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Animals, much like humans, are creatures of habit. Changes, big or small, can be sources of stress, uncertainty, and even fear for them. Whether it’s a move, introducing a new animal into the household, or even minor adjustments like a new furniture arrangement – all these can affect the well-being of our pets. 

During such times, many pet owners seek ways to provide support to their four-legged friends. In these moments, many turn to products like Feliway, Adaptil, and other calming aids. These products promise to enhance the emotional well-being of pets in challenging situations. But do they really work? 

We took a closer look at some of these products and relied on testimonials from pet owners to gain a deeper insight into their efficacy and application. 

Feliway: Support for Cats 

Feliway is a product designed specifically for cats, based on extensive scientific studies and research. It mimics the natural, calming facial pheromones of cats. These pheromones are chemical messengers produced by cats to communicate with other cats in their vicinity. When cats feel safe and secure, they rub their heads on furniture, walls, or the legs of their owners. Through this gesture, they release facial pheromones, marking their environment as “safe.” 

Feliway uses a synthetic version of these pheromones. The idea behind it is that the presence of these “feel-good” pheromones in an environment can help reduce signs of stress and discomfort in cats. Being a synthetic replica, there are no known side effects, and its use is safe for the cat as well as other pets and humans in the household. 

The effectiveness of Feliway has been confirmed in clinical trials and by veterinarians. It has been found to help reduce stress-related behavioral problems and aid cats in adjusting more rapidly to new surroundings or changes in their current environment. 

Some typical situations where Feliway can be used as support include: 

  • Moving: A new home with unfamiliar smells and settings can be quite stressful for a cat. 
  • Introducing a new cat into the household: This can cause territorial tensions and uncertainties. 
  • Changes in the domestic environment: Such as renovations or adding new furniture. 
  • Traveling: The unfamiliar environment of a transport carrier or unknown place can be anxiety-inducing. 
  • Vet visits: Many cats find the trip to the vet unsettling. 

However, it’s vital to emphasize that Feliway doesn’t work the same for all cats and should not be seen as a cure-all. It should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to stress reduction, which can also include behavioral adjustments and, if necessary, advice from a veterinarian or animal behavior specialist. 

Additional Calming Methods for Cats 

Apart from products like Feliway, there’s a range of methods and approaches available to help reduce stress in cats. Here are some alternative stress-reducing methods: 

Calming Music   

cat laying in guitar case
image: ThePixelman – pixabay.com

There are special music or sound CDs and playlists designed specifically for cats to soothe them. The gentle melodies and sounds are crafted in a way to produce a relaxing effect, aiding in creating a tranquil environment. 

Cat-Friendly Environment 

Setting up “safe havens” or elevated areas where cats can climb can give them a sense of security. Additionally, scratch posts or hideouts can offer a sanctuary where the cat feels protected. 

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) 

catnip
image: PhysicalPixel – pexels.com

Many cats respond positively to catnip, finding it calming. There are toys filled with catnip, or you can sprinkle dried catnip on a toy or bedding. 

Massages and Brushing   

A lot of cats find gentle petting, massaging, or brushing soothing. This can also be a wonderful way to strengthen the bond between the cat and the owner. 

Bach Flowers 

Some pet owners swear by Bach flower remedies, particularly the “Rescue Remedy” blend, to calm their pets in stressful situations. 

Interactive Toys 

Cat playing with ball tunnel
image: Maire – pixabay.com

Toys that mentally and physically engage the cat can help combat boredom and the associated stress. 

Training and Engagement  

Training cats using positive reinforcement or offering “puzzle” toys that challenge them mentally can also be beneficial in reducing stress. 

Calming Sprays or Wipes 

There are specific sprays or wipes available that contain natural calming agents which can be transferred to the cat’s fur during petting or wiping. 

Alternatives to Feliway 

In addition to Feliway, there are naturally other products on the market designed to assist cats in stressful or anxiety-inducing situations. Here are some alternatives: 

Pet Remedy 

This product utilizes a blend of essential oils, including valerian root, which can have a calming effect on animals. 

Comfort Zone  

Much like Feliway, this product uses synthetic pheromones to soothe cats in stressful situations. 

Zylkene 

A dietary supplement for cats (and dogs) based on a protein derived from milk, known for its calming properties. 

Rescue Remedy Pet 

A plant-based tincture developed to calm animals in stressful situations. 

CatCalm 

A calming herbal-based spray containing ingredients such as lavender and chamomile.

Nutri-Vet Feline Paw Gel 

A soothing gel that cats enjoy licking, which contains ingredients like chamomile and tryptophan known for their calming effects. 

What works for one cat might not necessarily be as effective for another. It’s always a good idea to try different methods and observe what works best for your particular pet. In cases of persistent or severe stress, it’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian or an animal behavior expert. 

Adaptil: Support for Dogs 

Adaptil, a product tailored for dogs, is based on the power of pheromone therapy. It mimics the calming pheromone that mother dogs naturally produce after giving birth to their puppies to reduce their stress and soothe them. Adaptil harnesses this approach to assist dogs in stressful or anxiety-inducing situations. 

How Adaptil Works  

Once Adaptil is applied – be it in the form of a diffuser, spray, or collar – the synthetic pheromones are released into the dog’s environment. These pheromones are detected by the dog’s vomeronasal organs, which are directly connected to the emotional center of the brain. This means that these pheromones provide immediate calming and comforting effects without the dog consciously perceiving them. 

When should Adaptil be used?  

Adaptil can be employed in a variety of situations, including: 

  • New Environments: When moving into a new home or during environmental changes. 
  • Multiple Pets: To reduce tension and conflicts in a household with multiple dogs. 
  • Training and Socialization: Supports puppies and adult dogs during training and adaptation to new situations. 
  • Noise Sensitivity: Assists dogs sensitive to loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks. 

Additional Methods to Calm Dogs 

While Adaptil is a proven method for calming dogs in stressful situations, there are also other approaches and products that can be beneficial, for instance: 

Thundershirt 

A snug-fitting shirt that applies gentle, constant pressure on the dog’s body, producing a soothing effect. 

Aromatherapy

Essential oils candles and lavender
image: googlerankfaster – pixabay.com

Using calming essential oils like lavender can help create a tranquil space for your dog. 

Calming Music for Dogs 

Specially composed music tracks that assist dogs in relaxing. 

Massage and Physical Interaction  

A gentle massage or petting can often work wonders and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  

Woman petting brown dog
image: Blue Bird – pexels.com

It’s important to emphasize that different dogs may respond differently. It’s worth trying various approaches to determine what works best for your furry friend.

Alternatives to Adaptil 

In addition to Adaptil, there are also other products on the market specifically designed to soothe dogs in stressful or anxiety-filled moments. Here are some other options: 

Pet Remedy 

As previously mentioned for cat products, this product uses a blend of essential oils, including valerian root, which possess calming properties and are also suitable for dogs. 

Canine Calm by Earth Heart 

A natural spray that uses a blend of essential oils to aid dogs in stressful situations. 

Relaxivet Natural Calming Spray 

This product contains a combination of pheromones and essential oils, which can have a calming effect on dogs (and cats). 

Hemp Calming Treats 

These treats contain ingredients like hemp oil, chamomile, and L-Theanine, all of which can help soothe dogs. 

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) Collars 

Although they use similar ingredients as Adaptil, there are various brands and versions of DAP collars that might employ different formulations or release methods. 

As with all pet products, it’s important to consult a veterinarian before introducing a new calming agent or product for your dog. It’s also useful to remember that while some dogs may respond positively to certain products, others might not see significant benefits. It may require a period of trial and observation to find the right product for your specific dog. 

Conclusion

Whether one opts for Feliway, Adaptil, or another calming aid, it’s crucial to remember that each animal is individual. What works for one pet may not necessarily work for another. It’s always advisable to speak with a veterinarian before introducing new products to ensure they are suitable for the specific animal and its needs. However, when used correctly, these products can offer effective support and help make the transition into new life situations easier and less stressful for our four-legged friends.

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