alita in cat rucksack

The No.1 Thing I do to Keep my Maine Coon Mentally Stimulated

If you are anything like me, one of the things you worry about most is your Maine Coon getting bored. You may not worry as much with an outdoor Maine Coon but if you have an indoor Maine Coon like me, it’s a real concern of mine.

The worry I don’t think is unfounded. With an outdoor Maine Coon if it wants to go out and do a little exploring, then it does just that. But with an indoor one, it can’t. Those natural cat desires are muted. This in turn leads me to try and combat this mental state by trying to provide mental stimulation of my own.

How do I do that?

Simple.

Every time I go out on little jaunts, I take Alita with me.

I say every time. I mean every time it’s convenient and conducive. Most of the time she is happy to follow me around the house, and catch up with what I am doing.

This is a very Maine Coon trait.

Keeping Alita Interested

I try do do as much as possible to keep my cat interested.  I have the usual mental stimulation toys and play with her as often as possible.

As a Maine Coon she likes to sleep on me. And I mean literally on me a lot of the time.

Rotating foods as well. I have also made a small cat area out of the rear balcony. It’s only small area, normally used for drying clothes but I have had ‘fencing’ installed so the area is escape proof.

I should mention that I am on the 3rd floor. I know cats land on their feet but I don’t want to cause injury to them.

I believe they are called a Catio. I’ve filled it with plants and little stepping shelves, so they can have a good look around in the outdoor air.

Alita in Catio

I still want to do more though.

Thus it occurred to me that she might like to know what I do outside of the apartment. So we have come to a compromise situation. When I go out and she is able to come with me (ie NOT the cinema) I take her.

And what’s more, she seem to like it to.

So How Do You Take a Maine Coon on a Trip?

It’s not as tricky as you might imagine. I have a little ‘cat rucksack’ packed and ready to go. So i just tend to grab it, place her in it and off we go.

All I normally take, along with the rucksack and Alita is a harness and a longish walking lead with food, water and cleaning wipes. Along with some bags in case I have to clear anything up.

Nothing much more than that.

A lot of these trips now are spontaneous and I know I am not going to be away for long. Any trip longer than a few hours and I might take some bowls for water and food but normally it’s not necessary.

The object is to take little and often trips when I go out to keep Alita mentally stimulated. If she goes out often and can explore somewhere new for a bit then I think that, well I hope that it satisfies that natural cat desire to want to go and wander around.

Not a perfect solution, but I think it’s a lot better than being permanently couped up in an apartment without any means of exiting or visual stimulation.

So whereabouts do I take her then?

Coffee Shop Trips

Living in Chiang Mai as I do, you may not know this but the City has many, many coffee shops. We grow a lot of coffee beans around here and it is a popular tourist City with a healthy expat and retiree community.

Walk in any direction in Chiang Mai for long enough and you will pass several coffee shops.

There are the popular areas for sure, but around the City in some really interesting little spots there are open air coffee shops in interesting surroundings.

I often go there to meet friends and unwind.

If I do, I now take Alita.

alita in coffee shop

These trips are in the hour or so range. A small car trip and park and just sit in the open air with Alita on the lead wandering about wherever she wants to go.

She definitely enjoys it. I have varied the coffee shops and sometimes go to the same ones. I like to give a little variety to the destinations.

I’d rather it didn’t but after all, curiosity killed the cat.

Walkabouts

These are my very short trips to do something where I might be back without seriously stopping anywhere.

 

  • Going to collect a paper
  • A short healthy walk
  • A quick trip to the shops

 

I don’t know if you have ever visited Thailand, but the culture here is one of street food. As such I often go out to get a meal, normally something like chicken and sticky rice. When I do, I grab the rucksack with Alita in it

Yes, I also get a bit more chicken for Alita. Who seems to rather like it.

What I’d say is these were the first trip style that I used to take Alita out on. They are quick and she is back at home within 30 minutes.

I used to to a number of these before she looked more comfortable and then I went to the slightly longer coffee shop trips (above).

The reason I did these first is because I want Alita to get used to going out and it being OK. From her point of view she knows nothing about what is going to happen. I like these type of trips as she got used to them very quickly. Within a few weeks, maybe less, she was more than comfortable going out.

In fact, she often just lies down in the cat rucksack and watches the world go by while I order chicken and rice.

She often get a bit of attention as well, as people come up and seem curious to see a cat in a rucksack.

alita on a quick trip out in cat rucksack

Trips Away

Once Alita was getting comfortable with trips to coffee shops and being away for a few hours, I slowly started to interject a few longer trips.

Perhaps to see a friend a few hours away by car, or a day trip to some botanical gardens. I often go for little day trips on my days off, and now, if I can I bring Alita.

These trips are trips of more than a few hours, when you could be away for most of the day potentially.

I try not to overwhelm her with trips but I do so when I can and it makes sense. You certainly wouldn’t want to start with these type of trips as you want to build up to the longer trips as you sense your Maine Coon

On these trips, I definitely bring food and water. As well as wipes and harness and lead for when you Maine Coon needs to go to the toilet.

alita on ledge

How Quickly Does a Maine Coon Take to Trips Out?

What you might be wondering is that if you were to do it, would your Maine Coon resist, or be scared on a little trip.

What I would suggest is start small. I know it’s tempting to place them in a cat rucksack and then consider walking the Appalachian trail, but you need to bring your Maine Coon up in stages to your imagination.Does My Maine Coon Express Desires to Run Away?

I have to admit, this was my number one fear. For two reasons.

 

  1. While out she would try to escape and run
  2. When back indoors she would try to bolt out when I returned

 

Both fears have proved unfounded.

I should stress at no time did Alita look like she was going to bolt away. I had a harness on her at all times, but she relaxed well into the little trips and didn’t mind the rucksack at all.

The answer is quite quickly. I had no trouble initially getting her used to the cat rucksack and she seemed to enjoy the short trips away so I graduated quite quickly to

I took her out on a full 6 to 8 hours away within a month of her first seeing the rucksack. It seems Maine Coons relax quite easily into the process. I probably could have gone faster but I liked to see her relaxed before I moved on to longer trips.

Steps To Take to Train Your Maine Coon

Like most training tips, it’s often a case of little slices of training so your Maine Coon doesn’t really realise it’s being trained.

My ultimate goal is to make my Maine Coon comfortable with the knowledge that it is going to be coming back to safety, and not being dumped alone somewhere.

What follows is the process I went through to get Alita comfortable with going away on longer trips. Each Maine Coon will be different and yours may adapt really easily, but in general I wouldn’t want to move onto the next stage until you sense your Maine Coon is comfortable with what is happening. In essence dont start out with a 5 day road trip before you know they are comfortable with being away in somewhere they don’t know for 10 minutes or more.

Here’s the process.

Initial steps

Assuming you have a carrier, I would initially perhaps just place the carrier near where they are being fed. Keep the carrier open. Perhaps your Maine Coon will climb in out of curiosity.

If it does, great. If it doesn’t place them in it and leave them in it, but allow them to escape if they want. Maybe put a bit of fresh chicken or tuna in the bottom.

Make sure the initial interactions with the cat carrier are positive. NEVER force your Maine Coon into it. You will scare them and make it much harder to put them in in future.

Depending upon the carrier you choose, perhaps you could place some bedding down at the bottom. Hope they use it as a place to sleep occasionally.

Hopefully your Maine Coon will get to be ambivalent about the carrier. When there seems to be no fear, you can move to the next step.

Close of Alita the Maine Coon

Beginning steps

When your Maine Coon is in the carrier, either placed or they went in there voluntarily, zip it up and just spend some time walking around the house, or somewhere they are familiar.

This should be a short walk around the house.

You don’t want to go anywhere unfamiliar in the early stages of getting your cat to accept trips in the carrier. This adds an unnecessary element.

Short trips are the order of the day. Initially just room to room. Small and frequent is the order of the day.

Monitor how your cat behaves and assess whether they look scared or are getting more comfortable.

The idea is to keep doing this until your Maine Coon looks completely comfortable and relaxed when being moved in the carrier.

Initial Trips

Once your Maine Coon is relaxed about being moved in the cat rucksack then a short walk is in order. You are looking to take them out for a duration of 10 to 20 minutes maximum.

Walking to a local shop to get a paper, or some milk is a great way to break the ice

Again, the idea is to have the area be familiar to the Maine Coon. It needs to sense through smells and sounds that it is an area it knows. You don’t want to be driving to anywhere that is unfamiliar.

Also, it gives you good practice on keeping a good posture and even rhythm when walking so the cat doesn’t get jostled around like it is in a dryer. Tighten the rucksack straps so the carrier doesn’t bounce around too much, or at least as little as you can comfortably get away with.

You are essentially looking to give your Maine Coon a smooth stroll in an area it knows. This is important as unfamiliar territory could provoke unease and fear. Every cat is different in this regard, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

The first time I did it, the area should be well known if you can manage it. The idea being the cat could find it’s own way back because of this familiarity.

Personally, even though they are in a rucksack I put a harness on at this stage, in case what I want to do changes. Visiting a coffee shop for instance.

Try a Coffee Shop Trip

By now, your Maine Coon should not be too panicked about a small rucksack trip. It should be well used to getting placed in the cat rucksack and going for little jaunts.

This will be the first time your Maine Coon will be visiting somewhere where it has not visited before.

Personally I took plenty of food sachets and water on my first trip with Alita, and made sure I fed her. I may be wrong here but I sense she worries less if I feed her. Being fed carries on the notion that she is being cared for. Not abandoned.

The first one I did of these, I drove for 10 minutes. Parked at an open air coffee shop. Stayed for 30 minutes and drove back. I was probably away for 45 minutes.

The first few times i went to the same place as well. Familiarity I hoped would make her more comfortable.

Never having done it, you might be worried but by this stage you will be getting a natural feel for whether your Maine Coon is a bit uneasy with what you are doing.

That said, I think they are an excellent breed to do this with. There seems to be natural curiosity and trust with their owners and it really wasn’t long before she looked really settled as I took her out.

Alita in a botanical garden

The Longer Trips

By this stage there should be no fear or unease evident when you take your Maine Coon out. If they look a little ‘hyper’ still and skitty then you shouldn’t even think about taking them on a longer trip.

The idea is to build up gradually. Not to go from 20 minute coffee shops to 3 days camping in Idaho.

Start staying longer at the coffee shops, go to one further away. Go visit a friend for a few hours. Build up gradually.

As you know your Maine Coon, you will sense when the time has come for a longer trip.

Then take them for a day out somewhere (not a theme park) and have fun out. Make sure you take food and water as well as wipes, a harness a lead and think about the fact that your cat needs to relieve itself once in a while.

Get the harness and lead out and occasionally just walk around some bushes in private.

What I Want in a Carrier

Personally, I went down to the local pet shop and purchased a cat rucksack with as much view for the cat as possible. There’s plenty to choose from but with the one I have Alita actually lies down and watches the world go by.

I like the idea of there being plenty of visibility for her.  I don’t want her hearing noises that she cant identify. I think that produces unease.

It’s an individual choice really but I like it to be comfortable to wear and have a few attachment pockets for the food and water I bring, as well as lead and a few spares.

alita on a quick trip out in cat rucksack

Conclusion

The Maine Coon is a great breed of cat. Intelligent and loyal. As you will know, they are very curious about what you are doing. If you have an indoor Maine Coon you should definitely think about taking them with you for a trip out somewhere.

I’m pretty sure, even an outdoor Maine Coon would enjoy the experience.

Mine expresses no desire to run away and quickly learned that she was being taken home and she should not worry about trips away. Obviously it depends on the individual cat and how often you do it, but as a breed, they seem to settle in really well to trips away.

It’s also a great bonding experience.

I can now go away for a few days I feel and have Alita not be overly worried by it. I feel confident I could go somewhere and she would not be uneasy. Sure, she might be a little nervous in a very new place, but at this stage she has many trips away from the home to quell any unease.

I hope she knows by now that when we go away, she will be coming back. Thus I think she is less likely to panic.

What I would suggest is to try it. Get yourself a little carrier, and I prefer the rucksack variety with carrying handles. Take some short trips after getting them used to it and see what happens.

What’s the worst that can happen. Your Maine Coon might not be overly interested? What if they are though.

You and your Maine Coon might develop a more interesting bond as they get to look forward to little trips out.

In the future I am hoping to take Alita on slightly longer journeys and see a little more of the world.

Stay tuned.

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1 thought on “The No.1 Thing I do to Keep my Maine Coon Mentally Stimulated

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      Since my boy is a service animal, when I picked him up from.his breeder we immediately went on lots of trips and treks as a young kitten. We have been inseparable he even goes to work with me. We’ve been on several long long trips and he is comfortable enough in my car to potty in it. I have several travel litter boxes, one stays in my car at all times and is scooped every time he uses it. But I have 2-3 extras so if we are.going to stay at a friends house without cats I have enough litter boxes to keep him happy since hes not satisfied with one litter box. I usually just carry Pavone or let him walk on his harness, but I do have a very cute bag an old pet sitting client gave me as a gift [shes a quilter and made it for me as a thank you!], I call it my kitty diaper bag it holds everythjng!! Pavone will actually yell at me if I have to leave him at home.
      Also a great way to keep Maine coons occupied is to teach them tricks! Mine gives fist bumps, kisses, rings a bell, and plays fetch. Plus lots of levels fo him to climb on and a few kitty buds. Welcome to the crazy cat lady life haha

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