This month, our friends at Chewy.com gave us the chance to try out the Feliway diffuser from Comfort Zone as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program. We've actually used this diffuser years ago--way back at the beginning of Soth's struggles with Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. When we went to another vet's office for a second opinion, he had suggested trying the Feliway diffuser.
A Feliway diffuser is basically like the plug-in air fresheners you can get, except instead of diffusing pleasant scents, it dispenses a vapor that is like cat facial pheromones. Cat facial pheromones are used by cats for calming. You might notice your cat rubbing his face on walls, on your hand, on furniture. When cats do that, they leave behind their pheromones and that reassures them and calms them when they're in that area. The Feliway diffuser mimics that and makes cats feel calmer in their surroundings. Feliway is recommended to help cats deal with stressful situations like moving to a new home or big changes in the home--like moving furniture or adding a new pet. Since Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease can be caused by stress, Feliway is one of the many things you can use to try to de-stress your cat.
Even before I opened the packaging, Soth was interested in the diffuser. The packaging advertises that studies show the diffuser is 90% effective in reducing scratching and urine marking in 28 days with results in as few as 7 days.
The diffuser comes in two parts: the diffuser and the bottle of liquid. The plug on the diffuser rotates so it can be plugged into vertical and horizontal outlets.
Even before I'd taken the lid off the bottle, Soth was rubbing his face on it.
Within seconds, he'd hopped up next to it and fallen asleep.
The liquid has a lid and you just take that off, screw the bottle into the diffuser, plug it into the wall, and that's it. The diffuser heats up the liquid in the bottle and diffuses the vapor into the area. There's no scent at all, at least not one that human noses can detect, so once you've plugged it in, you really can just forget about it. One bottle lasts about a month and you can purchase individual refills instead of buying the entire diffuser kit each time although Comfort Zone does recommend replacing the entire diffuser every six months.
Like any other plug-in diffuser, the Feliway diffuser is a bit bulky. It sticks out of the wall a couple inches, so you need a nice wide open space to plug it in. Plus, the directions recommend not covering the diffuser or plugging it in under or behind furniture to avoid the risk of fire.
When we tried the diffuser several years ago, it was never clear if it helped Soth or not. We were trying so many different things at the same time: a new diet, new towers to give him his own spaces, new medications, new types of litter. It was impossible to tell what was working and what wasn't. We kept using the diffuser for months, but eventually I just quit buying refills because there wasn't clear evidence that it was having any effect and Feliway isn't cheap.
With Soth's increased health struggles this year, I was excited to have another opportunity to see if it would help at all. Soth has been urinating outside of his box more often than he has been using his box and since his urine has been filled with blood, my carpets look like my house has been the scene of a murder. His favorite location has been my bedroom closet, so I decided to plug the diffuser into the outlet closest to my closet.
Did It Work?
The box says that you might see results in as little as 7 days, but the insert in the packaging says that you need to allow 4 weeks to see improved behavior and that you should use for 90 days "to fully imprint behavior changes."
We've been using the diffuser for 11 days right now. We've seen some improvement. Before plugging in the diffuser, I was cleaning 15 different spots in my closet with our SpotBot every. single. night. Since plugging in the diffuser, Soth has not urinated in the closet. He has, however, urinated directly under the diffuser and he has started urinating in the hallway right outside of the bedroom instead. So, the diffuser has not stopped the inappropriate urination, but it has changed the locations of the urination. Maybe with multiple diffusers around the house, we'd see better results.
The insert in the packaging says the diffuser treats 500-650 sq. ft., which is about half of my house, but I don't know how walls and doorways affect that. I assume that the areas outside of the bedroom would need their own diffuser even if they are on the same level of the house.
Soth has been camping out in front of the diffuser on a regular basis, so I think he does like the diffuser and it does seem to provide him some comfort even if it hasn't solved our problems.
Would I recommend it?
I don't know. I wouldn't not recommend it. It can't hurt to try the diffuser. It might work for some cats who really are just urinating or scratching for behavioral reasons, but I feel like urinating outside of the litter box is often a sign of bigger health issues, so I wouldn't use a Feliway diffuser in place of going to the vet. If your cat is urinating outside of his litter box on a regular basis, your cat needs to go to the vet. While it might just be a sign of stress or behavioral issues, urinating outside of the litter box can be a sign of pain or of illness. Two days ago, Soth was just diagnosed with a large mineral mass in his bladder, which Feliway isn't going to fix. It might help him feel more comfortable and relaxed while he's in pain, but medical intervention is the only thing that's going to solve the problem.
Using Feliway won't hurt anything (except maybe your wallet), but it's not a miracle cure. Soth is having surgery in a little over a week and he'll be confined to one room while he recovers. I'll definitely be relocating our current diffuser to that room while he's recovering and I am considering buying a second diffuser kit so we can have one on each level of the house to try to keep his stress levels from escalating. We haven't had evidence that Feliway doesn't work, but I think it's something that should probably be used alongside other treatments recommended by your vet.
Disclaimer: We were given one Comfort Zone with Feliway diffuser kit in exchange for our honest review as part of the Chewy.com #ChewyInfluencer program.