I went to stroke my Maine Coon the other day and she dipped her head as a precaution.
I’d never really noticed it before but since I’ve been looking recently, Alita, my Maine Coon does tend towards being cautious.
To be clear, she is treated very well, fed when she likes to be, gets played with quite a lot, and groomed well, as well as being showered with affection.
A bit of time spent online in the forums and it turns out I’m not the only one who has wondered.
There are anecdotes of Maine Coons slinking over cables, being over cautious coming into a room, or seemingly alert with unexpected noises.
All seems a bit strange, and I wondered, are Maine Coons shy, timid, or skittish?
Some Maine Coons can appear timid or skittish by nature. Reaction to sudden or unexpected movement can be a trait of some Maine Coons. Behavioral issues like avoidance, aggression, or anger are indicative of more serious problems.
What I mean by timid or skittish is when she doesn’t see a hand coming to stroke her and notices it a bit late, her head pulls away until she gets used to what happens.
She is not timid or shy by nature, she wanders around the apartment, is quite happy where she is going, and will lie on me quite readily.
She isn’t scared or at least doesn’t appear to be.
She has no reason to be either as she is well treated but I do wonder whether it’s a common thing for Maine Coons.
They are nicknamed the ‘gentle giants‘ after all.
This article discusses whether Maine Coons are naturally timid, what you might see behavior wise from a timid Maine Coon, and some tips to prevent it.
It also discusses why Maine Coons may be skittish around strangers – either because of genetics or because of their past experiences with humans.
That a Maine Coon is shy or skittish (a common term) can be recognized by its obvious body language.
Maine Coons might appear to skulk, have their head down before they see what happens, move in a slow-paced manner when approaching something, or try to examine everything from all angles.
Maine Coons who are timid or skittish may even back away from things that happen too quickly or make sudden noises.
Maine Coons can be more alert than some owners might expect.
Maine Coons may even be described as very curious and are usually gentle creatures.
Note this word ‘timid’ does have a negative connotation but it also means Maine Coons who are skittish or timid aren’t necessarily shy or cowardly, although true or excessive timidity is.
Timidity just refers to being cautious by nature while Maine Coons who are skittish tend to act nervously when they don’t know what is happening.
There are Maine Coons who appear to be skittish by nature.
Maine Coons that aren’t truly shy can look skittish or timid around strangers, but Maine Coons who were treated harshly in the past may have behavioral issues that make them look timid.
My cat’s personality traits are curious but given her background I wouldn’t say she’s naturally shy either.
When we first brought Alita home as a kitten she wasn’t frightened and settled in quite well, and I still wouldn’t describe her as shy.
Just like any personality trait like introversion, courage, or shyness, they can be part of an individual Maine Coons personality makeup.
There would be nothing that ’causes’ the problem, it’s just how your cat is.
One thing to consider is whether the timidity in your Maine Coon is consistently there or whether it has developed all of a sudden.
There is some blend here as well, as it’s possible to adopt a Maine Coon and shyness to be part of the initial character traits when introduced to a new home.
With a calm and caring home, your Maine Coon will likely develop into a less shy cat.
Here are some general guidelines to look at as a source of timidity for your Maine Coons.
There are various reasons that an adult Maine Coon might be timid of you and other people.
Inadequate socialization – Maine Coons not socialized properly can be awkward and timid as they develop.
Kittens removed too early from their mother or isolated for long periods can make them timid about interaction.
Owners need to make sure Maine Coons are socialized early in life, but it should also be done with an eye toward the Maine Coons not becoming dependent on human help.
Excessive attention – Maine Coons who are pampered and receive too much human attention can become overly dependent on their owners.
Maine Coons that depend on you for reassurance can be timid when away from you and in new situations.
The opposite is also true, if you provide too much attention then your Maine Coon can feel as if you’re interfering, and be timid about being picked up every time you are near them.
A balance of affection and freedom needs to be found.
New environment – Maine Coons who are timid may be anxious when they don’t know what is going on, and a change of environment can certainly do that.
The Maine Coon may appear more skittish in this new environment until they settle in and realize the family unit hasn’t changed.
This Maine Coon will need time to get used to their new home.
Unacceptable environment – Maine Coons who are skittish and afraid in new situations may also be reacting to an unpleasant environment.
As Maine Coons aren’t always properly trained by their previous owners, they may have developed bad habits like clawing up furniture or being aggressive toward other pets.
The Maine Coon may also be experiencing harassment that you haven’t noticed.
Young children are particularly prone to grabbing the cat by its tail, or maybe there is another cat on its normal patrol route at night.
Experience – Your Maine Coon might have had unacceptable behavior dealt to it prior to you owning them.
This Maine Coon might have been badly treated by people in the past and is now timid around strangers.
This Maine Coon may not be naturally skittish, it’s just a conditioned response.
Too many cats – If there are too many cats in its present environment your Maine Coon may feel threatened by a rival cat, which makes the Maine Coon skittish.
This Maine Coon might not feel comfortable with this situation and be scared to move around its territory.
With too many cats they may be fighting over where to go to the toilet or patrol and feel a little restrained.
This can cause cats to become uneasy.
Sudden shyness is a different problem.
If your happy-go-lucky Maine Coon develops a sudden case of being uneasy and shy then there is something that has made your Maine Coon feel threatened.
Maine Coons who become timid when introduced to a new environment may have had too much change thrown at them all at once.
The Maine Coon may have even been through a move, which can be stressful on cats.
Cats prefer consistency in their lives, so if they know where the litter box is and where the food bowl is then they will feel better about what’s going on around them.
Maine Coons that aren’t used to moving will feel insecure about their new environment until they get used to it again.
It could take weeks for Maine Coons to start acting like themselves, but with a sudden change, it might be easier to isolate the problem.
It’s likely to have happened when you noticed the change.
If that’s the case, what has also changed that may have caused the problem.
If your normally happy cat suddenly feels afraid of you or other people and keeps hiding away there could be a variety of reasons:
Change in the environment – Maine Coons who aren’t used to change will be afraid of it.
Maine Coons who are timid may not like the new furniture or something else that has changed in their environment.
Maine Coon shelter cats have usually been through a lot of changes, so they need time to adjust.
If you see an obvious recent change, like diet, then try to reverse the change and see if your ‘old cat’ comes back.
New animals in the area – Have new animals been in the area?
Perhaps there is an aggressive dog or a new neighbor has an aggressive cat on their normal outdoor routine.
Distressed – Your cat may just be feeling unwell.
Maine Coons can be skittish when they’re not feeling 100%.
Check to see if Maine Coon has had a sudden change in routine; like a late night out, or an illness that has changed Maine Coon’s sleep pattern.
Maine Coons who are sick may have trouble sleeping, so they aren’t as ready to face the day.
Altered routine – Have you changed something around that it had got used to.
Is there a child next door that distresses them?
Maine Coons who are skittish will really be affected by changes in their normal routine.
Cats who are skittish may have been through a change that seems to make them uneasy and nervous about everything they do.
Maine Coons who were timid all of a sudden may take weeks to feel secure again, but knowing the reason for Maine Coon’s skittishness will help you stop Maine Coon from being permanently timid.
Mistreatment – Maine Coons can become skittish because they have been through a distressing time.
They may have been frightened or hit by an owner, which makes Maine Coon fear people for the rest of Maine Coon’s life.
Maine Coon abuse is not common, but this may cause stress, which naturally produces altered behavior.
Some Maine Coons may seem shyer than other cats without there necessarily being a reason.
To reiterate somewhat, each Maine Coon will have its own personality.
If you can’t identify the source of the timidity then you can do a few things to make them less anxious which may reduce their stress and shyness.
Provide a safe space – Creating an area where your Maine Coon feels safe and secure and is left to their own devices can help enormously.
Whether their cat bed is placed somewhere out of the way of dogs, children, and frankly, your Maine Coon can find some peace.
When they retreat to this place they should be left alone, so they get accustomed to it being a retractable place where they can calm down and destress.
Somewhere high is often well received and make sure other cats don’t bother them.
Routine – Try as well as you can to develop a routine in synergy with your Maine Coon.
They can start to expect things to happen and work around these times.
Routines help provide stability and reassurance.
Keep calm – As much as you can try to keep calm and steady around them – slow movements and approach the cat from the front slowly.
Being constantly startled from behind can keep them on high alert.
Being calm and reassuring yourself will hopefully be adapted to by your Maine Coon.
Patience – As you may not know the source of the problem try to be patient with your cat.
If you can provide a safe and reassuring place where it can feel secure, you will go a long way to curing timidity.
The cause may be out of your control, but be aware it could be a discomfort thing, so check it’s not in pain somehow, and it’s flinching to protect itself.
If you have adopted a cat from another owner, it may take some time for them to adjust.
There’s a lot going on and be patient while they adjust.
Have your Maine Coon adjust gradually to the new environment by socializing them with other animals and people.
Maine Coons are not naturally timid cats, but they can be skittish for a variety of reasons.
Maine Coons who have been through stressful events or changes in routine may seem more timid than normal Maine Coons.
You should try to provide your Maine Coon with a safe space where it feels comfortable and reassure them as much as you can when interacting with them to help cure their timidity.
If you’re dealing with an extremely shy Maine Coon, it may be due to him having had a traumatic experience in which his trust in people was broken.
The best way to discover if this is the cause for your Maine Coon’s fear is to observe your cat carefully and see what things set him off, then provide a safe, secure, calm, and reassuring environment.
Most Maine Coons normally love to be held. Maine Coons are very calm cats, that’s why they often enjoy just lounging or sleeping near you. They usually do not mind being picked up and carried around as long as it’s done without forcefulness from the owner. Maine Coons will also sit with their owners when they’re watching tv or reading a book, but again most of them do not like to be man handled by their owners.
Yes, Maine Coons are affectionate, it is a distinct trait of the breed. While individual cats may have reasons to be standoffish, the breed itself is known for being a gentle giant and loyal. Part of this loyalty is an affectionate and social nature.
No, Maine coons as a breed are not known for being antisocial. Quite the opposite actually. Maine Coons are known for being both affectionate and social. They are loyal to the family unit and will interact quite willingly with people they get along with.
Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One