Objective: TO evaluate the effects of a synthetic feline facial pheromone (FFP) on behavior and food intake of healthy versus clinically ill cats.
Design: Original study.
Animals: 20 cats were used in each of 2 studies. In each study, 7 cats were considered healthy, and 13 cats were determined to be clinically ill.
Procedure: In study 1, cats were assigned either to exposure to FFP (treated group; 4 healthy, 6 ill cats) or to exposure to the vehicle (70% ethanol solution; control group; 3 healthy, 7 ill cats). Cats were placed in a cage containing a small cotton towel that had been sprayed with FFP or vehicle 30 minutes previously. Cats were then videotaped for 125 minutes, and food intake was measured during this period. Videotapes were scored at 5-minute intervals for various behaviors. In study 2, cats were categorized in 1 of 2 groups; group 1 (2 healthy, 8 ill cats) had a cat carrier placed in their cages, and group 2 (5 healthy, 5 ill cats) did not. All cats were exposed to FFP, and 24-hour food intake was measured.
Results: Differences between behaviors of healthy versus clinically ill cats were not identified. In the first study, significant increases in grooming and interest in food were found in cats exposed to FFP compared with vehicle. For all cats, significant positive correlations were detected between grooming and facial rubbing, walking and facial rubbing, interest in food and facial rubbing, eating and facial rubbing, grooming and interest in food, and grooming and eating. In the second study, 24-hour food intake was significantly greater in cats exposed to FFP and the cat carrier, compared with cats exposed to FFP alone.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results suggest that exposure to FFP may be useful to increase food intake of hospitalized cats.