Feliway is a pheromone-mimicking product, a synthetic copy of the facial pheromones produced naturally by cats to mark their territory as safe and familiar. Feliway is available as an electric plug-in diffuser and as a spray. When used according to the label, Feliway does not have any negative side effects. According to Drs. Foster and Smith, "Feliway ... quickly puts an end to stress-related behaviour like urine marking and inappropriate scratching." However, there are some dangers to be considered.
What is Feliway?
Webster's dictionary defines a pheromone as "a chemical substance ... produced by an animal and serves ... as a stimulus to other individuals of the same species for one or more behavioural responses." Cats produce this pheromone in their cheeks, and it sends friendly messages to other cats. By mimicking the cat's natural facial pheromones, Feliway creates a sense of familiarity and security in the cat's environment.
Feliway was created to comfort and reassure cats who are coping with stressful situations, such as transitions, travel, moves, new family members and other cats or pets. Feliway is species-specific, and only cats are affected by these synthetic pheromones.
Feliway Products and Testing
Feliway solution and the Feliway diffuser device have been tested and listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The contents are not considered toxic in the amounts contained in the spray or the diffuser.
The Material Safety Data on this product shows that the pheromone chemical itself is not dangerous, but the ethyl alcohol ingredient, when misused--ingested, inhaled, put in the eyes or poured onto the skin--can be irritating, painful or possibly toxic. There may be some dangers if the Feliway solution is ingested, and your pet may experience diarrhoea or gastrointestinal distress You should contact your veterinarian, but do not induce vomiting.
Because a product regulating agency in Michigan believes Feliway contains a pesticide, it cannot be sold in Michigan.
The Feliway diffuser contains a wax-based paraffin oil, similar to a candle, and it is odourless. Most of the dangers associated with Feliway are connected with the electricity necessary to operate the diffuser. An adult should assemble the Feliway diffuser. The surfaces of the plug-in device reach high temperatures to stimulate evaporation of the active ingredient, so the surfaces should not be touched once the diffuser has been activated. The device should only be plugged into a secure 120-volt electrical socket. If the weight of a Feliway plug-in diffuser causes the plug to sag in the outlet, this may trigger an electrical short, sparks and possibly a fire. To avoid fire danger, the Feliway plug-in unit must be removed, and the outlet should be replaced with a new one. Do not cover the diffuser or install it behind furniture or near curtains, drapes, blankets or other flammable items.
Because birds are susceptible to respiratory problems--and the Feliway plug-in diffuses into the air--Dr Lynn Dustin, DVM, of the Bay Area Bird Hospital, says: "I...have a problem with the diffuser and do not think it should be used in a home with birds. I have no problem with Feliway spray as long as it's used at least 4 or 5 feet from the bird, and not sprayed at the bird."
Even though Feliway spray is not toxic to animals or humans, never spray Feliway directly onto your cat or another pet or person. Feliway spray is 90% ethanol alcohol. If your cat licks it, this could be dangerous and cause internal problems.
Before you treat an area with Feliway spray, take your pets and children out of the room. Do not saturate surfaces; just use a few sprays at a time. Only bring the children and pets back into the room after the area has dried for about 15 minutes.