Science behind Feliway

science behind FELIWAY®


Nature's Calming Signals

Pheromones are chemical signals which are widely used for animal communication. When emitted by one individual, pheromones are then detected by other individuals from the same species.  The messages conveyed by the pheromones affect behavior.

In addition to sending a message to other individuals, pheromones are also a reminder for the emitting animal. For example, a cat rubbing its face on its environment indicates that he "owns" this territory to other cats, and it is also a message to himself for later on.

Different body structures secrete pheromones (which are different from hormones), associated with different functions, such as territorial pheromones, sexual pheromones, appeasing pheromones, or alarm pheromones.

Diagram of cat pheromone-producing areas:

Diagram of a cat pheromone producing areas and structures

1. Facial Area.  2. Foot Pads.  3. Mammary region.  4. Perianal area.  5. Urogenital region

Pheromones are detected by a specific organ located in the palate (the vomeronasal organ, VNO) through a specific “pumping” behavior (called “flehmen”) attracting the pheromones from the air into the VNO.

Picture of Vomeronasal structure and its connections to the cat's brain:

Connection of the vomeronasal organ to the cats brain

In the VNO, pheromones activate some receptors, relaying information to the emotional brain, resulting in rapid behavioral and physiological change. These effects occur subconsciously in the target animal.

See the following video of Professor Patrick Pageat explaining this discovery and how it led to the invention of Feliway®:


What is the pheromone in Feliway®?

What is the pheromone in Feliway® and Feliway® Multi-Cat?

Feliway is a synthetic copy of one of the feline facial pheromones (F3) used by cats to mark their territory boundaries.  Sometimes cats that are stressed or in new environments mark their territory with scratching and urine spraying. Feliway is clinically proven* 90% effective in reducing scratching and urine spraying. 

Feliway Multi-Cat contains a different synthetic pheromone from the mammary gland area, and cat's produce it after giving birth.  This pheromone helps bond the kittens to the mother and helps them feel safe and secure.  Feliway Multi-Cat is clinically proven** to help reduce tension and conflict between cats in a home.  

*Mills DS, Mills CB.  Evaluation of a novel method for delivering a synthetic analogue of feline facial pheromone to control urine spraying by cats.  Vet Record 2001.  149: 197-199.

**DePorter T, Lopez A, Olivier E.  Evaluation of the efficacy of a new pheromone product versus placebo in the management of feline aggression in multi-cat households.  Proc ACVB/AVSAB Veterinary Behavior Symposium, Denver, 2014.