Far too often when a pet cat succumbs to illness or injury, a trip to the veterinarian is a necessity. The car trip alone causes great angst for the already suffering cat, and then all the prodding and poking by strange people compounds the fear.
Add to that any procedures and administered meds, and your pet will come home smelling different, of fear and of “that place.” It is unlikely that you will be able to detect any odor yourself, but if you have other animals in the house, they most certainly will and it may cause a problem.
Multi-pet households have a unique group scent that includes all the inhabitants, including us humans. Illness alone changes one’s personal scent, and this can result in some aggressive behaviors within a normally socially balanced home.
In nature it is not uncommon for the clowder or pack to drive away any member that falls ill. It’s nature’s way of protecting the many by sacrificing the individual. So it is understandable when usual nap buddies hiss and growl at the ill or injured pet returning home from the veterinarian.
If the returning cat does not need to be sequestered for medical reasons, there is a simple way to help reduce any reinstatement issues, should there be any.
Using a synthetic feline pheromone spray or diffuser is simple but you may not have any on hand. Rescue Remedy also is good to rub on everyone’s ears, but again this may not be in the home.
When we have a tiny, orphaned kitten, we may introduce it to a nursing queen using group scent. Sometimes we stimulate one of her own kittens to pee on the newcomer, or we put a wee drop of perfume on the back of each kitten’s neck to make them all smell the same. It fools the queen just about every time.
You won’t need to use the pee or perfume techniques, but put yourself in the position of social facilitator by using a small towel. Rub each four-footed family member in turn, ending with the outcast, and then repeat until all the scents have been mixed together on everyone’s fur. Petting everyone in turn has the same effect and adds your scent to the mix.
Once your ill or injured cat has been home for 24 hours, things should be pretty much back to normal, socially that is.