Use of the feline interdigital semiochemical (FIS) to redirect unwanted scratching behaviour in cats



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PICO question

Can the use of a synthetic feline interdigital semiochemical (FIS), with the provision of a scratching post, redirect unwanted scratching behaviour in cats better than provision of a scratching post alone?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Three studies were evaluated. One was a randomised blinded trial on a single group of subjects following a crossover repetition design (Cozzi et al., 2013), the second was an open, uncontrolled study (Beck et al., 2018), and the third was a randomised unblinded trial on a single group of subjects using a placebo (Zhang et al., 2019).

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

In two of the three studies where the FIS pheromone was applied to the scratching posts resulted in a statistically significant increase in the cats’ scratching behaviour compared to the control. The third study showed a result approaching statistical significance (p = 0.06).


Based on the assessed studies there is weak evidence that FIS used in conjunction with the provision of a scratching post is more successful in redirecting unwanted scratching behaviour than provision of a scratching post alone. However, further studies using larger and more representative cohorts are needed in order to confirm the accuracy of these results.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed


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Atkinson, T. (2018). Practical feline behaviour: understanding cat behaviour and improving welfare. 1st. ed. Wallingford: CABI. DOI:

Beck, A., De Jaeger, X., Collin, J.-F. & Tynes, V. (2018). Effect of a synthetic feline pheromone for managing unwanted scratching. The International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine. 16(1).

Cozzi, A., Lafont Lecuelle, C., Monneret, P., Articlaux, F., Bougrat, L., Mengoli, M. & Pageat, P. (2013). Induction of scratching behaviour in cats: efficacy of synthetic feline interdigital semiochemical. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 15(10), 872– DOI:

Golden, O. & Hanlon, A.J. (2018). Towards the development of day one competences in veterinary behaviour medicine: survey of veterinary professionals experience in companion animals practice in Ireland. Irish Veterinary Journal. 71(12). DOI:

Horwitz, D. (2019). Common feline problem behaviours: Urine spraying. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 21(3), 209–219. DOI:

PAW PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report [PDSA] [online]. (2018). Available at: [Accessed 28 July 2020].

Stelow, E. (2018). Diagnosing Behaviour Problems: A Guide for Practitioners. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 48(3), 339–350. DOI:

Wassink-van der Schot, A.A., Day, C., Morton, J.M., Rand, J. & Phillips, C.J.C. (2016). Risk factors for behavior problems in cats presented to an Australian companion animal behavior clinic. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour. 14, 34–40. DOI:

Zhang, L. & McGlone, J.J. (2020). Scratcher preferences of adult in-home cats and effects of olfactory supplements on cat scratching. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 227.

Vol. 6 No. 4 (2021): The fourth issue of 2021

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /