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Just like people, cats can get stressed out from time to time. Boredom, overstimulation (too much noise and/or excessive touching), and changes in their environment can easily set them off. While the best thing to do is keep your cat’s environment as stress-free as possible, calming aids for cats can also help when unavoidable changes are happening in their environment.
According to Dr. Zay Satchu, DVM, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of Bond Vet, there are several different types of products marketed to help relieve stress and anxiety in cats, including treats, collars, sprays and plug-ins. “Sprays and plug-ins work by releasing calming pheromones into the air that are calming and help kitty relax,” explains Satchu. “Treats use a blend of calming and relaxing herbs, similar to how some teas work for people.”
So, what should you look for? The best calming aids contain pheromones, rosemary, chamomile, and/or tryptophan, says Satchu. She’s partial to Feliway products, but there are other options that cat parents have also used with some success. Keep in mind that no product is effective with 100 percent of cats, so it may take trying out a few different options to help your cat feel more relaxed.
Below, you'll find the best calming aids for cats.
Best Overall: Feliway Classic Cat Calming Diffuser
Delivery Method: Diffusion | Key Ingredients: Feline facial pheromone
Easily delivery (diffusion)
Covers up to 700 square feet
No unwanted side effects
Can take up to 7 days to kick in
Need to replace the canister every 4 weeks
Feliway gets high marks across the board, including Dr. Satchu and the veterinarians who care for The Spruce Pets staff's cats. It works by mimicking cats' naturally-produced pheromones to help reduce stress and anxiety. Your cat has specialized nerves that take in the pheromones, and the pheromones send calming signals to the brain.
Clinically proven to reduce urine spraying and scratching in 90 percent of cats, this diffuser can also help calm your kitty in stressful situations like moving, the introduction of a new baby or pet, and during disruptive events like thunderstorms and fireworks. This starter kit, which includes one diffuser and one refill, lasts for four weeks, but you can purchase additional refills separately (view on Amazon).
Best Spray: Pet MasterMind Cool Kitty Cat Calming Pheromone Spray
Delivery Method: Spray | Key Ingredients: Distilled water, proprietary cat pheromone, passion flowers jasmine medley and paraben-free preservative
Can spray it anywhere (you’re not limited to one room)
Also contains soothing flowers
Works on a short term basis
The Pet MasterMind Cool Kitty Calming Spray also utilizes cat pheromones, but unlike a diffuser that’s constantly releasing product into a general area, this one allows you to target and fully control where you spray. In addition to pheromones, it contains passionflower and jasmine, two florals that have additional calming effects. You can use it any time, but it’s especially useful during visits to the vet, while traveling, or when new pets or people come into the house. You can spray it onto your cat's favorite hangout spots, like their bed or carrying case.
Best Wipes: Feliway Animal Health Wipes, 12 Count
Delivery method: Wipes | Key ingredients: Pheromones (F3 Fraction of Feline Facial Pheromone Analogue)
Easy to pack
Releases natural pheromones
Need to have a hard surface to wipe
Only 12 in a box
Whether you’re driving down the road to your local vet’s office or taking your kitty on a long car ride, traveling can be stressful for cats. Just like baby wipes, these Feliway Travel Calming Wipes, which rely on pheromones as the active ingredient, are easy to throw into any bag or in your glove compartment. You don’t apply them to your cat directly, but you can wipe down any hard surface, like a cat carrier or the car or plane seat while you travel. When you do, a facial pheromone, similar to the one that cats give off when they rubs his cheek against the furniture (or you), is released to produce a calming effect.
Best Treat: VetriScience Composure Calming Formula for Cats
Delivery Method: Treat (chew) | Key Ingredients: Colostrum calming complex biopeptide blend, L-theanine, thiamine (vitamin B1)
Starts working in 20 to 30 minutes
Can increase dosage for desired results
Can be broken into smaller pieces
Some cats might not eat them
Can be difficult to chew
These treats, which combine colostrum, L-theanine, and thiamine (a B vitamin) can start to calm your cat down in as little as 30 minutes. In addition to soothing the nervous system, these ingredients support cognitive function and improve brain health. The dosage, or amount of chews you give, depends on your cat’s weight but if you’re not getting the results you want, you can double or triple the amount with no adverse effects. You can also break a treat into pieces if a smaller bite is more appealing to your cat or you want to offer them a smaller dose. If you have a cat with an anxious personality, you can give these daily or you can administer them just as needed during particularly stressful times.
“My cat is generally very nervous, so we wanted to find something to help her during car rides. It took several tries to get her to eat the VetriScience Composure treats, but we eventually had success by adding them to her regular breakfast. They do seem to help her chill out.”–Margaret Badore, Senior Editor
Best Diffuser: ThunderEase Multicat Calming Pheromone Diffuser
Delivery Method: Diffusion | Key Ingredients: Natural nursing pheromones
Covers up to 700 square feet
Easy to use
Needs a refill every 30 days
Another diffuser option, this kit from ThunderEase can help calm down all of the cats in a multi-cat household. This particular diffuser mimics the natural pheromones that are given off by a mother cat as she’s nursing, which helps reduce fighting among cats in the same household, decrease stress and anxiety, and boost resilience, helping your cat better adapt to any changes. Like the Feliway diffuser, this kit covers up to 700 square feet of space but requires refills. You can purchase the 30-day supply, or opt for 60 or 90 days of coverage.
Best Drops: Richard's Organics Pet Calm
Delivery Method: Liquid drops | Key Ingredients: Valerian, chamomile, passionflower, skullcap extract
Uses organic ingredients
Easy to travel with
Can be difficult to give to your cat
Wears off in a few hours
Richard’s Organics Pet Calm combines four relaxation-inducing herbs—valerian, chamomile, passionflower, and skullcap extract—that may help alleviate stress, anxiety, excitability, and improve your cat’s sleep. Because it’s a liquid drop, administration can be a challenge, especially since there are no added flavors to entice your cat to consume it. We recommend dropping it onto your cat’s paw and letting him or her lick it off.
Best Collar: Sentry Calming Collar for Cats
Delivery Method: Collar (inhalation of pheromones) | Key Ingredients: Cat pheromones
Releases pheromones which is very effective
Works for 30 days
Some cats get irritated by collars
Similar to the diffusers and calming sprays, calming collars work by releasing pheromones that ultimately work to help calm your cat’s nervous system. The manufacturer claims this collar has been shown to reduce excessive meowing and fear of loud noises and curb bad behaviors in clinical trials. Satchu notes that having a collar on can stress some cats out, which defeats the purpose of the calming aid. However, if your kitty is used to wearing a collar, this is could be a good option for you.
Best Budget: ThunderWunders Calming Chews for Cats
Delivery Method: Treats | Key Ingredients: L-tryptophan, chamomile flower, dried cheese, dried chicken liver, green tea extract, rosemary extract, salmon oil
Picky cats might not eat them
The price of calming aids can add up quickly, especially since they require regular refilling. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option that’s still high-quality and highly-rated, these ThunderWunders Calming Cat Chews fit the bill. There’s 100 in the chews in the container, so they break down to less than 20 cents per chew. Each chew contains three of the main ingredients Satchu recommends for calming your cat—tryptophan, chamomile, and rosemary—as well as other ingredients like dried chicken liver and dried cheese to entice your kitty to actually eat them.
What to Look for in Calming Aids in Cats
One of the major things to consider when choosing the best calming aid for your cat is the delivery method. There are four major types: treats, collars, sprays, and plug-ins. You know your cat best, so the best one for you may not be the best for someone else. But if you want an expert opinion, Satchu says, “I have confidence in the abilities of the Feliway plug-ins and sprays, but have heard mixed reviews from cat parents that have tried the collars and treats. Some cats will [also] be annoyed just by having a collar on and that will defeat the purpose.”
Another big factor is the ingredients. Satchu says that pheromones, rosemary, chamomile, and tryptophan are some of the top ingredients to look for, but other products contain additional calming aids like passionflower, colostrum, L-theanine, and jasmine. If you want to try calming treats, you’ll want to look for additional ingredients like chicken or liver so your cat will want to eat them.
Whether or not portability is important depends on how you need to use the calming aid. If your cat is stressed when at home, a plug-in diffuser is probably your best bet, but if you’re trying to figure out a way to calm your cat when visiting the vet or traveling, you’ll want to try a wipe, spray, or treats.
Are CBD products safe for cats?
CBD is spending some serious time in the spotlight—for humans and dogs—but there’s not enough research that’s been done on the effects in cats. Because of this, we do not recommend the use of CBD oil as a calming aid for your cat unless you’re under strict supervision by your own veterinarian.
Is lavender essential oil safe for cats?
Lavender essential oils may be a good calming aid for humans, but it should not be used near or on your cat. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, lavender contains two components, linalool and linalyl acetate, that are toxic to cats.
Why Trust The Spruce?
As a feline-obsessed cat mom of three, Lindsay Boyers is always on the lookout for things that will make life easier and happier for her fur kids. She’s personally tried Feliway products with great success, but also spent some time talking with a qualified veterinarian to get recommendations for the most effective products and ingredients to help calm cats down.
For additional information on cat calming aids, we spoke to Dr. Zay Satchu, DVM, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of Bond Vet.