With an indoor Maine Coon, a real worry is that of mental stimulation. Although there are plenty of options. A good one is a different environment, even if it is slightly brief.
So, are Maine Coons a good breed for trips? In short, yes they are. The are extremely easy to handle and their personality makes it so much easier. They follow you around, even in unfamiliar surroundings, don’t mind being picked up and remain calm. They take well to travel and seem interested without panicking. They don’t seem to stress or show signs of anxiety, as long as you are with them a great deal of the time. All in all, a great breed of cat to take on trips.
As alluded to, Alita, my Maine Coon is an indoor Maine Coon. Being kept indoors may provide some benefits but I tend towards thinking that a cat’s natural ability to go out and prowl is denied, and as such I worry if there’s any stress and anxiety that goes along with this.
The solution, at least for me, is to provide mental stimulation as often as I can. I go out to coffee shops and friends regularly, so as I wrote in a recent article, I take Alita with me so she does not become ‘housebound’.
I even take her out sometimes if I go for some street food
Recently she has become very relaxed to this behaviour, and puts up no fuss. I can now take her out very easily and she seems to really enjoy the trips.
Especially if I buy her a bit of chicken.
So I thought I would step up the trip away and make it a little longer. I am really blessed to live near Chiang Mai, which means there is an endless supply of lush countryside around me.
I decided to take an overnight trip to a new place, where she has never been before and see how a Maine Coon settles in and copes with a longer trip. How do they react? How do they cope? Is it something they will enjoy?
I had so many questions.
I have done these sort of trips before, with a few different breeds, and normally I would have expected a 24 hr period of nervousness before settling in.
So what happens when a Maine Coon goes on its first longer distance trip?
The plan, very roughly was to go to coffee with a friend, drive to a river restaurant and then the guest house where we could stay overnight.
I didn’t want to pack too much in, after all this was Alitas very first trip away and I wanted to take things slowly, not an ever changing itinerary which might confuse and stress her to the point where she might not want to do it again. I was very mindful of causing the stress I am trying to keep her from.
It’s a tricky balance for sure.
So I packed the car up with gear, made sure it was filled up enough and put Alita in the car. Alita is really good in the car and largely remains immobile, just seemingly enjoying the trip. She sits really quietly and I have learned that I don#t need to keep her in a carrier.
I tend to prefer to do so, but it is not necessary, as much of a surprise as that is.
So I went for a quick coffee with a friend where we chatted for a few hours and Alita did her normal sitting quietly and watching the world go by.
Following the coffee I went to pick up a friend, where we drove 30km North of Chiang Mai to Mae Rim to visit a restaurant, where the tables are essentially stilts perched over a jungle river. Having been there before I know the food is really good and wondered what Alita would make of it.
Turns out she settled in really well.
The meal was delicious and Alita seemed so enraptured with what was going on she seemingly didn’t want any of the chicken that we bought for her.
We were there for a few hours and alita was just really relaxed, watching the river and the wildlife go by. The lead wasn’t strained. I had ‘tethered’ her to one of the table legs but it really wasn’t necessary. She sat there, quite fascinated.
As I had surprised her with the trip, and the fact that it’s very hot she seemed a bit tired towards the end and decided to have a little nap in the warmth and the river breeze.
This was one relaxed cat. Which is interesting in itself.
Packing up and leaving the restaurant, it was time to move to the guesthouse and settle Alita into a different house to the one she knows and see how she gets on.
We arrived at the guesthouse, which turned out to be an entire house on the edge of a gorge. With some rivers surrounding it. An extremely beautiful setting and an introduction to the Thai jungle for a Maine Coon.
Settling the cat in turned out to be simplicity itself. Maine Coons seem to be a natural at impromptu travel.
Setting up the feed bowl, water bowl with water, Alita seemed much more interested in her surroundings.
She was particularly enraptured with the view.
After strolling around the room for half an hour she hid under the bed for a bit, possibly because it was cool. The air conditioning was on but it was hot outside.
After staying with her for a bit we decided to go out to the local restaurant and have a meal. While overlooking a gorge.
Coming back, Alita was still in the room, apparently quite happy and watching the world outside. It was a staggeringly pretty view so I really can’t blame her.
Later on in the day, she went for a wander around the house. I’d removed her harness and gone around the house checking for open windows or cracks she could get through. Satisfied there were none, I allowed her to explore.
Going around every room, more than once, she eventually settled down a bit. I think she had satisfied herself she knew her surroundings. I’m guessing a little bit that is important for a cat when going into new surroundings.
Anyway, we turned in for the night with Alita curling up on the foot of the bed. I’d taken her for a quick walk around the forest edge late at night to do her ‘business’ should she need to. So far so good, this was going better than expected.
Hopefully, this day was going to be just as plain sailing. The idea was breakfast, a trip to see the Kings plantations at Monchaem (pronounced Mon Jam), a further trip to see Mae Sa waterfall, where we would have a spot of lunch or coffee and then return home.
I woke up to this;
Which quickly turned into this;
She seemed really relaxed so stayed with her for a while to keep her in this state, but eventually had to get up and go for breakfast. Returning home, I found Alita just curled up on the bed, casually looking across the gorge.
Time for her breakfast, her favorite which is chicken;
After packing up, checking out and putting Alita in the car, we drove a little further into the Thai jungle hills and at the end of some very steep climbs we reached the car park at the top.
I think it’s fair to say the view across the hills are stunning, especially when you consider there are working farms on these hills, There weren’t that many people here so we spent a pleasant few hours wandering around the top.
Alita eventually found a nice little place to sit down and watch the passers by with interest.
We also went to the other side where there the hills became a little nearer and you could see farming workers out in the sun.
After a really pleasant hour or two wandering around the hilltop, watching the nature, and rolling countryside in the cool mountain air, it was time to make it to the next destination.
Maybe with a coffee stop on the way.
We drove the short distance to the Mae Sa waterfall, but first it was a quick stop at a coffee shop next to a small river. Alita, just curled up by the table, sat down and pretty much just watched what was happening on the rather large lawn out front to the river.
A quick coffee here and we were on our way to Mae Sa waterfall. It’s not very far away.
Mae Sa waterfalls are a set of 10 storied waterfalls in Mae Rim, some 20km North of Chiang Mai. Certainly not the biggest, not the most beautiful but they are easily accessible with plenty of parking space.
It should provide a cooler and more sedate end to the trip with plenty of time to relax. Hopefully, Alita would appreciate my efforts.
After arriving and parking, we began the short walk across to the base of the falls and early on, you have to look out across an epic gorge.
The air is cool around the valley and this is most welcome in the jungle like heat. A little further up the trail, there are some rock pools with families and people playing in the water. With a few people around, Alita was a little more wary, but didn’t seem scared at all.
Further still up the trail, we came to the base of the waterfall which is where all the water ends up, There were a lot of people here, and I could sense Alita was a little nervous, although she wasn’t cowering at all.
Beautiful little place though.
We wandered, back a little and found a careful rock to rest on and watch the world go by, as the water seems to.
We stayed there for a while, carefully sipping the drinks we purchased and watched the world around us. Alita, quite calm just sat there and watched the children playing around her,
She certainly didn’t mind the odd dog and stray cat As she seemed really calm, we stayed there for quite a while. It’s very beautiful here.
With the sun going down, and feeling rather hungry, we packed up, walked back to the car and drove back home. With the sun fading in the sky, Alita fell asleep on the back seat.
Having taken several breeds of cat on little road trips away, there are a few lessons for would be future travelers, and some more for Maine Coon owners in particular.
Here’s the list;
Maine Coons relax easily: With the 2 or 3 other breeds I have done these trips with, they relax after about 24 hrs. During the initial stages of a trip you have a very wide eyed cat on is first trip. With Alita, my Maine Coon, she was pretty much instantly relaxed.
NO pulling away: You might expect an indoor cat to be constantly pulling at the lead to have a run around. Not a bit of it. Right from the beginning I could of almost have had no harness and lead. She never once gave me the impression she wanted to get away. This might be of interest to indoor Maine coon owners, as you can take them out and their doesn’t appear to be a desire to bolt.
When walking around, leave the lead loose: Your Maine Coon, on a lead and outside in an unknown area, you might expect them to be running around like a dog. Oddly, and like other breeds of cat, they don’t. They actually lower their profile and crawl. They move very cautiously. This is normal in a cat’s first outing. It takes a while before they become more confident. While they are in ‘cautious mode’, unless approaching danger, it’s best to let them go where they desire. Hang the lead loosely and follow them. It helps build up their confidence.
Your Maine Coon will patrol the guesthouse: Whether you stay in a motel, a hotel or an Airbnb apartment, expect at some point your Maine Coon to take it upon themselves to go into every room available to them. They will patrol behind all the curtains and all the furniture. They seem to want to satisfy themselves they know what their environment is. They seem to want to do this before sleep.
If you are going to do a little trip away, there is a really good chance you will be booking somewhere to stay. I’d say it’s about 10 out of 10.
Therefore, when picking somewhere, it’s best to make sure they are OK with a pet being present. It’s only good manners when using someone else’s house and there are sometimes other guests to consider.
So, when you are preparing ahead of time, just check the place you are staying accepts a cat.
When you arrive, carefully go around the boundaries of the place you are staying. Check every window is closed, grills aren’t pushed shut, and there aren’t any gaps around. Basically, check every ‘nook and cranny’ as to how your Maine Coon could escape. They WILL go on a tour of the place, mainly just to check they are safe.
Set up a little food and litter tray place and make sure your Maine Coon knows where they are.
It turns out Maine Coons are pretty good in a car. I have never had any problems travelling with Alita at all.
When I am on my own I tend to use a pet carrier, but when I have company, I don’t mind as much leaving them to wander on the back seat, I just drive more slowly.
I also use a towel to block access to under the driver’s seat, so they can’t weetle there way under there.
Alita doesn’t suffer from travel sickness and mainly just lies down really calmly on the rear seat. It’s not unknown for her to fall asleep without complaint.
When you are going on a small trip with a Maine Coon, or any cat, you might need to take a few items. I don’t take the household, just that will fit into a small rucksack. I also have the pet carrier, which doubles as a walking rucksack, but I have a small black rucksack.
The rucksack, with some ever present items contains the following items.
What I’d recommend as really useful are these small plastic containers that double as food and water carriers, that foldable bowls are great.
If you are thinking about taking a Maine Coon on a trip away, I would say go for it. I would always build then up with small coffee shop trips first.
I outline how I trained Alita to accept travel in this article on keeping her mentally stimulated.
I am forced to conclude Maine Coon is a really good breed for taking on trips. This really should come as no surprise, but somehow it still does.
They really like spending time with their owners and as such they are really easy to take on trips. They don’t mind being picked up, they tend to follow you around and really never look like bolting off. They sit next to you quite freely.
You really can not hold onto the lead, it is really quite strange to witness the behaviour, but it really does happen.
Just make sure you treat them well and take them to some amazing places.
It’s worth remembering, this was Alita’s first trip away. She has gone on short trips before but always returned home. This trip was probably 36 hours in length, with 3 or 4 hours of travel in a vehicle. Not once did she give me cause for concern. No panicking or stress. Rather the reverse, she seemed very much to enjoy it, right from the off.
She was so good, we even stopped off at a waterfall cafe on the way home, which Alita took a liking to;