Why Is My Cat Hissing At His Injured Brother?

by Mary-Ann
(North Lincolnshire, England)

My cat problems are with my 2 cats who are birth brothers and who are normally extremely close, playing and sleeping together all the time. One has now broken his leg and it is in pot. His brother will now come nowhere near him and when he does he just hisses at him and walks off.

This is very upsetting and I fear that this may change their relationship for the future, once his brother's leg has healed. Is there anything I can do? The injured cat has to have cage rest and we are closely monitoring him but trying not to give any more attention to one over the other.

Reply from Liz (Editor): I'm sorry you're having these cat problems, it is really upsetting when this happens (especially when you're trying to cope with a cat's broken leg at the same time).

I think the un-injured cat is basically hissing because he's scared. There are 2 possible reasons why this could be the case:

  • I don't know how long ago your cat broke his leg, or if he's had any trips to the vet since then, but if he still smells of the vet's surgery, this may cause his brother to hiss. As far as the healthy cat is concerned, his brother smells unpleasant all of a sudden and he doesn't like it.

    If you think this could be the reason, it should sort itself out within a week or so, as the smell of the vet's surgery disappears from the injured cat. You can accelerate this by washing the bedding in the cage he's in, and by wiping down the cage to get rid of any residual smell.

    To avoid this happening again, next time you take him to the vet, bring his brother along too. He can stay in his cage, but the advantage is they'll both come out smelling the same, and a repeat of this behavior will be much more unlikely.

  • The uninjured cat is just scared in general (and smell may or may not be part of this) - his normally healthy brother is being kept in a cage, is obviously ill and your healthy cat doesn't understand what's happened.

    To try to remedy this, as well as giving them both lots of attention which you're already doing, you could try a Feliway diffuser or spray. This has a calming effect on cats and can help in these sorts of situations. A Feliway diffuser and spray can be bought online or from good pet shops (the Pets At Home chain in the UK sells it.)

The good news is that I'm almost certain these cat problems won't last long term. Once your injured cat starts to recover, his brother will lose his fear and I'm absolutely positive that they will become as close again as they always were. Fortunately cats have pretty short memories with this kind of thing.

Best of luck and thank you for your question.

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