Owners of the majestic Maine Coon breed often wonder, are Maine Coon cats good hunters?
These cats may be prized for their beauty, but they have a wild and mysterious history.
Maine Coons are some of the best hunters out of all the cat breeds. These cats became popular in the 1800s for their ability to catch mice, rats, and other vermin on farms and aboard ships. Maine Coons that have access to the outdoors will readily catch a variety of wildlife.
The Maine Coon’s high prey drive and intelligence mean that these cats are incredible hunters, but this is not always a good thing.
Read on to find out how you can keep both your cat and local wildlife safe!
Are Maine Coon Cats Good Hunters?
Maine Coons are large, majestic cats that developed naturally in the frigid state of Maine.
In the harsh, snowy climate, these cats became well adapted to the cold and survived by catching wildlife.
A lot of owners are captivated by the wild beauty of the Maine Coon, and often ask, are Maine Coon hunters? … They absolutely are!
In fact, Maine Coons are such good hunters that they became famous in the 1800s among sailors and farmers alike, who kept them around to hunt down rodents and other pests on their ships.
Here are some of the many reasons that make Maine Coons such talented hunters:
Maine Coons developed naturally in the United States, where they had to adapt to the snowy, frigid climate in order to survive.
Through natural selection, only the best hunters were able to survive, meaning that today’s descendants of the first Maine Coons are still expert hunters.
Even though Maine Coons developed naturally, humans took an immediate interest in these strong, capable cats.
Farmers and sailors prized Maine Coons for their ability to hunt vermin and began to keep them around as companions.
Of course, these sailors and farmers only accepted the best of these hunters, so that, over time, the breed consisted of cats with the best hunting skills.
Maine Coons are one of the most intelligent cat breeds in the world.
Click here to read my article 10 Reasons Why Maine Coons Are The Smartest Cats.
These large cats have incredible problem-solving skills and are better at thinking ahead than other cat breeds.
This makes them more skillful when it comes to choosing which prey to hunt, as well as for deciding when and how to sneak up on that prey.
One of the most vital of the Maine Coon hunting skills is their high prey drive.
Even a cat with excellent speed and intelligence will not make a great hunter without the desire to hunt.
Breeds with low prey drives, such as Persians, are much more interested in sleeping or cuddling than hunting.
Cats with high prey drives are more excited by movement and are more alert to their environments.
Considering their high prey drive, you might naturally wonder if Maine Coon cats are territorial. Make sure you click on the link to find out the answer!
Speed And Agility
Despite the Maine Coon’s large size, these cats are surprisingly fast and nimble.
Cats need to be strikingly agile in order to catch small, speedy prey like birds and mice.
The Maine Coon’s long fur may make them look portly, but under that thick pelt is a lean, muscular body perfectly designed for catching quick prey.
Maine Coons have large, wide paws, which are great for helping them walk on snow.
However, this large paw size can also affect their hunting abilities.
This larger surface area can increase their chances of catching a particularly slippery mouse or vole.
Furthermore, Maine Coons are more likely to be polydactyl than most cat breeds. Polydactyl cats are born with one or more extra toes, which can help them to better grasp escaping prey.
Click here to learn more about the polydactyl Maine Coon cat.
What Do Maine Coon Cats Hunt?
When given the opportunity to hunt, Maine Coons can catch a stunning variety of prey.
Here are the different animals that Maine Coons can hunt (source 1):
1. Mice And Rats
If you have a rodent problem on your property, you might be wondering, do Maine Coons catch mice?
These cats actually became famous for their ability to hunt mice and rats, and in the 1800s, they were highly valued among farmers and sailors alike.
Today, Maine Coons still catch mice and rats when the opportunity arises.
Maine Coons have thick, semi-water-repellent fur, and as a result, they often love playing in the water!
Maine Coons occasionally hunt fish, which can quickly become a problem for owners of decorative ponds and koi fish.
All cats are adept at hunting birds, even without wings of their own!
These crafty, silent stalkers can easily catch birds searching for food on the ground.
Unfortunately, outdoor and feral cats are so good at hunting birds that they have actually contributed to the extinction of several bird species.
4. Rabbits And Hares
Maine Coons are also known to hunt rabbits or even hares on occasion.
However, these animals pose a particular danger to cats, as their powerful claws and hind legs can easily injure a cat.
5. Other Small Rodents
Aside from mice and rats, Maine Coons also hunt a variety of other small rodents, including:
6. Reptiles And Amphibians
While snakes, lizards, and frogs may not sound appetizing to us humans, cats do not mind eating the occasional reptile or amphibian if they are especially hungry.
In general, cats prefer to eat small mammals or birds, but a Maine Coon’s high prey drive also means these cats do not mind catching any living thing, even if they are not hungry!
As surprising as it may sound, Maine Coons will even hunt:
- Other Insects
Do Maine Coons Like To Hunt?
It is difficult to say for sure whether cats hunt simply for survival, or if there is also an element of enjoyment.
Many owners observe that their cats “play” with toys that they view as prey, but are they doing it for fun?
Whilst it is difficult to study animal emotions, we do know that hunting provides cats with important enrichment.
Cats cannot engage in hobbies like knitting or painting like us humans, thus they can become restless and even destructive if they do not have something to do with their day.
Hunting provides a challenge that results in physical and mental activity.
Furthermore, even cats that have plenty of food will still engage in hunting behaviors.
A lot of owners wonder, do Maine Coons hunt birds?
These cats love to hunt challenging prey, and a Maine Coon hunting rabbit or other fast animals is not uncommon to see.
While we still cannot know for sure if cats actually enjoy hunting, we do know that a cats hunting and stalking instincts are vital to any cat’s enrichment (source 1).
Do Male Or Female Cats Make Better Hunters?
If you are looking for a cat that can keep your home free of pesky rodents, you might wonder if some cats are better at hunting than others.
This naturally leads us to the query are male or female cats better mousers?
Unspayed female cats typically make the best hunters, because they have stronger instincts to feed their young. These natural instincts also make them better teachers to their young.
Unneutered male cats have a lower drive to hunt, but fixed cats of both genders are relatively similar when it comes to hunting skills.
Unspayed male cats are more likely to be better at hunting if they have a mate because they sometimes catch food for nursing or expecting queens (source 1).
Do Male Or Female Cats Hunt More?
Cats are renowned for their hunting instincts, but do all cats hunt? The fact is that not every cat will have the same drive to hunt prey as another.
So do female cats hunt more than male cats?
If we compare the male vs female Maine Coon cat, we can see that female cats hunt more frequently than males, particularly if they are expecting or nursing.
Male cats usually only have to hunt for themselves, and they also tend to spend more time finding mates than hunting (source 1).
Can I Stop My Cat Hunting?
If you have an outdoor cat, you might be wondering if it is a good idea to let your cat hunt at all.
Choosing to let your cat hunt is a personal choice, but here are some potential reasons why you might choose whether or not to let your cat hunt.
Reasons Why You Should Let Your Cat Hunt
1. Mental Stimulation
Hunting is one of the main ways that cats find stimulation and enrichment in their lives, so allowing your cat to hunt will exercise both its mind and body.
As we will cover later, however, there are other ways to provide mental stimulation that do not involve hunting live prey.
2. Natural Instincts
Similar to those who prefer to not spay or neuter their cats, some owners allow their cats to hunt so they can experience the natural world like their ancestors.
3. Pest Control
If your property is prone to pest infestation, keeping a working cat or two around is a great way to reduce the amount of rodents where you live.
Reasons Why You Should Stop Your Cat From Hunting
Contrary to popular belief, prey animals are not defenseless.
Birds and rabbits in particular will do everything they can to fight back against a predator.
Prey can kick, scratch, and bite, leading to injury and even infection.
2. Illness And Poisoning
Cats cannot always discern between a healthy piece of prey or a sick one.
Cats can easily die from a rat or mouse that recently ingested rat poison, or fall ill from parasites or other infections.
3. Wildlife Preservation
Cats are incredible hunters, but this is not always a good thing.
Unfortunately, feral and outdoor cats have contributed to the extinction of dozens of species, and will continue to do so if left unchecked.
Since we humans have domesticated cats, their populations have exploded, posing a huge threat to wild species.
How Do I Stop My Cat Hunting
Many cat owners enjoy letting their cat outdoors, but are concerned about their cat hunting wildlife.
Cats that hunt outdoors are at risk of injury, illness, and poisoning, and contribute to wildlife extinction.
If you want to know how to stop cat killing wildlife, here are some steps you can take:
Keep Your Cat Indoors
The first and most obvious way you can stop your cat from hunting is by keeping your cat indoors.
This is a big decision, and not one that works for every cat owner.
Create A Routine
Cats are most active hunters during dusk and dawn, and this is also when prey is most active.
If you do not want to keep your cat indoors all the time, you can create a routine that keeps your cat indoors during dusk and dawn.
That way, your cat can still explore nature during the day while keeping your cat indoors during peak hunting hours.
Give Your Cat A Bell
A simple thing you can do is add a bell to your cat’s collar, which can scare off potential prey.
Unfortunately, a more recent study has shown this method may not be as effective as once thought, but it is still a potential way to decrease your cat’s hunting.
Cats require diets with a:
- High amount of protein
- Moderate amount of fat
- Only a small amount of carbohydrates.
Cheap cat food brands often introduce a lot of grains and other filler carbs, which can cause nutritional deficiencies and increase your cat’s desire to hunt.
These are the best foods to feed your Maine Coon cat.
Play With Your Cat More Often
One of the most effective ways to prevent your cat from hunting is to provide more enrichment and stimulation.
Do Cats Stop Hunting As They Get Older?
If you have a senior cat, you might wonder, what age do cats stop hunting?
Senior cats lose energy as they get older and typically spend more time sleeping indoors than hunting outside.
However, this also depends on your cat’s health and energy levels.
Ultimately, there is no set age that cats stop hunting, but cats that are ill or suffering from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis are far less likely to hunt.
On the other hand, a healthy and athletic cat may continue hunting well into old age.
What Cats Make The Best Mousers
If you are looking for a cat that can keep your property free from mice and other pests, here are five different cat breeds that you might want to consider (source 1):
- Maine Coon
- American Shorthair
- Turkish Angora
- Japanese Bobtail
Are Maine Coons Good Barn Cats?
Barn cats are popular working cats that keep away pests such as mice and rodents.
Maine Coons are among the best barn cats because they have incredible natural hunting instincts, as well as great survival skills.
In fact, these cats originally found fame among farmers for their hunting abilities during the 1800s.
Click here to read about this wild cat’s origins, to learn more.
These large, wild-looking cats are perfectly designed for life in the wild and are well-suited to the cold, heat, and all kinds of weather.
Maine Coons are hardy creatures and are one of the best breed choices if you are looking for a barn cat.
Are Maine Coon Cats Territorial?
Since Maine Coons are so revered for their hunting abilities, as well as their wild appearance, some potential Maine Coon owners are worried that these breeds have wild personalities, as well.
If you are looking for a loving companion, you might be wondering, are Maine Coon cats aggressive?
Maine Coons are actually among the most loving and social cats, despite their wild origins.
They are rarely aggressive or territorial, but they can still act aggressively in certain situations.
All cats need plenty of space in order to feel safe and secure, so if your cat is forced to share a crowded space with other people or animals, it might lash out.
Can A Maine Coon Kill A Fox?
Even though Maine Coons are incredible hunters, they are not the only predators in the wild.
Larger wild animals like foxes can pose a dangerous threat to your cat.
Maine Coons weigh, on average, between 8 and 25 pounds, while foxes can weigh between 10 and 31 pounds.
Foxes are highly territorial and will not hesitate to attack a cat, particularly if they are trying to defend their babies.
Maine Coons, like all other cats, contain lots of bacteria in their mouths.
This bacteria can quickly infect and kill small prey, but it can also have a deadly impact on larger animals.
An infected cat bite left untreated can kill even a human.
So, even though a Maine Coon is unlikely to win against a fox in direct combat, it could still kill a fox through infection (source 1).
Can A Maine Coon Kill A Coyote?
Coyotes are large predators that can weigh between 15 and 50 pounds and are used to hunting in packs to take down larger prey such as:
So, if you are wondering, can a cat kill a coyote then the answer is almost certainly no!
While it is possible for a Maine Coon’s bite to kill a coyote if it becomes infected, it is unlikely any cat would even be able to land a bite against these fast, vicious predators.
If you know there are coyotes near where you live though, it is a good idea to keep your cat indoors, especially at night! (source 1).
Can A Maine Coon Kill A Raccoon?
Raccoons are clever predators that can weigh between 14 and 23 pounds, or even more!
Even a large Maine Coon would not stand much of a chance against these skilled fighters.
Maine Coon Predators
Cats are excellent hunters, but they are not the only predators in the world.
Even the large Maine Coon breed isn’t all that large in comparison to some of the creatures that stalk the wilderness.
If you have an outdoor cat, there are a lot of potential predators your cat may encounter, including:
- Mountain Lions
What Do Maine Coon Cats Like To Play With?
Outdoor cats get a lot of stimulation from hunting wild animals, but you can still provide that same level of enrichment through toys.
Here are the toys you will need to keep your Maine Coon stimulated indoors:
1. Floor Toys
Floor toys such as fake mice, balls with bells on them, and springs are all great toys to keep scattered around the house.
Since Maine Coons are very large and tend to play quite rough, it is a good idea to invest in large, durable cat toys like these.
2. Interactive Toys
While some cats are entertained enough with floor toys, the clever Maine Coon usually appreciates a challenge.
Motorized toys will excite your cat and encourage it to chase and stalk.
3. Chasing Toys
While interactive toys and floor toys are perfect for independent play, it is also important to play with your Maine Coon for at least 10 to 30 minutes a day.
Feather toys, laser pointers, and other dangling toys are perfect for playing with your cat.
4. Space To Climb
Maine Coons are natural climbers, and they love being up high!
It is therefore very important to give your cat plenty of space to climb, run, and jump.
You will need an extra-large cat tree with lots of different levels, and you might want to consider installing cat shelves along the walls, as well.
The Maine Coon’s sturdy build and wild appearance cause many to wonder, are Maine Coon cats good hunters?
Maine Coons are intelligent, agile, and have extremely high prey drives, all of which make them some of the best hunters out of all the cat breeds.
However, it is usually a good idea to allow your Maine Coon to hunt toys indoors, rather than live prey outside in order to avoid illness, injury, or infection.
Do Maine Coon Cats Smell Bad?
Maine Coons usually don’t smell bad, although they may have “fishy” breath. If you notice a foul odor coming from your cat, it could be due to poor hygiene or an underlying health problem.
Do Maine Coon Cats Need A Companion?
Maine Coons are incredibly social cats. If you spend a lot of time away from your cat, it’s usually best to get another cat or even a dog to prevent your Maine Coon from becoming lonely.