Scientists Find Pheromones Are The Key To No More Fighting Like Cats And Dogs
There’s a reason why the term, ‘Fighting Like Cats and Dogs,’ is so often used for knock ’em down, drag ’em out fights. Cats and dogs are known for having relationships that are often less than friendly.
But researchers from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom believe that filling your house with the scent of pheromones may be just what the sibling specialist ordered when it comes to keeping cats and dogs living under the same roof happy.
The research was conducted by Professor Daniel Mills and Dr. Miriam Prior. They looked at the effects two different pheromone products had on the interactions between cats and dogs in homes where the two cohabitated.
They used two products that emitted calming pheromones for cats and dogs–Feliway Friends (cats) and Adaptil (dogs). One group used the Feliway Friends and the other used the Adaptil. Neither the pet parents nor the researchers knew who was using what (they were unlabelled packages given out by an independent staff member). They surveyed the pets’ owners and found that over a six-week period of use, there were fewer incidences of undesirable interactions between the cat and the dog. The dogs barked at and chased the cats less, the cats hid from the dogs less, and there were fewer staring matches all-around.
Those who were using the Adaptil for dogs even found that there were more gentle and genuine greetings between the dog and the cat, and they spent more time together in the same room, relaxing.
Professor Mills said that he believes this is the first study of its kind to look at pheromone products to help the two species live more comfortably and with less animosity toward each other while in the same house.
He also said that 7% of homes in the United Kingdom had both a cat and dog in residence, many pet owners live with potentially stressful animal interactions on a day-to-day basis, and this can bring about serious consequences for the welfare of the pets. Not to mention the sanity of their pet parents.
Sadly, problems between a new pet and an existing pet are often the reasons cats and dogs are taken to shelters for rehoming, and helping improve harmonious relationships can reduce that statistic.
The researchers assumed that the comfort of the cat in a home seems to have a strong influence over the dog/cat relationship, and were surprised that the product releasing the dog pheromones were the ones seen to increase the desirable interaction behaviors.
Dr. Prior is a vet who took part in the research as part of her postgraduate degree in Clinical Animal Behavior. She said that though it may be expected that the Feliway Friends’ release of cat pheromones would offer better interactions between the cats and the dogs based on the cat’s comfortability, that was not the case. Their results showed that the dog’s behavior and feelings may likely be the primary factor behind the interaction with a cat ‘sibling.’ They believe this may be the case because if the dog is more relaxed, he’s less likely to disturb the cat. This stresses the cat less, and encourages the cat to possibly commit to some form of social interaction and bond with the dog.
The researchers want to continue investigating the effects of the pheromone products on an individual level, as well as when used in combination with both the resident dog and cat of the household.