Identifying And Handling Maine Coon Aggression – Maine Coon Central

Identifying And Handling Maine Coon Aggression


Identifying and Handling Maine Coon aggression

Many owners don’t know which way to turn, when their previously gentle and docile natured Maine Coon starts to become aggressive towards them. Whilst Maine Coon aggression might not be a standard trait of the breed, it definitely does occur, and must never be ignored. There are a few simple, yet effective actions that owners can undertake, to counteract this unwanted behavioural trait.

Maine Coon aggression should never be ignored. Owners should identify the root cause, then implement the appropriate strategy to limit future aggressive Maine Coon behaviour:

  • Check their physical needs are met e.g. food, water
  • Veterinary health check
  • Increase cats space i.e. extra rooms, or cat towers to climb
  • Give Maine Coon more attention
  • Gradually socialise cat
  • Introduce family pets gradually
  • Set aside separate space for maternal Maine Coon
  • Use pheromone plugins
  • Limit playtime
  • Use chewable cat toys
  • Neuter or spay cat
  • Reduce Petting
  • Never reward bad behaviour
  • Be aware of cats body language
  • Time out e.g. ignore cat
  • Be consistent
  • Display your dominance e.g. hiss back!
  • Avoid touching sensitive areas of cat, unless necessary

Determining the exact reason why your Maine Coon has started showing signs of aggression can be challenging. Therefore, in this article I share with you how we have handled our Maine Coons occasional bouts of Maine Coon aggression. Implementing these strategies has enabled our entire family and Maine Coon cat to grow and mature, since we have learn to recognise each others individual quirks better.

What Causes Maine Coon Aggression?

Maine Coon cats are renowned across the world for their gentle, docile and affectionate temperament. In fact, Maine Coons are often considered to be a great starter cat breed for individuals who have never owned a cat before, since their dog-like personality and laid back temperament make them ideal first pets.

Whilst most other cat breeds are phased by loud noise, are antisocial, and give attention to owners on their own terms, the Maine Coon is the complete polar opposite. In fact, many owners report that owning a Maine Coon cat is more like owning a dog, since they are extremely loyal, trainable, loving, sociable, gentle and tolerant of young children.

So what happens when everything changes, and your previously gentle giant starts displaying signs of Maine Coon aggression? This can often take loving owners by surprise, since to them the behaviour appears unwarranted, and mean. But is it?

In the case of a Maine Coon cat, there is almost always a reason why a display of Maine Coon aggression has occurred. At this point therefore, it is simply a matter of owners determining the root cause, then implementing certain coping strategies to manage their aggressive Maine Coon cat. To limit acts of Maine Coon aggression in the future, owners will also need to learn their own Maine Coons individual, yet subtle cues that they are not happy, or are getting annoyed. Failure to spot these subtle signs will inevitably lead to more Maine Coon aggressive.

Check out the table below to see the root causes that lead a Maine Coon to start acting in an aggressive way, towards their owners. For more information on these root causes, click the link:

Root Cause (click for details)Description
PainCat suffering from pain are more prone to Maine Coon aggression
Sensitive Body AreasMost cats dislike certain areas of their body being touched e.g. their bottom
Physical NeedsPhysical needs not met, e.g. hunger, and thirst
Health IssuesUnderlying health issues can change Maine Coons temperament
DominanceMore prone to male Maine Coons, wishing to show their dominance
StressCats experience stress easily e.g. house move
Defense MechanismMaine Coon acts aggressively when feeling threatened
OverpettingOverstimulation can result in a Maine Coon biting their owner
Limited SpaceYour large cat needs more space. More common when sharing with other household pets
Lack Of SocialisationMaine Coon was not socialised adequately whilst they were a kitten
Other Family PetsFeline aggression as a result of multiple household pets, and failed integration
Maternal InstinctPregnant Maine Coons, or those that have given birth recently tend will be defensive of offspring
Family TensionsFelines pick up on animosity within a household e.g. arguments
TerritoryNew cat or dog might be challenging your Maine Coons defined territory
LonelyMaine Coons are extremely sociable, therefore lonely feline might become aggressive towards owner
BoredomBored Maine Coons tend to be destructive, or aggressive to get attention
Mental Health IssuesUnderlying feline mental health issues

In order to start handling Maine Coon aggression, owners need to take time out to assess what the root cause of the issue is. For some owners this will not be too difficult, since they will quickly spot a logical link that identifies why they are now witnessing aggressive Maine Coon behaviour. Unfortunately, the root cause might not always be so clear. In cases such as this, owners should read through the descriptions of each cause below, then implement each handling strategy one by one, to rule out each possible cause.

1. Pain

Not all feline health issues are immediately visible by the naked eye, and it’s not like your beloved Maine Coon will be able to sit down next to you and explain what their issue is! Therefore, if an owner notices that their usually loving and affectionate Maine Coon has become aggressive overnight, this might be the result of your cat experiencing pain.

Cats can easily become injured without their owners knowledge, therefore owners should always be alert to changes in their cats behaviour and mannerisms. If you suspect an issue, follow our 4 step process:

  • Check cat for signs of injury: e.g. scratches, blood, bites, visible limp
  • Gently stroke cats body: Watch cat for unexpected movements, pain
  • Behavioural changes: e.g. cat dropping food might indicate gum pain
  • Veterinary Professional: Ask vet to assess cats health

2. Sensitive Body Areas

Maine Coon aggression can often occur when an owner touches areas on a cats body, where they don’t like to be stroked. It is therefore important that owners are aware of their Maine Coons body language, and quickly learn where they can stroke their feline companion, and where they cannot. If you stumble upon an ‘untouchable’ part of your cats body, make sure that you remember this and never touch them there again, unless absolutely necessary.

For example, many cats do not like to be stroked or brushed around their bottoms, even if they do have some knotted or matted fur that needs to be removed. Brushing in sensitive areas requires a cat to be completely trusting of their owner. Trust is unlikely if your cat has previously been smacked, or in a cat fight.

3. Physical Needs

One of the most basic things to check for if your notice your Maine Coon starting to act aggressively towards you, is that their basic needs are met i.e. they have enough food and water. It might seem somewhat counterintuitive that a cat will bite their owners hand or leg because they are hungry, however, realistically speaking a Maine Coons gentle biting, chirps and trills are the only method this breed have to indicate they want something.

Check you are feeding your Maine Coon the correct food, by reading this article on best Maine Coon dry foods.

4. Health Issues

Despite being a very hardy cat breed, Maine Coons are still prone to developing a number of different health issues that may alter this breeds usually laid back temperament.

Biting and general Maine Coon aggression might therefore be in response to an underlying health issue that has not yet been identified. Owners should therefore seek professional veterinary assistance, to rule out any possible health issues that could be affecting their Maine Coon.

Check my guide ‘Top 7 Maine Coon Health Issues‘ to rule out factors that could be causing your cat pain.

Maine Coon Health Issues
Maine Coon Health Issues

5. Dominance

Whilst cat dominance is usually a behavioural trait reserved for other cats or dogs breeds, Maine Coon aggression will sometimes be directed towards the owner. It is more common in male Maine Coon cats, than the female of the species though. In cases such as this, owners need to immediately address the issue so that the problem does not develop, become habitual, and your Maine Coons way of communicating with their owner.

Below are some examples of where a Maine Coon might try to exert their dominance over their owner:

  • Owner intervenes during cat fight.
  • Owner tries to discipline cat e.g. hitting, or smacking them.
  • Maine Coon wants to exert their dominance

Owners wishing to take control of the situation immediately should assert their dominance, so that their cat knows the owner is the top of the pack (like a dog pack order). Failure to do this will teach the Maine Coon that aggressive behaviour is acceptable, and gets them what they want. They will then be repeatedly aggressive, whenever they want something.

Examples of how an owner can display their dominance:

  • If your Maine Coon hisses at you aggressively (rather than just through general irritation over being moved from their comfy spot), make sure that you hiss back. Never hit your cat.
  • Immediately stop playing with your cat, and say ‘no’ firmly.
  • Never reward bad behaviour, instead stand firm and refuse cat treats if your cat acts aggressively towards you.

6. Stress

Whilst our feline friends might appear to have the most easy, leisurely and attractive lifestyles possible, their happy equilibrium can easily be impacted. Whereas some cats take change in their stride, others become stress by changes in their lives.

Stressed Maine Coon cats will act more irrationally and unpredictably, than contented cats. Owners should therefore take a look at their own lives to determine if there have been any minor or major changes that may have emotionally impacted their Maine Coon.

Here are a few examples of minor/major changes:

  • Death of another household pet
  • Owner has spent less time with cat
  • Dietary change
  • Moving home
  • New family member
  • New household pet
  • More visitors to home

7. Defence Mechanism

There are a large number of reasons why a Maine Coons defence mechanism might be triggered, however, in general Maine Coon aggression is reserved for when a cat feels threatened. Owners should therefore never hit their Maine Coon cat in an attempt to discipline them, nor aggressively shout at them. 

If you notice that your once loving feline companion has turned into an aggressive Maine Coon cat, check to make sure that you are not causing this behavioural change. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • Have you acted aggressively towards the cat?
  • Are you short tempered lately?
  • Have you changed your perfume? Maybe your Maine Coon dislikes the new scent!
  • Did the Maine Coon aggression occur after a certain event? i.e you tried to discipline your cat by smacking them?
  • Do you keep moving your cat when they are comfortably sleeping?
  • Have you started shouting at your Maine Coon?

Those of you that can identify a change in your own behaviour will be able to reverse your recent behaviours, therefore reversing the Maine Coon aggression issue quickly.

8. Overpetting

Maine Coon cats are extremely sociable, and love nothing more than their human owners stroking them. As you stroke their forehead, they lean their head backwards in complete enjoyment, making the cutest facial expressions ever! They also like to purr loudly, vocally displaying their pleasure and satisfaction from being petted.

There is a fine line to tread between petting and overpetting though. This is because petting stimulates the cats senses, and too much petting can result in an overstimulated Maine Coon cat. Overstimulation can be painful and discomforting for a cat, which leads them to show signs of unexpected Maine Coon aggression, such as biting and scratching. 

Each individual Maine Coon displays their own unique signs and signals that owners can look out for, to ascertain when petting has moved into overpetting. Practise identifying these signs in your Maine Coon cat, paying close attention to their body language, as this will help to reduce aggressive Maine Coon behavioural traits moving forwards.

9. Limited Space

Cats need a certain amount of space to live, exercise, feed and consider their own. Once they have established their territory, most will then passionately defend this space from other cats, and dogs etc.

Whilst this particular cat breed might be very laid back and good with other pets they still require their own space to remain happy and contented. Therefore, if a Maine Coon is forced to live in a small confined environment a Maine Coon attack is potentially inevitable, particularly if they are sharing this small space with other pets.

Signs of Maine Coon aggression due to limited space might appear in the following scenarios:

  • Maine Coon has to share space with other household pets.
  • Cats share litter tray, scratching post, cat tower, food, and water.
  • Owner closes off parts of the house, limiting cats roaming space.
  • Limited space within the home
  • No access to the outside world i.e. a garden to play in

If space is your issue, then it is important for an owner to find new ways for your Maine Coon to explore the home in which they live. For example, you could purchase an extra tall cat tower that has multiple levels. Large cat towers offer your Maine Coon additional freedom and space, for them to retreat to if they feel stressed or spatially threatened. Be aware though, that most standard cat towers just aren’t suitable for your Maine Coon, since they will quickly grow too big to use it. Therefore, buy with care, and make sure all hammock seats and resting platforms are extra large.

For those of you that are a little lost regarding which cat tree would be best, here are some great cat trees that your Maine Coon would love. All of them are a single click away at Amazon:

  • XXL Large Cat Tree
      • Seriously study cat tree
      • XXL seat for Maine Coons to settle on
      • Look how small that lady looks versus the cat tree!
      • Scratching post built in
      • Sturdy rope that cat can play with

10. Lack Of Socialisation

It is vital that all Maine Coon kittens are sufficiently socialised whilst they are still small, to prevent owners experiencing Maine Coon aggression in the later years. Whilst this process might begin with the breeder, it is then the owners responsibility to continue socialising their individual Maine Coon kitten. Never put this task off until another day, since the days, weeks and months will quickly pass and the potential issues will grow because older Maine Coon cats (particularly the males) are harder to train out of negative behaviour traits.

The socialisation process involves:

  • Regular playtime with humans.
  • Opportunities to interact with other household pets.
  • Owner teaches kitten which behaviours are allowed e.g. kittens should be discouraged from biting owners. As part of this conditioning phase, owners must firmly say ‘no’ when a kitten misbehaves, as this will gradually teach them the household rules.
  • Show kitten an alternative. e.g. if you kitten scratches the sofa, owners should firmly say ‘no’, before picking them up and putting them next to the scratching post which they are permitted to scratch on.

If your older Maine Coon displays aggressive behaviour towards you, it is potentially due to their lack of socialisation whilst little. Whilst there is no immediate fix for this problem, owners can still try to implement the socialisation process, by encouraging their Maine Coon to chew or bite on one of these chewable cat toys, rather than biting.

Additionally, owners can spend more time with their pets in an attempt to improve the bond they share with their feline friend.

11. Other Family Pets

When you are a massive animal lover, you cannot help but fill your house with as many different pets as possible. Whilst this might be your dream, it’s not necessarily a viewpoint that your cat shares!

Owners should therefore assess the relationship between their Maine Coon cat, and the other pets within a household, to determine if there are any notable issues between the different pets. If you notice visible friction, then your Maine Coon might be more aggressive than normal, which could lead to Maine Coon aggression towards an owner.

Many owners report that these cat pheromone plug in diffusers from Amazon have helped calm their pets, so why not try a few in your home and see if this improves the tension between your pets.

Thankfully though, the Maine Coon cat breed is known for being very friendly and sociable with other cats (as shown in this article of mine), or other family pets. Therefore, the chances of experiencing Maine Coon aggression due to this factor, are reduced. However, it would definitely be foolhardy to rule this issue out completely.

12. Maternal Instinct

If you have noticed that your female Maine Coon has become aggressive overnight, ask your vet to check if your cat is pregnant! Whilst this assessment is only necessary for owners that have not spayed their female Maine Coon, it definitely is worth checking.

Pregnant Maine Coons, or those cats that have recently given birth are often found to be considerably more defensive of their offspring. Therefore, any Maine Coon aggression you witness might simply be linked to your cats maternal instinct. In scenarios such as this, make sure that your Maine Coon has plenty of space that she can regard as her own territory.

13. Family Tensions

You might be surprised to learn that your feline friends are very intune with the family dynamic. They are affected by changes occuring in the family, whether you realise it or not. Therefore, if family tensions are rising, keep in mind that any new Maine Coon aggression you are witnessing is likely to be directly linked to the high emotions flooding your house.

Family tensions are likely to impact the male and female of the species differently. This is because the male Maine Coon cat likes to bond closely with one key owner, whereas the female tends to share their love around the whole family. Therefore, any animosity or family tensions directed at the key owner, might result in male Maine Coon aggression, towards the individual threatening the owner. For more information on the common differences between the male Vs female Maine Coon cats, check out my article by clicking here.

Finally, if you feel that your Maine Coons recent aggressive behaviour towards you might be down to family tensions, make sure you spend more time with them to stabilise the owner/pet bond. This is important, since your cat needs to feel love and affection from their family, to keep them calm, happy and contented.

14. Territory

All felines need an adequate amount of space, that they consider their own. This is known as their ‘territory’. Whilst Maine Coons are well known for being a naturally laid back and friendly cat breed, able to get on well with other pets, there is always the possibility that introducing a new pet into the household might lead to displays of Maine Coon aggression.

Therefore, if you are planning on getting a new pet for your home you must consider carefully how the needs of the other pets are met first. For instance, if you have not yet purchased an extra large cat tower for your Maine Coon, make this your top priority. Whilst sturdy Maine Coon cat towers like this one on Amazon (picture below) don’t come cheap, they do offer additional space for your cat to retreat to and consider their own, which is necessary when additional animals enter a home.

WARNING: Before you rush out and buy the first cat tower you find, STOP! Most cat trees are only suitable for ‘normal’ sized cats! We learnt that lesson the hard and expensive way with our Maine Coon cat, so don’t make the same mistake as ours who just kept growing and growing.

Finally, when introducing a new cat or pet to a home where a Maine Coon cat already lives, follow our 10 step introduction guide carefully, to increase your chances of a smooth integration between the pets. 

15. Lonely

Maine Coons are a very sociable cat breed, who like to spend the majority of their time in their owners company. They do not like to be alone and will happily follow their owner around the house, even if they are simply going to the toilet!! (click here to read my article on this).

Known as the ‘dog of the cat world’, this loving cat breed is suited to families that spend considerable amounts of time at home. Individuals who work from home are ideally suited to owning Maine Coon cat, since these Maine Coons never get lonely.

In reality though, most people have to work. Therefore, if you think your regular absence from home is causing Maine Coon aggression in your feline friend, consider purchasing another Maine Coon cat to keep them company. Yes, this is a seriously expensive option, however a lonely Maine Coon can quickly suffer from mental health issues if left on their own for too long.

16. Boredom

Maine Coon cats are highly intelligent and need daily mental stimulation, and exercise to keep them fit and healthy (approximately 20-30 minutes per day). Failure to get these basic requirements will result in a bored Maine Coon, that may them become both destructive and aggressive towards its owner.

Take a look at this article which shows you the best cat toys for Maine Coons, all designed to exercise and mentally stimulate the cats mind.

17. Mental Health Issues

Whilst Maine Coons are well known for being one of the more hardy cat breeds, they are prone to developing mental health issues if they feel:

  • Lonely
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Sickness

For more information on the key health issues that affect the Maine Coon cat breed, take a look at my article: ‘Top 7 Maine Coon Health Issues‘.

Owners should be alert to changes in their Maine Coon, since undetected health issues are known to impact a cats personality and mental health. For instance, if your Maine Coon has hurt themselves, they may display signs of Maine Coon aggression towards an owner that unknowingly touches an area on their body that is painful.

Conclusion

Whilst the Maine Coon cat is usually known for its overly affectionate personality, and gentle laid back temperament, there are a number of factors that cause Maine Coon aggression to be triggered.

Owners should never ignore aggressive behaviour in their cat, since this is a clear signal that there is an issue. A cat in ‘fighting mode’ can also cause considerable amounts of harm to you, from their claws and sharp teeth. Therefore, the sooner the owner identifies the problem, the better!

Finally, always remain consistent and firm in your actions so that your Maine Coon cat is able to quickly learn the household rules.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My names 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 8 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the names ‘Pipsteroo’, and ‘Pippikins’! 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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