Cat Pheromone

Making the place more friendly

by Michael
(London, UK)

Nepetalactone - cat attractant

Nepetalactone – cat attractant

It would seem that cat pheromones are in cat scent (see below) – there is an overlap. Cats like to exchange scent, rub it on their human companions to make their surroundings more friendly. They usually do this with their head (head butting and see heavy duty head butting in this video) and sides of mouth. Feliway® is a commercial product that the manufacturers says is “a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone (see below), used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.” Feliway® is designed to make a cat’s surroundings more friendly and less stressful with the objective of reducing stress related illnesses. It could be argued that full-time indoor cats need Feliway® more than indoor/outdoor cats but that is supposition. Pheromonatherapy is said to be a new area of veterinary medicine to do with altering behavior through the use of pheromones.

Cat scent carries messages to other cats, particularly with respect to claims on territory (home ranges for the wild cats and domestic cats). It is a well known form of cat communication. Others are vocalisations and scratching.

A pheromone is a chemical excreted by the cat that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual1. There are many types of pheromone. Another one particularly important to the cat is the sex pheromone. They all affect behavior or physiology.

Cat pheromones are pheromones that are used by cats and other felides for cat communication. It would seem that “scent” is a chemical that has an odor, while a pheromone is a chemical that does not necessarily have an odor. Both produce a response in other cats, however.

Important: Books on cat health and medical treatment, cat behavior and wild cats do not make reference to cat pheromones. For instance neither, Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist nor The Cat, It’s Behavior, Nutrition & Health by Linda P Case, make reference to cat pheromones. These are two very comprehensive and respected books. Accordingly, knowledge about the cat pheromone is not firmly established. This should be acknowledged.

The Wikipedia authors have, it seems, described an overlap between scent and pheromone saying: “Feline facial pheromone is a hypothetical pheromone used by cats to mark places, objects, and persons as familiar by rubbing their face on surfaces. It is currently not known if there actually exists a ‘feline facial pheromone’ and what its chemical structure is.” Feline facial pheromone as described here is cat scent or within cat scent. (hypothetical: supposed, uncertain). You can see a picture of a snow leopard marking territory with his face against a rock on this page: Facts About the Snow Leopard.

Territorial pheromones

Laid down in the environment, territorial pheromones mark the boundaries of an cat’s territory. In cats these hormones are present in the urine, which they deposit on landmarks serving to mark the perimeter of the claimed territory. You can see a picture of a snow leopard marking territory with his face against a rock on this page: Facts About the Snow Leopard. Are there cat pheromones in the snow leopards scent from the cat’s facial glands?

Sex pheromones

Sex pheromones indicate the availability of the female for mating. Male animals may also emit pheromones that convey information about their species and genotype (genotype: the genetic constitution of a cell, an organism, or an individual – i.e. the specific allele makeup of the individual usually with reference to a specific character under consideration.)


Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family lamiaceae. The members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their effect on cats. Nepeta pleasantly stimulates cats’ pheromonic receptors, typically resulting in temporary euphoria.4

Cat Urine

Cat urine, especially that of male cats, contains the putative cat pheromone 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB), a compound that gives cat urine its typical odor. The MMB precursor felinine is synthesized in the urine from 3-methylbutanol-cysteinylglycine (3-MBCG) by the excreted peptidase cauxin. Felinine then slowly degrades into the volatile MMB.

Cat urine smell is highly aversive to rats and mice, but after infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, they are attracted by it, highly increasing the likelihood of being predated by the cat and, therefore infecting the cat. (Cat Feces and Pregnancy)

Definitions for the above:

3-Mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol, abbreviated as MMB: this is a thiol and an alcohol. MMB is a degradation product of felinine in cat urine and is a putative cat pheromone. MMB was also found in Sauvignon blanc wines together with the related compounds.

Felinine: also known as (R)-2-amino-3-(4-hydroxy-2-methylbutan-2-ylthio) propanoic acid, is a chemical compound found in cat urine and a precursor of the putative cat pheromone 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB). Felinine is excreted by selected Felidae species including bobcats, chinese desert cats, the kodkod and domestic cats. Felinine synthesis occurs in the liver through a condensation reaction of GSH and IPP to form 3-mercaptobutanolglutathionine (3-MBG). In the kidney 3-MBG is hydrolysed and felinine partly acetylated 2.

Precursor: One that precedes and indicates, suggests, or announces someone or something to come

Aversive: Causing avoidance of a thing, situation, or behavior by using an unpleasant or punishing stimulus, as in techniques of behavior modification.

Putative: Generally regarded as such; supposed3




3.Word definitions:


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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


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