WAFFLES: Whoa, whoa, whoa...is that you, Boss?
This post is sponsored by FELIWAY®
KATIE: What do you mean, Waffles? Of COURSE it's me.
WAFFLES: You smell funny. Not ha-ha funny. More like...I-don't-even-know-who-you-are funny.
KATIE: Seriously, Waffles. I spend one afternoon at the vet and it's like you've lost your head. Not to mention your sense of smell.
Our Experience with Displacement Aggression
Years ago, after Waffles was past kittenhood, we noticed that every time either he or Katie would go to the vet, there'd be a period of time after we got home that Waffles would exhibit some very out of character behavior.
Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky (a.k.a Waffles), who'd ordinarily follow Katie around like she was his best friend, was all of a sudden stalking her, staring at her, hissing, and even blocking her when she'd try to walk away. This would often last for a few hours and sometimes even into the next day. Katie's behavior towards Waffles never changed, though we're sure it was stressful to her with Waffles acting out in this way.
Our vet explained to us that this displacement aggression is quite common, even among cats who ordinarily get along great.
It wasn't until earlier this year, when Katie had some extensive dental surgery, that we realized how intense and long-lasting this behavior can be. Katie had three of her canines and one incisor extracted. This required general anesthetic and a day-long stay at the vet. Katie did great by the way, and has been doing great with her lone fang. But the aftermath of her surgery, when she came back home, was extremely difficult for Waffles.
Katie came home smelling nothing like herself. She was on pain medication and antibiotics for about a week, which can affect how she smells to Waffles. But the biggest contributing factor to the way in which Waffles was acting out towards Katie was the fact that Katie wasn't able to groom herself for nearly 10 days. Her mouth probably felt very different to her, especially losing 3 very large teeth right up front in her tiny mouth. Even Glogirly could tell that Katie didn't smell anything like she usually does. And with a cat's sense of smell roughly 14 times more sensitive than a human's, it's no wonder Waffles was dramatically affected.
Poor Waffles was confused, scared, and probably wondering what happened to his friend. Katie was recovering from a painful surgery that left her with a mouth that felt completely different, getting used to eating, eventually grooming, and having Waffles all of a sudden hissing and growling at her.
So Glogirly pulled out every trick in her book to get everyone through what was an incredibly long week.
With so many of our friends and readers going through similar veterinary procedures with their own kitties, we hope our experience and how we dealt with it will help.
Dealing with Displacement Aggression:
6 Tips to Restoring Peace & Harmony
We figure if Waffles and Katie struggle with the aftermath of vet visits, your kitties just might be experiencing the same. So we thought it might be helpful to share some of the things we do to restore peace and harmony in our house.
1. The Ride-Along
Whenever Katie or Waffles has an appointment at the vet, they both go. This way, both come home smelling like the vet clinic. Even if Waffles never gets out of the carrier. It's not a 100% perfect solution, but it can lessen the animosity once everyone is home.
2. The Quarantine
Depending on the degree of aggression we observe once we return home from the vet, sometimes a little quarantine is in order. We've never experienced anything verging on physical harm, but it's very stressful for both cats. So a time-out can be very beneficial. Our home office is a perfect place for this. We keep one of the litter boxes in there, a scratching post, and some toys. We'll make sure to bring food, water, and a familiar smelling blanket in the room too. There is some comfy furniture for napping on, windows with a view, and often some nice sun puddles.
For regular vet visits, the quarantine may only last a couple of hours. But back in January, when Katie had some extensive dental surgery, she came home smelling nothing like herself. And because her mouth was recovering, she wasn't able to properly groom herself for a little over a week. Waffles had a very hard time with that. Subsequently, it was necessary to keep them separated for a few days. With such a lengthy quarantine, Glogirly had to split her time between Waffles and Katie so no one felt abandoned.
3. Room Swapping
When it's necessary to separate cats for an extended period of time, like a day or two, a controlled room swap can be very helpful. After Katie's dental surgery, Waffles spent a few days in our office, separated from Katie. Once it looked like Katie was feeling up to it, Glogirly put Katie in the office for a couple of hours while Waffles could explore where Katie had been spending her time to help him become acquainted with her smell again. Once Waffles was done investigating, Glogirly swapped them back.
4. FELIWAY® MultiCat Diffuser
If you're a regular reader of our blog, you probably know we use a number of FELIWAY® products in our home. When it comes to displacement aggression or even just stress or tension between Waffles and Katie, we've found the FELIWAY® MultiCat Diffuser to be extremely helpful.
It's important to understand the difference between the FELIWAY® CLASSIC Diffuser and MultiCat Diffuser, especially when dealing with displacement aggression.
The FELIWAY® CLASSIC Diffuser provides a sense of comfort and security by creating "happy messages." The kind of comfort and security a cat feels when they rub their face against furniture, people, and even other cats. It can also give cats a sense of security when new visitors come to the house or when strange noises can be heard.
The FELIWAY® MultiCat Diffuser helps to reduce conflict between cats living together by creating "harmony messages." It may help decrease fighting, chasing, blocking, and even staring, which for us is the perfect storm of displacement aggression behaviors.
5. Yes, Socks!
This is a simple and effective trick that's worked wonders for us. After vet visits, Glogirly rubs Waffles' head and mouth area with one of her unwashed socks, then rubs that scent onto Katie... and vice versa. It's all about Waffles and Katie getting comfortable with each other's scents again. Glogirly's scent is familiar and calming to them as well.
The hardest part. Every cat and every situation is different. When it comes to displacement aggression, it may just take an hour or two, a day or two, or even a whole week. Slow and steady wins the race.
Enter to Win!
Have you every experienced tension, stress, or displacement aggression between your cats? If you have, we've got something special for you. We're giving away a FELIWAY® MultiCat Diffuser Starter Kit to three lucky readers. Just enter below via Rafflecopter.
Though prizes can only ship to US addresses, we're opening the giveaway up to our readers worldwide so that if anyone outside the US wins, they can gift their prize to a friend or shelter here in the US.
Good luck, everyone...and thanks for entering!
FTC Disclosure: This post and giveaway are sponsored by FELIWAY® which means that we were paid to create and feature this content. Regardless of the payment received, we only feature products and services we use and/or feel would be relevant to our readers.