The pet care market is bristling with cat calming products – swathes of plug-ins, infusers, collars, even medications, claim to have the power to shield pets from anxiety and improve their behavior.
For owners seeking a safe and effective way to help keep their feline friends relaxed, a cat calming spray could be a great solution. These sprays have been around since 2001, and promise to reduce your pet’s anxiety – and the negative behaviors it triggers – by imitating soothing cat pheromones. Behaviors such as scratching, urine spraying, constant mewling, and aggression, could potentially be reduced with a just few spritzes.
Many vets and owners swear by calming sprays, but, like people, each cat is unique, so what works well for one might do very little for another. With this in mind, remember that a pet calming spray is not a panacea when your cat is exhibiting anxiety-related behaviors. A spray could, nonetheless, go a long way towards helping your friend cope with the stresses of life. Below we list our top picks, to help you choose the right spray for your cat.
Best Cat Calming Spray Buying Guide & FAQ
Now that we’ve gone through our top picks, you’re probably wondering exactly when you should try a spray like this, and how to use them. As any cat owner will tell you, each animal has its own distinct personality, so the way in which you use a cat calming spray will depend very much upon your pet’s unique behavior patterns.
What to Consider when Buying a Cat Calming Spray
Cat calming sprays are generally used to treat anxiety and its related disruptive behaviors. These might include:
- Scratching furniture despite having access to a scratching pole
- Urine spraying, and generally urinating outside the litter box
- Aggression towards humans
- Tensions with other pets in the household
- Constant crying
In many cases, these actions are prompted by feelings of nervousness in your cat. When a cat feels threatened, they are keen to mark their territory (AKA your home!) as explicitly as possible. These feelings are often the route of destructive scratching, since this allows the cat to leave both a visible mark of their presence, and their scent – secreted through glands on their paws. Urine spraying is another method cats use to clearly delineate their territory. Similarly, aggression in a cat is often triggered by a perceived threat. If your cat is aggressive towards non-household members or new pets, it may be because they are anxious about the newcomer’s intentions towards their territory and their friends. Constant mewling is another method by which cats loudly announce their presence. If your cat feels the need to do this, once again, anxiety over their territory could be the culprit.
You might also decide to try a cat calming spray even if your pet is not currently exhibiting these behaviors. They can also be used as a method of stress reduction when your cat is faced with trying circumstances. For example, you might consider a calming spray when your cat is about to encounter:
- A nearby fireworks display
- A car journey
- A new environment
- A new pet or other household member
- Changes to their home
Many cats are calm and well-behaved the majority of the time, but suddenly grow anxious and erratic when their owners buy a Christmas tree. Others are usually sweet-natured, but become aggressive when faced with a trip to the vet’s or a long car journey. In situations like these, a calming spray can make things easier for both cat and owner.
To sum up, cat calming sprays have two main uses: tackling consistent undesirable behavior which could be triggered by anxiety, and preparing your cat for stressful events, reducing the strain on both of you.
Cat Behavior Problems
As noted earlier, behavior problems are the predominant reason to use a cat calming spray. Before you rush to purchase some, though, it’s worth taking some time to consider what the underlying causes of your cat’s anxiety might be. If your cat has only recently developed one or more of the behaviors above, there’s likely to be a specific trigger. This could be something small, such as moving your furniture around, or something bigger such as introducing a new household member or pet. You might have moved to an entirely new home, or suddenly be out of the house more, which can trigger separation anxiety in some cats. The actions of others can also influence your cat. For instance, if one of your close neighbors has recently acquired a cat, yours could be put on the defensive about their territory. If another neighbor starts playing loud music, your cat will probably wonder what’s going on.
Knowing some potential triggers should provide you with an insight into the best way to use a calming spray – if you need to use one at all. If you’ve only moved the couch, it’s likely that your pet will soon get used to the new layout and settle down, but if larger changes have been happening a little help might be welcome.
If your cat continues to exhibit problematic behaviors, appears anxious, or is otherwise changed from their usual selves, a larger issue could be at play, and you should consult with a veterinary professional as soon as possible. Similarly, if you have no idea why your cat’s behavior has suddenly changed, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet.
Benefits of Using a Cat Calming Spray
Although cat calming sprays are not the solution to every feline freak-out, they can be an incredibly useful weapon in your arsenal against pet unhappiness. Here are a few of the benefits which cat calming sprays can bring:
- It’s Natural and Drug-free
One of the main advantages of using a calming spray, is that it can help your cat’s anxiety without resorting to drugs. Not only does this make them easier to administer, but it also means that you don’t have to alter your cat’s body chemistry – instead, the sprays simply take advantage of cats’ natural pheromone detection abilities.
- It’s easy to use
Another advantage of these products is how easy-to-use they are. The spray should be directed towards problem areas – places your cat tends to urinate or scratch – as well as areas in which they spend a lot of time. Where anxious behaviors are a long-term issue, you might want to pair the spray with a cat pheromone diffuser. These work by the same logic, but disperse the pheromone formula evenly and constantly throughout a room.
- It can significantly improve a Cat’s Mood
Many owners and vets alike agree that pheromone sprays are highly effective – and who doesn’t want their feline friend to be calm and happy? For cats with a nervous disposition particularly, the calming effect of these pheromones can help them to feel at home and significantly improve their quality of life.
- It’s a kind way to tackle bad Behavior
Finally, pheromone sprays are a great way to reduce bad behavior without having to punish your cat. It’s a good idea to give one of these products a try before resorting to the age-old cat deterrent of a cold water spray!
Q: Do cat calming sprays actually work?
A: Generally speaking, yes! Results will vary between cats, (a few, unfortunately, won’t respond at all) but pheromone sprays are considered by veterinarians to be an effective tool for tackling feline anxiety and the disruption it can cause.
The sprays work by taking advantage of pheromones. Like many animals, cats communicate to each other partly through these chemical messages, which are secreted from various areas of their bodies including paws and muzzles. As many of you probably know, this is why contented cats will rub their faces against their owners – they are affectionately marking you with their scent.
Every cat has what’s called a vomeronasal organ, which is located between their nose and mouth. This is the organ used to pick up on pheromone signals. The type of pheromones which some cat calming sprays mimic are known as ‘appeasing’ or ‘calming’ pheromones, and are the exact same chemicals which a cat produces when it rubs its face against objects (or you) – marking them as safe. Other sprays mimic the pheromone which mother cats produce during nursing. When you use a calming spray on an object, then, the chemicals it contains signals to your cat that they are safe, helping them keep their cool.
Q: Are cat calming sprays safe?
A: Yes – as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, cat calming sprays are perfectly safe for both you and your kitty. To make sure you’re using them correctly, always read and retain the instructions, and be sure not to over-use the product.
Some sprays use alcohol as a solvent for their synthetic pheromones, so should not be sprayed directly onto your cat – or yourself if you have particularly sensitive skin. You should also wait for 15 minutes to give the alcohol a chance to evaporate before introducing your cat to the treated area.
It’s a good idea to check out the ingredient list before using a new spray too. Finally, remember that these sprays are for smelling only, and should not be ingested by your or your cat. To ensure this isn’t an issue, we recommend avoiding using the spray around the area where you feed your cat, or on objects they often put in their mouth, such as certain toys.
Q: When to use cat calming spray?
A: This will depend on what kind of issues you are trying to resolve:
- If your cat has begun to exhibit destructive scratching and/or urine spraying
In cases such as this, begin by applying a few spritzes of the cat calming spray to the areas in which your cat urinates and/or scratches. This could be certain walls, areas of the floor, a couch, or furniture legs. Feliway recommends that you don’t use the spray on scratching poles, since it’s designed to discourage all scratching and this could confuse your cat.
- If your cat is behaving aggressively
If your cat is being aggressive towards someone in the household or other pets, try using the spray evenly throughout your home, focussing particularly on areas where your cat spends a lot of time. Alternatively, you could try plugging in a couple of pheromone diffusers throughout your home so your cat’s entire environment is marked as safe.
- If you want to help your cat stay calm in stressful situations
Perhaps you need to take your cat on a car journey, or to the vets. In this case, a towel imbibed with a few spritzes of calming spray will make the experience easier for most cats. If you are making a change within your home – redecorating, introducing a new pet, or having a visitor, the spray can be used around areas where your cat spends a lot of time, helping them to not feel threatened by the change.
Q: How long will it last?
A: According to Feliway, the effects of their products last for four to five hours, and this is roughly standard. For some situations this will be enough, but for others you may want to reapply the spray once or twice a day, or consider adding an infuser or collar to the mix.
If you plan to use a calming spray for a car journey lasting more than five hours, you will need to remove your cat from its carrier in order to reapply the spray, and allow 15 minutes for it to dry before putting your cat back in.
Our Top Pick
When it comes to cat calming sprays, our top pick goes to Ceva Feliway. It’s a safe, affordable, and versatile product which seems to work for the vast majority of cats. A number of vets also recommend Feliway’s spray, and we can see why. Their formula provides a simple and safe solution to a number of feline-related problems, as well as helping your cat to feel more relaxed in general.