What are Cat Pheromones, and Do They Work to Calm Cats?

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Just like humans, animals too have their way of communication. Pets will interact in a manner that only other pets will interpret. From their body language to using vocals, your animal company will use multiple signs or signals to communicate. 

For instance, let us talk about cats. Over the years, cat behavior has stymied and intrigued humans. Ever wondered why your cat rubs against a particular object or person?

When a cat does the rubbing, it tries to communicate with other animals. As it rubs against someone or something, it leaves behind chemical trails known as pheromones. However, people might not detect them. Cat pheromones are natural substances that help the same species to share certain information about something.

What are cat pheromones?

These are a chemical form of communication used by cats to interact amongst themselves and their world. The cat pheromones are released from specific glands found around their bodies. They pass messages with different meanings to other fur friends. Despite their age, every cat will comprehend these signals.

The primary use of natural chemicals released is to mark objects, people, household cats, and other cats as safe and warn about any potential danger in the environment.

Both natural and artificial pheromones are now becoming famous and widespread in the pet world. These chemicals come in different forms that create a vast impact on cats. For instance, they halt unwanted pet behavior to give miraculous solutions. 

A black cat and a gray tabby cuddling on a bed.
Cats will release pheromones by rubbing against other cats, objects, and animals.

That’s when you find your cat rubbing against you as a way of producing chemicals that are left on your body to provide information to other cats. Cats will depend on them for their survival.

As mentioned earlier, cats have a different gland that will release the scent. Most area is around the cat’s face, lower ears, chin, cheeks, forehead, and mouth. Some have their scent glands around the paw pads, nipples for female cats, urine, and anal glands. 

Types of Natural Cat Pheromones

Cats release two types of natural chemicals to pass different signs and signals:

Maternal Appeasing Pheromone

A queen releases this after delivering, and as she nurses the kittens. The scent makes the young ones feel comforted and reassured; during this time, the bonding and socializing process get intense. This chemical is only produced during nursing; however, despite age, cats will recognize it.

Feline Facial Pheromone

This pheromone guarantees reassurance and happiness among cats to assure them that they are part of the turf. This specific scent prevents unwanted behavior and calms down your cat. It is released from their chin, forehead, or cheeks when your cat starts to rub against you, headbutting on furniture, pets, or people. It helps cats create positive bonds with humans and their surroundings to mark the place as safe. 

They assist the cats in being at ease during stressful situations, such as a moving house, thunderstorm, change of environment, and fireworks.

Examples of a cat using pheromones

When you realize a favorite part that your cat scratches or find them to be safe around certain people or cats, all is caused by pheromones’ deposit.

Here is a range of behaviors that your cat will indulge in as a way of sharing information with other cats:

  • Rubbing head on humans or objects in the house
  • Claw or Scratch at items
  • Bump their heads on each other 
  • Rub their bodies on objects and surfaces
  • Spray to mark their territorial areas

Does the use of artificial cat pheromones work to calm cats? 

Artificial cat pheromones are mostly used to introduce cats to new environments, homes, or cats. They are versatile thus used in travel carriers to avoid scratching, stimulate appetite for sick cats.

Having discussed the natural pheromones shed by cats, the artificial ones are created to assist in de-stress and calm fearful cats. Just like the feline facial chemical, the artificial scent offers comfort to cats in their environment.

Black cat lying in the grass.
Do artificial pheromones work to calm anxious cats?

Nowadays, artificial pheromones are found in boarding facilities, veterinarian offices, catteries, zoo, and multi-cat households. More so, they are available at pet stores. If administered with medication or alone, they reduce urine spraying and aggression among cats by 90 %.

A look at online sites like Amazon show hundreds of options for buying cat pheromones.

For example, the calming cat diffuser (affiliate link) covers an area the size of a room. Plug it in and allow the chemicals to reassure the cat. This cat calming spray is small in size (affiliate link); therefore, you can use them easily in targeted areas.

What are the other uses of cat pheromones? 

Pheromones do influence various cat interactions, behaviors, and emotions. So, this is how cat pheromones work?

Cats will produce pheromones for multiple different reasons. These chemicals will communicate the following messages:

  • Mark territory
  • Learn and identify other cats
  • Create familiarity
  • Enhance bonding
  • Signaling to their sexual partners
  • Boost the bond between the mother cat and kittens bond to locate and create harmony together.
  • Self-soothe
  • Signal fear or stress.
  • Signal contentment, happiness, and reassurance

Note that the chemical trails that are left behind vary with the situation at hand. For instance, if your cat bumps into a new harmless cat or human, it will rub against it to leave a safety message.

On the other hand, pheromones reduce stressful behavior among cats. They reduce cat anxiety and send messages to calm your cat. Actions that include: scratching, hiding, or spraying.

Take Away About Cat Pheromones

We have realized that both the natural and artificial cat pheromones will trigger an automatic response to calm your pet during all types of stressful situations. 

The moment the cat recognizes the chemicals, they feel at ease and relaxed in their present environment. However, they work differently since you realize that a specific chemical will work more suitable for a particular situation.

There are stressful events, as earlier mentioned, that makes your pet feel anxious. These situations include traveling, new environments, vet visits, fireworks, and they will show this via behaviors such as urine spraying or furniture scratching; these kinds of actions distress humans.

Therefore, using a calming product is essential to reassure your cat and kill the general feelings of anxiety and stress.

To make these chemicals work, ensure you meet the cats’ needs and provide sources that reduce stress or anxiety. Look no further; pheromonal products are the answer to calming your cat. 

Sources

Beck, A. (2013). Use of pheromones to reduce stress in sheltered cats. J Feline Med Surg15, 829-830.

DePorter, T. L. (2015). Use of pheromones in feline practice. Feline behavioral health and welfare, 235-243.

Eckstein, S. (2010, June 25). Pet pheromone products for behavior problems: Do they work? WebMD. https://pets.webmd.com/features/pet-pheromone-products-for-behavior-problems

McConaghy, F. (2013). Pheromones for behaviour management. Proceedings Veterinary Behaviour Science Week, 102-104. https://vetbehaviourteam.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2013ScienceWeekProceedings_vp.pdf#page=108

About the Author

Rachel Best is a freelance writer and author based in Wales.

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