How to Calm Your Cat & Cre­ate Peace In Your Multi-cat House­hold

Fe­line Pheromones and How They Can Ben­e­fit Your Cat

Modern Cat - - Front Page - An in­ter­view with cat be­haviourist and au­thor Mieshelle Nagelschneider, aka The Cat Whis­perer™

Calm your cat, help him han­dle stress bet­ter, cre­ate peace in your multi-cat house­hold—fe­line pheromones can do it all! We asked Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity-trained cat be­haviourist at The Cat Be­hav­ior Clinic and au­thor of The Cat Whis­perer, the ac­claimed fe­line be­hav­iour book for cat own­ers, to ex­plain how to em­ploy pheromones to help your cat feel re­laxed, happy, and at ease!

Q To start with, what ex­actly are fe­line pheromones and what can they do?

A: Fe­line pheromones are nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring chem­i­cal sub­stances that can be sensed by cats and ef­fect their be­hav­iour or phys­i­ol­ogy. These pheromones are pro­duced by the cat and then re­leased into the en­vi­ron­ment. Se­creted from glands around the cat’s face, these friendly pheromones help pro­duce a calm­ing ef­fect in cats and can help them han­dle stress­ful sit­u­a­tions bet­ter. Pheromones are also used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween cats.

Q Can they ben­e­fit all cats?

A: Syn­thetic fe­line pheromone prod­ucts repli­cate a cat’s nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring friendly pheromones. These are the pheromones that help them feel re­laxed and safe in their en­vi­ron­ment. Ev­ery cat ben­e­fits if their sense of emo­tional well-be­ing is im­proved. Keep­ing cats in cap­tiv­ity (your home), ei­ther by them­selves or with other cats, can be stress­ful. Mul­ti­ple cats to­gether in a closed en­vi­ron­ment can lead to tense sit­u­a­tions that might not oc­cur at all or as of­ten as when cats live out­doors. Of course, it’s best for cats to live safe in­side our home, but as cat own­ers we need to do what we can to help en­sure their hap­pi­ness and keep stress to a min­i­mum.

In sin­gle-cat house­holds—even if there is ev­ery toy known to man—the cat’s stress re­sponse sys­tem can be ac­ti­vated by not re­ceiv­ing enough (or the right kind) of play­time and men­tal ac­tiv­ity. Along with daily play ses­sions and other en­rich­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, pheromones can oc­cupy an im­por­tant role in de-stress­ing your cat if her in­ner prey drive isn’t fully ex­erted each day. This goes for multi-cat house­holds also.

Q

My cats are not best friends, but they seem to tol­er­ate each other and never fight. Can pheromones help them be­come closer?

A: If you’re not see­ing friendly or so­cial be­hav­iour be­tween them, such as al­lorub­bing or al­logroom­ing (think head bunting, rub­bing up against one an­other, and lick­ing each other’s faces), then they are not as com­fort­able with one an­other as they could be. They may even be dis­play­ing avoid­ance be­hav­iour to some ex­tent, which can in­crease stress lev­els. Pheromone prod­ucts can not only re­duce this stress but, over time, help them feel more re­laxed and friendly with one an­other. After us­ing pheromone prod­ucts for a few weeks, my clients of­ten re­port that their cats spend more time to­gether in the same room and even be­gin to rub up against or groom each other. In­stead of room­mates, they be­come more like fam­ily.

Q How can you iden­tify a cat that is re­ally stressed, fear­ful, or timid and thus could ben­e­fit from pheromones?

A: There are some ob­vi­ous signs to watch for like hid­ing, hiss­ing, growl­ing, ex­ces­sive me­ow­ing or cat claw­ing be­hav­iour. A timid or fear­ful cat may over­re­act to usual day to day ac­tiv­ity in your home. Open­ing a garbage bag in the kitchen can cause timid cats to hide un­der the bed. It’s im­por­tant to know, how­ever, that all cats are gen­er­ally very watch­ful and cu­ri­ous in their en­vi­ron­ments. These fe­line in­stincts help en­sure sur­vival; should the sit­u­a­tion call for it, they are ready for ac­tion! How­ever, there are some cats that go a lit­tle over­board and could use some calm­ing to help them worry less and feel safer. The friendly pheromones tell a cat ev­ery­thing is am­i­ca­ble and safe.

I al­ways con­vey to my clients that it’s im­por­tant to do what we can to help our cats feel re­laxed and safe in the home we share with them—and es­pe­cially so when they’re faced with stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

Q What are some of the com­mon cat be­hav­iour is­sues pheromone prod­ucts help cor­rect?

A: In ad­di­tion to im­prov­ing a cat’s emo­tional well-be­ing, pheromones can also help change their be­hav­iour. Ag­gres­sion, urine­mark­ing, and ex­ces­sive cat claw­ing be­hav­iour are among the most com­mon be­hav­iour is­sues. Many of my clients no­tice a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the un­wanted be­hav­iours within the first week and the ma­jor­ity see more im­prove­ment over the course of sev­eral weeks. Other stress re­lated be­hav­iours, such as over­groom­ing, de­struc­tive chew­ing, sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, timid and fear­ful cats, and lack of ap­petite have been helped with pheromone prod­ucts.

Q

One of my cats will oc­ca­sion­ally have lit­ter box is­sues and some­times will uri­nate around the home. Can pheromone prod­ucts help with this be­hav­iour?

A: Yes. Pheromones can be an im­por­tant part of a full be­hav­iour plan we de­sign for our clients to get all the urine back in the lit­ter boxes. One com­mon ex­am­ple—if your cat is afraid of an­other cat in the home and this cat hap­pens to be in the path­way lead­ing to the lit­ter box, this can cre­ate lit­ter box us­age is­sues. In a cat’s mind, it may be safer to uri­nate on the sofa or un­der the din­ing room ta­ble than pass by the op­pos­ing cat. Be­cause fe­line pheromone prod­ucts can cre­ate a friend­lier cat en­vi­ron­ment and a calmer more con­fi­dent cat, you’ll no­tice an im­proved re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cats, which can in turn make the path to the lit­ter box area less scary.

Q What about adopt­ing a new cat? Are pheromones help­ful in this sit­u­a­tion?

A: Mov­ing to a new en­vi­ron­ment is one of the most trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences for cats—even if the move is from a cage at the cat shel­ter to the com­forts of your lov­ing home. For cats to feel as re­laxed as pos­si­ble and to help en­sure ad­just­ing to their new home goes smoothly, hav­ing pheromones in the home from day one is a must and can make all the dif­fer­ence in your new cat ad­just­ing well. If you al­ready have ex­ist­ing cats at home, we’ve seen pheromones be the only rea­son they ac­cept the newly adopted cat.

“Re­cent stud­ies have shown that cat pheromones and hu­man pheromones are sim­i­lar in make-up. This may be one rea­son that cats and hu­mans can be­come so at­tached to one an­other.” — Mieshelle Nagelschneider

Fe­line Besties Pheromones pro­mote har­mony in the mul­ti­cat home.

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