If you are looking for a feline companion with a temperament similar to that of a dog, then a Maine coon cat might be suited to you. These beautiful cats are popular for their outgoing personalities and gentle nature.
However, the breed’s large size is intimidating to some would-be owners, who might find themselves asking, “are Maine coon cats mean?”
While Maine coons are not aggressive cats, they can turn mean if they are threatened, in pain, or mistreated – just like any cat. If your cat suddenly lashes out, it is very important to know why, so that you can address the root cause.
Maine coon personality traits
Maine coons are known for their friendly, affectionate, and loving disposition. Indeed, this cat breed is huge in size but their character is kitten-like. No wonder they are dubbed “the gentle giants” of the cat world.
One of the many desirable Maine coon traits is their love for human companionship. A typical Maine coon will enjoy being pampered with lots of attention. Maine coons are very patient and loving, too, making them great playmates for families with young children. Furthermore, their laid-back personality, combined with proper early socialization, can make them tolerate even the most rambunctious family pets!
If you do not mind a talkative furry friend, then a Maine coon might be the perfect cat for you. Most owners will testify to how communicative these cats can be – from chirping and meowing to purring, your Maine coon will not hesitate to engage in chit-chat with you like an old friend.
While Maine coons are renowned for being gentle and affectionate, they are also inherently good mousers. Driven by their curious and inquisitive nature, they love exploring their environment and looking for potential prey that they can toy with.
However, their sweet and sociable demeanor comes with a caveat. Like any cat breed, a Maine coon kitten must be properly socialized to reduce its territorial and possessive tendencies. Hormones can influence their moods, too, so you must have them spayed or neutered if you have no plans of caring for their litters.
Are Maine coon cats mean?
Aggression is rarely observed in Maine coons. So, if you happen to encounter this, then something is obviously not right with your cat. As mentioned, most cats can be mean if they are not properly socialized. However, several external factors can also affect their moods, including environmental changes such as the arrival of a new pet or family member, or sudden loud noises.
Nevertheless, Maine coons are one of the friendliest breeds you will find. While a typical house cat can have unpredictable behavior, a Maine coon is more likely to be the exact opposite. Overall, these fluffy giants are calm, patient, laid-back, and people-oriented, making them great companions for kids, dogs, and other cats.
Signs of aggression in Maine coon cats
If a Maine coon shows signs of aggression, there is probably a good reason behind it. Mean behavior is often indicative of stress, fear, past trauma, pain, or discomfort. Some Maine coons can also inherit a mean streak from one of their parents, so it is very important to do your research before adopting or purchasing a kitten.
Feline aggression can be a terrifying behavior. Agitated cats can attack and inflict injury on anyone in the family. Therefore, knowing the signs of impending aggressive outbursts is important, so that you will understand when to back off.
Here are some signs that your Maine coon is losing its cool:
- Arched back
- Dilated pupils
- Staring and baring teeth
- Hissing, swatting and pouncing
- Crouching with ears pulled back
- Tail held straight up
- Raised hackles (an arched ridge of hair along the back and tail)
Reasons your Maine coon might be mean
Even the gentlest of cats can lose their temper at some point. If your Maine coon is suddenly lashing out, it could be for one of these reasons:
1. Territorial behavior
Just like humans, cats like to have their own space to enjoy and relax in. Some might even demand a private litter box and personal toys. Maine coons, despite being patient and sociable, are not different from any other cat in this regard. They, too, want some personal space, especially since these cats are hunt-driven. If you have a crowded household, your Maine coon might lash out at a family member who invades their domain.
Keep in mind that, like any cat, a Maine coon will rarely be willing to share its space and personal stuff. So make sure that all your pets are provided with their own toys and food bowls. You do not need to assign a large area for your Maine coon; just make sure that each pet in your household has its own.
2. Lack of socialization
Kittenhood is considered the most critical stage when it comes to socializing a cat. Growing kittens are still learning about their environment, so it is important to teach them what behaviors are acceptable. This is why breeders should take responsibility for helping their kittens explore new sights and smells, so they can be comfortable with different people and animals as they grow older.
Without proper socialization, a Maine coon kitten might be fearful and aggressive towards unfamiliar people and objects.
That said, if you have adopted an adult Maine coon, know that it is never too late to train your cat – it might just take longer to teach your older cat about proper behavior.
You may be absentmindedly cuddling and petting your kitty when suddenly they start scratching or biting your hand. What is going on?
If you are baffled by your Maine coon’s strange behavior, you are not alone. Most fur parents tend to experience these episodes, regardless of the breed or gender of their cat. And there is a rational reason that your cat behaves this way.
Overstimulation happens when a cat is overwhelmed by too many visual, aural, or sensory stimuli. Just like humans, cats have a varying tolerance for touch or interaction – and their reactions can vary, too. Remember that every cat has its own personality, depending on its genetics and upbringing. While Maine coons might be more tolerant and patient than most cats, it does not mean that a flood of sensory information will not freak them out.
Hence, it is crucial to learn your cat’s body language, preferences, and tolerance for interaction. By being more considerate and understanding, you can easily maintain a mutually tolerant and loving relationship with your feline.
4. Redirected aggression
As mentioned, Maine coons can have an extremely high predatory drive. If they spend a lot of time gazing out of the window and they spot potential prey like a bird or a rodent, they might become frustrated because they cannot reach the prey through the glass. Unfortunately, this pent-up aggression can result in them attacking their human owners or other household pets.
Redirected aggression can be terrifying, as the cat can lash out at anyone within their reach. If you find your Maine coon suddenly venting their frustration on another pet, your best course of action is to separate the two, followed by a gradual reintroduction. If you are the object of the attack, it is best to avoid your cat until they calm down. Providing a more acceptable outlet for their frustration might also help reduce the aggression.
5. Play aggression
Wrestling, chasing, and bunny kicking are all part of your cat’s normal play behavior. Unfortunately, some cats can be too rough and do not know how to control their bite. This behavior tends to be more common in cats who were separated from their littermates early, meaning that they missed the important lessons about how hard they should bite or scratch during play.
6. New environment or family member
Cats hate even the slightest changes in their environment – be it a move to a new house or the introduction of a new pet to the home. New scents and sights in the surroundings can be a huge stressor for your Maine coon, and can cause them to react in a fearful or defensive manner.
To avoid these unwanted behaviors, you must slowly and gradually introduce the change to your cat. Make sure that they have their own safe space to hide when they feel threatened. If you have a new pet at home, do not let it encroach on your cat’s territory, as this might anger your resident cat and cause him to lash out.
We have learned how the environment and the socialization process can greatly impact a cat’s personality. But did you know that genetics can play a small part in your cat’s behavior, too?
If one of your Maine coon’s parents is naturally aggressive, then it is possible for your cat to inherit this undesirable trait. Thus, you should get to know the cat’s background before adopting it into your home.
But, if you have already adopted a Maine coon and noticed that it is naturally mean, your best step to correct the behavior is through proper socialization. This might take a lot of time and effort, but with your love and patience, your new pet will eventually learn the dos and don’ts.
8. Underlying medical issues
Finally, an underlying health problem might be the root cause of your Maine coon’s meanness.
Illnesses can make our furry companions feel miserable and irritable. If a cat is in pain, they will not want to be touched or petted, and would rather be left alone in peace.
If your Maine coon suddenly displays aggression for no clear reason, this might warrant a visit to your vet. If your furry friend comes out with a clean bill of health, then an animal behaviorist might help to correct the issue.
How to stop aggression in Maine coon cats
So far, we have talked about the possible reasons your Maine coon might become mean. By knowing the triggers, you can take the appropriate steps to bring back your feline’s sweet and affectionate character.
It is also worth noting that boredom and a lack of physical activity can make your cat grumpy. One way to correct this issue is to provide your cat with lots of entertainment, such as cat trees, scratching posts, and interactive toys. Also, do not forget to spend time with your furry friend after a long day of work. Cats need their humans’ affection, too.
If you have done everything to correct your cat’s behavior and nothing seems to work, then a consultation with your vet or cat behaviorist might provide you with the best solution.
Maine coons are not naturally aggressive. If you take the time to research their needs and personality before adopting one, then you will be well-prepared and less likely to experience aggression from your feline friend.
Remember that Maine coons are among the sweetest, most gentle cats you could ever meet. If your cat suddenly lashes out, therefore, it is probably for good reason. If you think your cat is constantly in a bad mood, it might be time to give your vet a call.
Image: istockphoto.com / Kukurund