The Maine Coon breed is historically an outdoor type of cat. The kind that roamed snowy forests and travelled on transatlantic ships. But nowadays, most Maine Coon cats are kept indoors for their own safety. The debate about whether any sort of cat can thrive as an indoor cat is ongoing, but when it comes to Maine Coon cats, it’s more about keeping their breed intact than about their wild nature. Pure breeds like the Maine Coon usually come with contracts from breeder associations, in which it is stated that your newly acquired Maine Coon kitten must be kept indoors 100% of the time.
The reason behind this is that there are more dangers outside your home than there are indoors. Keeping a Maine Coon cat inside can come with some challenges, but not one that can’t be managed. There are many ways to keep a Maine Coon cat happy inside the home, from cat trees to overhanging window ledges. Let’s take a look at how a Maine Coon can be a happy indoor cat.
First of all, why is it safer for a Maine Coon to stay inside? In the times of the wilder Maine Coon cats, the dangers were the usual for any animal out in the wilderness. Predators, cold inclement weather as well as lack of food and disease were the usual hazards for the wild ancestors of the now domesticated Maine Coon. Modern dangers though are less predictable but much more dangerous and unfortunately, extremely common.
Maine Coon cats that wander outside of the home face lots of dangers which can be avoided by keeping them inside. Wandering cats can get hit by cars. They can be catnapped for use in cat fights or for black market breeding. They can be accidentally poisoned, or hit by a train. Smaller dangers include mosquito bites, fleas, ticks, dirty water or mud in their fur which can lead to infections, potential hunting and eating of animals with diseases, or even something as unexpected as grass allergies.
Veterinarians and cat breeders will always say that an indoor cat has a longer life expectancy than that of an outdoor cat. By keeping them inside, Maine Coon cats are safer than they would be coming in and out.
Cat owners that believe in letting cats wander outside on their own, will say that keeping them inside is cruel. It’s true that some cats, especially mixed breeds, do just fine going in and out of the house. Some cats that live in houses with backyards tend to come in and out as they please.
It also happens that some indoor cats that never go outside end up being lethargic, overweight and lazy. Sometimes cats that are kept indoors can ruin furniture by scratching or leave urine markings in the rugs and beds. Many cat owners believe that indoor cats do this because they are “trapped” in the house and need to get out.
It’s very true that all cats, including pure breeds like Maine Coon cats benefit from sunshine, fresh air, and regular exercise. Thankfully though, these things can be provided with some creativity and care. Not all cats need to go outside to get their dose of wild. Maine Coon cats can be easily entertained enough indoors to stay happy, healthy and fit.
There are many ways in which a house can be set up for the well being of indoor Maine Coon cats. Cat things don’t need to take over the house, there just needs to be enough to keep the cats happy and away from the breakables and expensive furniture.
If scratched furniture is a worry, then a Maine Coon kitten should be offered an alternative and trained to use it. This could be either a scratching post in the corner of a room or a piece of thick rug glued to the wall. Cats will always want to scratch something, even if their nails are trimmed. If a cat is trained from a young age, they will stick to their designated scratching area. As they grow, these can be changed or improved so they don’t get bored.
Maine Coon cats like to climb but not usually straight up, they like to climb at an angle. Buying or building a cat tree can give them endless amounts of fun and exercise. In bigger houses or for those cat owners that don’t mind having more cat furniture than human furniture, they can build cat castles, tunnels or even walkways with ramps along the walls.
Apart from designated climbing areas, Maine Coon cats will also love to play with toys that they can pretend to be hunting and chasing. They only really need 30 minutes a day of active play to feel like they had a workout. Use a laser pointer for them to try and grab, remote-control mice which they can chase around the house or those little balls with bells that make noise and roll all over the place.
Some Maine Coon cat owners have special techniques to make the cat work for food. Some ideas are to hide the food and leave clues for the cat to find it or to build elaborate food puzzles that the cats have to solve in order to get their nibbles. Cats that work for their food are usually healthier, happier and tend to not destroy the house.
That said, there is no need to over-feed you indoor Maine Coon. Leaving out just enough dry food in their food puzzles to last a couple days and a serving of wet food every couple of days is enough. Maine Coons mature slowly and don’t need larger amounts of food for good development.
Maine Coon cats need fresh air and sunshine for the sake of their health. Just like humans do! You might have noticed that your cat likes sitting by the window. Make it easier for them to hang out there and set the cat tree close to a window for example. Put netting on the windows so they don’t escape but also get fresh air when the sit there and watch what’s happening outside.
Cats are natural watchers, they love to sit and observe. If there is plenty of action outside, they can sit at the window for hours. If you have a little porch or balcony, make it cat proof so they can’t escape through the bars but also make a cat door for them to be able to walk in and out of the house to their little outside area.
Some cat enthusiasts have created special cat windows for apartments without balconies or porches. They are like transparent boxes that protrude to the outside of the wall where a cat can lay and bask in the sun still in the safety of being indoors.
The fur of a Maine Coon cat doesn’t need too much grooming in comparison to a Persian for example. With a weekly deep brush, a Maine Coon can keep a healthy coat of fur. In terms of the fur that comes in contact with the litter box though, that is another matter.
Maine Coon cats really dislike dirty litter boxes and will refuse to use them if they aren’t clean. To keep your Maine Coon happy and using the litter box, you will have to clean it twice a day. Also, you will have to check their fur down there for little clumps that might have gotten stuck. These need to be cleaned off before they become matted and dirty. Cats don’t want that on their fur and you don’t want that on your furniture.
Maine Coon cats are loved for their long silky coats, but not so much for the bits of hair they leave behind on clothes and furniture.
Weekly grooming will counteract this constant shedding and so will daily vacuuming of the house. Shedding cannot be eradicated, only controlled and managed. All in all, if the cat is healthy, happy, and groomed, the shedding will be minimal.
For those cat owners that really want their cats to experience the outdoors, there are ways to take your Maine Coon outside while keeping a close watch. This basically involves training them to use a harness and leash. Maine Coon cats are quite good at being trained and will learn quickly how to handle being harnessed. It’s up the owner to train them slowly and with care.
Start using a harness when the cat is small and leave it on inside the house so it will get accustomed to the feeling. Do it every few days and then increase the frequency. When the harness isn’t a problem to the cat at all, attach the leash and practice walking with it inside the house. Train the cat with treats so it will understand that when you stop walking, it needs to stop too. When there is some sense of security from both of you, start taking short walks outside, increasing the distance every day. Before you know it, you have a trained cat which you can go on walks with.
Always pay attention to the cat’s cues and don’t over exert them. In reality the cat will be walking you instead of you walking it. If they see a patch of grass they might want to stop and sit there for an hour. Don’t pull the cat away by pulling the leash, just pick it up and get on back home to their indoor comforts by the window.
It goes without saying that any indoor cat, not only a Maine Coon, needs the right amount of attention for it to thrive. A neglected indoor cat will most definitely wreak havoc on every corner of the house. Lack of guided exercise and attention can lead to negative behavior or complete lethargy in older cats. Bored cats that lack stimulation are the ones that will ruin furniture and leave urine stains your pillow. These actions are never unfounded.
If you have to go on a trip and your Maine Coon will be staying home, ask a friend to come and check on it once or twice a day. Ask your cat sitter to please have some fun with your cat and get it moving around the house. Maine Coon cats are really active, even at an older age, and will enjoy a game of laser catch any moment of the day.
Even though the inside of the home is not as dangerous as the outside world for a Maine Coon cat, there are still some things to be aware of. Just like a parent protects their babies from toxic chemicals around the house, the same needs to be done for a cat. Never leave unopened household cleaners or any type of pest control substances anywhere that the cat can reach. Just a lick or two of spilled bleach on the laundry floor can harm a cat’s gut and land him at the vet.
Always close the washing and drying machines when not in use. You might accidentally do a load with the cat inside. Imagine if it snuck in there for a nap and then you quickly threw in some towels and started a cycle. Just close those doors to keep the cat safe.
Another thing to be aware of is the cat’s own curiosity. Keep all human medications put away safely, don’t leave any pills out from their bottles. Another thing that might seem harmless but should be kept out of the cat’s reach is dental floss. Cats love playing with string, but if they end up swallowing dental floss, it could really harm their insides and could even need surgery. Just keep it in a drawer or closed medicine cabinet.
Even human food like candy or grapes can be hazardous for your cat, keep everything packaged and in cupboards or the fridge. This is the best way to prevent any accidental ingestion of a substance that can harm your Maine Coon. If you keep plants inside the home, make sure they are cat safe. Lillies for example can poison a cat if they eat them. Just ask your vet about which plants are safe to have inside.
As you can see, it is perfectly easy to keep an indoor Maine Coon cat. You just need to put some effort into it.