Maine Coon cats are highly intelligent creatures. They can be trained to fetch, walk on a lead and a myriad of other tasks. One unique ability they have is that they can process emotions, including stress, much as human beings do.
They get used to their routines and any changes in their environment can cause your Maine Coon cat stress. While they react to stress stimuli differently depending on individual cats, some stress factors apply to all. We shall take a look at some of the causes, symptoms, and solutions of stress in a Maine Coon cat.
Some of the causes of stress include but are not limited to:
One of the leading causes of stress in a Maine Coon cat is an unidentified medical condition. This can be a urinary tract issue, a gastrointestinal infection, or even undiagnosed pain. Dietary inefficiencies may also cause complications such as constipation, dry skin and stomach pains. These can be hard to spot from the outside but if you pay close attention to your Maine Coon cat you should be able to intuitively know when something is off.
A Maine Coon cat has rich luxuriant fur that can be a breeding ground for insects such as fleas and ticks. These will cause constant discomfort and interfere with sleep, rest and mental serenity. Luckily, a quick physical examination can help you spot feline parasites on the surface and direct you to what needs to be done.
Cats are naturally aggressive with other cats that are not familiar to them. This is especially prevalent in cats that have not been spayed or neutered. As they mature, hormones rage and they are likely to go out to find a mate or just to expend energy. This runs the risk of them running into other Maine Coons and multiple other environmental dangers. An unseen wound from an injury can cause a cat enormous stress. Some wounds are obvious, showing in a limp or in the cat’s movements but some others may be harder to spot, such as a bruised rib.
Maine Coon cats are very effectively conditioned and any changes to their routine or environment can cause a lot of stress. The moves can be minor such as a change in the type of litter or food that they are accustomed to or major such as a geographical shift. Moving houses can be very stressful for a cat as they have to adapt to a whole new environment.
Another change that can cause stress trauma is adoption. This has all of the issues of a lifestyle change with the additional pressure of getting accustomed to new owners and housemates. A shift of this magnitude can take a heavy toll on the Maine Coon cat’s mental wellness. A Maine Coon cat that is used to being the only cat in the home will also be stressed out in the event that they get a new housemate. The “firstborn” cat may take an affront to having to share space, food, and affection.
Maine Coons may have a high sociability and friendliness embedded in their genetics but this is more of a guideline than the rule. Having too many cats in close proximity to each other will lead to societal stress. These cats run mostly on instinct and when placed in groups they must establish hierarchies. Fights may break out and the lower level Maine Coons will be the most stressed out. There may also be natural dislikes within the group.
Maine Coon cats are a delight to look at. Their large stature and impressive coats tempt many people into petting them. Add on a regular wash with a nice smelling shampoo and these cats may find themselves flooded with attention. This may lead to stress as it can get the cats overly excited or leave them feeling like their space is being invaded. Children are especially to blame for some of this. They can play rough with kittens and adults alike.
Other pets such as dogs may also harass your Maine Coon cat. Even when they mean well, dogs and cats have a tendency to play rough and excessive exposure to these interactions may cause your Maine Coon unnecessary stress.
Whether intentionally or due to negligence, poor treatment of a Maine Coon cat will stress it. This can be done through violence, aggression, poor feeding, or general neglect. Known by and large as a social creature, the Maine Coon cat thrives in a friendly social setting and too much solace will cause stress. If this is conditioned into the cat, it will lead to long-term behavioral issues that can be hard to overcome.
These can be perceived or real threats and reactions are especially rampant in unsprayed or unneutered cats. The first threat that can worry them is the threat to their territory. At around 1 to 2 years, hormonal spikes may cause a Maine Coon cat to be overly concerned about what is theirs. They can be stressed by other cats and even people. Over time, if the threat is not removed, this will lead to stress and other complications.
Maine Coon cats are highly intelligent and are able to read body language. If all other things are fine and they live with people who are strung out, they might catch on to this and develop “sympathetic” stress. This is hard to catch and requires you to have an in-depth knowledge of your cat so that you can realize the underlying cause early.
If you acquire your Maine Coon as a kitten, it most likely started off in a group. This means that removing it from the company of other kittens may lead to stress and a craving for mutual company. This usually treats itself but should be specifically treated if it lasts too long.
These can range from the obvious to the subtle and include:
Maine Coons maybe similar in general appearance but each cat is unique in temperament and behavior. These factors are largely determined by conditioning. A marked change in the behaviour of your cat can signal a stress response. This can be a shift from playful to timid, expressive to silent, gnawing things or random scratching. Sometimes these are natural reactions due to age and development but quick and extreme changes in behaviour are most likely a stress response.
Stress can lower immune functions and make your Maine Coon susceptible to specific illness. A regular visit to the vet can indicate higher blood pressure, weight loss and other stress indicators. Catching these symptoms early can make the difference between a long healthy life and a poor quality existence.
Maine Coon cats have it structured in their genetic code to survive. This means when they are stressed and cannot understand why or what to do, they may lash out. This lashing out should not be taken as a personal affront but should be understood as a natural behavior. Aggression can have some serious consequences. A full-grown Maine Coon cat can inflict serious bodily harm to children, adults and fellow pets.
Maine Coon cats have a tendency to stick to their dietary plans. They tend to eat the same amounts in the same intervals. When stressed, a Maine Coon cat may either eat too little or too much. This can be attributed to developmental changes during growth but sometimes can be a reaction to stress. To spot these changes will require a keen eye and an attention to detail.
A lack of interest in activities your Maine Coon cat previously enjoyed may signal stress. If the cat loved to swim and no longer does, or loved the outdoors but rarely ventures out lately, these could be signs that it is stressed. Again this may just be a normal phase but if it persists you may have to look into it. Remember a Maine Coon cat is a product of conditioning and habits and any extreme changes should be carefully looked into.
This will signal a Maine Coon cat is not feeling secure in its environment. Marking is a cats’ way to claim territory and they only do it to excess if they are insecure. This can be caused by a number of factors and the underlying problem should be easy to spot. It will usually be related to a change in the equilibrium of the home environment.
Once you realize that your Maine Coon cat is stressed, there are various solutions available to you. These depend on the severity and root cause of the stress. The solutions may include;
The first step is to figure out if and why the cat is stressed. Some of the symptoms are vague and can be attributed to other reasons. A keen discerning eye should be used to establish triggers and decide when stress treatment measures should be taken.
In cases where the cause of distress is not directly obvious, a visit to the vet might be in order. They can identify unseen conditions that are causing your Maine Coon stress. A vet can also prescribe medications to deal with associated stress symptoms and advise you on how to move ahead. In the case of fleas and ticks, the vet can provide effective medication. They can also determine whether the cause of stress is physical or mental. On the other hand, a clean bill of health can help you expand your search parameters into other areas.
Patience can be key in dealing with stress for your Maine Coon cat. Do extensive research into the best practices for Maine Coons and apply them to any potentially stressful situations. When moving, for example, keep their emotional state in mind and take measures to make the change is as comfortable as possible. Some ways to do this are to carry old bedding with you to the new location, use treats and affirmations to help battle anxiety and try to use positive facial features and gestures.
Introduction to other pets should be done in a carefully considered manner. Separate them if necessary and use slow measured steps. The peace of mind of your Maine Coon cat should be the first priority.
Understanding the differences between you and your Maine Coon is also very important. Cats do not understand language or reprimands. This means that corrective measures should be done in ways that do not adversely affect the cat. Do not use violence, threats or aggressive body language. There are softer ways to correct Maine Coon cats such a spray from a water bottle. Reward good behaviour. This will teach the cat to associate acceptable behaviour with positive things and they will be more likely to behave accordingly.
Understanding what the Maine Coon cat does even when it is annoying can be an added advantage. This means interpreting behaviour from the cats’ perspective and not assuming any human-level values in their behaviour. This can stop you from habits that will stress your cat such as entrapping it to pet it or using your fingers to play with it and getting scratched.
This will help you and your cat get along much better and in the long-run will reduce the stress your cat experiences.
In the case your Maine Coon cat is stressed and reacting to it by aggression, you could trim the nails and learn to read the signs. If it is gnawing things you could get it a chew toy. If it is timid you could learn to give it space until it decides to come to you. This solution demands that you put the cat first, adapt and prevent yourself from making a bad situation worse.
One of the easiest ways to protect your Maine Coon cat from stress is to treat it properly. Keep a constant feeding schedule, provide a clean environment and practice humane practices. This is the base of a healthy Maine Coon.
In conclusion, Maine Coon cats cost a significant amount and live to an average of over 10 years. This means they are likely to be exposed to stress factors from various sources over a long period of time. Preventing stress will help your Maine Coon cat grow to its full physical and mental potential.