Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feuding felines: Why do cats fight after a vet visit?

Three cats sharing the same bed

Earlier this week, Lucy spent the morning at the veterinarian's office, having her teeth cleaned (Did you miss the blog post about that? It's here.). While the visit was totally necessary, and I'm glad I had it done, it's resulted in some new and troubling problems. Now, my cats are fighting.

Maggie no longer seems to recognize Lucy at all. She hisses at Lucy whenever she comes within a 1-foot radius. And if Lucy keeps coming closer, the hisses get louder. 

I should mention that these two cats have never really been pals. They don't groom one another or choose to sleep together. In fact, I love the photo I used with this blog simply because it's documentation of the one time I saw them sleeping close together. It's so novel, it was worthy of a photo. I force them to eat in the same room to bring them closer together, but they simply don't seem to like one another much.

The hissing issue is totally new, however.

Apparently, this is quite common in the cat world. When one cat heads to the veterinarian, the other cat may find the scent of the vet too much to bear, and hissing and fights might break out. If the cat is high-strung, like Maggie, this problem can persist for several days. There is no record, unfortunately, of previously dueling cats getting along better after the vet visit. I had hoped this would happen, but I was apparently being optimistic.

Some cat owners rub baby powder on both cats to make them smell similar and stop the fighting. Others separate the cats and reintroduce them slowly over a 2-day period. I am going to try taking Maggie to the vet in a carrier whenever anyone else has a visit. If she smells like the offender, perhaps she'll be less inclined to get hissy. I am hoping, however, I won't have to try this idea out anytime soon. In the meantime, I am letting the two girls work it out. Since Maggie is only hissing gently, and she's doing a bit less of it each day, they seem to have a solution already within reach.

Jackson Galaxy has good suggestions about introducing a cat to the household. These steps may seem drastic when your cats know one another, but they're totally appropriate steps to take if your cats are actually fighting. Allowing them to hurt one another is never a good idea. A slow reintroduction in this model allows the cats to know one another again, and that could stop the hissing, spitting and fighting for good.