Feliway is a product which contains a synthetic version of cat pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals secreted by cats, (or other animals) from glands in their bodies. These influence the behavior or development of others of the same species. Pheromones also often function as attractants for the opposite sex.
That's why cats like rubbing their heads against different things. By rubbing their facial glands against an object, cats deposit certain amounts of pheromone on the rubbed place. The scent of her own pheromones makes the cat feel calm and more comfortable. This is her area, where she is in control.
Cats mark their home territory not only with pheromones but also with urine. Urination to spread scent is called spraying. It is the classic way by which cats mark their territory. If the cat's territory is invaded, the cat will spray to deter the enemy. Spraying is probably the number one behavioral problem in domestic cats. Spraying is not simple urination. A cat stands differently when it is simply urinating and when it is spraying. Spraying is the feline equivalent of hoisting a flag over disputed territory.
Feliway can inhibit the cat's impulse to mark territory in this way. Clinical trials both in the USA and France have shown that Feliway is effective, though not in all cases. In one American study, 81 cats with spraying problems were tested. In 95% of the cases Feliway significantly reduced the amount of spraying.
Another study in France followed a group of 61 cats. The number of spray markings was counted for each animal on day 0, day 1 and day 14 of the treatment. The average number of sprayings before the treatment was 14.5. There was no significant reduction after 1 day of treatment, but after 14 days, the average number of sprayings was reduced to 1.
These trials showed that Feliway is successful in controlling cat spraying. These results have been corroborated by many cat owners. However, we should add that no treatment is ever 100% successful with 100% of cats. Indeed, in the American study, Feliway was unsuccessful with 5% of the cats used in the trial. Similarly, in the French study, after 14 days the number of markings was not reduced to zero but to one, showing that some cats still spray even with the use of Feliway. With some cats the Feliway treatment just won't work.
In addition to controlling marking, Feliway can be used as a general de-stresser. In one study, cats that needed to be hospitalized were divided into two groups. One group of cats was housed in a Feliway treated environment. The control group was housed without synthetic pheromones present. The cats housed in with Feliway were more active, and quicker to explore the new environment. They also ate food more readily, strongly suggesting that these cats were much less stressed than the cats in the control group.
How to use Feliway?
Before rushing to slosh Feliway over urine patches, you need to determine that urination outside the litter tray is due to spraying. There might be other causes, for example a urinary tract infection which means that the cat has to go at very short notice. Make sure that there is not a simple problem such as the cat disliking your choice of litter. If a litter-trained cat suddenly stops using the box without apparent cause, you might want to get her checked by the vet.
Feliway comes in two forms - spray and diffuser. The spray is good for, well, spraying. The manufacturers suggest you clean the sprayed areas carefully before applying Feliway. Because Feliway is alcohol based it is advisable to close the door after the treatment for about 30 min before letting the cats back in. (Some cats are sensitive to the smell of alcohol.) For Feliway to be effective it is best to treat the marked areas daily for up to a month. Treatment of individual marked patches can stopped earlier if the cat no longer seems interested in them.
In multiple cat households, you may have to increase the application of Feliway to 2 or 3 times daily.
Feliway can also be used for prevention. You can spray Feliway, for example near the cat flaps and doors, posts etc. when the cat is going through a stressful time, e.g. moving into a new home, or the addition of another cat to the household. Feliway spray is also very useful on a cat cage or the inside of the car before a journey. Again allow about 30 min for the alcohol to evaporate.
The plug-in diffuser just needs to be plugged into a wall outlet. A diffuser lasts approximately 30 days, and provides coverage for 500-650 square feet. The diffuser may be very useful for a general reduction of feline stress levels.
Remember, Feliway should never be used directly on the cat!
The information supplied here is intended as a guideline only.