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Pheromone Diffuser for Cats: Vet-Reviewed Pros, Cons & FAQ

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Synthetic Pheromene Diffuser and Tabby Cat

Pheromone Diffuser for Cats: Vet-Reviewed Pros, Cons & FAQ


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Pet parents use pheromone diffusers to reduce stress and anxiety in cats. They release continuous streams of synthetic pheromones that can decrease anxiety and are frequently suggested as ways to manage unwanted stress-related behavior, such as marking and scratching.

Cats rely on body language, vocalization, and scent to communicate with each other. When cats rub against each other or their favorite humans, they’re leaving behind pheromones that help them feel comfortable. Below, we’ll discuss how the pheromone diffusers work and if you should get one for your cat.

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How Does It Work?

Commercial pheromone diffusers are incredibly easy to find and set up. They’re available in most online and brick-and-mortar pet stores. Starter kits generally contain everything pet parents need to get set up. The pheromone products usually come in small bottles designed to fit into diffusers, and they need to be plugged in to work.

They release calming synthetic pheromones continuously and are most effective when located in places where cats spend lots of time or are prone to engage in unwanted behavior such as marking or scratching. Calming pheromone products are very different from traditional behavior-modifying medications, which makes them relatively safe to use.

Synthetic Pheromone Diffuser for Cats
Image Credit: Dr. Karyn Kanowski, Pangolia

What Are the Different Types of Pheromone Diffusers?

There are a few companies that make pheromone diffusers for cats. Some have products built around different feline pheromones, such as those produced by nursing mothers or those found on cats’ faces.

Several formulations are available, including options to help with stress reduction and ones designed to calm felines in multi-cat homes. They can reduce stress-related behavior like inappropriate scratching, particularly when cats’ environmental needs are being met.

Diffusers are only one of several ways pet parents can take advantage of calming pheromone products. Sprays and collars make it easy to use pheromone products when away from home or when a bit of extra calm is called for (such as during trips to the veterinarian.)

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Advantages of Pheromone Diffusers for Cats

Pheromone products can reduce stress and anxiety in some cats, and they’re convenient to use and safe. They’re especially helpful in homes with several cats and may prevent resource-guarding and territorial disputes. They’re also safe to use around dogs.

Disadvantages of Pheromone Diffusers for Cats

Pheromone diffusers only cover a few hundred square feet. Multiple setups may be needed to provide sufficient coverage for the products to be effective. Pheromone refills last for about 30 days or so, and the diffusers also need to be replaced occasionally.

While the products often work quite well, they’re sometimes not strong enough to effectively address moderate to severe anxiety on their own.

Synthetic pheromone diffuser and black kitty
Image credit: Dr. Karyn Kanowski, Pangolia

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How Do Cats Show Stress and Anxiety?

Cats behave differently when they’re stressed out. Changes in eating and litter box habits, excessive vocalization and grooming, stomach problems, hiding, and aggression can all be indications of feline stress.

Cats suffering from mild anxiety often hold their tails close to their bodies and try to avoid whatever is bothering them. Those who are moderately anxious may pull their ears to the side, crouch, and hold their tails close to their bodies.

Highly stressed cats may have dilated pupils, and their hair sometimes stands straight up.

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Are There Ways to Help Stressed and Anxious Cats?

A veterinarian should see pets who appear to be stressed or anxious to make sure they’re healthy, but there are several steps pet parents can take to reduce their cats’ stress.

1. Litter and Dining Locations

Cute cat near litter box in room
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Cats generally don’t like to eat close to where they use the bathroom; most prefer to have separate areas in which to dine and relieve themselves. Cats also typically enjoy having their litter boxes set up in places where they won’t be disturbed and can relax while using the facilities.

2. Cleaning

Cats have incredibly sensitive noses and can become stressed when exposed to dirty litter box smells and questionable odors from food and water bowls. Daily scooping is absolutely essential for keeping cats’ litter boxes fresh, and their food and water bowls should be cleaned every day with hot, soapy water.

3. Scratchers and Perches

Cats like to scratch and hang out in high places; both behaviors are deeply ingrained feline traits. Providing them with a few scratching posts with different surfaces can give them enjoyable (and human-approved) ways to meet this fundamental need.

Since most cats enjoy viewing the world from higher elevations, it’s ideal to install high perches or a cat tree to help them feel safe and comfortable.

4. Resources

Multi-cat homes must have sufficient resources to prevent competition, which can lead to stress and aggression. Cats always need their own food and water setups, litter boxes, and toys. When it comes to litter boxes, it’s best to have one per cat plus an extra to encourage cooperative behavior.

5. Routine

A cat and a clock.
Image Credit: Gelpi, Shutterstock

Cats generally thrive when they have routines to look forward to. Most do well when they know that they always get cuddles after breakfast and that playtime happens a bit before bedtime.

Changes can be stressful for cats, and routines can provide them with a sense of security that helps them stay mellow.

6. Mental and Physical Stimulation

Cats that don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation can easily become restless, stressed, anxious, and even bored. Playing with your cat is essential to ensure they get enough physical activity, which is vital for their physical health and mental well-being.

Short, daily play sessions are best, but interactive games and puzzle feeders are great ways to keep cats’ minds and bodies engaged when the owners are away.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do Canine Pheromone Products Calm Cats?

Commercial products for dogs are designed to mimic canine pheromones and, therefore, won’t work in cats. Canine pheromone products appear to be particularly helpful in encouraging dogs to relax, which potentially reduces stress in cats who live with them.

Are There Other Options for Addressing Moderate and Severe Feline Anxiety?

Cats with severe anxiety can benefit from behavior modification and medication. Your vet can prescribe medications to help after an examination, and you can contact a veterinary behaviorist to help you resolve significant problems related to stress.

Are there places where diffusers shouldn’t be plugged in?

It’s a good idea to avoid setting up diffusers close to vents and air conditioners to maximize the amount of time between refills. Putting diffusers in rooms with open windows and doors can also cause the refills to run out faster than they usually do.

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Pheromone diffusers are easy-to-use products that can help reduce and manage feline anxiety. They’re incredibly easy to find, simple to set up, and can help cats feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Multiple diffusers are required in large homes, and the pheromone chemicals need to be replaced regularly. The refills last for about a month or so. Before relying on a diffuser to reduce your cat’s stress, make an appointment with your vet to ensure they’re not sick or injured.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Dr. Karyn Kanowski, Pangolia

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