Feliway without the diffuser?
June 18, 2013 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Would Feliway diffuser refills work without the diffuser?

I'm going to keep the backstory short since I'm not looking for advice on it (yet), but the gist of it is that our new cat doesn't like our old cat. We've gone slow with introductions and done everything by the book, but after two months we still have to keep them separated. We've been skeptical about Feliway, but we really want our cats to get along and we've tried everything else, so we're willing to give it a shot.

However. There are multiple Amazon reviews complaining about the diffusers overheating/smoking/melting, and I'm uneasy around things that might set the place on fire. Plus, Feliway is expensive, and I could get two refills for the price of a diffuser with refill, and more Feliway = better (especially since our apartment is large enough to require multiple diffusers).

I'd imagine that leaving a few Feliway refills out would get the Feliway into the air, reed diffuser style, but probably not in the same concentration as the plugged-in diffuser. Anyone know for sure? Has it been tried? Would the concentration be enough to be effective?

I'm also considering getting the spray, or getting diffusers and only plugging them in when we're home and conscious. But I want to do this right, from everything I've read and heard, having a cloud of Feliway in the atmosphere 24/7 is the way to go. I'm also open to other Feliway dispersal solutions, if anyone knows of any that work.

(NB: I'd prefer answers that stick to the Feliway issue. You're probably thinking "well, have you tried clicker training/cat Prozac/calling a behaviorist/etc?" That's for another question, which I'll probably ask if nothing improves.)
posted by Metroid Baby to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I never had a problem with the diffusers overheating or melting. I can't imagine that the refill bottles are much use without the diffusers though - the heat of the metal rod is what vaporizes the felliway and gets it out into the air, I don't think a refill bottle sitting open at room temperature is going to disperse enough to do much good (plus it will inevitably get knocked over by someone and spilled).

I used the spray in addition to the diffusers, for high-conflict areas and/or to spritz when a fight seemed to be brewing. I don't know how useful it would be on its own though.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:16 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I left a Feliway diffuser plugged in empty for at least a week and it was just fine. The whole plug in diffuser tech has been around for quite a few years, and I have a feeling that it is more a matter of making sure that nothing is obstructing or muffling the diffuser so that it doesn't overheat. It is like when people don't clean out their dryer lint for a few years and are surprised when their dryer catches on fire.
posted by monopas at 12:24 PM on June 18, 2013

The refills would be basically useless without the diffuser. You'd be better off just getting the spray if you don't want to use the diffuser.
posted by monopas at 12:26 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing that the refills are useless without the diffuser. We've used diffusers several times over the years with no problems and heartily recommend 'em for cat issues.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:31 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

They make Felliway collars too, would that be more appealing to you? I used them when Hurricane Sandy knocked out my electricity, and they helped keep the peace until the power was restored.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:56 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

They do recommend replacing the plug-in every six refills or so. We're on #5 in our household, and it's got a bit of sticky build-up going on, but hasn't given us any trouble at all, certainly not overheating/smoking/melting.

If you want to be economical, you could try getting an appliance timer so the juice is only going to the unit half the day, maybe?

Personally, were I in your situation I'd just get the spray.
posted by trunk muffins at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2013

We introduced a new cat in April and bought feliway. What we found about feliway diffusers vs the spray:

1) The diffuser worked well for "his room" (the room with his litter box. ) It made him ok when our other two cats were allowed in to visit. When all three of them are in there now, they are a mellow, happy bunch. This seemed to work as his space is a smaller bedroom.

2) We tried multi diffusers in other areas of the house. Something I noticed- it you have large open spaces and/or high ceilings, I didn't see any difference in their behavior. They are all crazy cats upstairs and lazy happy kittys in the small bedroom.

3)The spray doesn't seem to do anything at all.

4) I've kept the diffuser in his room still going all of the time & refill it when it is empty. But it is also a place where when I plug in my phone to charge, I will touch it to make sure it is warm and not volcanic.
posted by haplesschild at 2:02 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel your pain. I tried the diffusers and they really did overheat. I've used the spray with some success, but in the end I've had to keep my cat separated. I tried the feliway collar but one cat managed to get it off, and it gave the other a rash.

One thing to try is some anti-anxiety treats, and maybe some deops of Rescue Remedy in their water.

Good luck!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:07 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I tried the diffusers and they were worthless for our needs, and they did get quite hot to the touch (no melting and smoking though).

BTW: Feliway refills are much much cheaper on Amazon than in Petsmart, et al.
posted by sm1tten at 5:58 PM on June 18, 2013

I stash a Feliway diffuser under my desk in my studio for occasional use. When it is plugged in, all is calm within the half-hour. When it is unplugged, cat bitchery ensues. I don't leave this one plugged in all the time because I don't have a free outlet that isn't blocked by furniture/equipment and the scent kind of bugs me when it's coming from two feet away. I don't think an unplugged Feliway refill works at all.

I have second diffuser in the master bathroom that I've left on 24/7 for at least the past two years (note: I can't smell this one at all, bathroom and adjacent bedroom are bigger/have better airflow than my studio). It gets as warm as any plug in dispenser does but it hasn't melted or felt alarmingly hot. Several months ago I felt like it was running through refills faster than before so I took to jotting the date the refill was replaced on the refill label, thus far it has remained consistent at using up a refill in 29 days.

I also use a pheromone collar occasionally, on the big black and white kitty. About twice a year she gets unreasonably annoyed by the calico and starts picking on her but a month with the Good Behavior collar gives her time to forget her snit.
posted by jamaro at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, guys! We've ordered a diffuser (for new cat's room) and a collar (for old cat who doesn't stay in a room with doors), and I'll regularly check the diffuser for overheating. I still think the refills might work without the diffuser, but considering that Feliway might not work for them at all, it's probably best to use it according to the directions. I'll report back!

It sounds like the effects only last as long as the Feliway is around; is that accurate? I was hoping it wouldn't have to be an ongoing thing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:11 AM on June 19, 2013

Put the pheromone collar on the cat who is initiating the aggression. In my experience when two cats are actively not getting along (vs carefully ignoring each other) there's one cat that always starts the fight with the other PLUS the other cat reacts poorly by running away or fighting back which only escalates the situation.

As an illustration, in the video I posted above note how the orange cat didn't aggressively or fearfully react to being swatted, he just sort of shrugs and moves away. That's as far as fights ever go between those two: brown tabby defines her space, orange tabby moves off without looking at her. If you can read cat facial expressions, you can see brown tabby is still prepared to lay some more smackdown even after he moves off: she's licking her lips, has her ears pulled back, watching him and doesn't blink the entire time orange tabby is on the desk. By contrast, when brown tabby swats at my more reactive tux cat, tux cat panics and runs or gets pissed and swats back, which triggers brown tabby's instinct to chase/fight and then a giant squalling cat fight ensues. What you want is to stop the fight before it starts by concentrating the calming pheromones around the cat that starts the fight.
posted by jamaro at 10:54 AM on June 19, 2013

It sounds like the effects only last as long as the Feliway is around; is that accurate? I was hoping it wouldn't have to be an ongoing thing.

I think it depends on whether the hostilities are just some minor territorial squabbling that will settle down once each cat has their new routines down versus some sort of irreconcilable differences that you have to actively keep at bay with pheromone trickery. (Though, I've been amazed by some of the happy endings in "My Cat From Hell" episodes featuring cats that were ready to kill each other at the start, so anything is possible. If you get the Animal Planet channel, check it out, lots of good tips.)

For me, I'd initially had two cats (Wolf & Loki) that bonded with each other immediately, and were best buddies for over a decade. Then Wolf got very sick and had to be euthanized at the end of August 2012, and barely two weeks later I ended up taking in a stray cat (Snow) that a co-worker found. And then Loki turned out to have pancreatitis, and by February 2013 he had to be euthanized as well. I don't know if Snow would ever have gotten to like Loki - but I have to wonder if some of her hostility towards him was because she could sense his illness, or if Loki would have been less fighty with her if he hadn't been dealing with chronic pain that none of the drugs seemed to be able to get under control. Maybe if he'd been healthy, I would have been able to phase the Feliway out at some point. But Snow seems to be pretty content now with having the whole apartment to herself, so, maybe she was the main source of the conflict, and I'll need to go back to using Feliway if the universe foists another cat upon me in her lifetime.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:24 PM on June 19, 2013

« Older I want to insert one page into multiple documents....   |   Can you identify this sci-fi short story? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.