Shell shocked?

by Dan
(Joplin, mo)

We have two Bengal cats, half brother and sister who are 4 years old. They have been spayed and neutered as well as declawed.

Our house was destroyed in the Joplin tornado. We were not injured and neither were the cats. We found him the same day and her the next morning both in the house. They were frightened but unscathed.

We are now staying at my parents house. They also have a Bengal. We thought this could pose a slight problem, but had nowhere else to go.

But instead of them having trouble with my parents cat, they have decided to hate each other and make their loathing known very vocally all day and night.

Do we need to separate them or just wait it out until they get more used to their temporary home?

Dan K

Dear Dan,

I am so sorry for the loss of your home and the stress you have all had to endure, but Thank God that you are all alive and well, including the cats.

Your cats' reactions are normal under the circumstances. They were separated for a bit and probably smelled differently from each other when they were reunited.

Also, they are in a strange place with none of their familiar belongings, I imagine.

They are also sensitive to any stress you are feeling.

They have also had to suddenly begin living with another cat, which is most often very stressful to cats.

In other words, their worlds have been turned upside down in more ways than one by the recent events.

It sounds as if they are displacing their stress and the fear they both must be feeling about their new surroundings, what happened to them, and the new cat in their midst onto each other. That is not uncommon.

The best thing to do is to downplay it as much as possible. Try to not react. Keep your body language calm. Give them extra attention, extra treats, extra toys, and as much pleasure in their lives as you can under the circumstances.

Ignore them if they hiss and growl and spit and even swat. Only if they are really hurting each other should you intervene. Your reactions will be key to their working out their problems. You can make it worse if you react negatively.

I also suggest you purchase some Feliway diffusers and calming homeopathic collars for them to wear. This can help enormously.

If these suggestions do not help, then consulting your veterinarian should certainly be considered. If necessary he can put them on medication for a bit that may help them relax and become their old selves.

Again, I am very glad all of you survived, but am sorry for the loss of your home. Keep us posted and let me know if I can be of any further help.

Best to you and your family and cats,
Dr. Neely

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