Just like humans, cats experience stress, anxiety, and fear from all sorts of events.
There is no end to the list of possible stress triggers and the behaviors exhibited as a result.*
When suffering from stress, cats may be restless, meow, shiver, or hiss. They may cower in a closet or hide behind furniture. The litter box may be ignored and they will soil, or engage in marking behavior in the home.
Destructive behaviors may be observed such as excessive grooming, chewing or scratching furniture, shoes, pillows, or scratching at walls or doors.
Not only are these behaviors undesirable, it is heartbreaking to see one’s cat suffer so.
Pheromones - Nature’s Invisible Communication
A pheromone is a signal-carrying hormone that is released by an individual of a species (such as cats, dogs, humans, bears, certain insects, etc.) that prompts a specific response by a member of the same species.
Pheromones can signal alarm, readiness for reproduction, a trail to follow, aggression, or be calming—among other things.
Feline Facial Hormone
All cat owners will recognize the common behavior of cats rubbing their faces on objects around the home, and often upon the humans and other animal members of the household.
It is believed that cats emit a pheromone called the feline facial pheromone, and the act of rubbing their cheeks on objects leaves behind this feel-good pheromone.
When the cat comes across these objects once more, the pheromones are detected by the cat and this creates a sense of intimacy with the object, along with an overall sense of well-being. The cat is comforted and calmed to the point it is doubtful she will mark (with urine) or scratch it again.
Pheromone Treatment - Feliway
Feliway is a synthetic analogue of the feline facial pheromone that mimics the effects of this natural feel-good pheromone. Adult cats, and kittens alike, respond to this pheromone’s signal, and it has been proven to be a valuable aid in stress reduction. In some cases it eliminates stress behaviors altogether.
One way Feliway is employed is to spray it on objects (walls, furniture, doors, etc) that the cat is clawing or marking, and when the cat comes to this area again and recognizes the pheromone, it is doubtful she will mark or scratch it again.
Feliway is not detected by humans, and is safe for all domestic cats.
Feliway may be used long term, or for temporary situations.
There is also a Feliway diffuser that works great for larger rooms. Many people use the diffuser when an overall stressful household situation might occur, such as a party, introduction of another pet, or when going out of town and leaving kitty under the care of someone else. The feel-good pheromone pervades the room and helps keep kitty calm.
Alternate Solutions to Feline Stress
*Whenever your cat is exhibiting abnormal symptoms or behaviors, consult with your veterinarian to ensure there is no underlying physical disease. Be sure to have any treatments you choose for your cat first approved by your vet.