Facial Secretions of Domestic Cats

chemicals in feline facial gland secretions
Chemicals in feline facial gland secretions
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Five different facial pheromones, which are discharged from the glands of the face, have been isolated1. They are as follows (a bit of chemistry for the chemist cat lover):

F1 — Oleic acid, caproic acid, trimethylamine, 5-aminovaleric acid, n-butyric acid and a-methovaleric acid.

F2 — Oleic acid, palmitic acid, propionic acid, p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid.

F3 — Oleic acid, azeliac acid, pimelic acid, palmitic acid

F4 — 5β-cholestan acid 3β-pl, oleic acid, pimelic acid, n-butyric acid, azeliac acid, p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid.

F5 — Palmitic acid, isobutyric acid, 5-aminovaleric acid, n-butyric acid, a-methylbutyric acid, trimethylamine,

Some notes on the above chemicals:

F2 pheromone deposited by tomcats rubbing against objects during courting a female in heat.

F3 pheromone for facial marking objects when marking territory while partolling a home range. Made in a laboratory and used in commercial products.

F4 a pheromone deposited when allorubbing (mutual scent exchange between cats – see also allogrooming). Could reduce aggressive behavior between the cats. Made in a laboratory and used in commercial products.

Oleic acid: a common monounsaturated fat in human diet. “Oleic acid is emitted by the decaying corpses of a number of insects, including bees” (Wikipedia).

Caprionic acid: a liquid fatty acid in animal fats/oils. Used in the manufacturer of flavorings and pharmaceuticals.

Trimethylamine: strong “fishy” odour in low concentrations and an ammonia-like odor at higher concentrations. “Fish-breath syndrome”?

5-aminovaleric acid: can be used in the manufacture of nylon 5. I presume this to be a form of nylon.

Palmitic acid: “the most common fatty acid found in animals” (Wikipedia). Mainly used to produce soaps and cosmetics.

Propionic acid: “a clear liquid with a pungent odor” (Wikipedia)…..”inhibits the growth of mold and some bacteria”.

Pimelic acid: “involved in the biosynthesis of the amino acid called lysine”.

5-aminovaleric acid: costs £24 for a 5, 25g bottle!

(1) Source: The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behavior

Photo by Stephen Jones

6 thoughts on “Facial Secretions of Domestic Cats”

  1. Really, I really hope no animal was harmed. That would be really horrible. I do find that Feliway stuff rather expensive though! Interesting though.

  2. I assume Feliway uses pheromones.

    I also seem to remember hearing fishing line being called as ‘cat gut’ – or some such thing like that. Some myth about it being made from a cat’s guts. But methinks that wasn’t quite it now that I have read this.

    But please don’t now tell me there are factory farmed cats which are being kept alive and harvested for their 5-aminovaleric acid rather like those animals kept in cages so they eat and poop coffee for humans to then consume, or bears being farmed for bile. Humans have no limits when it comes to cruelty and emotion.

    • I think F3 — Oleic acid, azeliac acid, pimelic acid, palmitic acid is the one used for Feliway.

      and harvested for their 5-aminovaleric acid

      I am almost certain that all commercially produced pheromones are artificial. But in this world it would not surprise me if cats are harvested. No..I don’t believe it.

  3. Yikes!
    Never had a clue about so many.
    So, some are already used commercially.
    I say we bottle the whole mix, sell it to Estee Lauder, and call it, “Come to me, Kitty, Kitty”.


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