One truck, two crazy felines, 1100+ miles to go...
November 7, 2013 10:25 AM   Subscribe

So my three male kitties got neutered yesterday. They came home and spent most of the evening and night snarling and growling, keeping their distance from each other as much as possible in my tiny studio apartment. It makes sense - they were all in pain and shaking off the anesthesia. But today, everyone is feeling better: eating, playing, and acting like normal miscreants for the most part. Except that they seem to have picked up the very behaviors neutering is supposed to discourage. Aaaand in a few days, two of them are going to be traveling for 16 hours together in a dog kennel...

Taos (8 months old), Zephyr (5 months old) and Moki (3? months old) are friendly, house-trained male cats who were rescued together after being abandoned in a national park. I've been fostering them for 2 months and they've always been great pals...until yesterday, when they took The Trip and got The Operation. After last night's hostilities, they seem to get on well about 50% of the time (playing and eating together, mutual grooming sessions, etc.). The other 50% is occupied by Taos stalking and mounting Zeph, and Zeph even more enthusiastically stalking, attacking and scruff-biting poor Moki, who is much smaller than his pic might suggest. Little Moki and full-grown Taos remain on good terms.

So far, nobody's gone into hiding or drawn blood. In fact, they're currently all sacked out in a big kitty-pile on the bed. In a normal situation, I'd just give 'em time to calm down and get back into their routine. But alas, in two weeks Taos will be going to his forever home with two other Siamese in San Diego. And in just two days, I'm traveling from California to my parents' house in Colorado with Zephyr and Moki. I'm afraid that the next round of upheaval is only going to heighten their weird aggression and make coexistence with other cats impossible. I'm also afraid of a Zeph-Moki meltdown somewhere in the middle of Nevada.

I've googled the crap out of post-neutering aggression. I've searched previous questions on this page. I will be trying out Feliway today, but have otherwise come up empty. Cat-people of the hive, how can I make this go as smoothly as possible?
posted by Kibby to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Sorry, there's supposed to be pics, too, but I don't know how to upload the photo links.
posted by Kibby at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2013

If you OK it with the vet, perhaps a low-dose kitty tranquilizer might be called for?
posted by telophase at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

My guess is that they are simply renegotiating the pecking order. Taos will have to go through it at his forever home, but Moki and Zephyr should figure it out in time.

When I moved my cats from Texas to California, it honestly brought them a bit closer. It was a big scary adventure, and they were the only constants. I was also surprised that they were only obnoxious the first ten minutes in the car. Obviously with cats, YMMV.
posted by politikitty at 10:39 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed, renegotiating pecking order. Same as any return from the vet. My cats do this too.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:51 AM on November 7, 2013

Also, their personalities are still growing. This is how cats play. As long as there is no hissing or loud screaming, it's all in good fun.

My cats play rough. Think slow-motion WWE Smackdown complete with piledrives, and then one chasing the other around the house like he owes him money. Five minutes later they're indifferent best buds. This is life in the cat world.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

They'll get over it. My cats all had a strange post-neutering obsession with humping each other until the last of the hormones got out of their system. They were also freaked out by each others' smells when they came back from the vet. They should be back to normal well before your travel dates.
posted by chaiminda at 11:12 AM on November 7, 2013

Look into Sentry calming collars. They use a different pheromone than Feliway.

Feliway also makes a spray that you can use in cat carrier bedding (apply well in advance of use) -- the diffuser isn't the only option.

In the past when I've had three kittens at a time, putting them into a separate room together, then taking one at a time out for individual play sessions seemed to make a big difference to them. It may also help make Taos less freaked out about being separated from his buddies in the future.
posted by amtho at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2013

Scent is one of the lingering stresses of vet visits. Cats bring home all sorts of weird, disturbing smells from the medicines, cleaners and other animals. I think this routine helps speed up the return to normal: wipe the cats with some damp microfiber cloths (or old rags, even), then rub them all over with a blanket or something else that has lots of their usual scent on it. Do your best to get most of the vet smell off so they can be calmed by their regular old scents.
posted by Corvid at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Post neutering weirdness. My kitties, brother and sister littermates, acted weird after neutering as well.

And you upload pics by putting them on a picture site, then using the LINK down below.

Eartha and Malcolm, courtesy of flickr.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2013

A road trip this soon is a terrible idea. I felt awful for three days after my vasectomy, and they didn't even cut my balls off.
posted by stewiethegreat at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kittens are purported to be remarkably resilient.

A few thoughts (having driven about 1800 miles at a go with four adults last year, and flown with a five month old this year):
Put them in separate carriers - the last thing you need is a meltdown in the middle of Nevada. They will be fine.

My five month old's limit was in the six to eight hour range. So plan for some way to feed, water and litter each kitten individually at least every eight hours. Expect them to head for the tightest, least accessible part of the vehicle when you do this, so again - one kitten at a time and pack accordingly.

I also found that traveling with my cats, while stressful for all of us, was a positive experience. One of the adults I transported had been fairly feral, and while he'd made good strides in our first home, within a month of moving he'd moved from being kinda, mostly tame to being a sweet and not infrequently cuddly pal.
posted by wotsac at 8:01 PM on November 7, 2013

Don't let your cats roam freely in the car - get a kitty harness for when you let them out of their carriers. There is a high risk that they will pee in your car in order to mark it (even if they're neutered) if you let them roam freely. Cat piss + car + desert = you will wish you've never been born.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:12 AM on November 8, 2013

Thanks, everyone! Happy to report that love and order were completely restored the next day. I've had several cats go through The Operation, and never seen a reaction like theirs, so it was reassuring to know this is one variety of 'normal'. And thanks for the travel tips - especially the harness idea, St. Peepsburg. I strapped their harnesses on yesterday for a practice session, and after a few minutes of intense kitty yoga trying to wriggle out/rub them off, they got used to them and went about their business.
posted by Kibby at 10:25 AM on November 10, 2013

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