Why are my girlfriend's cats fighting?
February 11, 2007 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Why are my girlfriend's cats fighting?

They are at war. How do we stop them fighting? We took one of them to a vet yesterday. When we brought her home though both cats started hissing and acting aggressive towards each other. They have never acted like this before. Why are they doing this? These cats are sisters and have lived together since birth (over four years). Both my girlfriend and I are worried. Help!
posted by sjvilla79 to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
Best answer: Because cat 1 smells weird to cat 2 after being at the vet, and cat 1 was pissed off at being at the vet so when cat 2 said "you smell funny" cat 1 got pissed off? Unless they're hurting it, give it a few days ... they'll settle it out in a few days.
posted by SpecialK at 4:09 PM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: Is it really that simple?
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2007

Is it really that simple?

SpecialK has it. And yes -- it is likely that simple. 'Tiger' smells something foreign in 'Ishka' -- and needs time to process the new information (or, vice-versa).
posted by ericb at 4:14 PM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: Cool. How long does this usually take?
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:18 PM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: Oh I see SpecialK says a few days. Got it.
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2007

It took a week or so with my cats in a similar situation, but that was exacerbated by one of them wearing a (bad-smelling?) Elizabethan collar. Give it a few days.
posted by amber_dale at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2007

It goes away after several days, according to the comments in this AskMe.
posted by stefanie at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2007

I just dated a vet student for a year. Good to see that I picked up something useful. ;)

Yeah, it's really that simple. Cats and Dogs will both do this when there's something weird about another cat or dog or human that they know well. Every time I go out to clubs/bars, my dog makes a conscious decision whether or not I'm her dad when I stagger in drunk at 2 am.
posted by SpecialK at 4:37 PM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: Does bathing the cat that went to the vet speed up the process?
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:46 PM on February 11, 2007

If they are still actively fighting, I suggest you separate them immediately (different parts of the house). A few days later, reintroduce them gently and only if they seem their old selves again. If you let them fight while they're upset/stressed (and I agree it is the smell that's doing it) they may keep fighting after the smell is gone.
posted by putril at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2007

I would not bathe them-- I would do the group scent towel thing:

1. Use a towel after showering or just rub a dry towel over you for a few minutes.

2. Find kitty A and rub her down with it.

3. Find kitty B and do the same.

Alternately this can be done more slowly by putting the towels in theor sleep spots (recommended hen you are trying to introduce a new kitty to the group). The best way to deal with this is to let it run its course. The towel trick might shorten it by 1-2 days.
posted by oflinkey at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2007

putril has a good point. Don't let them habituate fighting, either...
posted by oflinkey at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2007

I say relax.
I understand your worries, but it's enough just to keep an eye on them so they don't get hurt. And most likely they won't, because there's no real agressiveness there, it's just a "funky vibe".

And, sorry oflinkey, but I think rubbing them on towels is not going to do any good for the stressed out cats. It's just overkill. Let them be.

One of mine stayed at the hospital for two weeks, came home with the cone collar thing, inside a rabbit cage AND with no tail. The other one freaked out the first time, gave him a hard time for the next few days and pretty soon they were playing through the cage bars.

But yes, make sure you discipline them when they do get at each other.
You'll see that sometimes they'll be hissing like mad and once you go "shush!" they just stop and stay there, ignoring each other.
Gotta love them.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 5:25 PM on February 11, 2007

Oh, and I love Ishka's color.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 5:30 PM on February 11, 2007

The desire to have a pop/bash at something unusual (especially of someone/cat that is normally familiar) is pretty normal and common in the wild. This is why sick animals in packs get attacked and driven away - fear for the community at large and self preservation dictating the desire to remove the unusual in case it spreads.

Once they realise (with or without the normalising behaviour above) that everything is actually alright, they'll chill with the kittehs like they did before. Most things, cats included, fear the unknown and that smell is definitely unknown.

(er. The vet smell. Not yours.)
posted by Brockles at 8:08 PM on February 11, 2007

My Petunia always hisses and growls at Mr. Shrimp Scampi Jr. for a few days after he's been to the vet. But there was one time when Mr. Shrimp came back after several days in the hospital where Petunia freaked out at him for almost four exhausting weeks before they finally worked it out.

I just wanted to let you know that the tensions could possibly last longer than a few days (though it might be that Petunia is particularly high strung; one time she went to the vet and Mr. Shrimp didn't and she still acted like she didn't recognize him when she got home).
posted by jjwiseman at 8:38 PM on February 11, 2007

Well, AnyGuelmann, it has worked for my 4 kitties, but maybe this is too short of a time. we usually id the towel thing for kitties who cam home from 1-2 day vet visits.
posted by oflinkey at 10:11 PM on February 11, 2007

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