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Are Maine Coon Cats Nocturnal?

Like all cats, Maine Coons seem to sleep much of the day. There’s a good reason for this: they are conserving energy to hunt when their prey appears. Our pet cats have no need to catch their own meals, but are they still active at night when we’re asleep?

Maine Coons are not nocturnal because though they sleep during the day, they are not naturally active at night. If they had to hunt for food, Maine Coons would be active at dusk and dawn – known as crepuscular – because this is when their prey is on the move. Though some Maine Coons occasionally exhibit nocturnal activity, most sleep at night.

Maine Coons can see better than us in the dark because cats have adaptive eyes that allow them to adjust for both daylight and low-light. If a Maine Coon wants to be nocturnal, it can be.

Are Maine Coons nocturnal?
Charlie and Harry

The Maine Coon may seem large and lazy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t move fast, in fact, it can move very fast. Usually, you’ll notice their speed when you’re trying to catch them for their annual vet check-up. However, their speed and agility (despite their large size) make them good hunters.

What Does Nocturnal Mean?

In its simplest form, an animal that is nocturnal is one that sleeps during the day and is active during the night.

Typically, nocturnal creatures have a greater reliance on other senses, such as sight. This reliance on sight means nocturnal animals have larger eyes to allow more light in – just like a camera lens aperture opens wider in low light.

A nocturnal animal usually has a heightened sense of hearing, smell, and eyesight to compensate for the lack of light.

A Maine Coon cat, compared to us, has better hearing and sense of smell but it is its ability to see well in low-light that primarily gives it the ability to be nocturnal if it so wishes.

What Does Crepuscular Mean?

A crepuscular animal is one that is mainly active in the twilight hours (dusk and dawn). This is not at all the same as being nocturnal (active at night) or diurnal (active in daylight).

A good reason for an animal to be crepuscular is due to the movements of its prey. It makes sense to be active when its prey is likely to be around and it could be that their quarry is either about to go out or come back home during the twilight hours.

Another reason why an animal might be crepuscular is temperature. It could be that the environment they live in is too cold during the dead of night and too hot during the day (perhaps a desert environment).

When Do Maine Coons Hunt?

Maine Coons will hunt whenever they have the chance to! Of course, being domesticated cats, they will usually find themselves inside for the majority of the day. The amount of time they spend outside will decrease the older they get as their appetite for exerting themselves diminishes with age.

Are Maine Coons nocturnal?
Harry hoping he catches a bird!

A Maine Coon will hunt at night, if allowed out and if not, it will hunt inside! How is this possible you may ask? Well, with the help of yourself.

By playing with your Maine Coon regularly and allowing it to simulate hunting, you encourage it to hone its hunting skills. Most Maine Coons are satisfied by doing this instead of hunting prey outside.

Even if you do this though a Maine Coon will still hunt outside given the chance. Ours have brought us in a number of different little presents over the years including a variety of different field mice, small birds, and even a few rabbits.

The Maine Coon is a natural hunter and you can’t train this behavior out of them – and nor should you try. It’s their natural instinct to do this and it is partly responsible for keeping a cat content.

What Do Maine Coons Do At Night?

A Maine Coon will either sleep, play or hunt during the night. This is dependent to an extent on what you allow them to do.

Are Maine Coons nocturnal?
Charlie outside enjoying the sunshine

Are Wild Cats Nocturnal?

Although Maine Coon cats no longer live as wild cats, there are dozens of wild cat breeds that thrive without human intervention. In fact, contrary to popular belief, the average lifespan of a wild cat can be the same as a domestic cat!

Wild cats do exhibit nocturnal behavior as they need to hunt at night to survive.

What Creatures Are Truly Nocturnal?

Just for a bit of fun I thought I’d add this little section to list some of the animals that you might not have realized are actually nocturnal:

  • Catfish
  • Coyote
  • Cricket
  • Flying Squirrel (err, what?)
  • Gerbil
  • Koala Bear
  • Mouse
  • Raccoon
  • Scorpion
  • Tasmanian Devil
  • Wombat

Conclusion

The Maine Coon can be a nocturnal or crepuscular creature, as can all cats. We don’t see this behavior as we tend to keep them awake during the day by playing with them so they are most likely too tired to go out hunting at night.

A young Maine Coon, given the opportunity, would spend more time than you probably realize out at night, hunting. If your cat doesn’t have the opportunity to go outside, make sure you play with it as much as possible to satisfy its natural hunting urges.

As you play with a Maine Coon, you’ll it acting in the same way it would if hunting in the wild. Move a piece of string slowly and your cat will crouch low and its eyes will dilate to let in that extra bit of light.

Its backside will do a special wiggle and it’ll push off from its hind legs, jumping on the prey (err string) in a fraction of a second.

If you’d like to know more about this amazing, our Complete Guide to the Maine Coon, is packed full of information and photographs.

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