I have two cats, Ringo and Milo. Ringo we adopted when he was about a year and 6 months old. After about a few months, we adopted Milo and he was only 4 months at the time. We introduced them slowly keeping them in separate rooms for a few days and eventually they met a got along pretty well. They would play fight and seemed to enjoy each others company.

As Milo got older and bigger, he continued the same level of play fighting. The only difference is that he outgrew Ringo. Two years since adopting Milo, he currently sits at a solid 14lbs while Ringo is only 8lbs. I feel as if Milo knows that he is bigger and uses his size as an advantage. He would push Ringo out the way if he wants to get to where Ringo is sitting and when they play, Milo would just lay his whole body on top of Ringo to limit his movement. We tried to discourage this behavior as Milo aged but it seems to have gotten worse over time especially after my husband and I moved out of our apartment into our first house.

My husband describes Milos behaviour as kitten like and jokes about how he doesnt know how to be his own cat. He constantly wants to play with Ringo. Ringo will mind his own business and out of nowhere, Milo would pounce on him and playfully bite him or slap him in the face. He will follow Ringo around the house and swipe at his feet or push him with his body. Even as I type this, Ringo is walking around the bedroom while Milo sits in the cat tree eyeballing Ringo waiting for him to leave the room so he can follow. He will chase Ringo around the house until Ringo finds a high spot that Milo cant reach. From there, Milo will meow and howl for what seems like forever and I am guessing its out of frustration that he cant reach Ringo.

We have tried just about everything we can think of. Feliway diffusers (what the vet recommended), calming treats and collars, playing with him more to burn off his energy, and the only form of discipline that Milo reacts to is a spray bottle with water. If he sees us grab it, he will stop what he is doing and literally seconds later, he will go back to attacking Ringo as if he forgot that we just had the water bottle.

My husband and I have discussed that we don't want to rehome him. He is a sweet and affectionate cat, but we don't want him terrorizing Ringo constantly. Please any help would be much appreciated.


First of all, you should stop all attempts at trying to discipline or use negative reinforcement on Milo. This includes the spray bottle. Milo understands that the spray bottle means he'll get squirted, but that isn't going to change his attitude to Ringo. You'll just continue like this forever: he'll drop what he's doing when the spray bottle is present, but still want to bully Ringo when he's not being threatened by it.

A lot of this behavior sounds like it's coming from boredom. I know you said you've tried playing with Milo to burn off energy, but it's really something you need to keep up. Make sure you really tire out Milo. Cats tend to play where they have a big burst of initial energy, then they'll sit and watch, then they might have another burst not quite as energetically as the first, and so forth, until they really get tired and lose interest. So make sure you keep at it until Milo really doesn't seem interested. Cats also often get more active around meal times, so a good time to do it is before feeding him. Hopefully it will encourage their natural habits of hunt and eat, then sleep. You might also want to think about how to make the house more generally interesting for them, like by possibly getting more toys, making windows more accessible with cat furniture, or giving them food puzzle toys, and so forth.

Another thing you should do is change the environment to help discourage the bullying behavior. The bullying happens in part because there are places in your house where Milo can trap or ambush Ringo. For example, you describe Ringo as seeking refuge in a high location, and Milo sitting there meowing and waiting for him to come down. Another example is any place where Milo might lie in wait and then jump out when Ringo unwittingly walks by. Think carefully as to what these places are in your house, and what you can do to change the situation. Try to block access to any place where Milo might be hiding to ambush Ringo. Get more cat furniture, shelves, or rearrange your furniture, whatever you can, so that those high areas that Ringo goes to to get away from Milo have more than one way down. That way Milo can't trap Ringo up there.

Lastly, I suspect that Ringo probably is using timid body language that makes him look like a tempting target to Milo, who is clearly the more confident cat. Bullies like targeting weak looking victims. Timid sort of body language is keeping the tail low, keeping on high alert when the other cat is in the room, or just fleeing the room when the other cat is near, and so forth. You want to try to encourage Ringo to be in the same room with Milo, and show him that nothing bad will happen. Hopefully then he will feel more confident, and act more confident as a result. You can do this by having regular play sessions with both of them in the same room. Keep them both distracted by play at the same time, and they will forget about each other. The trick is to make sure to really have both cats engaged at the same time, so neither is paying any attention to the other. You will need your husband to help you with this, because you really need one person to engage with each cat. Hopefully, this will convince Ringo that nothing bad will happen while he's in the same room with Milo, and he will naturally begin to act more confident around Milo.

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