A cat who is suddenly growling

I have two cats, aged 5 and 3, who have been living together for almost three years and get along together very well. This morning, I took the older one to be groomed and, upon returning home, the young one began growling as soon as the other approached him. A few hours later, he still does it, and even growls when my girlfriend or I try to cuddle him. What’s befuddling is that he has always been very friendly and likes to be cuddled.

He’s not in a fighting mood or anything, just staying there then growling and going a few feet away when we get near. I might add that for the last few days, he has sometimes looked frightened by nothing in particular around the house and unusually aware of his environment, smelling everything.

Anybody know what could be the cause of this sudden behavior? Thanks for helping.

Ya might inspect his foot pads for burrs or slivers or his butt for something that shouldn’t be there.

Is he regular?

The older cat probably smells weird, if he just came back from the groomers. He might smell of shampoo, or styling product or other cats. Give it a few days for his natural scent to predominate and his friend should recognize him again.

It’s also possible that he’s in pain. If it doesn’t ease up in a few days, or if it gets worse or he hides and won’t come out, then get him to a vet for a checkup.

Boy that’s quick, thanks guys.

To answer MadtheSwine, he has no burrs. Hasn’t been to the litter today yet, but that’s not unusual. The butt is fine. Little black spots under his paws, but I don’t know if they were there before.

And to be precise, he does not seem afraid of us humans, but is always watching where the other cat is. He’s watching everything as a matter of fact, like there was a poltergeist in the house or something.

Also, WhyNot, doesn’t look like he’s in pain. Doesn’t hide either, stays where he usually does then takes territory as the other cat goes away. The other cat, by the way, doesn’t seem to mind a bit about the growling. Goes near, hears the stuff then quietly walks away.

Any change in cat behavior can mean your cat is ill.

That said, I think you are seeing two diferent but related reactions. One is to the older cat: older cat came home smelling weird. It can be any weirdness, really – disinfectants, shampoo, what have you. If waiting it out takes too long, one way to deal with this is to take some clothing belonging to you or your girlfriend (whichever of you is The Beloved) and slightly dampen it. Pet freaky cat with it, and in particular pet the side of his/her face with it. Then pet older cat with it. Then come back to freaky cat. They both end up smelling like you and each other.

The other reaction is betrayal: you took freaky cat’s friend away and brought him/her back smelling weird. Freaky cat suspects s/he may be next. If freaky cat is inevitably next, just go ahead and get it over with. Otherwise, I’d skip freaky cat’s trip to the groomer this time.

Of course, it could be a poltergeist.

Oh, he’s probably not, it’s probably just a reaction to the other cat’s smelling funny. But if I didn’t mention it, someone would come roaring in here about how their cat once looked at them funny and died of an infected hairball the next day and how dare we offer veterinary advice over teh intertubes. :rolleyes:

That being said, a cat in pain rarely “looks like” they’re in pain. It’s not in their survival interest to look injured, or the wolves might eat them. They’ve evolved to hide their weakness, so often a very in-pain cat will just sit there purring and occasionally hissing and swatting at things. So don’t rely on appearances to decide when to take him into the vet. Any abrupt change in behavior that lasts more than a couple of days should be checked out.

It would just be a shame if we all chalked this up to Oldie’s bath when it was coincidentally the same time Young’un took ill, y’know?

By the way, the older cat didn’t take a bath. Just a brushing, but he might smell of other cats, or even dogs, anyway.

This said, I’ll take kitty to the vet right at the beginning of the week.

Every time we take one of our cats somewhere it’s just as you describe, with the remaining-at-home cat. It’s like he expects we took the kitty away and might have replaced him with a Pod Person, and it takes a while to get over his suspicion.

Might be worth noting that the growler in our family is always the guy who hates changes, and irregularities in his routine make him grumpy. He doesn’t want his brother to smell weird. It’s wrong, it offends him.

This only happens if you take one cat, though, and leave the other?

I’m just thinking that for the future, maybe the OP should just take both cats to the groomer at once–if that’s an option.

This always happens to us when one cat goes to the vet…or anywhere, actually, but especially the vet. The stay-at-home cat should get over it by the next day. But the thing about spending the previous days smelling everything? One of my cats goes through phases where she will be freaked out by things like…a pile of laundry. A pile of laundry that has been sitting there for days. A pile of laundry that she has walked past and climbed on for days. She will jump and startle and act suspicious and skittish, as if it were going to attack her. And then the next day…nothing. She’s fine, and the pile of laundry hasn’t changed. At least, not in any substantive way that we mere mortals can discern. Perhaps aliens were using it as a temporary base.

Thank you all people for dropping in, it’s really appreciated.

What puzzled me was that we take each cat to the vet (separately) once a year, and this has never happened before. This grooming session was the first one ever — again, no shampoo or perfume or anything, just brushing. Could this change his odor so much???

24-hours-later update: the young one is still growling and hissing, but he has begun to follow the older one, looking like he really wants to recognize him. The growling comes later, after a few seconds of smelling. The older one still doesn’t seem to care one bit, and even seems to invite him to be friends. Strange indeed.

I’ll keep you posted.