Maternal-Neonatal Pheromone Added to Cat Litter Improves Litter Box Use, and Reduces Aggression and Anxiety-Like Behaviors in Pair-Housed Cats
Multi-cat households experiencing social stress may experience anxiety and aggression, and inappropriate elimination.
This series of three studies (n = 104 cats) sought to determine if a feline urinary pheromone (3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol [3M3M]), a swine sexual-social pheromone (androstenone [AN]), or a rabbit maternal-neonatal pheromone (2-methyl-2-butenal [2M2B]) in the litter might impact these cat social behaviors and litter box use. Secondly, we determined if 2M2B would reduce social stress and anxiety in pair-housed cats.
Study 1 evaluated AN-, 3M3M-, and 3M3M + 2M2B-infused litter to determine which litter individual cats preferred to use. Study 2 compared control (CON) litter with litter infused with 2M2B to determine if 2M2B reduced anxiety-like behaviors, aggression, and improved litter box use. Study 2 tested 24 pairs of cats with CON litter for 24 h, then 2M2B litter for 24 h. Study 3 examined the behavior of eight pairs of cats given either CON or 2M2B litter over 24 h.
In Study 1, cats preferred to use litter infused with 2M2B (p < 0.01) and not litter containing the other pheromones. In Study 2, 2M2B in the litter reduced (p < 0.05) anxiety-like behaviors from 21% to 12% and aggression scores from 3.00 to 1.95, and increased litter box use. In Study 3, 2M2B in the litter reduced aggressive behaviors in the first 6 h after introduction in pair-housed cats (p < 0.01).
2M2B-infused litter alleviated anxiety-like behaviors, reduced aggression and improved litter box use while the other pheromones were not effective.