Cat pheromone

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Cat attractants.
Chemical structure of nepetalactone Chemical structure of dihydronepetalactone
Nepetalactone Dihydronepetalactone
Chemical structure of epinepetalactone Chemical structure of neonepetalactone
Epinepetalactone Neonepetalactone
Chemical structure of isodihydronepetalactone
Chemical structure of (−)-mitsugashiwalactone Chemical structure of onikulactone
(−)-Mitsugashiwalactone Onikulactone
Chemical structure of iridomyrmecin Chemical structure of boschnialactone
Iridomyrmecin Boschnialactone
Chemical structure of actinidiolid Chemical structure of dihydroactinidiolide
Actinidiolide Dihydroactinidiolide
Chemical structure of actinidine Chemical structure of boschniakine
Actinidine Boschniakine

Cat pheromones are pheromones that are used by cats and other felids for cat communication.

Feline facial pheromone[edit]

Feline facial pheromone is a pheromone used by cats to mark places, objects, and persons as familiar by rubbing their face on surfaces. Several pheromones are currently known to exist as "feline facial pheromones" and are produced from glands located around the mouth, chin, forehead and cheeks.

These are only some of the many pheromones that cats produce. Others are from lower back, tail and paws. For more information see cat communication.

Cat attractants[edit]

A domestic cat demonstrating the effects of catnip such as rolling, pawing, and frisking

Cat attractants are odorants that have an effect on cat behavior. A cat presented with a cat attractant may roll in it, paw at it, or chew on the source of the smell. The effect is usually relatively short, lasting for only a few minutes after which the cats have a refractory period during which the response cannot be elicited. After 30 minutes to two hours, susceptible cats gain interest again.[1]

The volatile chemicals that are currently known to cause these behavioral effects in cats are actinidine from Valeriana officinalis, nepetalactone from Nepeta cataria (catnip), dihydronepetalactone, neonepetalactone, isodihydronepetalactone, epinepetalactone, boschnialactone, boschniakine, actinidiolide and dihydroactinidiolide from silver vine (Actinidia polygama), iridomyrmecin, mitsugashiwalactone, and onikulactone.[2][3]

Cat urine odorants[edit]

Cat urine-like odorants
Chemical structure of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol
Chemical structure of 4-methoxy-2-methylbutane-2-thiol
Chemical structure of 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one

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.[4]

Chemical structure of felinine Chemical structure of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol
Felinine MMB

Rats and mice are highly averse to the odor of a cat's urine, but after infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, they are attracted by it, highly increasing the likelihood of being preyed upon and of infecting the cat.[5]


  1. ^ "How does catnip work its magic on cats?". Scientific American. May 29, 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. ^ Zhao YP, Wang XY, Wang ZC, Lu Y, Fu CX, Chen SY (September 2006). "Essential oil of Actinidia macrosperma, a catnip response kiwi endemic to China". J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 7 (9): 708–12. doi:10.1631/jzus.2006.B0708. PMC 1559795. PMID 16909471.
  3. ^ Tucker AO, Tucker SS (1988). "Catnip and the catnip response". Economic Botany. 42 (2): 214–31. doi:10.1007/BF02858923.
  4. ^ M. Miyazaki; T. Yamashita; Y. Suzuki; Y. Saito; S. Soeta; H. Taira & A. Suzuki (October 2006). "A major urinary protein of the domestic cat regulates the production of felinine, a putative pheromone precursor". Chem. Biol. 13 (10): 1071–9. doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2006.08.013. PMID 17052611.
  5. ^ M Berdoy; J P Webster & D W Macdonald (2000). "Fatal attraction in rats infected with Toxoplasma gondii". Proc Biol Sci. 267 (1452): 1591–4. doi:10.1098/rspb.2000.1182. PMC 1690701. PMID 11007336.

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