Do Maine Coon Cats Like To Hunt?


If you are looking to buy a Maine Coon cat, one of the things you may be interested to know is, do Maine Coon cats like to hunt? After all, not every cat breed has an inbuilt hatred of rodents!

Maine Coon cats are natural-born hunters, particularly good mousers, renowned for their hunting abilities, large size, and above-average intelligence. They love to hunt and will go hunting even when they are well fed. If they cannot get outside to hunt, they will stalk their toys to satisfy their hunting urges.

Historically, Maine Coons were kept on ships, or farms to keep the mice and rat population at bay. Whilst these large cats are known to be great mousers they do not pose any considerable threat to humans.

Read on to learn more about the Maine Coon cats hunting instincts and abilities, and how good they are at catching their prey.

Do Maine Coon Cats Like To Hunt?

Maine Coon cats are probably the most revered and best-loved gentle giants in the world of felines.

They are the largest domesticated cat breed in the world and are easy to identify, thanks to their:

  • Well-Balanced Rectangular-Shaped Bodies
  • Large, Well-Tufted Ears
  • Oblique-Shaped Eyes
  • Fluffy Coats
  • Prominent Ruff On Their Chest
  • Long, Bushy Tails.

Besides their distinctive physical characteristics, Maine Coon cats come in a wide range of colors, so it is very easy for first-time owners to find a shade that they love.

Of these 75 different Maine Coon colorings, which is your favorite?

As many owners will tell you, Maine Coon cats are:

  • Highly Intelligent
  • Sociable
  • Laid-Back
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Family-Friendly
  • Sweet and Gentle Temperament

The Maine Coons lovable personality traits are responsible for their ever-increasing popularity.

As such, it should be no surprise that the Maine Coon cat breed is now one of the most popular cat breeds (ranking second after the Siberian) in the continental United States, and other parts of the world.

Despite being known for having a gentle temperament, Maine Coon cats are also well known for their valuable hunting skills.

While domesticated Maine Coon cats do not really need to hunt for food anymore, they have never lost their hunting instincts. As such, it is not uncommon to find domesticated Maine Coon cats stalking for prey outside, more for fun than a desire for food.

From kittenhood through to adulthood, Maine coon cats will demonstrate thousands of years of inbuilt instincts and abilities to capture and kill prey. Their hunting abilities can be evident even when they are playing with cat toys.

Furthermore, since cats do not naturally produce enough taurine, an essential amino acid for cats to consume, the instincts to hunt will remain within them throughout their lifetime.

Based on the fact that cats get this essential amino acid from mice and other rodents, it is almost certain that the Maine Coon cats hunter’s instinct will remain alive.

So what do Maine Coon cats hunt? Take a look at the list below to find out:

  • Mice and other rodents: Despite being on the large side of felines, Maine Coon cats are accomplished mousers. They are gifted at spotting mice and will patiently wait to pounce upon them. These cats can crouch motionless like a statue for even hours with their ears alert. When the prey shows up, the cat will stalk and pounce upon it. It is worth noting that while a Maine Coon cat can kill many mice, it will rarely eat them.
  • Fish: Maine Coon cats are fascinated by water. Here’s the real reason why this is the case. With their semi-water-resistant coats, they are adept when it comes to swimming. As for hunting fish, Maine Coons sit near a pond waiting for unsuspecting fish to swim within reach.
  • Birds: Whilst knowing that birds fly, Maine Coon cats are skilled hunters and will stalk birds for fun. In very rare cases, they may stalk and kill young chicks. They are also skilled climbers and will enjoy climbing trees to pursue prey.

Like other domesticated felines, Maine Coon cats have perfected the art of stalking and capturing prey without killing it. While the hunter’s instinct will send them to pursue mice, birds, fish, and other rodents, you will likely spot your four-legged friend playing with their prey before killing it.

The subject of hunting is also very important, considering that the characteristics of these gentle giants are shrouded with an aura of mystery.

If you’ve already heard about this cat breeds mysterious lineage, you will likely know that their genetics and history play a key role in defining their strong hunting instincts, and dependable hunting abilities.

Below are some key reasons which show where the instinctive hunting ability of the Maine Coon cat breed is likely to have developed:

Ship Cat Tale

Long before modern-day survival needs, there existed the problem of keeping rodent populations under check in ship stores.

It is widely thought that Maine Coon ancestors were kept aboard the ships of Charles Coon, where they controlled the mice and rat population that would otherwise spoil the cargo and eat the sailor’s food supplies.

This theory is just an assumption though since there is no real proof. It is worth noting, however, that if rodents ruined the food supplies for the passage of a ship, it would potentially be fatal, meaning Maine Coon were lifesavers!

Farm Cats

Maine Coons used to hang around farms in Maine, New England, where they hunted rodents attracted to the plentiful food and nesting sites in farms.

The services provided by these cats encouraged farmers to offer comfortable places for the cats to live and breed.

After a short while, the farmers began to brag about these cats’ beauty and impressive hunting abilities.

Wild Origins

The Maine Coon cat’s exact origins are debatable.

Some folklore stories about their origins associate them with Norwegian Forest cats and Bobcats, which hints at their possible wild origin.

Although it is genetically impossible for Maine Coon cats to have descended from these cat breeds, it is still possible that their ancestors were wild cat breeds.

Let’s take a look at how accomplished Maine Coon cats are at capturing prey.

Are Maine Coon Cats Good Hunters?

Maine Coon cats are natural predators. Even so, there is a lot that goes into becoming an excellent hunter.

Maine Coon cats are also quiet, sneaky, and have mastered the art of hunting. This makes it easy for them to slink around undetected, making it easier for them to attack prey.

Besides their inherent skill and technique, Maine Coon cats also possess some key physical and personality traits that assist them in their hunting life.

For instance, their lifetime playfulness is closely linked with strong natural hunting instincts.

With their large stature, remarkably quick reflexes, and valuable hunting skills, it should be no surprise to see a Maine Coon hunting rabbit. A caged rabbit will even feel terrorized and have no quality of life, with a Maine Coon having its nose pinned to the cage bars.

Before bringing a Maine Coon cat home, it is worth noting that female Maine Coon are better at hunting than their male counterparts. This is probably because they require excellent skills in order to train their kitten.

Hunting might also be in the female Maine Coons genes from the days when queens had to hunt food for their litter.

Here are some other attributes that make Maine Coon cats excellent at pursuing and capturing prey, even when hunting large prey:

Above Average Intelligence

One of the key personality traits that augment Maine Coon hunting ability is their above-average intelligence.

With above-average intelligence, these felines can easily learn hunting skills and even have a strong urge to pursue prey.

Large Stature And Ability To Withstand Harsh Climates

Weighing between 8 and 25 pounds, a Maine Coon cat is large enough to catch and hold onto its prey.

Their weight translates to more impact when they pounce on prey, which is important in any hunting game.

These cats can also run faster than most animals they choose to prey on.

Energetic

Maine Coons are very energetic and, with a high level of intelligence, they can use their energy to attack prey skillfully.

Exceptional Hearing

With their large ears, these cats have a fine-tuned sense of hearing. They can hear pitches at a much higher frequency, making it possible for them to know the exact location of prey.

Click here if you wish to discover more fun facts about the Maine Coons ears.

Big Feet And Sharp Claws

Relative to the size of the prey they hunt, Maine Coons have large and lethal feet.

Their claws are also sharp to tear prey when killing.

Powerful Bite

Maine Coon cats usually kill their prey by biting through the neck.

With their large, muscular stature, it is obvious that they have a powerful bite, which makes it easy to kill prey.

Great Sense Of Smell

Cats have about 200 million smell receptors in their nose, which makes it easy to sniff out the presence of a mouse and other prey.

Night Vision

Besides their impressive vision during the day, cats are gifted with a reflective layer behind each retina which gives them great vision even at night. This makes it easy to hunt and stalk prey at night.

Do Maine Coons Have A High Prey Drive?

When buying a Maine Coon cat, one of the first things you should know is that Maine Coons are obligate carnivores. As such, they eat meat and meat derivatives as a large part of their diet, but not exclusively.

If you are wondering, do Maine Coon cats like to hunt, it is worth noting that domesticated Maine Coons do not have a real need to hunt for food anymore.

This cat breed never lost their hunter’s instinct though, so should not be allowed near birds, rodents, or other animals that they may opt to prey on.

What Do Maine Coon Cats Eat In The Wild?

Maine Coon cats are obligate carnivores. They survived in the wilderness for many years and did not need human beings to keep them alive.

In the wilderness, the Maine Coon relied on their instinctive and impressive hunting skills to capture and eat live prey.

It is safe to say that the primary diet of Maine Coon cats in the wild was a Maine Coon raw food diet.

These large cats fed on the following animals, in the wild:

  • Rodents
  • Small mammals
  • Insects
  • Small reptiles
  • Small birds

Despite having a sweet and gentle temperament, Maine Coon are great hunters and could eat a lot of small game raw (source 1).

How Do Cats Hunt?

Maine Coons are natural-born hunters, and their motivation to pounce on small things that move is natural. This means your cat doesn’t need to be hungry to hunt.

A Maine Coon cat’s hunting behavior is a hard-wired reaction, your cat cannot resist the urge to chase and capture small prey whenever they hear a rustle, or capture a glimpse of movement.

Here is how your Maine Coon cat hunts its prey:

1. Ambush Prey

Maine Coon cats have mastered that art of sneaking.

When your cat notices its prey disappearing into a hole or somewhere out of reach, it lies in wait, ready to ambush the creature should it re-emerge.

The cat will crouch motionless with its eyes fixed to where it believes the awaited prey will appear.

If the prey doesn’t show up, the cat will give up and may return to the same spot for another look, hoping that the prey is still lurking.

2. Stalk And Pounce

Stalking and pouncing style involves a few steps.

Firstly, your cat moves swiftly in a low, crouched position towards the prey and freezes, watching the prey. It may move further if the target moves, but cautiously. In a scenario where your Maine Coon is fishing, it will sit beside a pond waiting for a fish to show up within each.

Secondly, when prey is within range, the cat will pounce on it.

3. Playing With The Prey

Maine Coons are known for being very playful.

Instead of killing prey immediately, domesticated felines are skilled at capturing prey without killing it. They will often bring their prey home alive, then start playing with it!

More often than not, your cat will release the prey and recapture it until when it feels it is the right time to kill.

4. Killing The Prey

Maine Coon cats usually kill their prey by biting through their necks.

A well-fed Maine Coon will almost certainly kill the prey and leave it, or, sometimes, bring it to you.

If your cat brings you a dead creature, consider it as a present and appreciate the good intent rather than scolding your cat. Your cat is acting instinctively and isn’t trying to annoy you.

Maine Coon Predators

Maine Coon cats are accomplished predators, but they can be hunted down as well. As such, large predators pose a threat to them and can ambush and immobilize them in much the same way they hunt small prey.

If you allow your Maine Coon cat to roam freely outside, it might encounter some of its predators, including:

  • Wolves
  • Dogs
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Bear
  • Cougar
  • Wild Canid

Larger predators pose a threat to Maine Coon lives, with coyotes being the biggest threat.

Coyotes are confident animals, and their attacks are one reason why many Americans keep their cats permanently indoors (source 1,2).

Do Maine Coons Hunt Birds?

Maine Coon are physically equipped to hunt most small prey.

When they go outdoors, typically in your compound, they will chase birds that come around, then potentially catch and kill them.

For this reason, if you feed birds, it is a good idea to keep the feeder out of your Maine Coon’s reach. That way, the birds will be safe even when collecting dropped seeds from the ground.

Do Maine Coon Cats Hunt Mice?

If you live in an area where mice are common and are considering buying a Maine Coon cat, you could be wondering ‘are Maine Coon cats good at catching mice?’.

One well-known trait of the Maine Coon cat is that they are excellent mousers since they are quite alert and good at spotting mice and other small rodents.

They are also known to be a highly intelligent and trainable cat breed. These traits pair with the breed’s famed quick reflexes, making it easy for them to approach unnoticed and catch mice.

Since colonial times, Maine Coon cats have been recognized for their great rodent hunting skills. A folklore story about their origins claims that they were used in sailing ships to take care of sailors’ food, by eradicating mice and other rodents.

With a Maine Coon cat, you will likely not have mice coming into your house because they could be preyed on.

Do Maine Coon Cats Kill Rats?

While Maine Coon cats are more renowned mouse predators than rat predators, it is worth noting that they will still take on rats.

If they can’t find mice, they will pursue rats to satisfy their inner hunting urge.

All in all, because domesticated Maine Coon cats do not necessarily need to hunt for food, they will most likely kill rats and leave them on the ground.

They will sometimes eat rats because it gives them the essential taurine that their body lacks.

Do Maine Coon Cats Kill Snakes?

The Maine Coon can prey on snakes, and vice versa.

Generally, Maine Coon cats like to hunt, pursue, kill, and (sometimes) eat slithering and wriggly creatures. Snakes fit this description perfectly.

In this regard, your Maine Coon cat will most likely hunt and kill medium-sized snakes, typically up to 6 feet long. Your feline might even eat the snake quite easily.

Of significance, cats and snakes are mortal enemies. For this reason, large snakes, including python and boa constrictors, can prey on and kill cats (source 1).

Will A Maine Coon Kill Chickens?

The Maine Coon is feared by many birds and chickens.

Put simply, your large Maine Coon will happily kill your chicken, especially if the chicken is still young. This is because Maine Coon have a very strong hunting instinct and will joyfully attack young chickens when they roam around.

Maine Coons enjoy feeding on chicken and can eat them as frequently as when they hunt them.

You may be wondering why these cats prey on your chicken, both young and large. Whilst there are many reasons for this behavior, the simple truth is that your Maine Coon cat wants to eat the chicken.

In addition, Maine Coons will prey on chickens because they are natural hunters. Anytime they see a chicken pass by, their hunting instincts get aroused, and they attack the chicken.

If your chickens are not kept within protective cages, they will be attacked by your Maine Coon cat. In most cases, small chickens are more vulnerable.

Another reason why your cat will prey on the chickens around it is because of hunger. Unless it is well fed, the easiest thing it will feed on is the chicken near the compound (source 1).

Can A Maine Coon Kill A Human?

Maine Coon cats are the largest domesticated cats in the world, and being its owner, you may at times wonder if they can kill you. No one would love to domesticate a pet that is dangerous or harmful, so can a Maine Coon kill a human?

The quick answer, that you likely didn’t expect, is Yes!

Whilst it is very possible for a Maine Coon cat to cause the death of a human, such scenarios are very rare.

Although this cat breed is well known for its cool nature, they can at times bite or scratch their owner. If the bite or scratch is left unattended or untreated, it can lead to a human’s death (source 1).

Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals?

You might have woken up to find a dead or half-dead rodent, bird, or frog in your home.

If you have a Maine Coon cat, then these dead or half-dead animals are gifts brought to you by the treasured feline, probably due to the following reasons:

  • Inexperienced Hunters: They perceive humans as inexperienced hunters, and opt to bring them some of their hunting catches.
  • Training: Cats are trained by their mothers to be independent and find their own food.
  • To Play: They bring the dead animals home so that they can play with them
  • Teach: To teach their kittens how to eat
  • Share: To share the prey with their family

How To Stop Cat Hunting

If your cat is a pro in hunting, you may be tired of having your home filled with the “delicious” scents of your cat’s hard found prey.

For this reason, you may be asking, how do I stop my cat from bringing home dead animals?

Below are a few tips you can try, to stop your cat hunting. Try any of these tips and see which one will effectively stop your cat from hunting (source 1):

1. Redirect The Instincts By Increasing Play

This happens to be one of the most effective and proven methods of gradually reducing the hunting capabilities of a cat.

Lots of play enhances mental stimulation and helps your cat satisfy its hunting needs.

You can use moving toys (such as these) so that the cat will keep following the toy and trying to grab it.

If your cat is constrained indoors, it is unable to go for its natural hunts in the:

  • Bush
  • Rocks
  • Shrubs

Unless you find something to keep their hunting instincts satisfied, you may create problems in your home, such as the cat pouncing on your body or other household items and destroying them.

Therefore, why not consider purchasing a catio? or taking your cat outside for walks?

2. Dress Them In A Collar With A Bell

Dress them in a collar with a bell on it!

Many people are trying this break-away collar method to stop their cats from hunting. The collar acts as a destructor when your cut is trying to reach prey.

Always prioritize the safety of your lovely cat by ensuring that the collar bell can easily release if your cat gets caught on something.

3. Provide Enough Food

Some cats go hunting because of hunger; therefore, feeding them a well-balanced diet that is enough to satisfy their hunger reduces their hunting desires.

You may also opt to give your Maine Coon small quantities of food at close intervals. They will have less time away from the food spot and will gradually stop going out to hunt.

4. Lock Them Inside

Small mammals, reptiles, and birds are usually active in the morning and evening.

Occasionally, after bad weather or spells, these creatures come out in large numbers to search for food. At this time, you can lock up your cat so that it does not coincidentally meet those little prey, thus reducing the successful hunts.

What Age Do Cats Stop Hunting?

It is common knowledge that cats tend to be less active when approaching the geriatric stage of their lives.

For owners wondering ‘do cats stop hunting as they get older’, one of the things you need to understand is that hunting is a natural, normal behavior for cats. As such, they may demonstrate this inbuilt hunting instinct throughout their lives.

Do Neutered Cats Still Hunt?

Whilst it is commonly accepted that cats should be neutered, some owners fear the presumed effects of neutering a cat. For instance, do neutered cats still hunt?

You will be pleased to hear that, yes, neutered cats do still hunt. This is because the neutering process only affects the reproductive instincts of the cat and nothing more.

Cats are natural hunters, and this characteristic cannot be stopped by neutering.

Typically, the act of neutering frees more space for the cat to hunt since they do not need to mate or look after kittens.

Neutering your cat will also reduce its territorial instincts, making it a better pet to play with (source 1,2).

Cat Breeds Less Likely To Hunt

Some cat breeds are lazy hunters, and all they enjoy is relaxing on a couch and spending more time with the owners.

Some cat breeds less likely to hunt include:

  • Ragdoll
  • Exotic cat
  • Selkirk Rex
  • Persian cat
  • Siberian forest cat
  • Burmese
  • Russian blue
  • Tonkinese
  • Korat

If you own any of these cats breed, then rest assured that they will rarely go out on hunting missions (source 1).

Conclusion

Maine Coons are some of the most beloved cat breeds. They are large and have inbuilt hunting instincts. For homeowners planning to purchase a Maine Coon cat, hopefully, this post comprehensively answers the popular query ‘do Maine Coon cats like to hunt?’.

Related Questions

Maine Coon Bite Force PSI

The average bite force of domestic cats is about 67 PSI. With Maine Coon being a larger breed, their bite force tends to be on the higher end, reaching up to 75 PSI.

Are Maine Coons Illegal?

Maine Coon are not illegal to keep as pets in any country or state. Even so, problems may arise when they are mistaken for something else.

Are Maine Coon Cats Hypoallergenic?

Maine Coons are not hypoallergenic. For this reason, they may not be perfect cats for people with pet allergies and sensitiveness.

Do Maine Coon Cats Get Along With Dogs?

Maine Coon cats are gentle, playful, and non-aggressive. With these personality traits, they easily get along with dogs and other household pets.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self-confessed CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 9 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend!

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