Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

Feliway - A Useful Tool to Help Treat Stress in Cats

There are a number of causes that can produce stress in a cat.

The Feliway diffuser and Feliway spray are great methods for helping a cat that is experiencing some sort of stress. Feliway is a synthetic product that mimics the facial pheromones of cats. These pheromones are not detectable to people but cats that are exposed to them experience calmness, familiarity, and security. Below are some instances that may produce stress in a cat, the possible negative consequences of stress, and how Feliway can help.

Cat Stress

The most common causes of stress in cats are as follows:

  • Multi-cat households: Cats, for the most part, are solitary hunters in nature and being in groups can cause them some stress. There are social hierarchy considerations, competition for food and resources, and sometimes certain cats just don't like each other.
  • Remodeling or redecorating: When our house is remodeled, there can be lots of loud noises, debris, extra people in the home, and a general air of hub-bub that can easily cause your cat stress. Even redecorating can cause upset in your feline friend. This is because cats are quite territorial and mucking about with their territory isn't well-accepted.
  • Moving: It's been said that moving is one of the most stressful events that a human can go through and the same is true for cats. Lots of noise, a general air of excitement or stress among the humans in the home, a trip of some kind (all of which are also stressful), and then entirely new surroundings: it is entirely understandable how this could cause your cat to be extremely upset.
  • Boarding: Sometimes it may be necessary to take your cat to a boarding facility while you travel. This can be extremely stressful for your cat, especially if it is a loud room or it can see other cats or dogs.
  • Car rides: Many cats are not very fond of car rides and become upset when they have to take one. Your cat may even get upset before the ride if it sees the cat carrier.
  • Vet trips: Trips to the veterinarian can be upsetting to your cat. They may already be upset from the car ride to the clinic, other cats that have been in the building may have released stress hormones that your cat can sense, previous unpleasant visits may be remembered, there may be dogs in the waiting room that frighten your cat, and cats are generally just often not fans of being handled by strangers.
  • Change in routine: Anything that upsets your cat's normal routine may cause him stress. This includes an owner that may be present more or less than before, a new person in the home, or a new pet in the home.
  • Holidays and parties: Cats can become upset and exhibit stress-related behaviors during holidays or parties. You may be feeling stress, there may be extra hustle and bustle in the home, and people may be keeping different schedules. All of these things can be upsetting for your cat.

Signs of Stress in Cats

Stress in cats can manifest in many ways. Below are some of the more common signs our cats show when they are upset. Remember: your cat is using the following methods to communicate, not to ruin your things or "get back" at you.

  • Scratching: Cats may scratch household objects when they are feeling stressed. Scratching is also a normal behavior caused by reasons other than stress. Consider stress as a possible reason for scratching if your cat is suddenly scratching a new object and one of the above stressors is present.
  • Spraying: Cats use spraying to mark territory and any cat, male or female, may do it.
  • Urinating Outside the Litter Box: A cat that is suddenly urinating on carpeting, clothes, or other items may be reacting to stress. This can also indicate a medical problem like urinary tract infection or diabetes, so be sure to check with your veterinarian before doing anything else.
  • Problems with Feeding: In multi-cat households, there will sometimes be spats about food. Cats may even fight near food bowls. Make sure you have plenty of food available in different areas so your cats don't have to share if they don't want to.

How Feliway Can Help Cats

Feliway mimics the effects of the feline facial pheromone. Cats use this pheromone to communicate with one another; it is why you see cats rub their faces on objects, humans, and each other. When cats are exposed to it, they exhibit signs of calmness and serenity. This probably happens because the feline facial pheromone triggers certain pathways in the brain that decrease feelings of anxiety. Feliway comes in a spray and a diffuser. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for square footage when using the diffuser (it will cover an area of about 600 square feet).

Feliway works best when you simultaneously work to reduce the stressor causing the problem. Provide extra scratching posts and pads, extra litter boxes, extra food bowls, provide your cat with a quiet place away from construction noise, and do whatever else you can to alleviate the cause of your cat's stress while also using Feliway in the following ways:

  • Place a Feliway diffuser in the room or rooms in which your cat displays marking behavior (scratches or urine).
  • Place a Feliway diffuser in the room in which your cat spends the most time.
  • If your cats are fighting around food bowls, place a Feliway diffuser in that area.
  • Use Feliway spray on scratched or urine-marked items. Spray the area 2-3 times a day until your cat stops marking it. This seems to work best when cats are scratching in response to stress but you may see improvement with territorial scratching as well. Be sure to provide appropriate scratching surfaces while you are treating the scratched items.
  • Feliway spray can be applied inside cat carriers before placing your cat in for a car ride.
  • Ask your boarding facility if they will plug in a Feliway Diffuser near your cat.

Always use Feliway for at least 4 weeks before giving up. Many cats will respond much more quickly, especially if the stressor is also removed or reduced, but you shouldn't give up on Feliway until at least a month has passed.

Feliway can be an extremely helpful tool in the fight against feline stress, especially when we understand the causes and also work to remove them.

New Feliway Formulation for Aggression in Multiple Cat Households

There is a new Feliway formulation now available, Feliway Multicat, which is especially good for calming cats in multicat homes that have been showing aggression toward each other. The diffuser works the same way as the original Feliway diffuser does, but its composition is specific for helping to diffuse intercat aggression.

You May Also Like These Related Articles:

Hyperesthesia in Cats

Benefits of Multiple Cat Scratching Surfaces

Traveling With Your Cat

Cat Diarrhea

Stress in Cats

Cat Not Using Litter Box? Inappropriate Urination in Cats

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.