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Just curious about cat family reaction to kitty's return from vet

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  • Just curious about cat family reaction to kitty's return from vet

    My oldest cat went for a vet visit a couple weeks ago, and we were gone for about 2 hours. Upon return, my dominant cat hissed and growled at her. A week later, my oldest cat was at the vet's all day for surgery. Again, upon return, the dominant cat acted like she didn't know the older cat, whom she has known her entire life. My other cats apparently recognized the oldest one, and had no problem with her, but the dominant one continues to act like she's a stranger.

    I googled and came up with this:

    "Smell is vital to recognition. Most of us witness this phenomenon when we take one of our cats to the vet. Upon returning home, the cat is growled and hissed at and occasionally attacked by the cats that stayed home. They don't recognize their buddy returning home because he smells different. It's as if a new and strange cat has walked right into their home! "

    My question is - why would three other cats recognize the oldest one, but the dominant cat doesn't, and still seems not to?

  • #2
    When my older cat spent a couple of nights at the vet's about a year ago, when he came home my other cat did the same thing, hissing, growling, acting like she didn't know him. I figured it was a scent thing, as she had done the same thing with her previous "roommate" when he came home from a day at the vet's.

    As to why your dominant cat doesn't recognize the oldest one, but the other 3 cats do recognize her, I can only assume the dominant cat's sense of smell is different from the other three's, or that maybe it is because the dominant one is the dominant one and is in charge and, therefore, less accepting and flexible.

    My vet suggested I rub the returning-from-vet cat with a towel to collect his "new" scent, then leave the towel out for my other cat to get used to. I did try it, but my other cat ignored the towel and still hissed at the returned cat. But she got over it in a day or two, in both cases.

    I have just learned with cats, let them set the schedule, it's not like we can explain things to them and reason with them as we might with other humans.
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


    • #3
      This happens every time one of the Siamese Mafia return from he vet. Kona...turns into the EVIL KONA and tries to kill whomever the unlucky retureee is. A couple of hours later...like nothing ever happened. The rest could not care less.

      Last time, Kunani came home from breast cancer surgery and went into solitary confinement for a couple of days for her own safety. I spent most of that time with her...a little one on one time with me as the warm cuddle body and giver of pain meds. She is pretty silly when stoned. The whole bunch gathered outside the closed door and did a vigil until they were allowed in. 2 DAYS there was always a cat or 3 outside that door. NO reaction from Kona this time when they finally got together.
      the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart


      • Original Poster

        OK, I feel better now! There is still the same reaction a week and a half after the last vet visit, and I thought it was pretty weird, but it sounds like they do all get over it at some point.



        • #5
          try keeping the offending victim locked away for a couple hours after returning home...see if that helps
          the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart


          • #6
            The same thing happened between my two when the little one came back from his neutering op. He smelled disgusting to me -- like he brought half the vet's office with him -- so I can understand why the old lady flipped her lid.

            Once he got his sea legs back, I groomed him up with wet naps and foaming cleanser -- things returned to normal after that.


            • #7
              I wonder if you couldn't give kitty a good rubdown with a towel and keep it in the carrier until she got to the vet and then rub her again afterward before she goes back in the house, to put 'her' scent back on?
              It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by macmtn View Post
                try keeping the offending victim locked away for a couple hours after returning home...see if that helps
                Actually, after the first visit when we were gone 2 hours, she did get locked up in a room for a couple hours after our return (per the vet's request), but she was even more stressed, so I let her out. Didn't seem to make any difference to Dominant Cat.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
                  I wonder if you couldn't give kitty a good rubdown with a towel and keep it in the carrier until she got to the vet and then rub her again afterward before she goes back in the house, to put 'her' scent back on?
                  Oh, now this is a great idea to try next time! I will do it!


                  • #10
                    Yea my oldest does the same thing. The other cat(s) can be gone for a brief period and he hisses and runs away, but within a couple hours its like nothing happened. O cats!
                    I love cats, I love every single cat....
                    So anyway I am a cat lover
                    And I love to run.


                    • #11
                      I think it's the odors of the vet office. My cats do the same thing, but they get over it on an hour or two, if the offender has just made a routine short trip there and back.


                      • #12
                        Ethanol, or rubbing alcohol really stinks. My returning-from-vet cats would run to the mint patch in the garden and roll roll body surf in the mint in an attempt to get a decent smell back to thir bodies.
                        My guess is the dominant cat is in charge of the "herd" and has more responsibility for sussing out strangers, hence the hissing reaction. The rest of the gang are slackers ( to put it in MVPs vernacular), or they have better eyesight.


                        • #13
                          Yep get same reaction from the dominate one, the others hiss and spit cuz they think they should be if he is.

                          Id reccomend you be careful handling said obnoxious party i have scars from when they flipped out while upset, not that said kitty is opposed to attacking me under normal curcumstances but when agitated whole nother level of vicious!
                          Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                          Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by macmtn View Post
                            The rest could not care less.
                            Off topic, but just had to say THANK YOU!!!!! So many people get that phrase wrong and wind up saying exactly the opposite of what they mean just because they hear it that way so often. Warms my heart to see it used correctly.

                            On topic, my cats always hiss and spit at the returning vetted cat. It usually wears off in a day or so. My HRH Rosalind, who is Queen Victoria in cat fur, is not amused at anything, and only tolerates other felines at best, is always the last one to give in. This after a final dramatic sniffing-over of every inch of the vetted cat along with grumbling commentary about how absolutely unacceptable that cat's scent now is. So I subscribe to the dominant cat just is less flexible theory.