1 cat returns from Vet – other cat having attitude issues
February 1, 2006 10:48 AM   Subscribe

My friend has 2 cats. One cat recently went to the vet for an entire day to determine he has crystals in his tummy. Upon the ill cat coming home the other cat FREAKED out on everyone.

He constantly hisses & growls at everyone if anyone gets near him, including the other cat. It’s been a few days now and still hasn't improved in his behavior. Generally, he is very loving and cuddly cat. Up until the day she brought the ill cat home the well cat was not acting out at all. She and husband are trying to act as normally as possible for him to be less stressed but she cannot figure out WHY he is reacting in this manner. He has never done this before and she is not sure what to do. Does any one have any suggestions? My friend would appreciate any advice. Thank you!
posted by Soulbee to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something similar happened when one of our cats got in a fight with another male cat and in the process got "sprayed" on by him. The younger cat no longer recognized the older cat due to the smell and hissed and was generally freaked out till we gave the older one a bath (which is a joy in it self).

Maybe the smells from other animals at the vet and the vet building it self as still on him and it's stressing out your other cat?

Just a thought....good luck!
posted by Captain_Science at 10:55 AM on February 1, 2006

Check out Feliway. No personal experience myself, but I've heard it praised to the rafters by many, many cat owners in terms of getting cats to be happier with each other. Might help you over this hump. (Agree with the bath thing, too.)
posted by WCityMike at 11:00 AM on February 1, 2006

I use something call Calm Down in the cats' water during stressful cat times and there is also a spray that I put on my bed and anything i don't want peed on, these things seem to help them. The spray is made with some kind of pheromones, but it is about 14 bucks a bottle. (I don't know how much is in a bottle though, but it can't be more than ten ounces)
posted by bilabial at 11:04 AM on February 1, 2006

Response by poster: Actually, the first thought when there was the issue after returning from the vet was to bath the ill cat to take any scents away, which is what my friend did. Sorry, should have mentioned! So initially there was a different smell about the ill cat but it has now been days since the bath and no change in angry cat's behavior. I will refer her to Feliway. Thanks! Any other advice is welcome too!
posted by Soulbee at 11:04 AM on February 1, 2006

This is a "cat-vet-smells" thing. We've experienced it with our two male cats.

When one comes back from the vet's, the other thinks there's something sinister about him because he smells of vet. So the big hiss thing starts. It normally lasts two or three days till the scent of the vet wears off, and then it's back to "you're my best pal".

I wouldn't be too worried about it.
posted by btocher at 11:23 AM on February 1, 2006

This is pretty normal. I have 2 cats (littermates!) and one was in the vet hospital for 3 nights recovering from a urinary tract blockage. When he was brought home, his littermate flipped out and tried to attack him, hissing at him and everyone else as if he was a strange pit bull and not her biological brother. She truly was terrified of him and it took her a couple of weeks to get used to his being around again. To keep them both safe, we used Feliway & also kept them separated (separate rooms) when no one was home to make sure they didn't really try & kill each other.

Cats - they're cute, but totally stupid sometimes.
posted by catfood at 11:36 AM on February 1, 2006

Cats identify each other by scent, not sight, so--as the other posters noted--cat #2 thinks that cat #1 is a different beastie. The freaked-out cat will de-freak in a few days.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:49 AM on February 1, 2006

This happened to one of our cats as well... time heals all wounds (or at least disperses all scents). You could try rubbing tuna on the other cat to make it smell better to the offended one? Or less drastically pet one cat then the other to mix their scents?
posted by Gortuk at 11:58 AM on February 1, 2006

yes the same thing happens when i take my cat to a vet. not really sure what it is - the vet smell, or the fact that the cat was gone for a day, or maybe the cat who went to the vet is usually pretty freaked out herself which ends up freaking out the other cat.

either way, usually within a few weeks, they get back to their normal "licking each other" state. but spending more time with both cats usually quickens the "recovery" time.
posted by grafholic at 12:25 PM on February 1, 2006

This happens with our cats too. My solution was to always take them both, even if one isn't seen by the vet. The other just stays in her carrier while the other gets checked out. That way they both come home smelling like the vet's office.
posted by lobakgo at 2:18 PM on February 1, 2006

I have two cats, and my very loveable, chubby black cat *always* freaks out at my other cat when he comes home from the vet. It usually lasts about 3 days until things calm down a bit.

I usually attribute to the black cat just *not* liking the vet at all. I figured when the other one comes home smelling like the vet, it just makes the other one all mad.

Again, ours only lasts about 3-4 days until things get back to normal, but it's 3-4 days full of hissing, meowing, spitting, growling and few other noises I can't quite explain.
posted by punkrockrat at 3:27 PM on February 1, 2006

I have personal experience with Feliway, and it is wonderful, but expensive. Get the spray at this point, as the diffuser is 40-50 bucks.

Also, keep them separated, but put a towel where they each sleep. Failing that, rub the towels on you for a minute, then rub them both down with towels (dry) a few times a day. Switch towels. What you are trying to do is establish a group scent-- you are the link.
posted by oflinkey at 3:44 PM on February 1, 2006

Did the freaked out cat act strange while the other was gone? I've seen a cat mourn for another one that was at the vet, thinking it was gone for good or dead. When the 'ghost' cat returned, the mourning cat wouldn't accept it back in. Pretty sad.
posted by melt away at 7:22 PM on February 1, 2006

We have this issue too, and do the same thing lobakgo mentioned. Of course its unavoidable if one of them has to stay over at the vet. Since they have already been back together for a few days, then I would suggest mostly just patience, and seperate them if you think there is any danger of actual violence.

Also, the group scent thing that oflinkey mentioned can help too. Pet one, then pet the other with the same hand, so there is a scent transfer. They are likely to be very jealous of each other until this calms down, so make sure you aren't worsening the situation by paying too much attention to the one that is being hissed at. This can cause the other one to get more aggrieved because you appear to be spending all your time with this strange new cat.
posted by Joh at 10:03 PM on February 1, 2006

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