Caring for Cats in Northland and Auckland, New Zealand
As a companion animal veterinarian and a boarding cattery owner, I regularly come across stressed cats. Cats are very sensitive animals and any change, like introducing a new pet to the household, a stray cat hanging around the property, shifting the furniture, or a change of environment, can make them feel anxious. At vet school, our behaviourist professor recommended to first always use the ‘cotton wool trick’: rubbing some cotton wool over your cat’s chin glands. This way, the cat’s facial pheromone, which helps making it feel at ease, is released on the cotton wool and if you then rub it in its environment, for example around its food bowl, on its favourite blanket or in the cattery unit, this will help the cat to relax. The scent should stay for 5 days. You can also get a piece of cloth, like a handkerchief, rub it on your cat’s face, and then place it under its food bowl: it will feel more relaxed when it’s eating. As a veterinarian, before I start examining any cat, I always make sure I’ve rubbed my fingertips under its chin, so its scent is on my hands, helping it to relax.
There is a synthetic version of the natural feline pheromone on the market called ‘Feliway’; it comes in a spray bottle or in a diffuser, which you plug in:
Feliway helps prevent or reduce signs of stress, providing a sense of security and well-being.
One vial in the diffuser lasts approximately 4 weeks, covering an area of 50-70 m2. Feliway mimics the facial pheromones produced by cats, resulting in an emotional calming, which reduces a cat’s impulse to mark its territory. Treatment should continue for 30 days, by which time markings should cease. If they haven’t, continue with treatment every 2-3 days thereafter.
At our Cat Hotel Stoney Creek cattery, we try to have the french doors open as much as possible, therefore, the diffuser is not a good option. However, we use the Feliway spray if we deal with a stressed cat, spraying some in the cat’s unit and on its bedding to help it settle in.