Feliway spray is an indispensable product in the cat world. It is marketed as the solution for every conceivable cat (behavioral) problem, big or small. But are these claims correct? And why do experiences with Feliway differ so much?
Feliway is a synthetic variant of pheromones, fragrances that cats deposit when they rub, scratch or spray against something. Pheromones are species-specific, i.e. those of cats can only be observed by other cats.
This is done via the ‘Jacobson organ’, also known as the ‘vomeronasal organ’. The cat has to open this organ consciously in order to be able to perceive the pheromones, the so-called flehmen. She has to be triggered to do this, for example by smelling urine or seeing scratch marks.
So Feliway does not contain pheromones, but a chemical approach to them. The composition is of course secret, but according to this research valerian has also been added. And we know that cats can be very happy with valerian, at least that part of the cat population that has the gene to respond to valerian.
What does Feliway do?
The manufacturer says that Feliway is an effective way to tackle unwanted cat behaviour, such as spraying and scratching furniture. There are already three variants of the product on the market, all supported by sophisticated marketing campaigns with buzzing recommendations from happy owners.
Investigations into Feliway?
In short: independent science is making very short work of Feliway, in this meta-review, but also in this recent research into the effect of Feliway in veterinary practice. The only studies that claim positive effects have been paid for or carried out by the producer.
As long as it works, right?
Of course it’s important that the product works, but there may still be a catch (or two)…
If your cat is exhibiting problem behaviour, you’re probably not just buying a vaporizer, but doing other things at the same time. It is a human reaction to attribute the positive effect to Feliway and not to the new cat litter.
Another catch is the placebo effect. Take the lady who bought a vaporizer because she was going to move with her old cat. Her cat and herself were really super-relaxed by Feliway. After a few days she found out that although she had plugged in the plug, she had not screwed on the vaporizer!
Experiences with Feliway
I myself have positive experiences with Feliway. Our cats were jumpy all the time. They would jump up every time a heavy truck passed by, or a hipster with a way too loud exhaust pipe under his scooter passed by. After using Feliway, our cats became much more relaxed. Their behaviour changed a lot.
How do you know if it really works?
A lot of cats benefit from Feliway. The best proof that it works is if your cat falls back into her old behaviour without you noticing that the vaporizer was empty.
Applications of Feliway
Feliway Classic: according to the producer in case of anxiety or stress, spraying or unfindness. Bear in mind that in the last two cases you should always first rule out a medical cause before purchasing an evaporator. And also check the litter box!
Feliway Scratch makes your scratching post attractive for your cat. Catnip or valerian (spray) often work fine but if they don’t, be sure to try out Feliway Scratch.
When a cat scratches furniture, wallpaper or carpet, it does so mainly to define its territory. Excessive scratching generally has nothing to do with maintaining the nails. To mark territory towards other cats, cats usually scratch in visible locations – often near resting places. To mark the territory again and more strongly, cats usually scratch in the same places. Such scratching behaviour indicates uncertainty: the cat does not feel completely safe in its surroundings and therefore has the need to mark its territory over and over again. When your cat scratches on unwanted spots, you can use Feliscratch by Feliway.
Feliway spray is ideally suited for treating unwanted scratching. By applying Feliway spray to places where the cat scratches, you give the cat a sense of security, eliminating the need to mark the territory over and over again.
The Feliway Classic spray can be used to calm your cat down if he or she is a little bit too nervous.
Cats are generally frightened animals. Therefore loud and especially unexpected noises and a lot of noise can be a source of stress. Birthdays with many guests – possibly in combination with the shifting of furniture, changing the territory of the cat are therefore not the most enjoyable days for cats. The stress caused by the crowds and noise in their environment often manifests itself in spraying and unwanted scratching behaviour.
During these days, when your cat needs extra safety and security, the vaporizer from Feliway can help. To give the reassuring pheromones enough time to spread, it is recommended that the vaporizer is plugged in about a week before the day(s) in question.
Especially for households with multiple cats there is Feliway Friends. The vaporizer spreads the so-called Cat Appeasing Pheromone. This pheromone is released by the mother cat to make her kittens feel safe and it also ensures that they attach strongly to each other. In this way the tension between cats is reduced and they can live together again in harmony