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I don't know if many people remember my post from August, when we adopted Forte at 7 months. Forte is generally a very laid-back and accepting cat--he has a great personality. When we first got him, we gradually introduced him to our two resident cats (they were then 10 months old), following the suggestions of the great people here. It took a month, but eventually he and Allegro, our orange boy, became best buddies. They still have a great relationship, and are often playing, cuddling and grooming.

We knew that Coda was going to be the tough one. She got along great with her brother Allegro (and she still does--the two of them are closer than ever), but she has quite a bit of an attitude when it comes to most other cats. So we specifically went looking for a cat that got along with every other cat he met. We found Forte through Petfinder--he was in a rescue in Kentucky. They weren't lying--Forte is incredibly sweet and relaxed and adaptable.

We thought we'd have to give him back, though (the rescue gives every adopter an automatic 4-week "foster period" before the adoption is finalized, and they were willing to give us a longer period of time with Forte). Coda was hissing every time she saw Forte, but after two months, we got to a point where she only hissed if he touched her or got up in her face, and eventually they were able to lay on the sofa or a chair together (although Coda never was the one to join Forte--he always jumped up to join her).

We thought he had learned to leave her alone--she doesn't like to play much. We also thought that things would get better as the weather grew colder--we hoped Coda would be more likely to want to snuggle up to Forte.

But things haven't gotten better. They've gotten worse. We've been seeing more of it lately because we've been at home more (due to having work off for the holidays). Coda hasn't been in our laps in weeks- she disappears upstairs during the day. She is still very cuddly and playful with Allegro, and ignores Forte. She doesn't act afraid of him --she turns her back on him, relaxed pose, doesn't run from him, etc.--until he starts attacking her in play. When Allegro pounces on her to play, she is just fine. But when Forte does it, she hisses and growls. That part has stayed the same since when we first got Forte.

What we saw tonight that when she hissed, he wouldn't leave her alone. He kept trying to chase her and pounce on her. She kept growling and hissing and running away from him, and he kept tackling her until she started SHRIEKING, and he STILL wouldn't leave her alone! He wasn't making any noise at all, but she wouldn't stop shrieking until we used the squirt bottle on Forte. I then put Forte in the bathroom alone for a few minutes to hopefully calm Coda down. Coda stayed in hiding for a few minutes and then walked around like normal. Forte was crying piteously, and when I opened the door to let him out, Coda was just 5 feet away, looking at him, alert but not looking afraid or stressed out. She stood her ground while he walked up to her, sniffed, and walked away calmly.

It's just so weird- they're both fine when he leaves her alone, but as soon as he gets it into his head to bother her or play with her, she freaks out and he JUST WON'T STOP. He used to stop, but now he's not. Why???

On top of all that, even though I haven't gotten hives since that one time when Forte first came home, I got sick immediately after bringing him home (I assumed it was just seasonal allergies) that eventually became asthmatic bronchitis (I've never had asthma), and I am still having to take 3-6 Benadryl pills a day to keep from constantly having an allergic reaction--scratchiness at the back of my throat, runny nose, constant sneezing, itchy eyes. I also have to take Mucinex every day because at night I'm still wheezing when I breathe. I am going to have to get an allergy test and hopefully get a shot that will help with this, since I'm just now accepting (when my doctor and my aunt, who is a nurse, both suggested that I may be allergic) that I have cat allergies, and that they were triggered as soon as Forte came home (it seems like he has the higher concentration of the allergen in his saliva, which is consistent with studies that suggest that the concentration is higher in black male cats).

I refuse to give Forte up--he is literally the sweetest cat ever, and he goes limp in my lap for hours, purring. However, even though I madly love him, a significant part of me regrets ever adopting him--between his clashes with Coda, my poor health over the past four months, and the fact that he was/is infested with worms (he's being treated for it, along with my other cats since he probably passed it to them).

Any new ideas? I just want my sweet Coda girl back. She was always more independent than Allegro, but I used to get snuggles from her at least 3-4 times a week--and now, she totally avoids us unless it's time for noms. It's really breaking my heart. :(

Thanks in advance.
 

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I'm sorry to hear of the troubles between Coda and Forte, although I don't have too much to suggest. There's not much you can do other than to distract Forte and/or put an end to his chasing when it's clear Coda isn't enjoying things. Abby often chases Muffs...sometimes Muffs is fine and will join in the fun, but sometimes it's clear that Muffs doesn't want to play and she'll start crying. That's when I grab the coin can and give it a loud shake, which instantly results in two cats running for the hills!

As for how to get Coda to snuggle again, I have no answers. Muffs has never cuddled with me from the start. So, if you find the answer to that question, do let me know! I only hope that, in time, your two learn to find some sort of mutual understanding that allows them to co-exist in peace.
 

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This is indeed a tough one. I have one idea for Coda/Forte, one for Coda, to offer. Prospects for success, moderate, but at least not nil.

My analogous issue was/is that Snowball doesn't like Blizzy, and Blizzy took to chasing after her, making matters worse. Once I was able to get them into the same room together without Snowball totally freaking out or Blizzy making a beeline for her (five months), I tried treats galore when they were near one another (and they were, as soon as I opened the treats bag, Snowby came running, Blizzy be damned.) It took a month, and I would hold Blizzy sometimes, but gradually they both learned to lie down in the same room, with me there, without either one reacting much to the other. In your case, they already spend much of their time near each other without anything happening. So I would try to reinforce the positive by giving them treats together a couple of times a day. When Blizzy goes after Snowby, which he still does up to several times a day when I am around, he tends to listen to me and stop when I tell him to, so I am better off in that department than you at the moment. But I also learned to distract him by rattling his favorite toy, a furry mouse, and he would immediately stop paying attention to her and shift to the mouse. You might try a toy, as well as the coin can for negative disruption, and see which is more effective.

As for Coda, my analogy is that Blizzy is NOT a cuddlebug, he is standoffish, but there is a certain spot in the house (my computer room) where he does love to come up and get into my lap. Assuming Coda would pay more attention to you in a few spots than in others, I would attract her there, again perhaps by using treats if necessary. Or I would close her off with you, in your bedroom, if you can do that with your open plan, and then talk softly to her, sit or lie down, and see if she eventually comes over to you. I'd try to be isolated with her for 15 minutes or so, since it may take her a few minutes to decide to come over. Also, don't look straight at her and ask her to come over, since that only works on occasion, I have found.

Or my ideas may give you better ones of your own. Unfortunately, I don't think Forte's occasional stalking of Coda will stop anytime soon, but if you habituate them to treats around each other, plus toy distraction and a coin can, it may decrease the frequency.
 

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I'm sorry you're having to go through this; suffering it myself (although I'm beginning to see improvements), I know JUST how distressing it is.

I have two thoughts for you - one, have you tried using a nasal spray? I, too, just out of the clear blue, became actively allergic to my cats a couple of years ago... I use Fluticasone nasal spray once a day during the summer and twice a day during the winter and all those itchy, weepy eyes, nose and throat symptoms are kept under absolutely perfect control - no symptoms at all. If I forget for even a day, however, they come raging back and, more often than not, lead directly to asthmatic bronchitis; I don't often forget anymore. ;-)

Secondly, have you tried Feliway? Of the eight cats I've been trying to integrate, it had a markedly positive effect on seven of them and I'm using it now in every room in the house. If you buy it off amazon.com, you can get it at a decent price.

I also second NRD's thoughts about identifying and then using Coda's comfort spots to encourage her to spend more time with you.

Best of luck!

AC
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for the great responses! I have somewhat good news- my brother and sister came to visit me yesterday, and suddenly Coda was her old self- she rubbed up against my siblings and purred, and ended the evening snoozing in my husband's lap for an hour. She still hasn't approached ME, but at least she sought out some human attention.

AC, I know what you mean...I always forget to keep taking the Benadryl throughout the day, and I'm always punished for it. I'll start sneezing several times in a row, my throat will close up and itch, and my eyes start itching like crazy. It's terrible when it happens, and my only recourse is to throw down whatever I have in my hands and run upstairs (our bedroom is a cat-free zone, which I'm sad about but now glad because it helps with my allergies) and take the Benadryl and wash my face and hands. I wish I could just avoid touching Forte a lot, but he is SO affectionate- he is always in my lap or lying across my shoulders and chest, right in my face, purring. I can't seem to find the heart to push him off me.

It could be that Coda has become less snuggly now that Forte has gotten MORE snuggly- about a month ago, Forte seemed to fully understand that he was home and started to be more affectionate than ever before--I trip over him all the time since it seems like he thinks that he has to be touching me at all times, rubbing against my legs while I'm walking. When Forte is in my lap and Allegro wants snuggles, he'll just join Forte and I'll have a kitty pile on top of me. But Coda completely avoids me when Forte is on my lap.

Coda does have a "sweet spot"- the chair my husband was sitting in last night. Usually that's *my* chair, and it's usually the one place that she'll cuddle me in. She still cuddles my husband when he sits in *his* chair (the sofa), but all the cats prefer the chair that I think of as *mine*. But I was sitting in a different chair last night, and Jake was sitting in *my* chair, and Coda went to him. So confusing.

Due to my house's open floor plan (and the fact that we don't allow the cats to be in the bedrooms), the only rooms I could take Coda into would be the bathrooms or laundry room. I could try it, but she'd be mostly curious/apprehensive than anything.

And yeah, you guys have grasped the main point- Coda is totally fine with Forte most of the time. I give all three of them treats together once or twice a day, playtime together, and Coda and Forte are fine. Even when we're playing Da Bird and Forte flips in the air and accidentally lands on top of Coda, she seems to realize that it was an accident and she doesn't freak out. She'll let him brush right up against her and they'll sniff each other. They snooze in the cat tree together sometimes, with she on one level and he on the other, and they're both totally relaxed and happy. She only seems to react when he tries to groom her privates (she sometimes lets Allegro do this, but never Forte) or when he bats her with his paw or pounces on her in play.

I know they're all at the age where they're figuring out who is the dominant one, and I think Coda's making a strong case for herself. She will wrestle around with Allegro just fine, and always wins when play-fighting with him. She's always been the "boss", between the two of them. Forte and Allegro wrestle around in play and they seem to be on equal terms, but Forte is a bit bigger and taller than Allegro and quite a bit bigger than Coda, so maybe Coda feels threatened by him...only when he seems to be making a play for dominance? Maybe she just wants to be the dominant one but she doesn't think she could beat him physically, because he's much bigger than she is, so she's just avoiding the fight by hissing and growling?

I don't care so much about the occasional hiss, which is what it had been for the past few months. It's just that recently he hasn't stopped after the initial hiss or growl, and he keeps trying to attack her, and that's when she starts running away and making this horrible shrieking, yowling sound.

AC, we used the Feliway plug and spray when we first brought Forte home, and it didn't seem to help any. I think we're going to order some Rescue Remedy for them.

We have tried distracting with toys and shaking our car keys/clapping loudly, and nothing has worked--once the car keys scared them both away and they continued the fighting upstairs. We can try a coin can, but I'm not sure if it would do anything given that Forte doesn't distract easily.

I also want to add to my initial concerns, because this may be related- for the past month and a half, Coda is having a HUGE problem letting us clip her nails. She never exactly enjoyed it, but she used to let me do it. Now, she tenses up and as soon as I extend one of her nails, she starts jerking around violently, totally tense, and makes little whimpers and almost-growls. I hold her down with a towel around her and Jake takes one paw at a time to clip, but we still can barely get more than one or two nails in one sitting. She never actually scratches or bites us, but you can totally tell she WANTS to. Her claws are extended, she is moaning and growling, and she is opening her mouth and jerking around like she is going to scratch or bite us, but she always stops herself. She once went so far as to stick my hand in her mouth, but she didn't close her teeth--she seemed to catch herself and calmed down (I kind of take it as a compliment that she won't let herself hurt us--should I??). We leave her alone once she gets to this point, thinking that we don't want to push her, but her nails are VERY long and I'm worried that she's going to get them caught in something.

I know someone may ask- we've never cut the quick when clipping her nails, we use guillotine-style clippers and only cut the very tips when they get needle-like, and we always give her treats afterwards, so I'm wondering why she dreads it so much?

The boys don't love having their nails clipped, but they let me do it by myself without putting up a fuss, all in one sitting.
 

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I'm sorry you're having all these problems. :( I can't imagine what it's like.

I know I'll probably get eye rolls for this, but considering how bad your allergies are.. I wanted to bring it up as a possibility (also with the attitude issues).

Have you considered trying a raw diet for the kitties? It is known that people with cat allergies (my spouse) often do not react/react as badly to raw fed cats because the stuff in the saliva is lessened significantly.

Also, there have been many incidents of 'bad attitude' cats (my aunts cat, in particular) who, once switched to raw, have actually stopped bullying the other resident cats/dogs. Still have a bad attitude, but don't actively go after anyone anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm certainly not opposed to it--I've read up on it. It's just that things are kind of crazy right now, and my husband would not help me with it--he's weird about raw meat. :-/
 

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I also want to add to my initial concerns, because this may be related- for the past month and a half, Coda is having a HUGE problem letting us clip her nails. She never exactly enjoyed it, but she used to let me do it. Now, she tenses up and as soon as I extend one of her nails, she starts jerking around violently, totally tense, and makes little whimpers and almost-growls.

Trying to think like a cat--who can blame Coda if she wants to keep her nails sharp, since she probably instinctively knows she can use them to keep the bigger Forte at bay, at least enough so I take it he has never actually hurt her.

I find trying to figure out if play fighting that escalates is related to dominance is next to impossible for me to do. I do know Snowball likes to be left alone, except when she doesn't, and she decides when. But that's not a dominance thing. Nor do I understand why Blizzy suddenly decides to go hassle her, when she is minding her own business, and then just as suddenly he leaves her alone again for hours. So I let her keep her nails sharp.

Since my Blizzy and Hershey would also play-wrestle to a draw (until recently, but that's another story), I thought maybe Blizzy was frustrated and so his chasing of Snowby was an attempt to show dominance or control over someone. In that respect, Blizzy and Forte might be alike. Except Blizzy is now bigger than Hershey and tends to win the wrestles, but he's still hassling Snowby. So, I just don't know. But as others have noted, I feel your pain (though not your allergies, so I have had nothing to say there).
 

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I don't know how old Forte is, but if he's somewhere between 10 mos. and a 2 y.o., it's a time when he's trying to figure out where he wants to be in the hierarchy. Coda was dominant, but since Forte's now bigger than she is he's trying to topple the queen from the throne. I have a similar situation with my Devons. My boy was 4 mos. younger than his half sister when I got them as kittens, and all was sweetness and light until he was about 2 y.o. when he became taller and much heavier than she is and started to throw his weight around. My girl's never had a real screaming fit or fur-flying nasty fight with him, but they've come pretty close on a few occasions. They're mostly good cuddle and play buddies but my boy just can't seem to resist bugging her or pushing her to hissing. I think Forte wants to be the boss instead of Coda. As suggested by a previous poster, paying extra one-on-one private attention to Coda in another room will make her feel better. Just do it very quietly so Forte doesn't hear all the cooing and sweet words. Cats can be very jealous of another if it thinks it's getting something special.

Coda likely feels she needs her claws sharp to defend herself. This could be the reason she's resisting having them clipped. The only problem with letting them be sharp is it might make Forte more aggressive and determined.

With my two I don't interfere if it's just hissing, but only if it sounds like things are turning ugly, and usually all I have to do is tell them to "Stop it!". It's not always one sided; some days my girl is "Miss Meanie". If my boy is particularly antsy and bugging her, I will walk toward him with stomping feet and he'll back off or run. He respects that I'm the "alpha" in the house. He doesn't hold this type of discipline against me as he gets lots of loving, and will often be in my lap soon after I reprimand him. If my boy is in a really insistent mood where he's bugging my girl and ignoring her objections, quite often she'll run to me and stand or sit beside me. My boy respects me enough that he leaves her alone then. Hope some of this helps you to understand what's going on. It can be stressful and an aggravation on owners tho, if it's constant. It can certainly be challenging to keep a harmonious household. All the best!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It does sound like Forte has the same mindset as Blizzy- and I think you're right about Coda's claws, NRD! Her claws are always sharper than the other two.

Thanks, Ami. Forte's 1 year birthday is coming up on the 15th of this month, so he's right in that age.

Update- I witnessed some interesting things this week since I've been at home sick. Once, Forte was laying down, and Coda was sitting right next to him, and she reached out her paw and BOPPED him on the head. He didn't react, so she did it twice more. Just reached out her paw, bopped him, and then looked at him to see if he'd do anything. It was really interesting to see.
Then, the next day, Coda and Forte were hanging out by the scratching post, and when Coda's back was turned, Forte reached out and tapped Coda on the shoulder! She didn't react- she didn't even turn around! He did it again, a couple more times. I think she eventually turned around, but didn't make any noise or even look at him much- she was totally relaxed. Forte's tapping was different from Coda's bopping- his was more gentle, whereas hers was the same motion she makes when she's trying to kill/play with a spider crawling across the floor. Both, however, had their claws retracted. Is this a good sign? There were still times where Coda was hissing and growling at Forte, but they were in another room from me and I didn't see who started it or what happened. It's just weird, because Coda seems to know when Forte is just fooling around versus when he wants to wrestle, and she only has a problem with it when he actually attacks her in play.

Another good update- on Tuesday, I was sitting in the "sweet spot" chair, and Coda jumped up to snuggle on my lap. It didn't last too long, but she definitely purred and snoozed in my lap. I was so happy!

I don't know if this is helpful, but we always show favoritism to Coda, since she's always been the dominant one and a bit demanding. We always serve her food first, and make a special effort to greet her, pet her gently, and coo at her. She is our princess, and she knows her name, so even when she isn't being physically affectionate, we talk at her in a baby goo-goo voice and call her "our sweet little girl" and "our princess" and "so pretty" and all that. She totally loves it and strikes all sorts of poses. We joke that she is an avid reader of "Kittypolitan magazine" and is always on the lookout for talent scouts that will sign her for a modeling contract. She already thinks she is a star, and is just as demanding as one. :)

Of course, we also talk to and compliment Forte and Allegro. Allegro is "Mister Meow-Meow" (he's very vocal) and Forte is "our handsome prince" and "sweet boy". Allegro totally has the personality of a kitten still; I don't think he cares if he's at the bottom of the totem pole, he just wants everyone to like him. He is the big snuggler and loves to cuddle everyone in the family with unreserved love and trust.

Forte was found wandering the streets at 3 months of age, so he's a little more street-smart than C+A. We have had to cut down on playing "Da Bird" because Forte is so GOOD at it. He almost always catches it, and he doesn't fool around with his paws- he clenches it between his teeth and we have a really hard time getting it away from him. He usually breaks a Da Bird toy within 1 or 2 play sessions. C+A grew up in a foster home, so they aren't seasoned experienced hunters like Forte is. So while Forte is a sweet lover with us, I suspect that he's a LOT better at wrestling than Coda and Allegro are, and Coda probably knows it. I think she's trying to avoid a showdown with Forte, because she knows he'll win.
 

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I think you're reading Forte, and Coda right. These little tit for tats are funny. Sometimes when my boy's really bugging, my girl will get back at him, not immediately....but later in the day or the next day. I think a lot of it is boredeom. They normally spend a good part of the day watching birds and squirrels in our yard, but since we have a fair amount of snow we haven't had as many birds and the squirrels are mostly hibernating. Also we've had an awful lot of cloudy days, and my boy is a real sun worshiper and notice he really misses the sun, and I think it makes him a bit cranky.

As Forte gets beyond 2 y.o. things should get better as their pecking order should be more settled, and he's got such a sweet temperament, I don't think it will escalate into something more serious.
 

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I hope that'll be the case, Ami! I'm just dreading the day that Forte decides to insist that he's top cat. He's pretty laid-back, and Coda is the OPPOSITE of laid-back, so that day may never come--he may just figure that it's not worth arguing about.

It may be boredom- they always have access to windows and a million toys. But Coda is definitely interested in being Top Cat- she likes to, er, "mount" Allegro and bite him on the neck! She's never tried to do that to Forte, because he probably wouldn't let her.
 

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we got a 4th cat about 14 months ago. Initially things were fine, but sometime last summer, Aggie (youngest cat before the new one) went ballistic whenever Nutmeg came near. There were nights of constant howling and all sorts of awful disturbances but finally all is settled down. All of your cats are young so I think you have hope that (together with the suggestions you've already gotten) things will settle down as the cats all mature. But I think I can help you with the toenail clipping.

ALWAYS give her a treat when you are done clipping toenails. Maybe just clip one or two at a time at first. She needs to know that this is GOING to happen like it or not. but be patient. and ALWAYS have treats. it doesn't hurt to smell good yourself (like you were just handling ground meat or something) so she is a bit distracted from her tantrum before you start.
 

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Ugh. Lots of tussles and screaming tonight. Forte keeps approaching Coda and trying to bite her at the back of her neck. And whenever he does so, she hisses and wails. Just now he kept attacking her, and she made the most horrible noises! I clapped my hands (no penny can near) and shouted "Hey!" to try and break them up, but Forte didn't let up until I got up and rushed over to them with my arms waving.

He then went and hid behind the TV. I wanted to separate them, so I calmly talked to him until he came out and walked up to me. I felt like a Judas when I scooped him up to take him to "isolation" (the bathroom) and he started purring at my touch. :'( I don't even know if what I did was the right thing, because Coda watched from her hiding place under the Christmas tree as I held Forte in my arms on the way to the bathroom. After I put him away, I picked her up from her hiding place and tried to comfort her, but she was very tense in my arms, and when I sat down and loosened my grip, she jumped away. After several minutes of crying from Forte, I let him out and Coda watched from hiding under the kitchen table. I feel so bad for both of them.
 

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For obvious reasons, I have no advice to offer, but I do feel your pain. :patback
 
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