Category Archives: displaced aggression

I took one cat to the vet, and now my house is a war zone!


My friend texted me the other day and wanted to know how long “displaced aggression” would last in cats. Not really knowing the context of what was going on I thought she could have a more difficult behavioral issue going on. She has a two cat household and one cat was being very aggressive and “freaking out” whenever the other one came around. After further questioning the situation was this…..

She took cat A by itself to the vet while cat B stayed home. Upon returning home cat B would act out aggressively toward cat A anytime it approached. This continued through the night and although she separated them, in the morning when she opened the house to them again the fighting resumed. I assured her that this was not an isolated incident that was happening to her because her cats were freaky and abnormal! 🙂

This can and has happened to several of our clients (and even one of our former technicians) whenever only one of the household cats traveled to the vet
for a visit without the other. They come home smelling like the vet and for the next few days they are completely ostracized and bullied. This can be very stressful for everyone living in the house- pets and people.

While I couldn’t give my friend an exact deadline for how long it might last (because every cat and household may vary) I COULD offer her some helpful tips
on how to resume the peace.

First, I let my friend know that it’s common that Cat B would only act aggressively toward the cat and not her- even though she smelled like the vet’s office also.
We cat people know, there doesn’t have to be a good reason- cat’s do what they want, when they want to- and that’s that! 🙂

Option one for all of you that are not in her situation and are reading this before you take only one of your cat’s to the vet- if it’s a feasible option- take them BOTH! One can just ride along, sit and watch, and they both go home smelling the same- case closed.

If you have many cats or it’s stressful for the cat to just ride along when he’s not being seen, don’t worry, there are other tactics to use to help if this occurs in your household.

Don’t just reintroduce the cats back together immediately- separate them in different rooms for about an hour. This gives the cat who went to vet time to relax and calm down and also time to reclaim it’s “house” scent.
Use a dry washcloth to wipe all over the cat who has stayed home, then use it to rub the “offensive” cat to transfer the household smell to it. You can up the ante a little and use a wet washcloth in the same manner if the dry technique doesn’t help.
Bathing is an option- but that is usually NOT fun for the cats or their owners!
Another option is felaway spray- this is a calming hormone spray that you spray into the environment.

Regardless, it may take a couple days for any of these approaches to fully quiet the madness. But typically- after a short period of time normalcy does come back and
your cats will once again live amicably together!