Science behind Feliway

science behind FELIWAY


Pheromones are volatile 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, and affect their behaviour.

The message released targets other individuals but is also a reminder for the emitting animal. For example, a cat rubbing its face on its environment indicates this is it's territory to other cats, but also to him or herself 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.

parts of the cat that produce pheromones

Diagram of cat pheromone producing areas.

1. Facial Area.  2. Foot Pads.  3. Mammary region.  4. Perianal area.  5. Supracaudal area.   6. Urogenital region

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

Video of how pheromones work on the vomeronasal structure and its effect on the cat's brain.

In the VNO they activate some receptors, relaying information to the emotional brain, resulting in rapid behavioural and physiological change. These effects occur subconsciously, without any possible control by the target animal.

What are the pheromones in Feliway?


FELIWAY CLASSIC is a synthetic copy of one of the feline facial pheromones (F3) used by cats to mark their territory boundaries.  A cat rubbing its face on its environment releases this pheromone, which provides them with reassurance. In a new environment, a cat will also automatically mark after some time, to make this place familiar and safe. Cats also mark their territory with scratching and urine marking, and particularly when they feel stressed. Observation of cats’ behaviour highlighted an antagonism between facial marking and scratching or urine spraying.

The above video of Professor Patrick Pageat explaining this first insight and how it lead to the invention of FELIWAY CLASSIC.

FELIWAY CLASSIC comes from the analysis of multiple samples from the natural facial secretion from cats belonging to different breeds and different sex (male, female) and sexual status (entire, neutered or spayed).

FELIWAY CLASSIC is the perfect copy of the native secretion identified to be common to all cats. It has been tested in numerous experimental and clinical conditions.

FELIWAY CLASSIC diffused in the proximity of a cat mimicks this natural facial pheromone, as a reassuring message, helping prevent or control unwanted urine marking or scratching. FELIWAY CLASSIC is clinically proven*to be 90% effective in reducing urine spraying. 


FELIWAY FRIENDS contains a different synthetic copy of the cat appeasing pheromone that mother cats produce from their mammary area after giving birth.  This pheromone helps bond the kittens to the mother and helps them feel safe and secure.  FELIWAY FRIENDS is clinically proven** to help reduce tension and conflict between cats in a home, by mimicking this appeasing pheromone.  

*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.


FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY contains another synthetic copy of a pheromone secreted by the cat's paws. This pheromone has been identified as the chemical message left by cats when scratching a surface and described as the feline interdigital semiochemical (F.I.S.) in scientific communications*. Cats mark their territory by leaving this chemical message, combined with the visual lacerations. The role of this pheromone is to induce a scratching behaviour in the cat who gets the message. FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY, when applied on the desired scratching surface, encourages the cat to scratch there again. FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY has been clinically proven** to help reduce or stop unwanted scratching in the home, both on vertical and horizontal surfaces, and redirect cats to their scratching post.


* Cozzi A. et al. 2013. Induction of scratching behaviour in cats: efficacy of synthetic feline interdigital semiochemical. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 15(10) 872–878

* Degois M. et al. 2014. Optimize the Management of Inappropriate Scratching Behaviour at Home: The Importance of Texture to Scratch in Presence of Feline Interdigital Semiochemical. ACVB/AVSAB, Denver

* Marquis C. et al. 2013. Association of synergic pheromones to control scratching behaviour: interaction between Facial Pheromone (F3) and Feline Interdigital Semiochemical (F.I.S.). IVBM

* Pageat P. et al. 2009. The effect of feline interdigital semiochemical with primers in relation to scratching marking. 6th IVBM, Edinburgh

** Beck A. et al. (manuscript under review) The effect of a synthetic feline pheromone for managing unwanted scratching.