Pheromones: the key to harmonious pet relationships
Animal behavior scientists from the University of Lincoln, led by Professor Daniel Mills and Dr Miriam Prior, have demonstrated that appeasing pheromones could be the key to both dogs and cats peacefully living under the same roof.
The new research explored the effects of two pheromones on cat-dog interactions.
Seven percent of UK households are estimated to own both a cat and a dog, despite a popular view that the two do not live well together. This is the first study to evaluate the effects of pheromone products Feliway FriendsTM and AdaptilTM on cat-dog interactions, in homes where owners perceived the potential for improvement in the relationship between their cat and dog. A blinded parallel randomized trial design over a 6-week period was used to evaluate the effect of each of the two products, with 17 participants in each group completing the trial. Owners reported weekly on the frequency of 10 specific undesirable interactions and seven specific desirable interactions. Total undesirable and desirable interaction scores both showed significant linear contrasts over time (undesirable score decreased; desirable score increased). Undesirable interaction scores were significantly lower (with a very large effect size) during treatment compared with baseline. There were no significant differences between the two pheromone products in relation to these outcome measures. AdaptilTM and Feliway FriendsTM were both associated with a significant decrease in: dog chasing cat/cat runs away; cat hiding from dog; cat/dog staring at the other; and dog barking at cat. With AdaptilTM a significant increase was also seen in: friendly greeting and times spent relaxed in the same room. From baseline (Week 2) to the end of the study (Week 6) there was a significant improvement in owners' perception of dog relaxation in those participants who received AdaptilTM and of cat relaxation in those participants who received Feliway FriendsTM. Similarity in the core chemical structure of the appeasing pheromones might explain the main effects, whilst different species-specific additions may explain the product-appropriate species-specific increases in relaxation scores. Specific behavioral improvements seen with AdaptilTM may reflect a greater calming of dogs in this group, reducing their interest in seeking interaction with cats in the same home and the tension in the cat as a result. In conclusion, both products appear to improve the cat-dog relationship and it would be beneficial to further study their use in combination and against placebo. If selecting one product AdaptilTM may be preferable, unless there is a particular need to increase the cat's relaxation.
Feliway FriendsTM and AdaptilTM both improved cat-dog relationships in multi-species households. Although careful attention to the exact interactions affecting the relationship may help to determine the appropriate product, this appears to be of marginal clinical relevance in most cases. From a practical perspective, the evidence suggests that, in the absence of detailed behavioral assessment either appeasing pheromone diffuser product may be used with reasonable expectations of success in multi-species households experiencing tension between subjects. Further study is warranted to assess whether both products could be used together to maximize efficacy since each product has a different formulation and there is no evidence of the two products counteracting each other.
Their new scientific paper is now available to read online via the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.