Cat Experts Recommend These Sprays To Calm Your Stressed Kitty — & Explain How To Use Them

Cute cat with owner at home, closeup

Travel, vet visits, and new environments can all increase your cat’s anxiety and lead to signs of stress, like hiding, hissing, and swatting. To help your cat relax, the best cat calming sprays use pheromones or natural flower essences to make your cat feel like they’re in a safe space.

Many calming cat sprays use synthetic pheromones to put your cat at ease. “Have you ever seen a cat rubbing her cheek against a piece of furniture, or even your leg? Cats have facial pheromones that we can't perceive,” Hannah Shaw, a humane educator, kitten rescuer, and author of Tiny But Mighty, tells Bustle. “Calming sprays help cats feel at ease by closely mimicking natural feline facial pheromones and helping the cat feel that they're in a safe and familiar environment.” When using sprays, don’t spray the product directly on your cat. Instead, spray items they interact with, like blankets and carriers.

Sprays can be used daily or as needed, but diffusers are another great option, especially for times when you need more frequent or sustained calming like after a move, helping newly adopted cats adjust to your home, or for cats that get stressed by other pets or visitors, according to licensed veterinary technician Ellen Carozza in an interview with Bustle. These plug into a wall outlet and release pheromone vapor. Cat calming sprays and diffusers are safe to use on cats of all ages, but, as Carozza explains, “Not all cats respond to them, and they are not the 'magic bullet,' but can assist in calming down cats.” If your cat hasn’t responded to pheromone sprays, or you prefer a pheromone-free alternative, you'll also find a natural flower essence spray below that's similar to the holistic blends used by television host Jackson Galaxy.

Carozza also says that it’s important to follow product directions closely to get the best results and be cautious with sprays and diffusers if you or your cat has asthma. Shaw adds: “I recommend starting slow with any new product. If you are concerned about a reaction, stop using it immediately and talk to a vet.”

If your cat is often stressed at home, Shaw recommends making lifestyle and environmental changes before adding a cat calming spray to your routine: “All cats, but especially indoor-only cats, need to be provided with a healthy balance of novelty/excitement and predictability/safety in order to be happy. That means it isn't enough to just provide a cozy bed and a bowl of food. You also need to provide things like interactive playtime, feeding enrichment, novel toys, perches, and window views.” Shaw also notes that “some cats with extreme chronic anxiety may need medication prescribed by a vet.”

To soothe your stressed-out kitty, these are the best cat calming sprays that can help ease anxiety, reduce unwanted behaviors, and make your feline friend feel safe — and they’re all available on Amazon.

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A Best-Selling Pheromone Spray

Feliway pheromone travel spray is a best-seller that contains synthetic feline facial pheromones to calm cats and reduce unwanted behavior like scratching and urine marking. To reduce anxiety during travel and vet visits, use the spray on your cat’s blanket or carrier about 20 minutes before placing the cat in the carrier. For calming around the house and in new environments, use the spray on furniture, doorways, and other areas where your cat likes to hang out. The spray's effects should last four to five hours. It's nontoxic, drug-free, odorless, and colorless, and it has no effect on other animals in the house. The 20-milliliter bottle is great for travel and contains around 16 applications.

According to cat owners: “I first was introduced in the [vet's] office when I had to take in my skittish cat. He's so skittish that most of my friends and family have never seen him in person. A couple squirts of this on a towel and draped over his cat carrier and five minutes later he was straight out and purring and loving all over the vet. My first blood free vet visit with him!”


A Pheromone Diffuser That’s Good For Longer-Term Calming

For prolonged calming effects, hundreds of cat parents are fans of the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser Kit. Diffusers are great for cats that are stressed around other pets in the home, or for cats adjusting to a new home, a new baby, or a new pet. The diffuser can be plugged into any unobstructed wall outlet (ideally near your cat’s favorite area), and it emits fragrance-free pheromone vapors to calm cats and deter them from urine marking and scratching. The vapor is safe to use around other pets. Every cat is different, but many have reduced anxiety after two weeks of diffuser use. After one month of continuous use, your cat may have adjusted to the environment enough to no longer need the diffuser.

Each diffuser covers one room and lasts about 30 days. It has a built-in auto-shutoff feature to prevent overheating. You can also purchase refills easily.

According to cat owners: “My kitten had bad separation anxiety and my vet suggested getting this for when i am not home. this has helped tremendously in his transition into learning to be alone at times.”


A Natural Calming Spray With Flower Essences

If your cat hasn’t responded to pheromone calming sprays or diffusers, this natural cat calming spray is a good alternative to try. Like the pheromone spray, this option is great for travel, vet visits, and other short-term stressors. The spray is made from a blend of five soothing flower essences: cherry plum, star of Bethlehem, rock rose, clematis, and impatiens. Use it 30 minutes before the stressor for best results, and it can be used every 20 minutes for up to four times a day. Unlike the other picks, this one works on dogs, too. To use, you can spray your hands before petting your cat or spritz onto the cat’s blanket and carrier. Don't spray it directly on your cat.

According to cat owners: “Used it on one older female cat who has in the past been very vocal on car rides, two male kittens who are not used to car rides yet, and one very nervous small dog who tends to cry on trips. I sprayed a bit inside the cat carriers and also sprayed a bit on my hand and petted everyone with it before we left, and everyone was definitely more mellow than usual.”


Also Great: A Lactose-Free Calming Supplement

As an alternative to calming sprays, Ellen Carozza, LVT, recommends Zylkene's behavior support capsules, which can be opened and mixed with your cat’s food. The lactose-free supplement contains a calming milk protein that’s safe for pets with sensitive stomachs, and it can be used for dogs, too. The non-drowsy formula is great for continuous calming or eaten before stressful situations, like vet visits and travel. It’s recommended you start using Zylkene one to two days, or even a full week, before a planned event. One box contains 14 capsules. With the 75 milligram dose, cats up to 10 pounds should have one capsule daily, while cats 11 to 22 pounds should have two capsules a day.

According to cat owners: “My sweet little 15 yr old kitty, Rosie has many stress related issues. The Zylkene has really made a difference in her overall behavior!”