Bracken and Pippin are twin sisters. Black. 7 years old. Sweet, placid and playful by nature. They are best friends and do everything together, never having been separated for other than a few hours once after being spayed when they were young.
Last week Bracken had to have eye surgery to remove an eye with unnatural pigmentation which was found later to be melanoma. She was away for a full day for the surgery and had to be kept quiet, away from Pippin, to recover from the anesthetic.
After three day, concerned that the two buddies had been apart and were missing each other, I tried reintroducing them in the hallway that separates the bedroom (where Bracken was stationed for recuperation) and the lounge/kitchen, where Pippin now had sole occupation. BIG mistake. Pippin treated Bracken like an alien and looked as if she’d like to commit murder, so I hastily separated them again, before doing some major research on the internet (how on earth did we ever manage without it?)
I learned that after her surgery and separation, Bracken looked, behaved and, most important from a cat’s perspective, smelt, completely different, making her her appear like a complete stranger to Pippin, who saw her as an intruder. I adapted techniques used successfully by other people in a similar situation to Bracken and Pips and the next attempt was successful. Here it is:-
- - for the next 2 days I installed a Feliway diffuser running fulltime in the hall – a neutral territory. Feliway uses pheromones that mimic a cat’s own, and can work well to make an area feel like home to cats. Bracken and Pips have responded well to it after moving house, a very stressful situation, so I felt it would work in this situation too.
- - I fed both cats, so their tummies were satisfied. As Bracken and Pippin will barge each other out of the way to get more food for themselves, not feeding them together avoided the possibility of food-related arguments.
- - To give both cats the same ‘family’ scent so they’d recognize each other that way, I took a scarf I’d been wearing all day and went from one cat to the other, rubbing over each cat’s scent glands with the scarf then transferring it to the other cat. I did this 6 times for each cat because a couple of owners who had just done this the once had reported failure and Iw anted the scent mixing operation to be really thorough.
- - I have a daily routine with Bracken and Pippin, where I feed them treats before playing with them for half an hour. So out came the treats with much crackling and rustling of the packet, so both cats could hear it from their respective territories.
- - I opened the door to the hall and both cats came in. I instantly threw a treat down in front of each cat and, distracted by the treat, went for that before investigating each other. Praising both cats, I repeated this a few times, then stopped to see what would happen.
- - Bracken, little mite with her stitched up eye and Elizabethan collar, walked up to Pippin and licked her head. Pippin submitted to this, then they both looked to me for more treats and play as if they’d never been apart.
- After the more treats and play, I left the doors to the bedroom and lounge/kitchen open so each cat could explore the other’s ‘territory’ at their leisure. I did keep watch while they did this and I’m glad I did because Pippin looked quite antsy when Bracken walked into the lounge/kitchen area. Distracting Pippin with treats and praise worked fine and seemed to break any brief sense of tension.
- They’ve been fine together ever since. I hope this helps anyone reading this who has had difficulties reintroducing cats who have previously been best friends.