As a companion animal veterinarian and a boarding cattery owner I regularly come across stressed cats. Cats are very sensitive animals and any change, like introducing a new pet to the household, a stray cat hanging around the property, shifting the furniture, or a change of environment, can make them feel anxious.
At vet school, our behaviourist professor recommended to first always use the ‘cotton wool trick’: rubbing some cotton wool over your cat’s chin glands. This way, the cat’s facial pheromone, which helps making him feel at ease, is released on the cotton wool and if you then rub it in his environment, for example around his food bowl, on his favourite blanket, or inside his travel cage, it will help him to relax. The scent should last for 5 days. You can also get a piece of cloth, like a handkerchief, rub it on your cats face, and then place it under his food bowl: he will feel more relaxed when he’s eating. As a veterinarian, before I start examining a cat, I always make sure I’ve rubbed my hands under his chin, so his scent is on my hands, helping him to relax.
There is a synthetic version of the natural feline pheromone on the market called ‘Feliway’: it comes in a spray bottle or in a diffuser, which you plug in.
- Cats naturally use facial pheromones to mark their environment as familiar and comforting.
- Feliway mimics the feline facial pheromone, creating a state of well-being and comfort.
- Feliway is proven to help reduce or prevent stress in cats by providing a sense of security and well-being.
One vial in the diffuser lasts approximately 4 weeks, covering an area of 50-70 m2. Feliway mimics the facial pheromones produced by cats, resulting in an emotional calming, which reduces your cat’s impulse to mark his territory (scratching or spraying). Treatment should continue for 30 days, by which time markings should cease. If they haven’t, continue with treatment every 2-3 days thereafter.
At Cat Hotel Stoney Creek we use the Feliway spray each morning after our cleaning routine: a few sprays around each room. For new cats we spray some Feliway on the bedding in their unit to help them settle in.
Feliway has a wonderful website with lots of information about cat behaviour, tips and tricks and videos.