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strange behavior

I have 2 cats. One is about 4 years old, male ,fixed. The other is a female, about 1 1/2 years old, spayed.  Both cats have been getting along well, the older cat got along well with kitten when brought her home over a year ago. Both cats play well together, sleep together, and have had no problems in the past. 4 days ago, my oldest cat, male, came in from outside and the younger female started yowling and growling at him, then chased after him and attacked him.
We originally thought he got into some strange scent, and it would go away and things would be o.k.  The  problem is still going on, and we don't know what to do.  The older male has been real squeamish and scared to come in the house, because he is going to be attacked. He won't attack the female, i guess because he knows she belongs here
and doesn't understand what is going on.
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The female may be able to smell another animal on your male, or if your male cat had been attacked while outdoors your female cat might be able to smell the fear, or a wound (whether physical or psychological) on him.  Additionally, he could have an illness that only she can detect, and is not obvious to you.  It could be something minor or not so minor.

My advice is to bring them both in for grooming.  The male is the one who needs to be groomed, but they should both be taken to the groomers so that they would not be separated again, and after grooming they would both smell similarly.

Get a Feliway defuser.  Feliway is a natural feline pheromone which imparts a feeling of well being to cats, and my calm the female down enough to accept the male again.

If both of the above measures are ineffective than it might be best to bring both cats to the vet.  Have the male examined to make sure there is not some underlying condition, and perhaps you can get a prescription or herbal tranquilizer for the female.

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