My Cat Is Terrified of My Wife Since She's Returned from The Hospital

JoeFromRI

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This is breaking my heart. We have an adorable 4-year-old cat named Beau. Beau has a history of running upstairs or outside when a stranger comes in the house. My wife recently returned home after a stem cell transplant due to a leukemia diagnosis and Beau will not come in the house. He's afraid of her appearance and voice. She's been gone off and on for a total of 29 weeks. He's around the home, but won't come in. I'd appreciate any ideas that forum readers might have
 

ArtNJ

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Two strategies:

(1) if she hasn't already, thorough shower, put on her favorite clothes. She might still smell like hospital stuff, and cats are very sensitive to that stuff.

(2) Have her hide upstairs, get the cat in, bar the cat door if any. From here, you have a couple of choices:

(a) slow: treat it like an introduction to a new cat. This would require keeping the cat in for a while;

(b) (relatively) fast: put the cat in a room with her. She has to just chill, do absolutely nothing for a while. Some will say to get down on the floor if the cat hides under the bed. But the most important thing is to do nothing. Give it time where the cat sees nothing bad happening.
 

sivyaleah

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I'm so sorry to read this. It's bad enough dealing with such an enormous health issue but to top it off with a beloved cat companion being upset too, is quite a lot to deal with.

If it's of any consolation I was recently hospitalized for a week. My younger one, had never been away from me, ever. I was worried about how she'd do with just my husband caring for her - that went ok - but when I returned home she was hesitant about me. She's not very stranger-friendly and take a long time to warm up to anyone who comes into our home. So seeing her holding herself back from me was upsetting. Thankfully, she came round after about an hour or so.

Keep in mind your wife smells very different having been away from home for so long. Not only hospital scents which probably remind Beau of vet visits, but her entire being certainly was effected by her illness and animals have very keen sense of smell and it appears, can frequently recognize illness in humans.

I think once your wife is home for a while she'll begin to start smelling more like what you cats recognizes as "home" but it could take a few days. Have her wear some of her older clothing, maybe if Beau has a favorite blanket, she can put that around her.

I'm really not sure the best way to go about this but my personal feeling is to get Beau inside and let him hide out there - at least it's better than being outdoors. I'd think the more he's surrounded by home smells the sooner he will begin to accept your wife again.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi, and oh my. Beau could most certainly be smelling changes, as mentioned above, from what your wife has been through - including what her body is producing with the actual stem cells - as well as any medications she is on. I would repeatedly have your wife use towels/blankets that Beau uses to keep with her at all times - along with many of the suggestions above,

If all else fails over time, I would also consider another option that has been mentioned on this site before - Ode to vanilla extract | TheCatSite.

Please keep us posted and we will try to help out whatever way we can. (My very best to your wife in her recovery!)
 

Mamanyt1953

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The main thing is that you are almost certainly going to have to get him in to allow him to become reacquainted with her, the sight/sound/smell of her post-hospitalization. Will he approach you if you sit down outside? If not, you may have to resort to a humane trap. If he will, entice him to you with some much-loved treat, and haul his furry little self inside so that he can learn who she is again.
 
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