Maine Coons are regularly described as large, sociable and confident cats. They are said to quite happily fit in with any lifestyle, family, strangers and other pets. According to many owners, nothing bothers their Maine Coon. Is this true of every Maine Coon or?
Are Maine Coons shy? Some Maine Coon cats can be shy and timid and this is often due to a negative experience at a young age or because they were not socialized correctly (or at all) as kittens. You can help a Maine Coon grow out of this nervous behavior if you follow our advice.
If you have a shy Maine Coon you should try to create an environment in which it feels safe, and allow it to come to terms with your presence in its own time. Patience is the key.
A Definition of Maine Coon Shyness
A shy Maine Coon cat exhibits nervousness and timidness in the company of people.
It will flinch if someone tries to stroke it and, if possible, will quickly retreat to a place where it can’t be seen or touched.
Socializing Maine Coon Kittens can Prevent Shyness
It is really important to socialize kittens to ensure they grow into confident adult cats. This process should start with the breeder when they are about 2 weeks old and continue until they go to their new homes. They should be handled gently every day by different adults and also children if they are to become family pets. They should also meet other cats and dogs if possible. As soon as they are mobile, they should be interacted with through play. Games should never include anyone’s hands though – only toys.
When a kitten is adopted, remember it has just left its mother and litter-mates and all its familiar smells and surroundings. It will need time to adjust to all of these changes. If it has been socialized properly it shouldn’t take long for it to adjust to its new home.
Shy Adult Maine Coon Cats
A Newly Adopted Adult
If you adopt an adult Maine Coon, there are various reasons that might make it shy of you and other people:
- It was not socialized as a kitten.
- It is worried about the new environment.
- There are children and it finds them too boisterous or loud.
- It has previously suffered a trauma that has made it distrusting of people.
- It was abused by people in the past.
- There are other pets in the home that it feels worried about.
Sudden Shyness in Your Existing Maine Coon Cat
If your usually happy cat suddenly acts timid of you or other people and keeps hiding away there could be a variety of reasons:
- There has been a change in the environment that has upset it – if you suspect this try to reverse the changes. If not be patient and let your cat adjust in its own time.
- A new pet is on the scene which is distressing it – Maine Coons are said to be fine living with other pets. Sometimes this is not the case. Be careful about introducing another cat to an established Maine Coon. Here’s an article that explains how to introduce cats to each other.
- It is feeling unwell – If your cat is not eating and is feeling unwell this could be the cause of its timid behavior and hiding away. If unsure, don’t take any chances – make an appointment with your vet.
- Its routine has been altered – Cats thrive on routine so if you know there has been a change to this either change it back if possible or give your cat time to adapt.
- It is suffering from stress – Many things can cause cat stress so I’ve written a whole article dedicated to this subject here.
- Someone has mistreated it – It is possible that someone in the household is responsible for your cat’s change in behavior. Try to establish if anyone is being unkind and put a stop to it.
How To Socialize a Shy Maine Coon Cat
If you have a new cat there are plenty of things you can do to settle it in and help it to get over any shyness. These steps can also be used to socialize a kitten that was not properly socialized before you adopted it.
- Be patient – Things won’t change overnight. It can take many weeks to see any process.
- Be calm and quiet – Don’t make sudden movements and keep your voice low and soothing.
- Eye contact – Blink slowly at your cat as this shows it you are not aggressive. If your cat blinks back, this is a sign of trust developing.
- Keep noise levels low – Don’t play loud music, TV or have noisy conversations around your cat. Your cat will be sensitive to arguments and raised voices so try to prevent this type of upset. It’s not a good idea to use a vacuum cleaner or a power tool near to a shy cat!
- Don’t make sudden movements – Your cat may panic and try to run and hide and in the process, it may knock things flying.
- Allow your cat to hide if it wants to – Don’t try to extract it from a hiding place such as under a bed. Let it venture out in its own time. Cave beds make excellent safe places for shy cats. Here’s a lovey one.
- Don’t attempt to hold on to your cat – Never grab a shy cat for a cuddle. If you pick it up and it struggles, lower it back to the ground immediately. Don’t let it jump as it may injure itself. Don’t try to force it to stay in your arms.
- Food – Place food near a hiding place then retreat to a safe distance. Your cat should be tempted out to eat. Every time you do this sit a little closer until your cat will tolerate you sitting next to it while it eats.
- Play – Playing with a shy cat will build its trust in you. Pick a toy on a wand and hold it by your cat. Let it investigate. Gently move the toy and hopefully, your cat will engage in play. Don’t make any sudden movements. Keep this up every day. Sometimes a little catnip spray makes the toy more tempting.
- Let your cat approach you – Sit on the floor and let your cat approach you when it is ready. Don’t be tempted to make a fuss of it. Sit still and hopefully, it will come closer for a sniff of you. This can take many days.
- Establish a routine – Place a litter box close to the place your cat spends the most time. Keep it very clean. Put your cat’s food bowls nearby too. Feed it at the same times every day.
- Try a pheromone product such as Feliway™ – This mimics the scent your cat deposits when it rubs against things. It can help to settle cats to an extent. You can get plug-in diffusers or a spray.
- Radio – Leave a radio on at low volume to get your cat used to voices and music.
- Make all household members aware – Let everyone in your household know how you want them to behave around the cat, especially
children,so that no-one undoes your hard work.
Remember, no two cats are the same and socialization of an adult cat takes a lot longer than the socialization of a kitten.
The Expected Maine Coon Temperament
When people talk about Maine Coons they describe them as follows:
- Attention seeking
It’s no surprise that when a Maine Coon doesn’t live up to these expectations an owner starts to worry. It may surprise some people to know that not all Maine Coons behave in the ways
It is perfectly natural for a Maine Coon to be shy when it is introduced to a new home and family. If it’s a kitten, it has just left its mother and litter-mates and all its familiar smells and surroundings. It will need time to adjust to all these changes.
No Two Maine Coons Are The Same
I can vouch for this as our two Maine Coons boys are from the same litter yet their personalities couldn’t be more different.
We bought Harry and Charlie 14 years ago when they were 18 weeks old. The breeder first sold them at 12 weeks. When they were 16 weeks, they were returned to her and two weeks later we snapped them up.
The day we brought them home, they camped out in our dishwasher.
Harry is a ginger tabby and has always been a confident cat, shy of no-one. Charlie is a solid white and was very timid when he first came to live with us. We will never know what caused such a difference in their personalities. We can only assume they were treated the same by the breeder so perhaps Charlie had a bad experience in that interim home before they came to us. It took a long time for Charlie to trust us and he is still extremely shy of strangers.
Cat Personality Types
Shyness is a personality trait. Cat personality types can be categorized just as people’s can:
- Neurotic – Shyness falls into this category. Neurotic cats are anxious, highly strung, insecure, anxious and nervous. They run and hide at the drop of a hat.
- Impulsive – This type of cat is reactive and their reactions are spur of the moment. These cats need routines so they know what happens when and behave more appropriately.
- Agreeable – This personality type is friendly and sociable with everybody and exudes confidence. This is typical behavior of a cat that was socialized properly.
- Extroverted – These cats are curious and nosy. They need an enriched environment with plenty of stimulation to satisfy their minds.
- Dominant – This type of cat can cause problems in a multi-cat household. A dominant cat wants to own everything.
To find out all there is to know about the Maine Coon Personality please take a look here (opens in a new tab).