Keeping an indoor Maine Coon is a tricky thing.
There are many risks even though statistically they will live longer.
One of the concerns about keeping an indoor Maine Coon is keeping them entertained.
There’s generally no better way than letting them watch the world go by.
If you have a balcony, it seems like a no brainer.
But Wait!! Is there a risk?
Will a Maine Coon jump off a balcony?
A Maine Coon is unlikely to jump off a balcony if it risks injury. Cats tend to climb down rather than jump above heights of 10 feet or so. A balcony 20 feet off the ground will probably stop a cat jumping if it can’t access a lower platform. Prevention methods for anything above 30 feet is advised.
It’s extremely unlikely that your Maine Coon will deliberately decide to jump off a very high balcony.
My Maine Coon, Alita, lives in 2 houses, both with balconies.
One is on the 4th floor where I have installed a catio, and the other is the first floor of a maisonette which has a wooden balcony.
She can’t fall off one, and the other she could but would survive the fall.
She is an indoor Maine Coon and doesn’t run away, despite one leap and she could be free.
That balcony is about 20 feet in the air – she still doesn’t jump off.
I used to be a bit worried but now she roams free on the balcony and I don’t fear her running away.
Maine Coons are good hunters and have excellent survival instincts.
I don’t think she will jump deliberately off, but she could always lose her footing, be blown off, be startled off, or miss her timing onto the balustrade.
Personally, I only let her out onto the balcony when I am around to watch her.
The balcony is shut off at night, or in high winds, or I see wildlife out there that may prompt a mistake.
I am cautious even though I am sure she would survive the fall.
Maine Coons are intensely curious.
Alita is always going out onto the balcony when I open the doors.
She patrols the balcony balustrade taking in the ambiance and eating the shrubbery.
A Maine Coon will not intentionally jump off a balcony if there is a reasonable chance of injury.
Alita chooses not to jump from a 20 feet balcony.
It’s not necessarily the height, but the assuredness of the ground she will land on.
She has looked down but dismissed the idea.
The balustrade is about 3 inches thick, so she chooses to walk and patrol that instead.
It’s pretty safe if you know they would survive the fall.
At 20 feet, a cat will easily survive that.
If you live on the 20th floor, then you need to balance risk and reward.
It’s safe as long as a mistake doesn’t get made – which probably means it’s unsafe.
Cat’s look, leap, and jump when they can be sure they will survive the result.
A Maine Coon won’t leap into the air without jumping to something – is there anything next to the balcony that might be tempting?
Your Maine Coon comes with a survival instinct, like any animal.
As I mentioned, Alita won’t jump down 20 feet, so it’s unlikely that a cat would do it from a high rise condo hoping that the fall will be OK.
There are other issues at play though, and not all of them are planned.
It may be the wild instincts, but mostly a cat will do things that they are sure they won’t be injured doing.
There are a few reasons why a cat may fall, rather than jump.
the instinct for chasing prey and losing focus and footing
Falls from high places are much more common in the summer
This is the $60,000 question – if an accident happens, would my cat survive.
Cats are naturally curious.
Maine Coons are normally inherently safe at high places because they can control their falls.
It was found by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that a cat can survive a fall while doing terminal velocity, which implies it can fall from any height.
A total of 132 falls from great heights were studied from an average building height of 5.5 stories.
5 stories is 75 feet in the air.
The maximum was 32 stories which the cat survived – which is between 278 and 384 feet.
That is quite astonishing
What’s even more astonishing is that of the cats that reached terminal velocity – that is falling as fast as possible – they had a 90% chance of survival.
To think cats can survive a fall off the balcony of a skyscraper is almost unbelievable, but they can survive.
Some more points from the study.
Needless to say, any serious height, even though the cat may look fine, you should take them to a vet for a complete check up.
A typical misconception among cat owners is that Maine Coons are not clumsy enough to fall from high places.
There are many benefits to letting your cat come and go on the balcony, but is it safe for them?
Cats that fall from a first or second story may not land in the best position, but there’s a good chance of survival.
Cat’s can right themselves upside down from only a 3-foot fall.
Maine Coons can be injured from even a short fall, at least for them, depending on how they land.
Maine Coons are quite capable of surviving falls from higher heights, as they will adapt to fly through the air in a similar position to that of a flying squirrel.
A Maine coon is intelligent enough to know that they may be injured upon risking a jump.
They are more inclined to leap onto unsure ground if the risk of falling is not too severe.
They won’t jump from 20-foot heights without being confident about what they will land on.
You may want to leave the door to a balcony open during summer months.
Most people do.
It’s about balancing risks (no pun intended).
Cats are animals of instinct though, not all of them are safety conscious.
So you need to be careful about providing the opportunity, not just the reasoning, for your cat to fall from the balcony or balustrade.
If you’d like your Maine coon to get some fresh air and feel the breeze, an option is to keep them on a leash while outside.
I’d recommend a full harness and strong lead and clips.
Forbidding your cat from the balcony may be difficult to maintain if you go outside a lot there yourself – Maine Coons follow their owners.
If you want to try and keep them off the balcony though.
You may decide that you don’t want to risk anything and would prefer it if your Maine Coon didn’t want to go out there at all.
If you choose that method, then you need to consider 3 things.
Cat’s can be put off by many things.
You want nothing attractive out there, so no pillows, hidey holes, grass they like to eat, places to do their business etc.
Cat’s hate sticky sensations – so altering the ground to be lightly tacky will stop them from wandering onto it.
You can provide access to open spaces by taking them for a walk on a regular basis.
It’s healthy for you and your cat may get its open air curiosity out on that walk.
Making time to play with them can also curb the hunting instinct a little, but lights outside can attract moths and bugs that your Maine Coon will want to chase.
If you live high up enough to be scared that your Maine Coon will fall then you have a few options.
What I am talking about here is a permanent option to physically prevent your Maine Coon from falling whether it’s a mistake or a mishap.
Your first option is netting.
Deer netting or simple nylon netting can be placed around the balcony and attached to the balcony floor and the upper balcony above you.
Take a look at this simple solution utilizing this method.
Your next option is a catio.
A catio is an outside enclosure for your cat that you can use to provide safety and enrichment while maintaining your cat’s freedom.
This is a great option for those who want ultimate peace of mind.
The catio is a metal physical barrier where the Maine Coon cannot escape through.
It’s a wall barrier that you can see through that still keeps that open air feeling.
It can be difficult to get a Maine coon away from an outdoor balcony, mine spends ages on there occasionally.
There are many benefits of catios including protecting birds and wildlife too.
You can even put shelves on them for extra kitty fun.
This is the option I took, and my Maine Coon CANNOT fall.
When learning about cats, Maine Coons, or otherwise and high buildings you might come across the term ‘high rise syndrome.
Common injuries in cats that fall from high places are categorized as high rise syndrome.
This condition is obviously more common in warmer weather and climates as more balconies are used with the door left open.
It refers to cats that fall from heights they wouldn’t normally make a jump from, despite the fact that they would more than likely survive.
A cat jumping from a high apartment building offers a very different risk than one that jumps off their porch or deck, but the risk is still there.
A Maine Coon won’t jump off a balcony if the risk of injury is high.
My one won’t do a 20 foot jump to the ground.
If they are unsure, they won’t risk a deliberate jump.
However, they can make a misstep, be taken off by winds, be startled off, or just plain make a mistake.
So it’s not a deliberate jump you need to be worried about – but a mistake.
You can make a catio, put up netting, or other blockade and remove the temptation, or the ability to make a risky jump.
A Maine Coon can survive a 5.5 story building fall with a good chance of survival, but you will still need to take them to a vet to be sure.
My final take on it is this;
I am happy with Alita on a balcony where the fall is only 15 to 20 feet.
She doesn’t seem to want to take the leap but would survive the fall.
If the balcony was higher, I might put up a bit of netting to stop accidental falls.My apartment which is on the 4th floor and about 60 feet in the air has a full catio that ABSOLUTELY ELIMINATES the chances of a fall, deliberate or otherwise.
Maine Coons are no more or less clumsy than other breeds. An individual cat may be clumsy but it’s not a breed trait. The fact that people talk about them being clumsy is more to do with their larger size than anything else.
A Maine Coon has large paws consistent with its size. They are quite sure-footed and can move very catlike when they need to. They are exceptional hunters and assuming the things they stand on are sturdy they can balance well like any other cat.
Maine Coons bond with their owners so they don’t seek to run away, although a female may be less inclined than males. Common reasons for trying to escape include mating, ill treatment, curiosity, needing to hunt, or they are curious.
Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One