Objectives: Going to the veterinary clinic is a stressful experience for most cats as they feel threatened when entering a new and confined environment. The aim of this research was to investigate if Feliway spray, when used on the table in the consultation room, can decrease cats' stress and ease their handling.
Methods: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was developed, using a total sample of 87 cats of both sexes, castrated or intact, of any breed, aged >26 weeks. A Feliway spray and a placebo solution spray were tested in two different consultation rooms. During the first phase, Feliway spray was applied to the examination table of one room and the placebo spray in the other. After a washout period of 15 days the spray allocation was switched. After the first 15 mins of general questioning and physical examination carried out by the veterinarian, the observer assessed the stress levels of the cats based on a seven-level 'cat stress score', and the ease of handling based on a five-point 'scale of handling' developed by the authors.
Results: The study demonstrated that the use of Feliway spray leads to significant (P = 0.01) differences in cats' usual behaviour, according to their owners. With regard to stress, animals exposed to Feliway spray showed significantly lower stress levels than those treated with placebo (P = 0.02). Regarding the scale of handling, the scoring did not differ significantly between cats under the effect of Feliway spray and cats receiving placebo (P = 0.01).
Conclusions and relevance: This research shows that the use of Feliway spray on the examination table improves the welfare of cats by reducing their stress during veterinary consultations. Feliway spray significantly changed the behaviour of the cats in this study, and offers a simple and effective way to help decrease stress in cats during the consultation.
© The Author(s) 2015.