The Maine Coon is one of the largest and most popular pet cats in the world. If you are thinking of becoming an owner you may be worried about rumors pertaining to shredded carpets and furniture. How tall are these tales? Find out how you can preserve your belongings when a Maine Coon moves in.
Are Maine Coon cats destructive? Maine Coons are known for being destructive; their claws can inflict irreversible damage. You can limit the abuse of your household furnishings by installing scratching posts and training your Maine Coon to use them via positive reinforcement techniques. A bored Maine Coon may still resort to acts of vandalism so ensure you provide a stimulating environment and plenty of space for one to exert energy in an acceptable way.
Destructive? Why Maine Coons Really Scratch Things
Maine Coons aren’t deliberate vandals. When a Maine Coon reaches up and scratches at something several things are occurring, all of them important for your cats health and well being.
- It is performing essential claw maintenance – Like our fingernails, a cat’s claws are continually growing. A cat must shed the old, blunt outer layers to reveal the fresh sharp claws beneath. So though this act of scratching is commonly referred to as ‘sharpening their claws’ they aren’t really. A cat’s claws are naturally sharp.
- Flexing muscles and ligaments – As a cat scratches things you will notice it lengthens its front legs from the shoulders to the tips of its paws. This keeps the muscles and ligaments in this area supple and strong and in tip-top shape for hunting.
- Visible marking – The resulting scratches are a visible warning to other cats, should they happen to pass by, that they are in your cat’s territory.
- Leaving their scent – Nothing makes a cat feel more secure and happy than being surrounded by its own scent markers.
Things Maine Coons Might Destroy Through Scratching
Maine Coons will scratch all sorts of things. Some prefer fabrics and some love wood. What is important is that the surface will give enough for them to get a good hold on it with their claws.
Here is a list, but it is not exhaustive. There are bound to be things you could add:
- Your couch – Fabric is usually preferred as it is easier to dig claws into. They usually prefer the corners at the back where they can get a good stretch. If yours is leather, you may notice your cat will find any stitched areas so it can get its claws into these.
- Carpet – I’m sure these were designed with cats in mind. We have tried numerous weaves and our Maine Coons have loved every type.
- Table legs – These suit some cats better and I guess it’s because they feel just like a tree which is what cats scratch in the great outdoors.
- Trees – Tree bark has a great surface to scratch. A well-established tree can withstand a cat’s scratches but saplings and those with thinner bark may not fare so well.
- Curtains – These are particularly fun to climb and swing on.
- Chest of drawers – These are often irresistible if they have patterns carved areas.
- Fridge – I’m not sure why but my red tabby scratches the fridge door now and then. He can’t get a grip on it so I don’t know if he just wants to get in to have a nose at what it holds.
- Doors – Usually a Maine Coon will scratch a door it wants to get through.
- Speakers – I mean the sort that we play music through. Some have soft fabric covers and some have plastic mesh. Either type
areattractive to cats.
- Hanging clothes – Beware of leaving your closet door open. A cat can swiftly remove everything from the clothes hangers in its attempt to find that one thing it might get a good grip on.
- Bath towels – These aren’t the best thing to scratch at because they slip from the rail too easily. If you find a wet towel on the bathroom floor, before you blame your spouse or the teenagers bear in mind it might be the cat’s fault.
- Bedclothes – Those embroidered covers are great to get claws stuck in to.
If you have any really precious belongings that might be scratchable, move them somewhere safe if possible, until you can come to an agreement with your cat as to what it is and isn’t allowed to scratch.
How To Limit a Maine Coons Destruction of Your Belongings
Things You Should Do
- Prepare your home – Before you bring a Maine Coon home, move whatever you can and cover your couch with a thick blanket.
- Buy some provisions – A cat wand-type toy, cat treats, double-sided sticky tape, catnip spray, a scratching post, tinfoil, and thick plastic sheets might come in handy.
- Train your cat – From day one keep an eye out for scratching. As soon as you notice it, distract your cat away with the wand toy. Lead it to the scratching post. Drag the toy across the post. Praise your cat and give it a treat if it scratches the post. Persevere with this every day.
- Use catnip – Add a small squirt of catnip to your cat’s scratching post to make it more attractive.
- Cover things – Wherever your cat has a sneaky scratch apply double-sided sticky tape as long as it’s a surface that the tape won’t ruin. Cats don’t like the feel of this. Tinfoil is a good deterrent. Thick plastic can protect carpets. Old blankets can work too.
- Routine – Cats thrive on routine. Make sure you feed yours at the same time every day. This helps to stop the type of scratching that might result from hunger.
- Distract – This is always a good method. Don’t grab your cat to stop it scratching but do intervene gently with play. If it has the urge to scratch leading it with a toy to the scratching post is best as it can then fulfill that urge there.
- Play – Engage your cat in play regularly. The more quality time you dedicate to it the less bored it becomes. Excessive scratching is often a result of boredom.
- Give attention – Maine Coons love attention so lavish some on yours as often as possible, especially after you’ve been out. This can deter unwanted scratching that results from neglect.
- Exercise – It is important to ensure a Maine Coon gets some exercise every day, especially if it is an indoor cat. Climbing trees (here are three I recommend), a variety of scratching posts, toys, laser pointers all provide ways to get your cat moving. The more energy it uses up this way, the less it will resort to unwanted scratching.
- Trim claws a little – If your Maine Coon is damaging things no matter what you do to stop it, you can have the very tips of its claws trimmed to minimize the marks it makes – ask your vet to show you how.
Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t shout at your cat – You will only scare it and it will not associate this with scratching. If your cat becomes scared of you it may resort to scratching more.
- Don’t punish your cat – It is never OK to inflict pain on a cat. This amounts to cruelty and will only serve to make it fear you, possibly forever. I wouldn’t even use a water spray either as your cat will just resent you.
- Declawing – This is not something you should even consider just to save your furniture. Declawing should never ever be considered.
Prevent Destruction – Buy or Make Things For Your Maine Coon To Scratch
As you get to know your cat, notice which surfaces it is really fond of scratching. Buy a variety of sturdy scratching posts covered in similar surfaces. If you can’t find them then either cover some standard posts with those types of surface or make your own posts from scratch (pardon the pun). Here’s a scratching lounger that is on my wish list.
Also notice if your cat is a horizontal or vertical scratcher and buy posts to suit its style.
Tip: If your cat loves scratching carpet use any off-cuts on posts. If you ever replace your carpets keep some to add to homemade scratching posts.
What If Your Maine Coon Won’t Stop Destroying Your Furniture?
If you have a serial excessive scratcher you will have to work really hard to determine what the causes are.
- Is your cat bored? – Enrich its environment. Get plenty of toys and interchange them regularly to keep its play fresh. Spend as much time as possible entertaining it through play, stroking and generally paying it attention.
- Is your cat lonely? – Are you out a lot every day? Maine Coons are often happier if you can have at least two of them. They keep each other company when you’re out and play together too.
- Could your cat be stressed? – Many things can cause a cat to suffer from stress. Changes to its routine, a new pet and illness are just a few. Resolving what is causing stress can decrease excessive scratching.
- Have you provided enough scratching posts? – Place a scratching post in front of anything your cat scratches. Do whatever you can to make the thing it scratches hard to scratch.
- Does your cat have access to enough space? – Maine Coons don’t like to be couped up so don’t shut one in a small space. They need to use up energy. If yours is not an outdoor cat ideally it should be able to roam all over your home and have access to windows where it can see outside. The more your cat can move and the more distractions it is exposed to the less it is likely to scratch at things.
- Consider creating a safe outside space – If you can give your cat some quality outside time it could be the cure to excessive scratching. If you can’t make your garden secure then the next best thing is a large enclosure – and I don’t mean an oversized rabbit run! It should have plenty of space, lots of objects to climb and scratch, and a shelter. Ideally, it should be accessible from your house via a catflap.
Other Things Maine Coons Might Destroy
I’ve mostly talked about scratching but there are other ways in which Maine Coons can wreak a little havoc in your home.
- Mad Half Hours – Now and then a Maine Coon can act a little crazy. Suddenly and for no obvious reason, they tear about the house at full speed, skidding around corners, running across tables and thundering up the stairs. Things often go flying, leaving a mess in their wake.
- Pushing things over the edge – Maine Coons are guilty of this, so make sure you move fragile objects from shelves, ledges, and tables.
- Chewing plants – Some will nibble at plant leaves, especially those that look a bit like grass. Make sure you check every plant and flower that you allow in your house to be sure it isn’t toxic to cats.
Maine Coons do scratch things but the damage can be limited if you put in a bit of hard work upfront to train them where it is OK to scratch. very rarely, a Maine Coon might scratch excessively no matter what you do. Do your utmost to get to the root of the cause and try to fix it – and if necessary ask your vet for advice.
If you aren’t a Maine Coon owner yet, think very carefully about how you will feel about your belongings being scratched because it is bound to happen to some degree.