Cat, You Smell Funny!

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains why two cats don't get along after one visits the veterinarian.

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Q: We have two Tonkinese; one is 4 years old, the other is 2. They have gotten along fine until last week. We took the youngest to the veterinarian for her annual checkup, and when we brought her home the 4-year-old started to hiss, growl and spit. That was five days ago and it’s still going on. They can’t be in the same room without fighting. What should we do?

A: This is not an uncommon event. Your youngster came home from the veterinarian wearing a disguise! The 4-year-old kitty did not recognize her since she smelled like the not-so-pleasant veterinarian’s office. In order to encourage the two to resume their warm relationship, gently pet the cat who stayed home with a clean towel. After transferring his smells to the towel, pet the girl who went to the vet with the same towel, transferring his smells onto her.

Food will also help re-establish a friendship. Simultaneously feed delicious treats and regular meals within hearing, smelling and visual distance of the two cats.

If none of these suggestions work, then separate the two and introduce them to each other again. While they are separated, build positive associations by feeding them simultaneously on both sides of the closed door, and encourage them to play under the door with each other. You’ll also want to do a pheromone exchange. Pheromone exchanges are done with small clean rags or towels. Gently pet each cat on the cheek with a clean rag, then exchange rags, petting each cat’s cheek with the other’s rag. Be careful when petting your cats’ cheeks, as their whiskers are very sensitive. Gently stroke them in their natural direction, toward the neck and ears.

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Reader Comments

Linda    Sebring, FL

8/25/2009 5:21:56 PM

I have never had that experience. Both my cats are brother and sister. They go to the vet together.

E    Attleboro, MA

9/11/2008 12:41:29 AM

I never had this problem

Jen    Charlotte, NC

2/3/2008 8:44:51 PM

My cats do the same thing. When one goes to the vet, the rest of them hiss for a day or two. Here is another solution. Before you go to the vet, take a towel and rub your cat(s) with the towel. When you get home from the vet, take the towel and rub it over the cat who went to the vet.

Noelle    Beecher, IL

2/3/2008 1:00:09 PM

Good ideas! I've had this problem before as well (although it didn't last longer than a few hours). But still very helpful. Thanks for the informational article.

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