Do Cats Stop Fighting with Feliway? The Science Behind Feline Pheromones

What is Feliway?

Feliway is a synthetic pheromone product designed to help with various cat behavior issues. According to the Feliway website (, it contains “a precise copy of the natural pheromones cats leave when they rub against things to mark their territory as safe and secure.” These pheromones can promote calmness and help relieve stress in cats.

Feliway comes in several forms including diffusers that plug into outlets, sprays, and wipes. The diffusers continuously release the synthetic pheromones into the air over a broad area. The sprays and wipes allow you to apply the pheromones to specific objects or spots in a more targeted way.

The pheromones in Feliway products are meant to mimic those that cats naturally produce to help make them feel relaxed and less anxious. Many studies have shown that Feliway can help reduce behaviors like urine marking, scratching furniture, hiding, and aggression in stressed cats. It’s frequently recommended by veterinarians and cat behaviorists.

Common Causes of Fighting Between Cats

There are several common reasons cats may fight with each other, even if they previously lived together peacefully.

One major trigger is territory disputes. Cats are very territorial by nature and can become aggressive when they feel their space is being encroached upon by another cat. This often happens with new cats introduced to a home or multi-cat households where territorial boundaries are unclear. Sudden territorial aggression may also result from a medical issue causing pain or due to stress from changes in the home environment 1.

Redirected aggression is another culprit for cat fights. This occurs when a cat is aroused into an aggressive state by something but then takes out that aggression on another cat. For example, a cat may see another outdoor cat through a window and get riled up. If they then encounter another household cat, they may attack that cat instead of the true source of irritation.

Additionally, rough play that escalates is a very common cause of fighting between cats, especially young kittens or rambunctious cats. Cats often engage in mock aggression when playing but things can turn serious if they get overly excited and carried away with nipping or wrestling.

How Feliway May Help

Feliway contains synthetic pheromones that mimic the natural calming pheromones produced by cats. These pheromones can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats by making them feel more relaxed and secure in their environment.

For cats that are fighting, Feliway may help them better tolerate each other by reducing the anxiety and stress that can trigger aggressive behaviors. When used consistently, Feliway can create a more harmonious environment and minimize the urge to fight.

According to certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Katherine Houpt, pheromones like those in Feliway can “take the edge off” and make cats less likely to lash out [1].

Research has shown that Feliway can help reduce conflict between cats in multi-cat households. One study found it decreased threatening behavior and fighting by 50% or more for over half the cats studied [2].

While not a cure-all, Feliway can be an effective part of a larger strategy to promote calm and minimize fighting between cats.

Tips for Using Feliway with Fighting Cats

One of the most effective ways to use Feliway when cats are fighting is through the use of diffusers. Feliway diffusers release synthetic pheromones into the air that mimic cat facial pheromones. The pheromones create a sense of wellbeing and comfort for the cats, reducing tension between them. According to Veterinary recommended Feliway, diffusers should be placed in areas where the cats spend the most time and come into contact with each other, such as common living spaces and entryways. Using several diffusers throughout the home can maximize the calming effects.

Feliway also comes in a spray form which can be directly applied to furniture, entryways, baseboards, and other areas where cats have altercations. The Feliway website recommends spraying Feliway on objects and areas cats fight over, such as furniture, cat beds, window perches, etc. This helps spread the pheromones to spaces that induce conflict. Spraying a few minutes before the cats enter the space can help prevent fights. Using both the diffusers for ambient calming and targeted sprays is an effective way to curb fighting behaviors.

Overall, strategic use of Feliway diffusers and sprays, focused on areas of tension and fighting, can help reduce aggression and promote calm between cats in conflict.

Other Tips to Stop Cat Fights

There are some other simple ways to reduce the chances of your cats fighting:

– Provide plenty of vertical space. Fighting often occurs when cats feel trapped with no space to escape. Make sure your cats have vertical territory like cat towers and shelves to jump up to. They will likely feel less on edge and aggressive. ( How to Stop Cats Fighting & Why it Happens)

– Give each cat their own food, water, litter tray, toys, beds, and scratchers. Sharing resources causes stress and competition, leading to fights. When each cat has their own things, they feel secure. (7 Tips to Stop Cats Fighting)

– Slowly desensitize the cats to each other through positive reinforcement. For example, reward them with treats for being calm near each other. This helps them feel more comfortable together over time.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

If the fighting between your cats becomes dangerous or extreme, seeking help from your veterinarian is recommended. Signs that professional assistance may be needed include:

  • Aggressive attacks that frequently result in injuries like bite wounds, scratches, or abscesses
  • A dominant cat that terrorizes others in the household and prevents them from eating or using the litter box
  • Fighting that increases in frequency or severity despite trying remedies like pheromones or behavioral modification
  • A sudden, unexplained increase in aggression that persists

Consulting a vet allows for a full health examination to check for underlying conditions that may be causing irritability like illness, injury or anxiety. The vet can also assess if medication may help in extreme cases of persistent violence between cats ( Some medications or supplements suggested for aggression issues include antidepressants like fluoxetine, anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines, or natural calming aids.

Working together with your vet allows for safe monitoring when trying medications alongside behavior modification. They can also provide guidance on proper treatment if cats have sustained injuries from fighting.

Case Studies of Feliway for Fighting Cats

There are some anecdotal reports of Feliway having mixed success for cats fighting in the same household. Here are a few examples:

In one case study, a person had two cats that got along well for years until suddenly becoming aggressive toward each other. They tried Feliway diffusers in multiple rooms without success. The fighting continued and they ultimately had to separate the cats indefinitely (Source).

Another person reported using Feliway for two cats that started fighting due to redirected aggression after seeing an outdoor cat through a window. The Feliway diffusers helped reduce the tension between the cats, but it took about a month before their relationship fully improved (Source).

In a scientific study of cats with inter-cat aggression, Feliway resulted in reduced frequency of aggressive behaviors in some cats during the first month of use. However, these effects diminished by the second month. The study concluded Feliway has limited efficacy for fighting between cats (Source).

Overall, the case studies show mixed results on Feliway’s ability to reduce aggression and fighting between cats in the same home. It seems to help some cats, especially in mild cases, but may not resolve severe or persistent conflict between cats.

Potential Risks/Drawbacks of Feliway

While Feliway is generally considered safe when used as directed, some potential risks and drawbacks have been reported:

Some cats may experience side effects like lethargy, agitation, hiding, and loss of appetite after Feliway use (source). The strong odor from the Feliway diffuser can also be unpleasant and cause headaches for humans and cats in some cases (source).

Additionally, there are reports that Feliway doesn’t work at all for some cats and may even make problematic behaviors like inappropriate urination worse (source). More research is still needed on the efficacy and potential risks of synthetic pheromone products like Feliway.

While minor, these possible side effects and questionable efficacy are worth considering before trying Feliway, especially for extended periods. Consulting your veterinarian can help determine if Feliway is a good option for your specific situation.

Other Products to Consider

In addition to Feliway, there are some other products pet owners may want to consider for helping reduce aggression and anxiety in cats:

Synthetic Pheromones

Like Feliway, there are other synthetic pheromone products such as Comfort Zone and Pet Remedy that aim to help relax cats. These contain analogs of cat facial pheromones and distribute them around the home. According to pet owners, these can be effective lower-cost alternatives to Feliway diffusers and sprays. However, some research suggests Feliway may be moderately more effective.

One study comparing Feliway and Pet Remedy found Feliway resulted in a 50% reduction in stress-related behavior versus a 38% reduction for Pet Remedy.

Calming Supplements/Herbs

Some cat owners have found over-the-counter calming supplements or herbal remedies can help reduce aggression in cats. These may contain ingredients like chamomile, valerian, ginger, L-tryptophan, and others. However, there’s limited clinical evidence on their efficacy for cats. It’s best to consult a vet before giving cats any herbal supplement.


In some cases vets may prescribe medication to help curb a cat’s aggressive tendencies. Commonly prescribed drugs include antidepressants like fluoxetine, and sedatives like benzodiazepines. However medication comes with potential side effects so is usually a last resort option after trying other calming approaches first.

The Bottom Line

Feliway can be a useful tool to help reduce fighting between cats, but it generally works best when combined with other tactics. On its own, Feliway may only provide mild improvements in some cases. The pheromones it emits can help relax cats and curb aggression, but you still need to address the underlying causes of tension between your cats.

Methods like slowly reintroducing cats, providing distraction toys/playtime, creating more territory/resources, and addressing health issues should be used alongside Feliway. No product alone can force cats to get along that are unwilling. But used patiently and consistently, Feliway can be one part of an effective strategy to ease cat fights and promote a friendlier home environment.

Keep expectations realistic, seek veterinary advice if needed, and be prepared to try different approaches. With time, you can help feuding cats learn to tolerate or even enjoy each other’s company through understanding their needs and personalities.

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