their health, contributing to or exacerbating problems such as cystitis, dermatological conditions, anorexia and obesity.

Feliway StormPlease note: If you are worried about your cats stress levels or if you believe your cat is suffering from any of the medical conditions discussed above, consult your veterinary surgeon before engaging in any course of action. He/she will recommend suitable options which may include behaviour therapy if appropriate.

Some signs are easy to detect. Others are more subtle and may be more difficult to link with stress.

These signs are more often reported as a 'problem' for you, the owner, than as signs of stress for your cat(s). There are 3 types of obvious signs which you should be able to easily identify:

Scratch marks
Only vertical scratch marks are considered to be a sign of stress. But your cat can also scratch on vertical surfaces to keep its claws in trim.  If the cat targets only one or two specific sites in the home, usually in hidden or 'quiet' areas, it is likely to be keeping its claws in shape for hunting.

If the scratching becomes more widespread, particularly if found in visible areas around doorways and windows, or centered on prominent objects such as a settee, then this may be an indication that the cat is unsettled or stressed. In this case the cat may be scratch marking to increase the number of visual and scent signals in the immediate environment.

Urine marks
Feline urine spraying is one of the primary methods used by cats to mark out their territory. Whether male or female, neutered or not, it is exhibited in some way by almost every cat.  But while spraying urine outdoors may be acceptable, most owners find the behaviour difficult to tolerate in the home due to the strong odour and potential hygiene risks.

Urine marking is a very specific behavioural sequence where the cat adopts a posture that is easy to recognise:

  • He approaches a vertical surface (wall, item of furniture…)
  • He sniffs the surface and is seen to treads the floor
  • The cat then turns his back
  • Standing with his tail erected, he emits a horizontal jet of urine onto the object 

Marks of urine are generally small and seen above the ground. Urine on the floor, large volumes of urine or urine in the sleeping area are typically not signs of urine marking and it is advisable that you consult your veterinary surgeon.

Aggression
In very stressful situations, some cats can react aggressively towards people, other cats or other household pets.  This type of behaviour usually only occurs when a cat has no way to escape or no other means to express his stress.

Feliway CalmMost importantly, it is vital to remember that the aggression may not necessary be shown towards the person, animal or object causing the cat stress. If your cat is stressed, he may bite you just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, not necessarily because you are the direct cause of the stress.

If all or most of the aggressive behaviour is targeted towards one cat, Feliway may help by reducing the stress levels of all the cats in your household.

Overlooked signs
Some cats will display more discreet signs, such as:

  • Food intake disorders (anorexia or over-feeding)
  • Overgrooming (bald areas) or undergrooming (matted or soiled fur)
  • House soiling
  • Decreasing levels of activity
  • Appearing withdrawn (reduced desire to play or interact)

How does Feliway work?

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment.  

What is pheromonatherapy?
Pheromonatherapy (or pheromonotherapy, depending on the authors), is a new way to manage behaviour problems in animals. It is an innovative and natural solution to stress related problems in cats and dogs.

What are pheromones?
Pheromones are 'chemical signals' used to communicate between members of the same species.  As a result pheromones emitted by one individual can affect and change the behaviour of other individuals of the same species.

The most well known are the sex pheromones used to make the bitch or queen more attractive to the male when they are in season. However, pheromones can also be used to mark territory, intimidate aggressors etc....

How does an animal detect pheromones in the enviroment?
Pheromones are secreted into the air by one animal and detected by a specific organ situated in the upper palate. 

To detect the pheromones, animals pump air into the vomeronasal organ. This ”pumping” behaviour is called “flehmen”. Depending on the species, the flehmen can be very discreet (as in cats) or quite obvious (as seen in horses and sheep).

On detection, the pheromone induces a subconscious behaviour change.

Other uses of pheromones
Pheromones are used for a wide variety of situations.  In behaviour management, appeasing pheromones can be used to prevent or reduce stress related behaviour problems.  In zoos pheromones have successfully helped improve animal welfare.  Pheromones are also widely use in vineyards to ward off pests.

Using the Feliway Diffuser

Feliway LogoGeneral advice to consider when using the Feliway Diffuser:

  • Remove the vial cap
  • Screw the diffuser onto the vial and gently tighten
  • Plug the diffuser into an electric socket
  • Do not plug in behind a door, curtain or underneath furniture
  • Leave the device switched on continuously for at least four weeks
  • Replace the refill as required
    Always consult your veterinary surgeon if your cat is showing signs of stress. Your cat's problem may be of a clinical origin and may require further treatment.

The device and the refill are specially designed for the Feliway Diffuser. The product cannot be guaranteed if a different device is used with the refill. Similarly, the electric device should not be used with another substance.

 

Feliway Manufacturer

** The information in this article has been sourced from - a global veterinary health company focused on the research, development, production and marketing of pharmaceutical products and vaccines for pets.  CEVA Santé Animale manufacture the Feliway product range featured in this article and on our website.