You may have heard of cat calming spray, which seems to be all the rage right now. But what is it?
What is a calming spray?
Cat calming spray mimics the pheromones, which are chemical communicators undetectable to us humans, that cats release. The product's purported effect is to calm anxious cats. There are many different brands of cat calming sprays, all of which use pheromones in slightly different ways. One popular brand, Feliway, mimics a cat's F3 facial pheromones. This is the pheromone that they deposit when they rub their scent glands on surfaces (like couches or chairs), and which marks the scented area as "safe." You're supposed to spray the product on areas your cat likes to hang out, like favorite couches or chairs. (Note: don't spray the product on your cat!)
Do cat calming sprays actually work?
Like with many home pet remedies, there is no hard evidence that these sprays work. Anecdotally, some people do report that cat calming spray helps calm their cat down. However, we do not have any sound scientific evidence to support such claims.
Most of the studies on the subject have been funded by the makers of the product, which compromises the integrity of any studies' results. There's also a 2015 study that suggests a major calming spray brand has no effect on cats whatsoever.
That said, there is also nothing to suggest that cat calming sprays are harmful. They may be ineffective, but people report that at least they smell nice. If you're looking for a way to calm an anxious cat, you may want to try a cat calming spray (if you're willing to risk trying an unproven method). However, if your cat seems stressed or anxious, always take them to the vet first. Then, with your vet's permission, spray away.