Sister and brother cats no longer get on after I put brother in a carrier used by another cat. Help please.

By Janice

I came here to see if I could find some help as I moved house yesterday. I had done all the normal things like give my two 10 month old brother and sister kitty’s their own blankets etc for the hour and a half car journey. However I stupidly put my male kitten into my neighbour’s borrowed cat carrier, although both my kittens were partly sedated with a natural calmer my female has become aggressive towards her brother. After watching and studying them overnight I truly feel that the scent from the neighbours cat carrier has had a huge impact due to it most likely having scents from his home and his own cats.

Brother and sister cats no longer get on
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Photo by Janice.

My male cat wanders and curiously does plenty wandering bad scent marking and sniffing in my new bedroom but little miss is hiding right under the duvet and didn’t eat or drink or even pee for well over 12 hours which is actually a short amount of time. I have brought in their own toys, my unwashed duvet set and clothing I have worn and that has definitely worked to encourage her to come out from hiding but she is still growling and swiping at her brother to his dismay poor boy doesn’t understand what’s going on and neither does she.

Saying that I do believe that once they settle in to their new room (I have confined them to one room) and adjust to all the new sights sounds and smells I am confident all will be OK. If not then a simple reintroduction will be necessary but for the time being I am leaving them alone to readjust to one another and only playing if they actually want to and are confident enough to do so.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

In these instances I believe that patience is key and you must allow your cats to adjust to their new surroundings. I have a plug in diffuser which helps a lot and I also have nutracalm capsules for them in severe cases and these definitely do work a treat but only on the advise if your vet.

I hope this may help someone else or if anyone has any suggestions to help I would appreciate the feedback.

Comment from Michael (Admin)

Hello Janice and thank you for a great comment. Although I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties that you are experiencing. I agree with your diagnosis. The brother has picked up the scent of a strange cat and his sister no longer recognizes her brother. There is the added complication of being in a new home; a strange place for the cats and we know that it can take months for cats to settle in. This compounds the uncertainty that the sister feels.

The Feliway is a good idea for general calm. I think what I would do is to give him a bath to wash off the scent. I wouldn’t rely on time and his own cleaning to do it. Or give him a wet wash with a damp cloth. This will leave a different scent on him which also may put his sister off but it will fade quickly.

In my experience once the scent of the strange cat is gone the sister will relate to her brother as before immediately. However, I can give no guarantees that this will work. That said I had a very similar experience with a brother and sister cat couple that I looked after years ago. The sister fell into a pot of paint and I had to wash her in a sink. This changed her scent and her brother rejected her until she dried off and quite quickly, within about five hours, things went back to normal.

Could you keep us updated on this? In the meantime I have decided that this makes a good article so I will publish your comment as an article together with my comment. Thanks again.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. M E King says:

    This is classic cat behavior. I took my two babies to the DVM for yearly exams and when I got home the other two acted like I’d turned strangers into the house.
    Usually to avoid this we take all of them at the same time. Since my H is working out of town two was the max I could manage on my own.
    I used the rubbing on of the blankets, (thiers) and petting one then the other to spread the cooties so to speak. It took 3 damn days for all this ruckus to go away completely.
    Rule one in this debacle is to not interfere unless you think it’s going to go beyond hissy spitty.
    Normalize activities. Play with them like you don’t notice one is planning a homicide of the ‘smelly one’.
    I watched mine actually forget during some activities only to revert again. All is well and normal in my home. Overreacting and doing too much only causes more issues because now you’re sending out stress smells.
    Moving has also overstimulated these cats adding a nice layer to the mayhem.
    If necessary you can do introductions with the switching spaces game. It will probably be much shorter than introducing two total strangers.
    One thing explained to me why mother cats abandon their kittens is because the smell of the ‘nest’ has been eliminated of disturbed. So consider that the smell of these two cats nests have been totally house wrecked and they just need time to reset. The tension here is probably more from the move than just the carrier which should have been thoroughly washed and disinfected before putting another cat in it.

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