Are Cat Pheromone Diffusers Harming Your Feline Friend? The Safety Debate

What are cat pheromones?

Cat pheromones are chemicals that are used by cats to communicate with other cats. Cats have glands in various parts of their bodies that produce these pheromones. According to Wikipedia, the main pheromone-emitting glands in cats are located around the face, tail area, paws, chin, forehead, and cheeks.

When cats deposit these pheromones by rubbing, scratching, urinating, or other behaviors, the pheromones send signals to other cats about territory, sexual status, and more. Some key pheromones cats use to communicate include:

  • Feline facial pheromone – Used for marking sites or objects.
  • Feline interdigital semiochemical – Deposited by scratching and communicates territorial information.
  • Feline calming pheromone – Promotes calmness and signals comfort.
  • Feline interdigital semiochemical – Deposited by scratching and communicates territorial information.

So in summary, cat pheromones are chemical signals that cats use to convey different types of information to other cats by depositing them in the environment.

cat pheromones are chemical signals cats use to communicate

How do cat pheromone diffusers work?

Cat pheromone diffusers release synthetic pheromones into the air to help calm cats. According to PetMD, pheromones are chemicals secreted by animals that trigger behavioral or physiological responses in members of the same species. When a cat is stressed or anxious, it will release pheromones that signal distress to other cats.

Pheromone diffusers contain a synthetic version of the facial pheromone produced by cats when they are nursing kittens or other positive social situations. As the diffuser releases the synthetic pheromone into the air, cats who come in contact with it will associate the pheromone with a sense of calm and contentment. This can help reduce anxiety and stress-related behaviors.

The diffuser plugs into an outlet and uses an electrical current to warm scented oil containing the artificial pheromone. As the oil is gently heated, it evaporates into the air so cats can detect it. The diffuser releases a constant stream of pheromones that saturate the environment. Cats inhale the pheromones through their vomeronasal organ, which triggers a calming neurological response.

Benefits of pheromone diffusers for cats

Cat pheromone diffusers can provide several benefits for cats by mimicking natural pheromones. Some of the main benefits include:

Reduce stress and anxiety – Pheromones can help relax cats and reduce anxiety symptoms like inappropriate urination, aggression, and hiding. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), pheromones may have anti-anxiety effects and help cats adjust to stressful situations (source).

Prevent inappropriate urination – Inappropriate urination is often caused by anxiety, stress or territorial issues. By reducing stress, pheromone diffusers can curb marking behaviors and urinating outside the litter box (source).

Ease travel sickness – The stress of travel can upset a cat’s stomach. Diffusers containing cat pheromones can be used in carriers and cars to help cats feel more relaxed and comfortable during travel (source).

Are pheromone diffusers safe for cats?

Yes, cat pheromone diffusers are generally considered very safe for cats when used as directed. Pheromones are natural chemicals found in a cat’s facial glands that provide comforting information to other cats. Synthetic versions of these pheromones simply replicate those same signals to create a familiar, soothing environment for your cat.

There is no evidence that long-term use of a pheromone diffuser poses any health risks to cats. Numerous studies have shown that cat pheromones do not interact or interfere with a cat’s endocrine system or other bodily functions. Pheromone diffusers can be safely used around kittens and pregnant cats without concern.

The pheromone itself is odorless and completely harmless if ingested by cats. The diffuser simply passively releases the synthetic pheromone into the air. As long as the electrical diffuser is used properly and not tampered with, it does not pose any known safety hazards to cats in the household.

One study did note a potential link between long-term pheromone diffuser use and an increase in liver enzymes in some cats. However, the effects disappeared when the diffusers were removed and no other studies have reproduced these findings. Overall, there is no strong evidence of any long-term health risks from proper pheromone diffuser use (Source).

Are pheromone diffusers safe for humans?

Yes, cat pheromone diffusers are completely safe for humans. The synthetic pheromones used in diffusers mimic natural feline pheromones that provide comfort and security to cats. These pheromones are species-specific, meaning they only affect cats and have no impact on humans (

The ingredients in pheromone diffusers are non-toxic and scent-free to humans. We cannot detect the pheromones the same way cats can. Numerous studies have confirmed the pheromones do not cause any side effects in humans, even with prolonged exposure. Leading brands like Feliway and Comfort Zone use pharmaceutical-grade formulas that are rigorously tested for human safety.

cat pheromone diffusers are safe for human use

Some diffusers do contain essential oils or fragrances combined with the pheromones to help mask unpleasants smells for humans. These additives are also non-toxic, but some individuals may have sensitivities to strong scents. Overall, cat pheromone diffusers present no health or safety risks to humans when used as directed.

How to use a pheromone diffuser

Using a pheromone diffuser is quite simple. First, purchase a diffuser kit that contains the electric diffuser unit and initial pheromone vial. Popular brands include Feliway and Comfort Zone.

To set up the diffuser, start by plugging in the electric diffuser unit and switching it on. The unit will likely have an indicator light to show when it’s powered on. Then screw the pheromone vial into the top of the unit. The vial contains the cat pheromone formula and will slowly diffuse it into the air.

For optimal results, place the diffuser in an area your cat frequents like a living room or bedroom. Do not place it right next to your cat’s food, water or litter box. The diffuser should be out in the open – don’t hide it behind furniture or tuck it away in a closet.

When the diffuser runs out after about a month, simply unscrew the empty vial and replace it with a new refill. Be sure to keep extra vial refills on hand so you can quickly swap them when needed.

How long do cat pheromone diffusers last?

Cat pheromone diffusers typically last 4-6 weeks before needing to be refilled or replaced. The pheromone oil inside the diffuser slowly evaporates over time, dispersing the synthetic pheromones into the air. Most diffusers are designed to cover an area up to 700-1000 square feet.

For continued effectiveness, it’s important to refill or replace the diffuser every 4-6 weeks according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using the diffuser beyond this time frame will result in weaker pheromone disbursement as the oil runs low. The diffuser may no longer provide the calming effects for your cat if used for too long without replacing.

Some signs it’s time for a new diffuser refill include:
– The diffuser makes little to no sound when plugged in
– There is no fragrance of pheromones detectable around the diffuser
– Your cat’s undesirable behaviors have returned

Refilling the diffuser regularly with new pheromone oil will maintain the proper concentration of synthetic cat pheromones in the environment. With regular refills every 4-6 weeks, cat owners can ensure the pheromone diffuser continues working effectively to reduce stress and unwanted behaviors in cats.

Are cat pheromone diffusers effective?

Clinical studies have shown that cat pheromone diffusers can be very effective for calming anxious or stressed cats in multi-cat households. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery evaluated an appeasing pheromone diffuser product versus a placebo in 39 households with feline aggression. The results showed that in over 80% of cats, the pheromone diffuser significantly reduced the frequency and intensity of aggressive incidents after 28 days of use [1].

Another peer-reviewed study in PLOS One found that after 30 days of use, a Feliway diffuser significantly reduced the frequency, intensity and overall score of stress-related signs in cats by 49-70%. The effects were measured both by owner evaluations and veterinarian assessments [2].

studies show pheromone diffusers can reduce stress behaviors in cats

Based on multiple published studies, clinical evidence indicates cat pheromone diffusers can be an effective way to reduce stress-related behaviors and aggression in over 80% of cats when used as directed.

Pheromone Diffuser Brands

There are several reputable brands that make cat pheromone diffusers. Some of the top brands include:


Feliway (source) is one of the most popular and well-known brands when it comes to cat pheromones. They offer several different diffuser products including the Classic Diffuser, MultiCat Diffuser, and Friends Diffuser. Feliway diffusers contain a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone and help provide a sense of comfort and security for cats.

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone (source) makes the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser that releases calming cat pheromones. This can help reduce anxiety in cats and make them feel more relaxed. The diffuser covers up to 700 square feet and lasts up to 30 days.

Pet Remedy

Pet Remedy offers the Pet Remedy Calming Diffuser which helps provide a calming environment for cats. This diffuser uses natural essential oils along with synthetic pheromones to help relieve stress and anxiety. It is veterinarian recommended and safe for use around cats, dogs, and humans.

There are also some other brands like Feliway, which offer cat calming pheromone diffusers including Adaptil, Pet Organics, and more. When shopping for a pheromone diffuser, look for reputable brands that specialize in pet pheromones.

Pheromone Diffusers vs Sprays/Collars

There are a few different ways to deliver synthetic pheromones to cats, including diffusers, sprays, and collars. Each method has its own pros and cons.

Pheromone diffusers continuously release pheromones into the air to create a calming environment. They are convenient since they work passively over a large area (up to 700 sq ft) for 30-60 days. However, diffusers can be more expensive upfront compared to other methods. They also require access to an outlet which limits placement options.

pheromone diffusers, sprays and collars each have pros and cons

Pheromone sprays provide a quick burst of pheromones when applied directly to objects. They are inexpensive and portable. However, the effects fade quickly so they must be reapplied frequently (at least twice daily) to maintain efficacy. Sprays can also leave residues on surfaces.

Pheromone collars release pheromones while worn around the cat’s neck. They provide constant pheromone exposure that moves with the cat. However, some cats dislike wearing collars. Effects are also limited to the area immediately around the cat’s head.

According to this source, the choice between diffusers, sprays, and collars depends on factors like your cat’s preferences and which method best suits your needs.

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