Cats spread their facial pheromones by rubbing against walls, furniture, and even humans. The scent marks things as "theirs" and helps them feel secure in their surroundings. Feliway spray calms nervous felines by mimicking that natural scent, thus giving them the comforting signal that everything is okay. This is a different method than Canine Calm, a dog soothing product with botanicals as its active ingredients.
Preparing for a Stressful Situation
I discovered Feliway spray while preparing my cats for a 1,200 mile drive to a brand new home. We were moving out of state, and of course our pets at the time (three felines, a horse, a bird, and two fish) were coming with us. We planned to drive straight through, which should have taken about 20 hours. The horse was coming separately, but we planned to transport the fish in plastic bags and cage up the rest of the critters.
One of the cats was a laid-back, nothing-flusters-me type, but the second was a Nervous Nellie, and the third was a former feral who freaks out if he's anywhere but hiding under the bed. We decided to buy them a large cage where they could all ride together, complete with food, water, and a litter box, but I was still concerned about their stress level.
While shopping for a suitable cage, I noticed Feliway in the cat section of the local pet store. It piqued my interest, since the label said that it soothes cats. I wasn't entirely convinced it would work, but it seemed like it was worth a try.
Creating a Calm Environment
I knew that the cats would hate the cage, so I made it as appealing as possible, with soft blankets, familiar food and water bowls, and a travel-sized litter box. I used the Feliway spray on the blankets, hoping that the pheromones would make the new, confining space seem a little less threatening.
We loaded the cats in, and while they weren't too happy, none of them went bonkers as we pulled onto the expressway for the long drive south. Initially there was some caterwauling, but they had all calmed down a couple of hours into the trip. Eventually they started eating and drinking and even used the litter box.
Using Feliway turned out to be a lucky choice, since we ran into a freak ice storm halfway to our destination that added several hours to the trip. Much of that time was spent at a dead stop on the expressway while the many accidents were cleared up. I was worried about the pets, but the bird and fish seemed fine, and the cats took it in stride.
A Welcoming New Home
When we finally arrived at our new house, I went inside and sprayed Feliway in some strategic areas. Then we carried in the cage and released our feline trio. Two of them immediately started exploring, while the feral found the closest spot to hide behind the furniture. We decided to let them get settled while we went out to dinner.
I forgot my purse, so I had to go back inside to get it. I actually caught the feral out and about; he had jumped up onto the counter! Of course, he ran to hide again when he saw me, but I wondered if the Feliway had given him the confidence to come out of hiding so quickly.
Besides helping cats adjust to stressful situations and new homes, the product is also supposed to help with inappropriate scratching and urine marking. Thankfully I've never had those problems, so I can't say just how effective it is in those circumstances. My cats only have an occasional accident, with I clean up with a product like Nature's Miracle or Zero Odor. I think there's a good chance it would help, given its effectiveness with the move.
Feliway is also available in a diffuser if you want to have it present continuously in certain areas of your house.