Do Cat Pheromone Diffusers Work

What Are Cat Pheromones?

Cat pheromones are chemical signals released by cats to communicate with other cats and elicit certain responses. Pheromones are produced in glands located around a cat’s face and tail area. When released, pheromones spread odors that other cats detect with their Jacobson’s organ (vomeronasal organ). This detection triggers social and physiological responses.

Some key pheromones cats use to communicate include:

  • Facial pheromones – released when cats rub their heads on objects or other cats. Used for marking territory and creating familiar scents.
  • Interdigital (foot pad) pheromones – spread when cats scratch objects. Used to mark territory.
  • Flank/tail area pheromones – released from glands by the base of the tail. Convey reproductive status.
  • cat pheromones used for marking territory

In addition to natural pheromones produced by cats, synthetic pheromone products have been developed to help control cat behavior. These synthetic pheromones mimic natural feline facial pheromones to elicit calming effects and relieve stress in cats.

How Do Pheromone Diffusers Work?

Pheromone diffusers aim to reduce cat stress and anxiety by releasing synthetic pheromones that mimic natural pheromones produced by cats.

According to PetMD, pheromone diffusers work by dispersing synthetic pheromones that mimic the pheromones mother cats produce to calm and soothe kittens. The synthetic pheromones are released into the air and promote relaxation when inhaled by the cat (1).

The diffusers allow the pheromone solution to evaporate into the air continuously for about a month. This provides a constant calming effect on cats in the vicinity. Diffusers are available as plug-in electric units or as sprays that can be applied directly to objects in the home.

Evidence That Pheromone Diffusers Calm Cats

Studies have shown that pheromone diffusers can be effective at reducing stress and anxiety in cats. One 2019 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery evaluated the efficacy of a synthetic cat pheromone diffuser in reducing stress-related behaviors and aggression in cats living in multi-cat households The study found the pheromone diffuser led to significant reductions in aggression and stress-related behaviors like inappropriate urination. The effects were seen within 2 weeks and lasted for at least 1 month after the diffuser was removed.

In addition to clinical studies, many cat owners report seeing positive effects after trying pheromone diffusers with their cats. Diffusers are often recommended by veterinarians and animal behaviorists to help curb anxiety-driven behaviors like scratching furniture, urinating outside the litter box, and aggressive behavior towards other pets. Owners say the diffusers promote relaxation and help timid cats feel more secure and confident in their environment.

Types of Cat Pheromone Diffusers

There are a few major brands of cat pheromone diffusers on the market:


Feliway is the most well-known and popular cat pheromone diffuser brand. According to this source, Feliway diffusers contain a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway diffusers help reduce stress and unwanted behaviors in cats by making them feel more comfortable in their environment.

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone is another trusted cat pheromone diffuser brand. Their diffusers contain cat appeasing pheromones, which are designed to reduce anxiety, fear, and stress in cats. According to Chewy’s guide to cat calming diffusers, Comfort Zone is veterinarian recommended.

Pet Remedy

cat pheromone diffusers help comfort anxious cats

Pet Remedy diffusers use a proprietary blend of essential oils and pheromones to help relax cats. Some key oils in Pet Remedy include valerian, vetiver, basil, and sage. Pet Remedy states their diffusers can ease tension and anxiety in cats.

Comparison of Major Brands

The most popular cat pheromone diffuser brands include Feliway, Comfort Zone, and Pet Remedy. Feliway is the market leader, while Comfort Zone and Pet Remedy offer alternative formulas. All three brands have positive reviews for reducing unwanted behaviors and comforting anxious or stressed cats through synthetic pheromones.

When to Use a Pheromone Diffuser

Some common situations where a pheromone diffuser can help calm a cat are:

New cat in home – Introducing a new cat into the home can cause stress and anxiety for both the existing cat and newcomer. Diffusers can help facilitate a smoother transition by reducing tension.

Move to new house – Moving to a new environment is incredibly stressful and disorienting for cats. Diffusers can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort in a new space.

Traveling – Traveling in a cat carrier and being in unfamiliar places like a boarding facility causes anxiety. Bringing a diffuser helps maintain some normalcy.

Vet visits – Vet visits and being examined are very stressful for most cats. Having a diffuser at the vet clinic can reduce some of the anxiety and fear.

Where to Place the Diffuser

The recommended locations to place a pheromone diffuser are areas where your cat spends a lot of their time. This allows your cat to regularly inhale the synthetic pheromones and receive their calming effects. According to the Feliway FAQ page, the best spot is often where the unwanted behavior is occurring that you want to reduce.

Some common locations to place cat pheromone diffusers include:

  • In the living room or family room
  • In the kitchen
  • Near your cat’s food bowls
  • In the bedroom
  • Entryways that lead to the outdoors

Most cat pheromone diffusers are designed to cover a certain area, usually around 700-1000 square feet. According to CEVA’s Feliway FAQ, one diffuser should be adequate for an average home. For larger homes, consider using multiple diffusers in different rooms.

Be sure there is good airflow in the area so the pheromones can circulate. Don’t block or cover up the diffuser.

cat pheromone diffusers work best with good airflow

How Long Does it Take to Work?

Cat pheromone diffusers often take some time to have an effect on a cat’s behavior. Many cats may show a difference within a few days, but it frequently takes a week or longer for the pheromones to fully influence your cat’s stress levels and reactions.

How quickly your cat responds depends on variables like their individual personality, age, the source of anxiety, and current stress levels. Kittens and high-strung cats tend to react faster, while more laidback adult cats may take a week or more to exhibit behavioral changes.

The calming effects also build up over time – you may notice a slight change in the first few days, but the benefits continue to increase with ongoing pheromone diffusion. Be patient, as it can take 2 weeks or longer for the pheromones to fully impact your cat’s behavior patterns.

Are There Any Risks?

Cat pheromone diffusers are generally considered safe when used as directed (Source 1). The pheromones replicate natural cat pheromones and are not harmful to cats or humans in typical usage. However, there is a small risk of skin irritation or allergy concerns for some individuals.

Direct contact with the pheromone liquid should be avoided, as high concentrations could potentially cause skin redness or itching (Source 2). The diffuser should not be sprayed directly on humans or pets. People with sensitive skin or respiratory conditions should use caution and monitor for any allergy symptoms when first using a diffuser.

Overall, cat pheromone diffusers are well-tolerated by most cats and humans when used properly. But consult a vet if any concerning symptoms develop.

Cost of Pheromone Diffusers

The cost for a cat pheromone diffuser consists of two parts – the upfront cost for the diffuser unit itself, and the ongoing cost of refills. The diffuser units range in price from about $15 to $30 depending on the brand and retailer. The most popular brand, Feliway, generally costs between $20-25 for the diffuser unit. Refills also vary in price based on brand, but a typical 30-day refill cartridge costs about $15-25. So the ongoing monthly cost is around $15-25 for the refills after the initial purchase of the diffuser unit.

Here are some examples of upfront diffuser costs from major retailers:

As you can see, costs are very comparable between major retailers. The ongoing refill cartridges cost about the same as the starter units. So in total, expect to spend around $40-50 for the first month, and $15-25 per month after that for continued use of a pheromone diffuser.

The Bottom Line

Cat pheromone diffusers can be an effective way to help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. The pheromones they emit mimic the ones mother cats produce to comfort and reassure their kittens. Research shows pheromone diffusers can help in situations like introducing a new cat, moving homes, travel, or adjusting to new people or environments. They work by helping create a familiar, comforting setting.

Pheromone diffusers are easy to use, safe and non-toxic. It’s best to place the diffuser in an area the cat frequents. Effects are usually seen within a week or two but can take longer. Some cats may not respond to pheromone therapy. It’s a good idea to use a diffuser for at least a month to determine if it will help your cat.

Overall, pheromone diffusers are a gentle, drug-free way to help stressed or anxious cats that is worth trying, especially if behavioral modification strategies have not worked.

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