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Many cat owners, not to mention shelters and rescue groups, rely on feline facial pheromone products to reduce stress levels in cats. When cats rub their faces on objects (and you!) they are depositing these pheromones as a way of marking familiar things, and it’s thought that these chemicals have a calming effect. The most widely-known pheromone product is called Feliway. But does it really work?
A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery provides some reassuring news for Feliway-loving cat owners! It turns out that pheromones can reduce your cat’s stress by a significant amount.
87 cats participated in a research study where they were placed in a situation that usually causes stress in cats…a veterinary exam room. Some of the exam tables were sprayed with Feliway, others were sprayed with a placebo, and others had no spray. All of the cat owners, veterinarians, and testing personnel had no idea which substance was used.
The vets performed a routine physical exam on the cats, and their stress levels were assessed using a standard 7-level cat stress scoring system. The results? The cats exposed to Feliway (29 total) showed “significantly lower” stress levels than the cats who were not. This was determined not just by their scores on the stress test, but also by owner assessments of how their cats reacted to this exam vs. previous exams.
The researchers concluded that feline facial pheromones like Feliway really do lower cats’ stress levels by a significant amount. Based on this experiment using Feliway in a veterinary setting, they suggest that it can be a valuable addition to the feline veterinary exam process.
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