A pheromone is a chemical compound that is produced and released by an animal to affect the behaviour of another animal of the SAME species. Coming from the Greek word “pherein,” meaning to “convey” and the English word hormone, the word pheromone was established in 1950 to describe these chemical messages.
Each species has specific pheromones that they release, and specific olfactory receptors with which they receive pheromones.
Pheromones tell others everything from territory boundaries, trust, sexual availability and mood.
Examples in the animal world:
- Cats scratch their surroundings and release pheromones from their paws to signal other cats that this is their territory.
- Ants leave pheromone trails for other ants to show them the way to and from food sources.
- Mother mammals release appeasing pheromones when nursing babies to establish trust and unity amongst the litter.
- We can use pheromones to help our dog and cat companions in a variety of ways. Here at College Manor Veterinary Hospital, we use Adaptil and Feliway from the Ceva company throughout the clinic to help create a calmer environment for our patients.
- Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the dog appeasing pheromone, that is released by mother dogs to her pups at birth and during nursing. It tells the pups that everything is “okay” and acts as a continuous reassurance.
- It has been found, that this pheromone helps dogs of all life stages and in many situations. It is great to use when socializing young puppies and can increase their compliance when training, and to help them sleep through the night. Used alongside exercise and proper training it can calm dogs that have separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, and fear of new places/people, Adaptil is even helpful to reassure senior dogs that have begun to lose other senses, such as sight and hearing.
- Cats have a few pheromones that they use to communicate with other cats. They are described as happy, harmony, and territory markers. Happy pheromones are released from cat’s cheeks when they rub against the things they like. It tells other cats they are happy and that these places are familiar. Harmony pheromones are released by mothers to create a bond and comfort kittens. Territory pheromones tell other cats to back off and stay out of each other’s space. They are released by the feet when scratching and marking up surfaces.
- Feliway comes in a Classic, Friends, and Scratch formulation to simulate each of these scenarios. Feliway Friends promotes unity and peace amongst a household of multiple cats. Using the Classic Feliway will help stressed and nervous cats feel more at ease, reducing fear and tendencies to urine outside the box, or hide from new situations.
Written by College Manor Veterinary Hospital