How to Stop Cat Aggression After A Vet Visit!
4 January, 2017

If you have more than one cat, you might experience a strange but not abnormal experience when bringing your kitty home for the vet.  The cat or cats at home might start to behave aggressively towards the cat returning from the vet.   This is called non-recognition aggression as the stay at home cat acts like he doesn’t know your other cat.  But, not to worry, it is temporary and common.

Cats communicate with scent, vocal and visual cues

Cats communicate with vocal, visual and scent cues, and each cat’s unique scent serves as his or her own   personal identification. When your cats sleep together, groom each other, or rub against one another in passing, cats share scent. And the scent bonds them so when the kitty that has returned from the vet smells different, it becomes threatening to some stay-at-home cats.

Whether it is the vets’ office or one cat is sick, his odor is different and unwelcome

When a cat is ill, his body chemistry can make him smell funny and other cats often change their behavior toward him even before the vet visit. Segregate an ill cat from the others, especially if they’re treating him poorly. Cat-aggression raises the stress of all involved and the longer it goes on, the more time it will take to reverse.

Below are some tips to help speed up the bonding process and prevent this from re-occurring:

Put the kitty returning from the vet in a room alone for half the day

Put the kitty returning from the vet in a room alone for at least half a day. That gives him time to self-groom and remove all the yucky clinic smell from his fur, which is so offensive to his cat buddies. It also allows the treated cat time to decompress from the stress of the vet visit so he’s less on the defensive.

Your cat or cats at home may be more willing to become reacquainted after a cooling off period. Don’t rush to re-integrate the kitty to the rest of the pack. He may need extra time to get over the trauma of the vet visit, and there’s no urgent need to thrust him back with the rest right away.

Take a towel and rub the other household cats and rub down the cat that was at the vet with it

Use a hand towel to rub down the other household cats. Pay particular attention to the best-friend cat, rubbing the towel against his cheeks. This gathers the best-friend cat’s signature scent, which can then be rubbed over cat that went to the vet to help to get rid of the vet smell and have the at home cat smell.

You can also put a strong scent on all the cats so they smell like each other

For some situations it may be helpful to scent all the cats with a strong-smelling pleasant odor that not only makes them alike, but also distracts them from cat-bashing.  You can rub your hands with the water from canned tuna or another flavor they like and stroke the back of each cat. That should encourage them to self-groom and potentially groom each other-creating a renewal of the family scent.

Monitor your kitties and re-introduce them slowly

Monitor the first several hours of the cats’ interaction and segregate the treated cat immediately should there be a cat-aggression incident.  Keep doing this until they are all at peace with one another.

If possible, schedule routine vet visits at the same time

Try to schedule routine veterinary visits for your cats at the same time. That way, they all smell similar after being handled by clinic staff and the office and no trouble at home.

No to worry, your kitties will work it out.  It can take from one day to up to a week, but they will be besties again in no time.

And, if you have trouble getting your cat in the carrier for a vet visit, this might help:  Getting your cat in the carrier without getting scratched!

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