Are Maine Coon cats aggressive?
The simple truth of the matter is that they are not naturally aggressive natured felines. It’s easy to understand how their sheer size and physical presence make people ask this question though. In fact, it’s only natural that strangers are on their guard when they first meet your Maine Coon cat. It’s not because these large cats display instant signs of aggression towards them, but simply because most people are not sure what to expect, since the Maine Coon is one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world.
Human nature naturally leads people to wonder are Maine Coon cats aggressive, or friendly?
A stressed Maine Coon can become uncharacteristically aggressive towards its owners. Maine Coon cats can become stressed whilst moving house, or if suffering from an underlying health issue. Overstimulation, cat territory battles, a new pet of baby, and failure to socialize a kitten correctly can also result in Maine Coon aggression.
Keep reading to discover ways in which you might accidentally be teaching your Maine to be more aggressive …
Are Maine Coon Cats Aggressive?
The Maine Coon cat breed has become extremely popular over the last few decades, due to its docile and gentle nature. Their popularity levels have likely soared since purebred Maine Coons often display similar characteristics e.g. very loyal and laidback (click here for more details), so owners always know what to expect.
There will always be exceptions to the rule, however, in general, the Maine Coon is not known for being naturally aggressive. Instead, many surveys actually classify the Maine Coon breed as one of the friendliest cats you can buy, since they are good with families, loud noise, and adore human company.
Maine Coon cats might become aggressive if stressed. Therefore, avoid increasing your Maine Coons stress levels where possible as even a house move or cat territory battle can be overly stressful for your Maine Coon.
Maine Coon Aggression By Type
The world is packed full of differing points of view, therefore you should never expect one individual’s interpretation of aggressive behavior, to be the same as another’s.
For the purposes of this article, I have listed what I personally consider to be aggressive Maine Coon behavior:
- Biting (where they draw blood)
- Striking out with paws
Although Maine Coon howling might not necessarily be aggressive, I thought it would be interesting to research this subject matter more closely.
Take a look at my article ‘Why Do Maine Coon Cats Howl?‘ for more information.
Maine Coon Aggressive Body Language
One of the best ways to identify potential Maine Coon aggression is by watching your cat’s body language closely. It is important that owners learn the warning signs in advance since their cat will display these behavior traits BEFORE attacking.
Cats that feel threatened take on one of two posture types:
- Defensive posture
- Offensive posture
If you are keen to identify why your Maine Coon is acting aggressively, learn how to spot the difference between these two postures, using the table below (source 1):
|Body Part||Defensive Posture||Offensive Posture|
|Eyes||Eyes wide open with pupils partially, or fully dilated||Constricted pupils|
|Tail||Tail tucked in, around the body||Tail very stiff and held low, or pointing straight to the ground|
|Mouth||Cat’s mouth is open, and they are spitting or hissing||Cat’s mouth will be open, spitting and hissing|
|Ears||Ears are flattened sideways, or point backward||Ears point upwards, with the backs slightly rotated forwards|
|Head||Head tucked in||Staring directly at you|
|Legs||Cat crouched, ready to pounce||Rear legs will be stiffened|
|Body||Cats body is positioned sideways towards the threat, rather than straight on||Cats body will be facing the threat, possibly with their body sloping down towards the head|
|Hair||Piloerection – Cats hair bristles upwards||Piloerection – Cats hair bristles upwards|
|Action||The cat may lash out with their front paws||Yowling, hissing, growling|
Why Your Maine Coon Is Aggressive
Whilst Maine Coon cats are not generally known for having aggressive tendencies, there may be times when you find your usually loving and affectionate Maine Coon cat acting in an aggressive manner.
If this situation sounds familiar, owners should actively look for possible root causes that may have caused behavioral changes to occur in their cat i.e. a house move, etc.
There is always a reason why a cat’s behavior changes unexpectedly.
Thus, if your loving Maine Coon has suddenly turned into an aggressive large cat, it is vital that you address this straight away. Aggressive mannerisms do not necessarily mean your cat has picked up some bad habits, nor does it immediately signal naughty behavior. Instead, your cat might actually need help because they are in pain.
Early intervention is required because if left unattended, the unwanted levels of behavioral issues may escalate.
To help you do this, owners can refer to our table below, which lists 14 possible causes of Maine Coon aggressive behaviour to occur:
|Reason For Aggression||Description|
|Pain||Cats suffering pain will often display signs of aggression. Owners should seek veterinary professional advice asap|
|Lack of Socialisation||Maine Coon was not correctly socialized, whilst a kitten|
|Health Issues||Underlying health issues can affect a Maine Coon cat’s temperament. Seek veterinary professional advice if you are concerned your cat might be sick|
|Hormones||Hormonal changes can cause aggressive behavior in a cat|
|Mental Health||Maine Coon cats suffering from mental health conditions may display aggressive behavior|
|Feeling Threatened||Cats that feel threatened, will act aggressively towards a perceived threat|
|Over Stimulation||Overstimulating your cat with too much play can make a Maine Coon temporarily aggressive|
|Boredom||A bored cat might become destructive, and display signs of Maine Coon aggression|
|Lonely||Maine Coons require high levels of social interaction. Without this, they may become aggressive|
|Territory||Territorial Maine Coons will hiss and make loud irritated noises if another cat enters their territory|
|Stress||Cats feel stress like we do. Assess what has changed in your home i.e. house move|
|Other Pets||New household pets can cause a usually temporary level of aggression, if they do not adapt well to other household animals|
|Family Tensions||Cats sense family vibes and may act aggressively if the owner they are loyal to is in the midst of the arguments|
|Maternal||Female Maine Coons might act aggressively towards their owners if they feel they are protecting their offspring|
Now that you have scrolled through our 14 high-level possible reasons, take a look at the more in-depth explanations below, to help clarify which issues are definitely appropriate for your cat.
Maine Coon Cat Behavioural Problems
So you think your Maine Coon has started acting mean?
Let’s cover the 14 key reasons why this might have happened in greater detail, and what you can do about it:
- Lack of Socialisation
- Health Issues
- Mental Health
- Feeling Threatened
- Over Stimulation
- Other Pets
- Family Tensions
One of the big issues for cats is that they cannot talk (in human language, anyway).
So, how can they get a message to their owner that they are in pain, and need help if they have hurt themselves?
Simply put, they cannot because their vocabulary is restricted to chirps, trills, hissing, and growling. As you can appreciate, these vocal sounds aren’t exactly the best ways of getting a message across to a human and can be easily misunderstood as aggressive Maine Coon behavior.
Therefore, if it feels like your cats personality has become aggressive overnight, follow the tips below.
|Signs of injury||Check your cat for visible scratches, signs of blood, bite marks, visible limp, etc|
|Stroke cat||Gently stroke cats all over their body. As you do this, watch their behavior closely to see if they react when you touch a certain area i.e. sudden hissing|
|Other Behavioural Changes||Cats cannot tell you when they are poorly, so it is up to the owner to spot unusual behavioral traits. For instance, if your cat has started dropping food whilst they eat, they may have painful gums|
|Veterinary Assessment||Ask a veterinary professional to assess cat for signs of injury, or underlying illness asap|
2. Lack Of Socialisation
Maine Coon kittens are extremely playful and likely to be quite naughty (show me a kitten that isn’t!). They require socialization, initially from their breeder and then from their owners.
Socialization involves regular playtime with humans and interaction with other household pets. If a kitten lacks socialization they may present unwanted aggressive Maine Coon behavioral traits as they grow older.
During the socialisation process, an owner teaches their kitten which behaviours are acceptable and which are not.
For instance, if your Maine Coon kitten bites you an owner should immediately, and firmly say, ‘NO’. If this behavior continues, the owner should repeat the command ‘NO’ firmly, then cease playing with their kitten, until later in the day. Just as a child associates naughty behavior with negative consequences, so does a kitten who sees their playtime ended after biting their owner.
It is important that Maine Coon cats are socialized whilst they are still kittens because older cats are very set in their ways and unlikely to change any behavioral traits that they have already learned.
3. Health Issues
The Maine Coon cat breed is known for being very hardy, with thick dense fur that keeps them warm, even during the harshest New England Winters where other cats struggle to survive.
This breed isn’t infallible though, since they are genetically prone to developing a few key health issues. Owners should therefore keep watch for signs of the following health problems in their Maine Coon, since pain and disease are one of the most likely reasons why Maine Coon cats become aggressive.
Common Maine Coon health issues include:
- Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Hip Dysplasia (HD)
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
Other health issues that all cats are prone to, include:
- Periodontal Disease
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
- Urinary Tract Disease (UTD)
For more information on this fascinating subject, check out my article “Top 7 Maine Coon Health Issues“.
Are Maine Coon cats aggressive as a result of their hormones? The simple answer is yes!
This is because their hormones will fluctuate from time to time, just like human hormones do. When this happens, owners might find their cats display aggressive behavioral traits that become difficult to manage.
In order to limit a cat’s hormone aggressive behavioral traits, owners should seriously consider neutering (medical intervention) their Maine Coon kitten. This is advisable since medical surgery prevents the reproduction of unwanted kittens.
Additionally, it reduces the chance of your cat spraying over your furniture and walls, whilst also calming the Maine Coons hormone levels, thus reducing acts of aggression.
The two medical interventions are as follows:
- Castration: Involves both of a male cat’s testicles being surgically removed. This process has the effect of removing the main source of the male hormone testosterone.
- Spaying: The female cat’s ovaries and uterus are removed, preventing them from becoming pregnant.
Owners should neuter their Maine Coon kitten around the four-month mark after all the primary vaccinations have been given. This is important since a kitten becomes sexually active around 5 months old (source).
Please note, some veterinary professionals prefer to neuter kittens around the 5-month mark, so make sure you check with your veterinary professional first.
If you intend to breed your Maine Coon kitten, DO NOT neuter them, since they will not be able to reproduce in the future. The operations cannot be reversed.
5. Mental Health
Cats can develop mental health issues, either naturally, or as a result of the way they are treated.
- Naturally: This is a very sad situation, whereby a Maine Coon cat develops mental health issues that cannot be fixed. Their issues are genetic, and aggressive behavior may develop as a result.
- Treatment: Maine Coons are highly sociable creatures who adore human company. They need regular companionship to help maintain their well-being. If left on their own for too long, or too often, their mental health can be negatively impacted, which can lead to aggressive behavioral traits developing.
6. Feeling Threatened
Cats will exhibit aggressive behavior towards all perceived threats. Therefore, if your Maine Coon is acting aggressively towards you, inspect your body language, voice, and behavior closely.
- Are you shouting?
- Are you telling the cat off?
- Have you hit your cat?
- Did you move your cat, when they didn’t want to move?
- Are you wearing a new perfume?
There could be a variety of reasons why your Maine Coon feels threatened by you. Thus, owners should first inspect their behavior closely to see if they can spot the cause.
- Always speak softly and calmly to your cat.
- Never hit your cat. Hitting teaches cats to respond aggressively.
- Some owners claim their Maine Coon acts aggressively when they wear certain perfumes. If this happens to you, stop wearing it.
7. Over Stimulation
The majority of Maine Coon cats love to be stroked and petted. In fact, stroking your cat is highly recommended as it benefits both the cat and human.
For humans, stroking a cat is therapeutic and stress relieving, whereas for a cat the stroking motion stimulates their senses. A cat also receives the social attention they crave from their human family.
Petting can be a very repetitive motion though, which will excite a cat’s senses, yet if it goes on for too long, it can quickly become uncomfortable for a cat since static electricity builds up in their fur as they are petted.
To avoid petting-induced aggression in their Maine Coon, owners must therefore avoid over-stimulating their cat’s senses.
Signs that cat is overstimulated:
- They flatten their ears backward
- Cat starts biting you
- Cat lashes out with their paws
Never ignore these overstimulated signs, as Maine Coon aggression will inevitably follow. Instead, immediately stop grooming, stroking, or playing with your cat. Put them down on the floor, and leave them alone to calm down.
Maine Coons are extremely intelligent cats who require daily mental stimulation, accessed via play, exercise, or human interaction. Without stimulation, this breed will become bored and destructive. Aggressive behavior is far more likely in a bored Maine Coon cat.
If you have the time and money, why not consider buying two Maine Coon kittens from the same litter? This means that even if you are not always available (for example, whilst out at work) your Maine Coons will always have a companion to play with that mentally stimulates them.
One of the key characteristics of the Maine Coon cat breed is their highly sociable nature.
They are not natural ‘loners’ like most other cat breeds, instead preferring to spend all of their time in the company of their human family or other household pets. This has led many to label them as the ‘dog of the cat world‘, since they are happy to follow you around your home, just to be near you.
Due to their dog-like tendencies, it is important that you only purchase a Maine Coon cat if you know you will have the time to dedicate to them. Those out at work most days of the week are not ideally suited to this particular cat breed, since a Maine Coon will quickly become lonely if left on its own for too long.
If your Maine Coon feels lonely they are likely to exhibit more aggressive behavioral tendencies, such as biting or scratching their owner. This occurs because the Maine Coon is unable to speak, so will inevitably resort to more violent behavior in an attempt to get their owners dedicated attention.
All cats are territorial. They define their territory by:
- Marking walls with their scent.
- Rubbing their scent glands against furniture, and their human family.
- Urine spraying in home and garden
- Patrolling their territory
- Ambushing or fighting with cats and humans that enter their territory.
- Hissing at a cat or human
Cats will defend an area that they deem to be ‘theirs’, though this form of aggression is usually only focused on other cats entering their territory.
For example, a cat may become aggressive and territorial if another cat comes to live in ‘their household’, or if a stray cat roams onto ‘their’ territory.
Male Maine Coon cats are more territorial than their female counterparts since they prefer to defend a larger territorial area than their female counterparts.
It is important to note that in rare scenarios a cat may become aggressive towards a human entering their territory.
Are Maine Coon cats aggressive when they feel stressed? Yes, they are!
When you compare your life to that of cats, you’ve probably already assumed that they’re on the lucky side of the coin, since they spend most of their days leisurely laying on the floor, sleeping. But are their lives as rosy as they first seem?
If we look at the life of a cat more closely, we quickly discover that looks might be deceiving, since cats are prone to stress, even by the slightest changes.
Factors that may stress your cat:
- Moving house
- Loss of territory
- Another pet entering the home
- A new baby joining the family
- Family playing too aggressively with cat
- Changes to their environment i.e. new furniture, or room alterations
So watch your Maine Coon carefully for signs of stress i.e. aggressive behavior, excess shedding, unexplained weight loss, etc. If spotted, make every effort possible to limit the stress your cat is suffering.
12. Other Pets
The most likely form of aggression that you will see in cats, is towards other cats or dogs. This tends to occur because some cats are not too keen on sharing their territory with another cat, or maybe the two felines just don’t get along.
Whatever the cause, it will likely take time for cats to adjust to each others presence within the home.
In the case of the Maine Coon cat though, the story is a little different because this breed is well known for getting on with other animals. This is mainly due to their gentle, friendly, and sociable nature makes aggressive behavior towards other pets less likely.
13. Family Tensions
Whilst Maine Coons are known for being very friendly with everyone in the family, they still prefer to hold a closer bond with just one family member. They see this individual as their primary owner, which will meet their needs.
In scenarios where family arguments are occurring, the Maine Coon cat is likely to sense that family tensions are prevalent. In cases such as this, you will likely see a Maine Coon cat showing aggression towards the individual that argues with their primary owner. This occurs because they are ultimately more loyal to their key owner.
Just like humans, the Maine Coon mother is likely to feel extremely protective over their newborn children.
If the mother feels her babies are threatened in any way, shape, or form, she will likely attack. This is wrongly perceived by humans as aggressive behavior, when in fact this is simply the female Maine Coon protecting her offspring.
Why Does My Maine Coon Cat Bite Me?
A cat bites their owner for four different reasons:
- To get your attention
- They want you to play with them
- Cat is fighting you
- The cat is defending themselves
Before automatically assuming that your Maine Coon cat is mean when they bite you, instead consider your cat’s actions more closely. This is because a cat that bites isn’t always an aggressive cat, but instead may simply be trying to play with you, or want your attention.
It is also important to understand that cats do not have the same nerve endings close to the surface of their skin like humans do. Therefore, when they play with another cat (using their claws and biting) neither cat gets hurt.
However, when a cat plays in the same fashion as their human family, they do not understand why their humans get upset from being clawed and bitten. This biting process is not them being aggressive, it is simply that they do not understand they are hurting their human.
If your cat is playing with you, they will:
- Gently bite your fingers or toes
- Their bites will not draw blood
- They may bite your clothes, to get your attention
If you cat is being aggressive with you, they will:
- Bite and draw blood
- Hiss, scratch, and bite you
Aggressive Cat Breeds
When you think of domestic house cats, you probably don’t immediately think they are aggressive. Instead, you likely conjure up a picture in your head whereby the felines are extremely independent, preferring to spend time in their own company, rather than their owners.
These cats are likely to spend time with their human family, on their own terms.
Whilst this image might be the case for many cat breeds, not all cats are the same. Instead, some cat breeds are more prone to aggressive behavior, than others. Consequently, owners should handle these cats more carefully.
Here are 10 cat breeds that are known for their aggressive tendencies:
- Scottish Fold
- Egyptian Mau
- American Wirehair
It is important to note that some of these cat breeds are not massively aggressive, however, their protective nature or fear of loud noises can be misunderstood.
Are Maine Coon cats aggressive?
When answering this question I would generally argue that they are not, since this breed is well known for being overly affectionate, loyal, and loving towards their human families. This is their natural nature, and a cat would need to be severely provoked to deviate away from its natural tendencies.
However, there will always be exceptions to the rule in everything. Therefore, it is important not to ignore the 14 key factors above that may cause a Maine Coon cat to act aggressively towards you.
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