SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Ask a behaviourist
How do I stop my cat from hissing at my other cat after they have been separated?

My cat Oscar is very sensitive and gets very upset when one of the other cats in the house go to the vet without him. He will hiss and spit at them when they return home, and sometimes it takes 3 days for him to settle down. How can I stop this from happening?

It’s likely that Oscar is getting upset because his feline siblings are returning from the vet smelling differently. This situation needs to be managed carefully as in extreme cases, cats can fall out and their relationship can be damaged forever.

One option is to take Oscar with you every time another cat goes to the vet. This will prevent him getting upset about the different smell. It’ll also help Oscar if he’s particularly nervous about going to the vet.

If you’d rather not take two cats to the vet, there are a couple of things you can do to make the reintroduction more positive. Firstly, take a flannel and rub it on Oscar, and then on the cat returning from the vet. That way the cat will smell like Oscar, not the vets! Feliway spray in the carry cage might also help to alleviate some of the stress. Spray the Feliway on a towel in the carry cage 10 minutes before the cat goes in, and again when you reintroduce the returning cat.

I also suggest that you leave the returning cat in a separate room to de-stress for an hour before reintroducing them to any other cats.

Another thing to consider is that the presence of the cat carry cage in the house could be upsetting Oscar. Try leaving the carry cage out in a common area for a few extra days to desensitise him to the cage being around.

If you’re still having problems, talk to your veterinarian about Oscar’s behaviour. Good luck!

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