Cat Pheromones 101: How They Work to Help Your Cat Chill Out

"Cat pheromones" aren’t just a buzzword; these odorless messages can help chill your cat out.

Published May 6, 2023
Tabby cat sleeping near home air humidifier

You've probably heard your vet talk about cat pheromones, or seen these products advertised to help cats calm down. But what are they, and are they safe for your cat? Cat pheromones are odorless chemicals that you can spray or diffuse into the air to help your cat chill out. They're completely safe and can be very useful in stressful situations, such as on trips to the vet or when introducing a new pet to your home.

What Are Cat Pheromones?

Pheromones are natural chemicals that cats release as a way to communicate with other cats. They come from special glands located in your cat's cheeks, chin, forehead, tail, and paw pads. But not all pheromones have the same message; each one communicates something different, like "I'm happy," "This piece of furniture is safe," or "I love you." Even though cats produce their own pheromones, we can use synthetic pheromones to mimic these "feel good" messages.

Quick Tip

Curious about what cat pheromones smell like? They're odorless, so you'll never smell them!

When to Use Cat Pheromones

Not every cat owner needs to use pheromone therapy, but it can be incredibly helpful in certain situations. Just a single spritz can be used as a calming aid in times of stress, or even to help stop inappropriate scratching. Common scenarios when you may want to consider cat pheromones include:

Do Cat Pheromones Work?

There is some debate about whether cat pheromones actually work. Several studies show that they can reduce stress behaviors and aggression in cats and improve relationships in multi-pet households, whereas others suggest it has no effect at all.

My personal opinion: Cat pheromones certainly can't do any harm (except, maybe, to your wallet).

My professional opinion: I've had a lot of success with pheromones both in the veterinary hospital and my own home, so I always advise cat owners that if you're curious about feline pheromones, give them a try!

Types of Pheromones

As if you're not already overwhelmed with information, here's another fun fact: there are several kinds of cat pheromones that carry different messages.

  1. Cat Appeasing Pheromone: This is the pheromone that's responsible for the bonding between mother cats and their newborn kittens. It can be really helpful in multi-cat households, so look for products with the term "multi-cat" in the name.
  2. Feline Facial Pheromone: This pheromone is what cats release when they rub against things or people with their faces. It helps lower stress levels, so look for products with the word "calm" or "calming" in the product name.
  3. Feline Interdigital Semiochemical: Cats also release pheromones from their paws when they scratch as a way to mark their territory. If your cat sinks their claws into your beloved rug or leather sofa, you can use this pheromone to help redirect their scratching. Look for products with the word "scratch" in them.

Plug-in Diffuser Vs. Spray

Plug-in Diffuser

When you start researching brands of cat pheromones, you'll notice most have two types of products: a spray and a diffuser. Which one should you go with? It really depends on what you want to use the pheromone for.

If you're planning to use them to calm your cat during veterinary visits or during thunderstorms, the spray is probably your best bet. You can give their carrier or bed a quick spritz (for the best results, do it about 15 minutes before you put them in) to help keep them calm.

On the other hand, if you're hoping to use pheromones to promote harmony between your pets or need long-term calming help in your household, a diffuser is the way to go. Your kit will come with a piece to plug into an outlet which will warm the pheromones and allow them to release continuously over 30 days, and then you'll replace the cartridge.

Cat Pheromones Can Help in Many Scenarios

Feline pheromones are a safe and drug-free solution to help your cat chill out. No, your cat cannot overdose on pheromones, and no, they won't make them act "high." Remember, pheromones are natural chemicals your cat already produces. Using a spritz of them or a diffuser in your home can help keep your cat calm and stress-free, which will help you stay calm, too.

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Cat Pheromones 101: How They Work to Help Your Cat Chill Out