Quite consistently, when we come home from their yearly checkup, my girl-cat Hazel gives her brother Harry a thorough cursing in cat -- spitting, growling, a few "stay away from me" pounces and swipes. It seems to take a day or so for her to forget she's mad at him. Treats aren't enough; until this wears off she's very defensive about her bowl, when normally they just check to make sure I've divided fairly and clean up after each other without arguments.

I've been assuming that this is because she doesn't want to be mad at me, and poor Harry becomes the target for her frustrations. ("This is all your fault!") But it could also be that Harry still carries smells from the vet's office or something of that sort.

Harry seems as confused by it as I am.

If anyone actually knows what's going on in that fuzzy little brain, or has tips for how I can could smooth this over more quickly...?


2 Answers 2


Your girl cat is responding to the smell of the vet on her brother, not actually the brother himself. Cats can understand many things just by the scent of another cat, such as male vs female or heat vs not in heat. All your girl knows is this cat, who may look like her brother, is an imposter. After a day, the smell of your scent and the scent in your house increases and the vet smell becomes a distant memory. Next time you go to the vet, take a shirt you wore the day before (but don't take it into the vet's office). When you all get back in the car, rub your shirt all over the male cat and put it in his carrier so he can lay on it. This will help dissipate some of that mean vet smell.

  • Good thought getting my scent back on him. After 24 hours Hazel usually decides he's harmless again; maybe it just takes that long for his own grooming to fix the scent.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 1:43
  • Yes, after a day, the oils on your hands from petting him, his grooming, being in the litter box, etc all help dissipate the vet smell and help him smell "right" again. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 4:11

I'm confused by your questions. Are you saying that after you take both cats to the vets Hazel acts this way or only when you take Harry?

If it is just Harry, it will be the way he smells differently, plus Vet clinics usually have a distinct smell so Harry could smell like the vet clinic and Hazel would be reacting to this. A lot of cats do not like the vet's as they generally only go once a year and only bad things (in their mind) happen, such as a stranger touching them, being prodded and stuck with needles.

If it is after taking both of them to the Vet, she could be showing "re-directed aggression" http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/redirected-aggression-in-cats/ This is common in cats can happen up to 48 hours after a less than nice experience in a cat's life, such as the cat was sitting on the window sill on Monday afternoon and got startled by a passing by car. Then, on Wednesday morning, you go to give your cat a pat and they bite you. Cat can stay in a state of high alertness from these experience for up to 48 hours.

I suggest taking both of your cats at the same time to the vet's at least once a month just to get the staff to give them pats and treats so that they start to associate the vet clinic as a not so scary place and hopefully in the long run, a pretty good place to visit because hey, we get pats, cuddles and treats when we come to this place.

Using a product call Feliway can help to calm cats down. It contains the same hormones in it that a queen (mother cat) produces when they give birth.

Hope this helps and good luck to you, Harry and Hazel :)

Furreal Training

  • Doesn't matter if it's just Harry of both of them. Hazel starts spitting at him the moment they're out of the examining room. Yes, redirected aggression was my thought. More frequent visits is an interesting idea, but I'm not convinced it's doable. Certainly more frequent car trips made one of my previous cats less stressed about travelling, but she was a siamese which is a different personality. For now it solves itself; 24 hours of cat-cursing, 24 of caution, and a moment ago Harry demanded, and got, a mutual grooming and cuddling session so things are back to normal.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 23:52

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