A lot of cat owners – not just Maine Coons’ – who for several reasons can’t allow their cat outside wonder whether or not their friend is happy. I’ve done it many times. Sometimes I look at my gentle giant wandering around the house and I wonder if he’d be happier running outside and hunting mice instead of staying inside playing – and cuddling, and napping – with me or, sometimes, all alone.
Cats are feline and they are made to hunt, roam in the night, climb trees and walking on roofs. Everything we love about them – their pride, the way they take long naps but remain alert, the way they lay little ambushes for us – is all connected to their hunting instinct. It’s not uncommon for owners to wonder if they are ever suppressing their nature, especially when they can’t allow their cat outside because of the weather or the traffic, especially if their cat is a large Maine Coon.
But, are indoor Maine Coons happy? Being highly intelligent, Maine Coons can adapt easily to live indoors but, on the other hand, they also get bored very quickly. So there’s no short answer: Maine Coons can actually live indoors (and in some cases, they’d be safer inside the house than being allowed outside), but you have to provide them with attention and be a little creative to make sure they are physically and mentally stimulated.
With a size that can reach a height of 10-16 inches (3-6 inches more than average cats), Maine coons are big cats and people who are considering adopting one but live in a small apartment may wonder if Maine Coons need a lot of space.
It is true that most cat breeds don’t do well with restricted walking space and congested surroundings, but… Maine Coons are not like most cat breeds! They are quite a size of a cat, and – like every cat – they’re territorial so they need to have a place they can identify as their own, but Maine Coons are also intelligent: as long as you arrange a tiny space for them, they’ll have no difficulties understanding that that’s their space and they’ll relax there peacefully.
Even though you can’t provide your Maine Coon with a large space, make sure to provide him or her with at least a cat and a litter box. Maine Coons are very smart, you’ll see it won’t be hard to teach them not to urinate outside the litter box or scratch the couch. This is one reason more why Maine Coons can adapt better than other breeds to small spaces.
To put this into perspective, I have a small apartment, no more than 55 metres square, and I believe I have a happy and content Maine Coon. She gets treated really well, and gets taken out for walks regularly. I take her away on trips to coffee shops locally quite often. Embracing variety seems to work.
As we’ve already mentioned, sometimes keeping our Maine Coons indoors feels like “caging” them in the house. But they can adapt easily to smaller spaces as long as you pay attention to their needs: provide them with toys to play with, things to scratch and climb up on. So, yes, of course we can keep our Maine Coons indoors – the real question, nowadays, should be: is it wise to allow them outside?
Cats have amazing instincts and incredible athletic skills, but when it comes to man-danger they are defenseless. Nature hasn’t equipped cats – and Maine Coons – to deal with cars, rat poison, and cruelty of people. Also, Maine Coons can be quite expensive and some people of questionable intelligence and sensibility might feel like stealing an almost $1000-worth kitten is a good idea. When cats roam outside today they face many more dangers despite the security of their homes.
There is also another aspect to consider when we feel nostalgic about our Maine Coon’s ancestors that roamed free in the forests. These cats had no secure shelter, they used to die for small treatable injuries, and they starved when they couldn’t hunt their food. Only the strongest and the luckiest could survive, while all the others had really short life expectancy.
I think that sometimes we think about what our cat would like in the terms of what we usually like. Most of us couldn’t stay inside the house all day and every day, we need to meet our friends, go to work, speak to people… Cats have other needs – when we keep them inside we are preventing them to meet their friends, go to work and speak with other cats, but we’re also providing them with secure shelter, care, love, and when they feel bored we are always ready to help them feeling stimulated.
Maine Coons don’t need anything more than other cats. The things you’re going to provide to your cat depend more on your and your cat’s preferences and surroundings. If your Maine Coon is particularly active you may want to provide him/her with a cat tree; if (s)he loves to sharpen his/her claws on your couch, (s)he (and you!) may need a scratching pole.
Also, when you share a tiny apartment with a Maine Coon, you may need to be a little creative: a cat condo can be very helpful for your Maine Coon to be a little more active, but they can cost more than $150. Be creative and built a cat condo with boxes, cardboard and maybe a shop bag. If you don’t have horizontal space, try to use the space vertically.
Nevertheless, a couple of things would be strictly necessary if your Maine Coon is going to stay inside: a cat bed and a litter box.
This is a question I ask myself quite often. Even if I know that he can stay indoors (and that he’s safer inside the house than outside) this doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay attention to their mood and feelings. Maine Coons are very intelligent, and while this is an advantage when you have to teach them how to behave, they also get bored very quickly, especially when they are left alone in the house. So what can you do to make your indoor Maine Coon happy?
A problem with indoor cats is that they don’t get enough exercise, both physical and mental. Maine Coons need to be stimulated mentally and physically. When they stay outside they don’t only hunt: they climb trees, they smell smells, they chase other cats away… If your Maine Coon can’t be allowed outside, provide her with lots of toys and be creative. Give your cat opportunities to run, discover new stuff through smell, provide her with a prey to chase (this doesn’t mean you should let a mouse wander in your house – a toy, a shoelace, a feather, or yourself would be just fine).
Scratching is important for cats: it’s their way of stretching and relaxing their muscles while sharpening their claws. Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally while some like to scratch on vertical surfaces – pay attention to what your Maine Coon likes the most and provide them with a scratching post.
Cats love to climb. Also, if you live in a small apartment and have little horizontal space, providing a cat tree you can let your Maine Coon use vertical space. Personally I have an outdoor balcony, which I have caged, allowing my cat to go and see the world.
If your cat isn’t allowed outside, a litter box would be strictly necessary. You can easily teach your Maine Coon to use it, but make sure to locate it in a place they approve (otherwise they may avoid using it) and keep it clean, otherwise they won’t use it.
Maine Coons are called the dogs of the cat world, but they are always cats. They like to stay by themselves from time to time (some even quite often). When they hide in a box, that is their way of taking some time for themselves hiding from the rest of the world. Especially if you live in a small apartment, make sure your Maine Coon always has a spot to relax on her own.
There are some plants you can grown indoors that are beneficial for a cat’s health: catnip, lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, and more.
Indoor cats tend to fatten more easily than other cats. This is in part due to the fact that they do less exercise, but it is also because they have continuous access to food. So if your Maine Coon lives indoors you should give them the right amount of food and avoid offering her more than that, even when she asks repeatedly, even when she craves for it. (Maine Coons can be persuasive!)
Maine Coons are highly intelligent and you can train them making little tricks (just like dogs!). They can easily learn to walk on a leash and this would be a great opportunity to take them outside in a safe way. Also, whenever you need to stay away for long periods, if your Maine Coon is trained to walk on a leash you can bring her or him with you and avoid leaving him/her alone.
Again, I have a walking leash and a harness, which Alita does not mind being placed on her. Everytime I go to a coffee shop I am able to take her. Additionally, I will take her on little jaunts away, which she seems to like.
Take a look at this article on an away day trip with a Maine Coon to see what I mean.
Especially if you are often out, you may want to consider getting another cat so that your Maine Coon would no longer remain alone for hours and hours. Maine Coons have great social skills, and they are among the breeds that can adapt to new situations more easily – newbies’ arrivals included.