How Does My Cat React When I Return From a Trip? Olga’s Hostility

Hi, I’m Christopher! Read my introduction to learn more about me and my silly Russian Blue cat, Olga.

When I traveled to Thailand last year, I left Olga at my parents’ house. It was the first time she had been away from home for more than a few hours, and unfortunately for my parents, she wasn’t the best houseguest for the first few days. She stayed hidden in the daytime, and when they went to bed, she cried the entire night. After the third day, they said she was friendlier and happy to curl up in their laps.

Taking her with me wasn’t possible since one of my flights was over 14 hours, and my hotel didn’t allow pets. However, enduring a long flight with a cabin full of coughing passengers and inedible cuisine is bad enough, and I’m glad I didn’t have an angry feline in a carrier constantly whining for the entire trip.

Unless I move to another country, I doubt I’ll ever take Olga on an international flight. It would be agonizing for both of us. She isn’t fond of leaving the confines of my house, and when I take shorter trips, my cat sitter takes care of her. When she can stay home when I’m gone, she’s incredibly friendly when I return and won’t leave me alone.

Good afternoon! Please feed me now.

A Hostile Welcome

After my Thailand trip, she wasn’t as happy to see me. When I approached her, she howled and backed away from me. It almost seemed like she assumed I was dead since I had been gone for so long, and she wasn’t pleased to see my ghost. She ran away, and when I found her hiding under a bed, she hissed and tried to scratch me. I had to cover her with a towel before I wedged her into the carrier.

When I released her from the carrier at my house, she ran and hid under my bed. She stayed away from me for the rest of the day and didn’t approach me until later that night. Olga’s hostility surprised me, but it only took her a day to realize I was back from the dead, and she was excited to return to her old routine.

I can pick up the mouse with one hand. I'm talented.
I can pick up the mouse with one hand. I’m talented.

Aromatic Environment

Cats have long-term memories and can distinguish their owners from strangers, but why did she initially fear me? A veterinarian I work with suggested that the strange scents on my clothes from the trip spooked her. Considering the length of the journey and the mixture of unpleasant aromas that surrounded me on the plane, I think she was correct.

During the 30-hour trip, my olfactory system was overloaded with the aromas of pungent body odor, bad breath, strong cologne, and vomit from the infant who threw up on her seat nearby. I don’t blame Olga for hissing at me or trying to scratch me after the trip. If she had come home after a long trip and her fur was embedded with the same odors, I would have hissed and run for cover, too.

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