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What causes cats to scratch and spray urine on walls, doorways, furniture, etc.?

Cats are territorial animals, and they are most comfortable with the status quo. Any perceived threat, change or stress can cause them to use naturally occurring chemical substances — pheromones — in their paws and urine to mark their territory. Male cats may also mark in response to the presence of a female cat in heat.

What types of situations can cause a cat stress?

There are two general categories of feline stressors — anything that would elicit a territorial response and everything else. Cats can react to greater or lesser degrees to:

·      Other animals: strange cats roaming outside the house, the addition of a new pet to the household, relationship problems with other pets in the home.

·      People: a new person in the house, even relationship problems among humans.

·      Their environment: moving to a new home, remodeling or redecorating, new pieces of furniture.

·      Temporary changes: being transported, hospitalized or boarded.

 Are there other types of feline pheromones?

Cats use the pheromones in their urine to send a statement that says, “I’m here.” Alarm pheromones are released from their paws as they scratch, as if to say, “Look out!” And yet another type of pheromone is released as cats rub their cheeks on objects or people. These facial pheromones have a calming effect on cats. Surfaces marked with these pheromones are recognized by the cat as familiar, non-threatening and comforting. The message they give is “I’m home and everything is fine.” While spraying urine in the house produces a strong, unpleasant odor, facial pheromones are sensed only by the feline nose.

 Are there other reasons why a cat would not use its litter box?

Spraying, or urine marking, is characterized by very distinct behavioral patterns. But there are a number of other reasons why cats urinate outside the litter box. These include medical reasons such as urinary tract infections or problems with the type of litter, location of the litter box or cleanliness of the box.

 What is Feliway?

Developed for pet owners by veterinarians, Feliway is a synthetic copy of cats’ naturally occurring facial pheromones that calms them and discourages both male and female cats from spraying and scratching. Studies show that cats will not mark locations where they already have applied facial pheromones.  Feliway is available as a diffuser that plugs in to an electric socket, and as an environmental spray.

 How is Feliway used?

Feliway is an easy-to-use “plug-in” diffuser that consists of an electrical plug-in unit and disposable (30-day) bottle that will deliver the pheromone 24 hours a day.  It continuously releases the active ingredient into the cat’s environment and allows trouble-free treatment in a 650-square-foot area for approximately four weeks.  If using Feliway spray, it should be sprayed directly onto urine marks and prominent objects, including furniture, drapes, window frames and doorways. Urine marks and objects should be treated one to two times daily for 30 days. Clean urine marks with clear water only, as detergents and other cleansers may degrade the product.

 How can Feliway reduce or end urine marking and scratching, and calm cats in stressful situations?

Place the plug-in with Feliway in the room where marking has taken place. If the cat marks several rooms or more than a 650-square-foot area, use an additional plug-in within one of the other rooms that have been marked.

A new home can be particularly scary for a cat. To prevent marking, plug in Feliway or spray Feliway once a day on prominent objects that could be attractive to a cat, including furniture, window frames and doorways. When moving a cat in a carrier, spray the inside of the carrier with Feliway about 20 minutes before putting the cat inside. Before going for a ride, spray three to four times around the cat’s usual place in the vehicle.

Spending time in a boarding facility can also cause stress. In these cases, spray each corner of the cattery enclosure with Feliway before the cat enters. Repeat daily until the cat rubs its head in the sprayed areas.  

How long should Feliway be used?

To address behavior caused by temporary events, plug the diffuser in for 30 days. Each vial attached to a diffuser lasts approximately four weeks.  Repeat as necessary.  When using Feliway environmental spray, urine marks should be treated once or twice a day for 30 days. With elderly cats, you may need to use Feliway two to three times a day for 45 days, then once every two to three days for as long as necessary.  

How well does Feliway work?

Several studies have shown significant reductions in spraying. One such study shows that 95 percent of cats tested reduced or completely stopped marking.  

Does Feliway have any effect on dogs?

Feliway is a chemical copy of the calming facial pheromones in cats. The product has not been tested on dogs.  

What does it smell like?

Feliway has a slight alcohol smell when wet and is odorless to humans when dry.  There is no smell emitted from the electric diffuser.  

Is the Feliway spray a cleanser?

No, Feliway is a solution that helps control feline spraying. Use of cleaning agents and disinfectants on the same area can degrade the active ingredient in Feliway. Instead, clean the area with water or alcohol before applying Feliway Spray.  

Can Feliway be sprayed directly on pets?

Never spray Feliway directly on animals.  

Will the Feliway spray damage furniture or furnishings?

When used correctly, Feliway spray will not stain and mark. However, it is always best to test Feliway on the desired area before using it.  

Should any precautions be taken with pets and children?

Proper product use will not harm children, adults or pets.  Plug diffusers into electric sockets in an open area most frequented by the cat.  Do not place behind furniture.   

Where can I purchase Feliway?

Feliway plug-ins and spray are marketed through veterinarians by Veterinary Products Laboratories and specialty pet retailers by Farnam Pet Products under the brand name Comfort Zone™ with Feliway.  MSRP: Electric Diffuser with 48 ml vial/$39.25; 48 ml Refill Vial/$21.98.  

Feliway® is a registered trademark of Ceva Santé Animale.