Are Maine Coons Dangerous?


The Maine Coon is one of the largest domesticated cats and has a certain amount of power and strength. If one attacked us, would we be in trouble?

Are Maine Coons dangerous? Maine Coons are not classed as dangerous animals. Though large cats, they are gentle-natured and pose little physical danger to people. Aggression in Maine Coons can result from poor breeding practices or as a reaction to fear, provocation or pain.

If a Maine Coon is provoked it may become hostile in self-defense. If you ever think a Maine Coon is riled, give it a wide berth until it calms down and you will be in no danger. It is very rare for a Maine Coon to lash out unless it’s cornered and afraid.

What Would We Consider Dangerous?

For the context of this article, a dangerous cat is one whose personality is unpredictable and may show aggressive tendencies towards us and other animals. These tendencies may be triggered by situations that would not normally be expected to trigger such a reaction or they might occur for no particular reason.

This behavior may present itself in a non-physical or physical form and although we’re more interested in why a physical attack may occur, it is still relevant and related to the underlying issue why a non-physical attack may occur.

Maine Coon Personality

The Maine Coon is commonly referred to as a gentle giant and this is an accurate description of the breed. They are, indeed, a large cat – one of the largest domestic cats on the planet – and they are extremely gentle.

Having owned Maine Coons for over twenty-five years, I think I can safely say I’m a bit of a Maine Coon expert. There isn’t much I don’t know about this breed. It’s not the looks that make the Maine Coon my favorite breed of cat (despite genuinely loving all cats) – it’s their personality.

Charlie and Harry

They have this tendency to surprise you throughout their lives. Our current two (Harry and Charlie, brothers) are now 14 and have never been happier. Maybe Charlie is getting a bit slower these days but they both still like to play whenever possible.

We have dedicated a room (that wasn’t being used for much) to them and that is where we have all their toys along with a cat tree. Often when coming down the stairs (which leads into this room) they will just be sitting there, amongst their toys, looking at me. This is their way of telling me that they need me to play with them.

Playful

So, the Maine Coon is a playful cat – it will play from the moment it arrives in this world to the moment it departs. ‘Play’ forms the very foundation of this cat’s character. It is incredibly mischievous also and I think this is why children like them so much – because they’re naughty!

They will jump up onto your coffee table and knock things off, for no apparent reason. They will play fetch with little toys that you throw and yes – they actually bring them back!

Our Harry

They may not be exactly a lap-cat but they will want to interact with you all the time. As long as they know where you are, they’ll be happy. This is not a cat that likes to be left alone for long periods of time!

They will follow you around the house and yes, that includes the bathroom. They will sit in front of you, whilst you’re doing your business and just stare at you! I’m sure they do it deliberately to just freak us out 🙂

So, we know that they like to play, they’re mischievous, sociable and inquisitive – is there another, darker side to this cat though? Well…no, not really. Actually, not at all – at least in my experience and also, chatting to a lot of other owners, they agree also. The Maine Coon very rarely shows any sign of aggression, but it can happen – more on this later.

Don’t Confuse Play with Aggression!

This is actually a very important point as many people can confuse the behavior of a cat when they are playing with actual aggression. Your Maine Coon doesn’t quite understand our pain thresholds as well as ourselves!

The problem usually arises when we are playing with the Maine Coon with our hands. To them, our hands are all part of the game and by using them to play with them, it is absolutely fine for them (as far as they are concerned) to treat them as prey. Actually, I kid you not – Jane has just been playing with Harry in this way and has scratches to prove it! You’d think we’d both know better by now 🙂

A typical scenario will be when the Maine Coon rolls onto their back (see picture below of Harry doing just this). This is not an invitation for you to tickle their belly – as much as it looks like it. If you try and move your hand in to give them a cheeky little tickle, then what will happen is this:

  1. The Maine Coon rolls over onto its back, looking exceptionally cute and basically demanding a tickle.
  2. The human, accepting the invite, moves their hand in to tickle the cute little Maine Coon’s belly.
  3. The Maine Coon, sensing the stupid human has fallen into their trap (again) extends all claws and moves all paws in to wrap around the human’s unsuspecting hand.
  4. The human, in considerable pain, screams. The Maine Coon, assuming the human is actually enjoying the game, hangs on tighter.
  5. The human applies plasters to their hand and makes a mental note to not fall for this again.
  6. The next day, the Maine Coon rolls over onto its back, looking exceptionally cute and history repeats …
Harry inviting you to tickle his belly?

The point here is that play is vastly different from aggression as far as the Maine Coon is concerned. However, the pain you will feel will not be distinguishable from when they might actually attack you – so you can understand how people get confused.

Maine Coons are not dangerous cats. They are naturally gentle and friendly as long as they are raised properly. Correct socialization is key and this begins with the breeder or person who owns the kittens at birth.

So, hopefully, we’ve made it quite clear that the Maine Coon is not an aggressive cat, in any way – typically. However, they are a cat and an animal. If you treat an animal in a certain way you will get a certain response, regardless of how kind and loving they are usually.

What Could Cause A Maine Coon to Attack?

Now that we’ve differentiated playing with anything else, let’s look a little more at aggression and what can cause it within a cat.

First, let’s get this out there straight away – your Maine Coon has the potential to bite and scratch you outside of play, like any cat. It’s less likely that it’ll come to that with a Maine Coon – but it’s still possible.

There are a few reasons why the Maine Coon might lash out:

  • Pain – you may think you’re petting it, but constantly stroking a cat, especially in the ‘wrong’ places, will eventually frustrate it. If you continue then eventually it will most likely give you a nip. It won’t come out of the blue though – you will notice a change in its behavior, most likely a tail twitch and it will not appear so relaxed.
  • Unwell – If we’re lying in bed with the flu, the last thing we want is someone jumping on our bed, prodding us, wanting to play. Now imagine you’re a cat, unwell – who can’t communicate that they’re unwell but just wanting to be left alone. Now you come along wanting to play with them! Again, it won’t be immediate but if you persevere, they will get cross.
  • Scared – If your Maine Coon is placed in a situation where it is anxious and/or scared then it may not be acting as it normally does.

Detecting Aggression In A Cat

Your cat, whether it is a Maine Coon or any other breed, won’t just lash out without any kind of warning. There will always be a tell-tale that, if you can recognize, will warn you that you need to back off, just a little.

Hissing

When your Maine Coon hisses at you, it is a warning sign that it is scared and anxious over what is about to happen. It is fearful that whatever it thinks is going to happen next will be detrimental to its well-being.

If your cat hisses at you, just back off for a bit and don’t take it too personally. There are most likely other factors at play here, perhaps it has just been spooked and just needs to be by itself for a bit. Give it time but keep an eye on it just to make sure it doesn’t have an injury it’s trying to protect.

Misdirected Aggression

This can happen usually if your Maine Coon is inside, looking outside at another cat within its territory. You’ll probably notice other signs, such as a low growling and you should not make physical contact with it during this time.

In its mind, it will feel anxious and aggressive towards that other cat, not you. However, if you then touch it – it may associate this with the other cat and lash out at you, briefly, thinking you are the other cat.

Detecting the Signs

There are a few different things you can look out for in your Maine Coon that will let you know it is not happy.

Offensive Posture

If your Maine Coon is feeling particularly like attacking, you may notice any of the below:

  • A tail that is quite still and low, almost touching the ground.
  • Staring directly at the target, pupils usually dilated.
  • Legs obviously stiff and straight.
  • Their ears will usually be upright and obviously directed further back than usual.
  • A low growling noise.
  • Your cat will be facing the target directly.

Defensive Posture

If you Maine Coon feels threatened by anyone (or anything) then you may notice the below:

  • They will appear lower than usual.
  • Their tail will be low and possibly curved around the body.
  • Ears will be flat and facing back.
  • Pupils will be dilated.
  • Your cat may be facing slightly away from the object, possibly almost sideways on.

If you can recognize the above signs then it may help you to understand how your Maine Coon is feeling and whether it feels threatened or not.

Are Maine Coons Dangerous Around Children?

Often people search for articles like this when trying to ensure that there won’t be any risks to their children. Which is great. However, they then forget that their children need to be taught how to act with animals, which is, unfortunately, all too commonly overlooked.

Children need to be taught that your Maine Coon (and all animals come to think of it) are not toys or dolls that can be prodded and played with whenever they want. Your pet needs to be given some respect!

The problem we’ve found is that children don’t understand limits as well as we do. They don’t understand that what might be fun to them, won’t be to the cat. They should be told not to pick the cat up, this is unnecessary. When they get older they can be shown the correct way if required.

So, with a bit of common sense, the Maine Coon will share a home with a child (or children) and it will be awesome. I can testify this, having two 14-year-old Maine Coons and a 12-year-old son. They love each other.

Joe with Charlie

A Note About Maine Coons and Babies

The Maine Coon should be treated the same way as any animal with regard to a baby. No animal should be left alone with a baby in the same room, it’s just common sense. I’ve never heard of the Maine Coon being aggressive with a baby but it’s possible the baby could, without knowing, hurt the cat inadvertently which could cause a reaction.

Are Maine Coons Dangerous? -Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has made it quite clear that the Maine Coon is far from dangerous. In fact, it is hard to imagine how anyone could class any domestic cat as ‘dangerous’. They are generally too small to be able to cause any serious problems, even if they wanted to – which they don’t. They are not the same as dogs and don’t have the same ability to cause harm. The worst you’ll get is a bit of a nip and some scratches!

If you’d like to know more about this fantastic breed then do check out our Complete Guide to the Maine Coon, which, with illustrations, should tell you everything you ever wanted to know about this breed!

Matt

I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

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