It’s no laughing matter when a Maine Coon starts biting you. Whilst it may occur during play, a cats razor sharp teeth will definitely hurt you if they puncture your skin. Therefore, the sooner an owner acts to resolve the issue, the better. Allowing a Maine Coon to act aggressively towards you is a dangerous path to tread, therefore you must quickly establish why your Maine Coon cat bites you. To avoid or limit the chances of this situation ever occurring, owners should set the rules from the beginning.
Maine Coon cats are known for their gentle, docile, affectionate temperament. However, there are ten reasons why a Maine Coon may start to bite their owner: playing, teething, defending themselves, in pain, want attention, enjoyment, social biting, overpetting, overstimulated, or acts of dominance.
Why Your Maine Coon Cat Bites You
There are a variety of reasons that cause a Maine Coon cat to start biting their owner. It is important therefore that owners quickly establish the root cause, to prevent for instances of biting occuring.
The table below shows the top 10 reasons why your Maine Coon cat bites you:
|Playing||Some cats bite owners whilst playing|
|Teething||Maine Coon kittens bite whilst teething|
|Defensive||Maine Coons bite when threatened|
|In Pain||Cat may bite you, if you touch a painful area of their body|
|Wants Attention||Maine Coon is after some attention|
|Enjoyment||The cat simply enjoys biting!|
|Social Biting||Cats give humans ‘love bites’ as a warning|
|Petting||Too much stroking leads to overstimulation|
|Dominance||Trying to be dominant|
|Kitten Biting||Natural stage all kittens go through|
Owners should look through the details in the table above, and try to identify if any of these root causes are causing their Maine Coon to bite them. If any of the issues sound familiar, take a look at the more detailed explanations below.
Playtime is a very stimulating activity for a cat, and can quickly cause a Maine Coon to become overstimulated, often resulting in them biting their owner. If this scenario sounds familiar, owners should immediately cease playing and firmly say “no”. Whilst an overstimulated cat is likely to already be happy to stop playing, an owners immediate stop and firm command will teach the cat that biting has a negative reaction from their owner. By contrast, it is also important that owners praise their cat when they play gently.
Should biting continue, I’ve found these chewable fish from Amazon to be extremely effective in stopping our overstimulated Maine Coon biting me. An added bonus of this chewable catnip toy, is that it also helps to clean your Maine Coons teeth. The pack also includes a cat finger toothbrush and chew sticks. If you’re not sure why this is important, read my article on Maine Coon teeth when you get a chance.
Owners should encourage their cat to chew on the cat toy, rather than their hand!
Another favourite ‘go-to’ cat toy for me, to calm any Maine Coon biting, are these cute chewable mice on Amazon. They are really cheap, and designed to allow your cat to chew on. The netting around the outside of the toy also helps remove plaque and tartar buildup on your Maine Coons teeth. Bonus!
It has always seemed somewhat counterintuitive to me, that an animal will bite their owner whilst they are playing with them. For starters, why does a cat think that biting their owner will encourage them to continue playing, or even want to play games on another occasion? They are quite literally biting the hand that feeds them! The fact of the matter though, is that most cats do not realise they are hurting their owners, when they bite. Instead, they see biting as an acceptable part of the play process, that commonly occurs when they play with another cat. Biting is also a sign of the Maine Coons natural hunting instincts.
One useful characteristic of the Maine Coon cat breed, is that they are very intelligent, and trainable. Therefore, if you are keen to avoid biting during future play sessions you should start by limiting playtime to smaller bursts of time to prevent overstimulation occuring. Owners should also train their Maine Coon whilst they are still young, that biting is not a nice, nor acceptable occurrence by firmly stating “no” and then stopping playtime.
Please Note: If you have adopted an adult male Maine Coon that hasn’t been trained to stop biting, you will find it takes far longer to stop the cat biting you. This is mainly because adult male Maine Coons are well known for being more stubborn in their nature, than their female counterparts! Older Maine Coon cats are also harder to train, than kittens who can have their behaviour moulded.
Maine Coon kittens will often bite their owners whilst they are teething, to help limit the discomfort in their mouths whilst new teeth push through their gums, into their mouths. Therefore, if you notice your kitten is chewing on your fingers, or the surrounding furniture etc, they are likely to be going through the teething process.
Teething tends to begin when the kitten is roughly 2 weeks old, not finishing until approximately 6 weeks when most of your kittens ‘baby’ teeth will have grown through. Whilst this stage of the process happens before owners collect their kitten from a breeder, it is not the end of the matter. Instead, teething is a valid reason for explaining why your Maine Coon cat bites you, since it is likely to continue on and off, until your kitten reaches 6 months of age. At 6 months, your Maine Coon will likely have lost all their ‘baby’ teeth, and replaced them with ‘adult teeth’ (source).
Owners who suspect their Maine Coon kitten is teething, should give them plenty of these cat chewable toys to gnaw on (link to Amazon). These toys will not only soothe the kittens teething discomfort, but also help keep their new teeth clean and healthy.
All animals have a natural instinct to survive. Therefore, in scenarios whereby they feel threatened, a primitive reflex known as ‘fight or flight’ will kick in. A physiological reaction, such as an acute stress response, or hyperarousal will then occur within the cats body in response to the perceived threat (source).
So, how does this explain why your Maine Coon cat bites you? Basically, your Maine Coon is biting you because they are feeling threatened by your behaviour or actions. In situations such as this, it is vital that owners take a step backwards, and assess which of their actions caused their Maine Coon cat to feel threatened. If an owner doesn’t want to be bitten again, they should take note of their own behaviour, and not do the same thing again.
Here are some possible reasons why your Maine Coon cat might feel threatened:
- Owner acted aggressively towards them
- Maine Coon was smacked
- Someone accidently stood on the Maine Coons huge tail
- Cat is being unkindly poked, or their tail pulled
- Cat is in physical pain. Owner may have accidentally touched area on cats body, where cat feels a level of discomfort.
For those of you who are not sure whether your Maine Coon is acting aggressively towards you, or not, look carefully at your cats body language. Angry cats place their weight on their hind legs (back legs) in preparation for pouncing on you. The cats ears will also be pointing backwards, and it is more than likely that your Maine Coon will be hissing loudly at you.
4. In Pain
Whilst the Maine Coon cat is known for being extremely sociable, often following their owners all around the home (for more on this subject click here), this cat breed are still extremely independent. They are also very curious, and intelligent, so will happily play with their cat toys on their own, or chase a random flying leaf around the garden or yard. Accidents happen though, and it is possible that your Maine Coon hurts themselves whilst playing etc.
A Maine Coon that is in pain will likely to lash out, or bite their owner if they try to stroke them, or if an owner accidently touches the part of the cats body that hurts.
Therefore, if your usually calm, laidback and gentle Maine Coon cat starts biting you, watch them carefully over the next few hours to see if they have hurt themselves i.e. is the cat limping, or flinching? In situations where an owners suspects there is an issue, make sure you seek immediate veterinary professional assistance. The vet will be able to carefully check your Maine Coon over, for signs of pain.
In some cases, a Maine Coon might be experiencing pain due to an underlying health issue that has not yet been identified. Here are a list of the top 7 health issues that Maine Coon cats are prone to develop. It is possible that your Maine Coon bite is a result of pain and discomfort from one of these health issues. Therefore, it is wise to ask a vet to rule out these possible issues, as they could explain why your Maine Coon cat bites you.
5. Wants Attention
One of the most common reasons why your Maine Coon cat bites you, is because they want attention. Since they cannot talk (well, only in gentle chirps and trills as explained in this article of mine), a Maine Coon might try to gain your attention by biting your hand or leg.
Maine Coons that bite their owners tend to unknowingly put themselves in a ‘catch 22’ situation. Whilst they might be trying to signal that they would like attention, biting an owner usually results in a negative exchange with the owner that then stops the owner giving them the attention they seek!
If your Maine Coon bites you to get attention, firmly say ‘no’ and then give them a chewable cat toy like this one from Amazon, to bite on. Your cat will quickly learn that biting does not get their owners attention, and will cease biting you. Maine Coons are highly trainable felines, therefore it is vital that owners remain consistent on the message they give their cat.
Some Maine Coons will bite or chew on their owners fingers, simply because they enjoy doing it. Whilst an owner might consider this behaviour to be aggressive, the kitten or cat probably actually doesn’t realise they are harming or hurting you. Take a look at your cats behaviour and consider if this is why your Maine Coon cat bites you.
Owners wishing to stop their Maine Coon biting them will first need to alter their cats behavioural traits. For instance, if a cat bite hurts you, then let out a small scream of ‘oww’, then remove your hand, firmly saying ‘no’ to your cat as you do so. This will signal to your cat that you do not share their enjoyment of chewing or biting.
You should then try giving your Maine Coon one of these organic catnip chewable sticks to bite on instead. These sticks mimic behaviour you might see in an outdoor Maine Coon cat, and the added bonus is that these sticks promote better digestion, whilst the silverline and matatabi will help relieve cat stress. These sticks are currently on offer at Amazon at the moment, so give them a go whilst they are cheap!
7. Social Biting
Social biting occurs when your Maine Coon gently bites and nibbles you, without causing bloodshed or pain. If you notice this behaviour in your cat you should give them a chewable cat toy to chew on, to distract them. In scenarios where they ignore the toy you are trying to give them, and continue gently biting your fingers or hand, your cat is giving you a Maine Coon love bite.
Maine Coon Cat Love Bites
A Maine Coon love bite is when your cat gently bites your hand, or arm etc whilst you are petting, or playing with them. This is not usually an aggressive action by the cat, since love bites rarely involve puncturing the owners skin, resulting in bleeding.
When a Maine Coon gives you a love bite, they are warning you to stop what you are doing, since the cat is feeling overstimulated. Understandably, this can leave even the most experienced of owners somewhat baffled, since only seconds ago their cat was happily playing with them (or being stroked), yet now seems to want to bite them!
If this situation occurs, owners should immediately cease whatever they were doing, since their cat has given them a clear warning. Failure to heed this subtle red flag is done at an owners peril, since the cat will most likely attack, which will hurt significantly more than a more gentle Maine Coon love bite!
Stroking your cat might be therapeutic and enjoyable for you, but it won’t necessarily always be the case for your cat. In some cases, you might actually be annoying your cat, and missing their visual clues that they have had enough of being petted.
Over petting a cat causes them to become overstimulated, leading to hyperarousal whereby the cat bites or swats their owner, because they want them to stop stroking them. Owners should always be on the lookout for signs that their cats becoming overstimulated, for instance the swish of their big bushy tail, or repeated chirps and trills (source).
If you think your cat is overstimulated, stop stroking them!
Some Maine Coons will bite because they are trying to exert their dominance, whether it be over another cat or towards their owners.
Although dominance is less likely to be the reason why your Maine Coon cat bites you, you still need to rule this possibility out. Therefore owners of male Maine Coon cats should be aware that this behavioural trait is more common in the male of the species.
10. Kitten Biting
All Maine Coon kittens go through a biting stage, where they will explore the world around them using their natural instincts of biting, scratching, clawing, or pouncing. Owners should not be concerned by this, since it is a completely natural phase of your Maine Coon kittens physical and mental development.
As with all phases, they do eventually pass. Therefore, if you find your kitten is regularly biting you, or destroying the furniture in your home, firmly say “no” and then give them a chewable cat toy to play with.
This article highlights the top 10 reasons why your Maine Coon cat bites you. As you can see, there are plenty of different triggers that might cause a cat to start biting you.
If you don’t think any of these key reasons account for your Maine Coon cats biting behaviour, you might be dealing with Maine Coon aggression. Aggression is an issue that must be dealt with immediately.