Cat acts like he doesn't recognize the other cats

BlueRaccoon

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I have a two year old who has lived with us since he was two months old. He gets along with the other cats in the house. Twice this month he has looked at one of the other cats we have and acts like he doesn't recognize him. He watches terrified from the other side of room. His tail puffs up, and he won't stop watching the other cat. The other cat just sit relaxed across the room. The other cat finally walked up to him and loved on him the other day. After the other cat did this, our little male relaxed. What would cause this? I would understand it if the other cat was in a fight or play stance, but this keeps occurring randomly. One time the other cat was just sitting relaxed, and the other time the other cat was relaxed curled up. I think he is recognizing us, so I don't think it's a health problem.
 

ArtNJ

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Your not grooming or shampoing him are you? Cats are very scent based, so there is a thing called non-recognition aggression that happens when the scent changes. It sometimes even happens when an indoor/outdoor cat comes home after gettting into something that changes the scent a bit. Vet is the biggest cause, but I assume you'd know if it was that one.
 
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BlueRaccoon

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Your not grooming or shampoing him are you? Cats are very scent based, so there is a thing called non-recognition aggression that happens when the scent changes. It sometimes even happens when an indoor/outdoor cat comes home after gettting into something that changes the scent a bit. Vet is the biggest cause, but I assume you'd know if it was that one.
Good point! Thank you. I am not grooming or shampooing him, and they are all 100% indoor cats. Maybe there is a smell I am missing that he is associating with him. This little one is very affected by smells and cleanliness. He is an EXTREMELY CLEAN cat, and he gets upset if they others don't do that same!
 

sivyaleah

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A ArtNJ is correct on this.
Also, I wonder if the cat is not specifically responding to the other cat, but seeing something off in the distance (outside a window for instance) which is triggering him?
this is also redirected aggression - it also can happen if 2 cats are sitting near each other, and see another cat outside walk by. We had this happen and one of ours scratched the cornea of the other cat because she couldn't get to the intruder. And recently, another instance where that same cat went bonkers from a cat outside and started getting angry with our much younger one who has little experience with this. She was tossing herself against our sliding door, I thought she'd hurt herself for sure. We managed to get the other cat out of the way but wow, our older one was NOT a happy cat at all for another 1/2 hour or so.
 

ArtNJ

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sivyaleah sivyaleah could certainly be on to something. Cats have extremely keen senses, and I think some of the inexplicable fear/aggression that sometimes comes up is redirected aggression from something smelled or heard that originates outside, and potentially not even that close. A fox or outdoor cat traveling by, the neighbors dogs fighting, a construction project that you don't even hear, who knows.

However, just to be thorough, note that this also be associated with a vision or neurologic change. Not my first guess, since this is a young cat, but if there is no other known cause and it keeps happening, I do think a vet visit would be a good idea, just to rule it out.
 
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