Do Cat Calming Pheromones Actually Work? The Science Behind This Popular Product

What Are Cat Calming Pheromones?

Cat pheromones are chemical signals that cats use to communicate with each other. According to Companion Animal Psychology, pheromones are volatile organic compounds that trigger an innate response in cats.

Pheromones are produced in glands near the cat’s tail, paws and face. When a cat rubs against objects, scratches or urine marks, it releases pheromones. There are different types of pheromones that serve various functions:

  • Territorial pheromones mark areas and objects as belonging to that cat.
  • Sexual pheromones advertise reproductive status and attract potential mates.
  • Facial pheromones, released when cats rub their faces on objects, convey identity.
  • Appeasing pheromones help cats resolve conflicts calmly.

diagram showing locations of pheromone glands on a cat's body

According to Feliway, when cats detect pheromones, the molecules bind to receptors in the vomeronasal organ located above the roof of the mouth. This triggers behavioral and physiological responses.

Do Pheromones Affect Cat Behavior?

Yes, research shows that pheromones can influence various behaviors in cats. Pheromones are chemical signals that trigger social and emotional responses between members of the same species. Cats have pheromone-releasing glands around their face, tails, and paws.

Studies have demonstrated that synthetic pheromones, similar to cats’ natural pheromones, can reduce stress and promote relaxation in cats. According to a study by Ceva Animal Health, the synthetic feline facial pheromone Feliway helped significantly decrease conflict behaviors between cats by 90% (source).

Specifically, pheromones have been found effective for reducing territorial marking, aggressive behavior between cats, vocalizing, inappropriate scratching, and anxiety. Pheromones can also encourage positive social behaviors like grooming and play.

In summary, research confirms that cat pheromones play an important role in feline communication and can be used to positively influence cat behavior and emotional states.

How Are Synthetic Pheromones Used?

Synthetic pheromones that mimic natural feline pheromones have been developed for use in products to help relieve cats’ stress and anxiety. These synthetic pheromones are designed to replicate cat appeasing pheromones (CAPs) like those produced by mother cats to reassure their kittens.

Some common products containing these synthetic cat pheromones include:

  • Pheromone diffusers and sprays designed for environmental use. These release pheromones into the air in homes to help provide constant calming effects. Popular brands are Feliway and ComfortZone.
  • Collars designed for cats to wear. These provide a localized source of pheromones. Examples are Sentry Calming Collars and Pet Remedy Calming Collars.
  • Pheromone wipes and sprays that can be directly applied to cats’ bedding or coats. Feliway wipes are a commonly used product.
  • Pheromone supplements or treats. These allow pheromones to be ingested. Some options are Nutri-Vet and PetHonesty calming treats.

These pheromone products are meant to help recreate feelings of security and contentment that cats experience with their mothers. They can be utilized in situations causing cats stress like conflict with other pets, separation anxiety, travel, or adjusting to changes in homes or routines.

cat calming pheromone products like diffusers, sprays, wipes


Evidence That Pheromones Reduce Stress

Several studies have shown that synthetic pheromones can help reduce signs of stress in cats. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior evaluated a synthetic feline facial pheromone product on cats undergoing short distance transport ( The study used the validated Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score to assess stress levels before and after transport. Cats with higher baseline stress scores showed a significant reduction in stress behaviors when exposed to the pheromone product.

Another 2022 study published in Veterinary Record evaluated stress in cats after neutering surgery ( Using the Cat Stress Score and salivary cortisol levels, the study found stress was significantly lower in cats exposed to a synthetic pheromone product compared to controls.

These studies show evidence that synthetic pheromones can reduce common stress behaviors in cats like vocalizing, hiding, agitation, and physiological markers of stress.

Pheromones and Reducing Aggression

Territorial aggression is a common issue in multi-cat households. Cats are territorial by nature and can become aggressive when they feel their space is being invaded by other cats. Research has shown that cat-appeasing pheromones can help reduce territorial aggression between cats.

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery evaluated the effectiveness of a synthetic pheromone product in reducing aggression between housemate cats (DePorter et al., 2019). The researchers found that the use of pheromone diffusers and collars significantly reduced the frequency and severity of aggressive behaviors between cats after 3 weeks of use.

The pheromones are believed to have an appeasing effect and promote a sense of familiarity and security in cats. By reducing anxiety and stress related to territory, the pheromones can curb aggressive behaviors like hissing, swatting, and fighting.

Other studies have also demonstrated positive effects of pheromones on cat aggression. A literature review on pheromone therapy for cats stated that multiple studies have shown pheromones can reduce intercat aggression and promote calmer behaviors (DePorter, 2018).

While more research is still needed, the current evidence indicates synthetic pheromones can be an effective tool for reducing territorial aggression between cats in the same household when used alongside other management techniques.

Pheromones for Reducing Anxiety

Anxiety is a common issue for cats and can be caused by changes in their environment, unfamiliar situations, travel, or interactions with other pets. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, synthetic pheromones can help relieve anxiety symptoms in cats (

The study evaluated the effects of a synthetic cat appeasing pheromone on feline aggression and anxiety in multi-cat households. The results found the pheromone product significantly reduced the frequency of common anxiety behaviors like hissing, chasing, and hiding. Researchers concluded the pheromone had an anti-anxiety effect and helped cats adjust to new environments and situations that caused stress.

Other research from Texas Tech University found that pheromone diffusers and sprays helped reduce vocalizing, urination outside the litter box, destruction, and hiding in cats exposed to stressful events ( The pheromones appeared to have a calming effect during events like veterinary visits, travel, or changes to their routine that can trigger anxious cat behavior.

Impact on Undesirable Behaviors

Cat pheromones have been studied for their effects on common undesirable feline behaviors like inappropriate scratching, urine marking, anxiety, aggression, and more. According to a 2010 systematic review published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, synthetic pheromones can help reduce stress-related behaviors in cats (

Specifically for inappropriate scratching, a study found that in a multi-cat household, intercat aggression decreased by 50% when synthetic pheromones were diffused continuously for 6 weeks (Frank et al., 2010). The pheromones are thought to have a calming effect that reduces territorial behaviors like scratching.

For urine marking, research indicates that synthetic pheromones can reduce house soiling by up to 90%. According to a report by Fear Free Happy Homes, pheromones help reduce anxiety that often causes inappropriate elimination ( The pheromones likely make the cat feel more relaxed and less stressed about marking territory.

Overall, studies show that cat pheromones can curb a range of unwanted behaviors by creating a calming environment for stressed or anxious cats. However, pheromones may not work for every cat, so owners should monitor their pet’s response.

Are Cat Pheromones Safe?

Overall, cat pheromones are considered very safe. Safety studies have found no known risks or side effects when used as directed (source:

a scientist in a lab coat giving a thumbs up indicating safety

Pheromones do not require absorption into the bloodstream or metabolism to work. They are a natural signaling molecule cats use to communicate with each other. Synthetic versions replicate these natural pheromones and provide the same calming messages (source:

Some people worry that cat pheromones may negatively impact other pets or humans in the household. However, studies have not found any evidence that cat pheromones cause issues or side effects in other animals or people.

How Effective Are Cat Pheromones?

Several clinical studies have evaluated the efficacy of synthetic cat pheromones like Feliway for reducing stress and anxiety in cats. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that using a Feliway diffuser for 4 weeks showed a beneficial effect for managing aggression between cats in multi-cat households (DePorter et al., The study found a significant reduction in undesirable behaviors like starring, chasing, and blocking access to resources after using the pheromone diffuser. Another study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science examined a multi-cat household and found increased tolerance and proximity between cats after using Feliway Friends pheromones (

While these studies show promising results, cat pheromones do not work for every cat in every situation. Effectiveness can depend on the specific cause of the unwanted behavior, if there are environmental stressors present, and individual differences between cats. Proper use of the pheromone product per the manufacturer’s instructions also impacts results. More research is still needed to fully evaluate effectiveness under different conditions. But overall, studies indicate synthetic pheromones can be a useful part of a treatment plan for stressed, anxious, or aggressive cats when combined with behavior modification techniques.

Key Takeaways on Pheromones for Cats

Cat calming pheromones can be an effective way to relieve anxiety, fear, and stress in cats. Synthetic pheromone products are available in various forms including diffusers, sprays, and collars. Research shows pheromones can reduce aggression toward other cats and undesirable behaviors like urinary marking. Pheromones are likely safe for most cats when used according to label instructions. However, effects may vary based on the individual cat. In some cases, pheromones have no observable impact on a cat’s behavior.

a relaxed cat lying in a patch of sunlight

Overall, pheromone products appear to work for many cats by creating a calming effect without sedation. While not a cure-all, they can be a helpful tool along with other techniques like environmental changes, routine, and medication (if needed). Pheromones are generally worth trying, especially for anxiety-related issues. However, results are not guaranteed. Working closely with your veterinarian is advised when dealing with ongoing behavior problems in cats.

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