Training is something we associate with dogs, not cats. Puppy training classes can be found quite easily, but kitten training classes? These are unheard of. You may have heard Maine Coons referred to as the dogs of the cat world because they do sometimes exhibit canine-like behavior. But are they easy to train?
So, are Maine Coons easy to train? Maine Coons are intelligent cats and they do revel in the attention of their owners. Over time and with patience, it might be possible to train one to a certain degree but it’s unlikely to be an easy task. You would probably have more luck training a Maine Coon kitten but, who knows, it may even be possible to teach an old cat new tricks!
Why Train a Maine Coon?
The main reason for training a dog is to make sure it is obedient and can have a good relationship with its owner(s) and is well-behaved with other people and animals. But why would you want to train a cat?
Kittens don’t leap all over us, licking and chewing in quite the same fashion that puppies do. They don’t come on long walks where we might need them to walk to heel or sit at a roadside waiting until it’s safe to cross.
Here are a few things that it is possible to train a Maine Coon to do:
- Use a litter box – In most cases it is the mother cat who teaches this to her kittens. They learn quickly by following her example. If for any reason a Maine Coon isn’t litter trained, most owners successfully teach them by looking for the signs that they are about to do their business and quickly placing them in the box.
- Respond to their name – Once a kitten is named it soon recognizes that word and responds when it hears it. Some may just flick their ear towards the sound and some may go as far as to come running when you call them. This is achieved by constantly using then name when you speak to your cat. If you have two cats, make sure their names are different enough so as not to confuse the cats. For example, if you have a Polly and a Molly both cats will respond to either name.
- Stay off of the kitchen counters – many people don’t like their cats walking where they prepare food. From a young age, they remove the cat as soon as it jumps ups, using a firm but kind ‘No’ as they place it gently back on the floor. It helps to then distract the cat away from the areas by leading it away with a favorite toy. Consistency usually pays off in the end and the cat learns not to go there.
- Use a cat flap – If you allow your Maine Coon outside, and I know many people don’t due to concern for their safety, it will learn quite easily to use a flap. Some owners have to hold it open and as the cat grows accustomed to the feel of the flap it soon goes in and out independently.
Training a Maine Coon To Perform Tricks
It’s quite easy to teach a dog to shake your hand with its paw, sit, lay down, roll over, stay, leave and even jump through a hoop. But what about a Maine Coon? Can you teach it to perform such tricks?
Though Maine Coons are loyal cats they are still independent and it is difficult to make them do things they don’t what to do. Our two often sit on our coffee table in the way of the TV screen and won’t budge no matter how nicely we ask.
We move them to nice, cozy cushions and they go straight back to the exact same spot on the table. They never seem to learn.
Another favorite place is the keyboard you are trying to type on. Charlie (above) prefers to sleep on my husband’s desk whenever he is trying to work or sit on my lap between me and my laptop.
Our red tabby Maine Coon, Harry, will fetch a hair band. Incidentally, we did not train him to do this. One day, he helped himself to one from my bedside table and was rolling about with it.
I picked it up and he tried to grab it from me which made me throw it He went after it and brought it back to me. I threw it further and he fetched it again. I could have lied and taken the credit for teaching him this trick …
Cats are stubborn in their ways so teaching one to actually perform for you takes a lot of careful planning and trickery on your part. The secret to getting a cat to do something is to make it seem like it was its idea,
Training A Maine Coon To Do Tricks: It Can Be Done!
People do manage to train Maine Coons and here’s some evidence:
So as you can see it is definitely possible to teach a Maine Coon cat to do tricks. This is one of a few examples I found. I strongly suspect that cats that respond to their owners in this way are quite rare. I may be wrong though.
How Do You Train A Maine Coon To Perform Tricks?
To successfully train a Maine Coon, try tapping into its dog-like qualities, in particular, its love of attention. Maine Coons simply love spending time with their owners and families.
They possess an incredible sense of curiosity. So if you spend lots of time trying to teach your Maine Coon tricks and make it all part of play it will become extremely involved as it enjoys the attention being lavished upon it. Hopefully, this will lead to success as far as training is concerned.
Repetition and consistency are the keys to success, along with your cat’s favorite treats and knowing when to stop.
Further Training Tips
Maine Coons respond well to positive reinforcement, specifically tasty treats. One thing you can be sure of, if a Maine Coon doesn’t want to do something it won’t. If you act impatient at its lack of ability or cooperation, your Maine Coon will sense your mood and this won’t help at all.
Never lose sight of the fact that getting a cat to perform tricks is not a necessary part of it leading a happy, healthy life and if trying to make it perform is making it miserable just give up. Or at least abandon the idea for the day and try again tomorrow.
When training your Maine Coon, be consistent and very patient. Use your cat’s name every time before you give a command. Always use one-word commands. Keep training sessions short and sweet. And if your Maine Coon wanders off, take that as a hint that it is bored with the game. Never take the fun out of it.
If you make teaching your cat tricks seem like a game it is a lovely way to bond with it. Remember it is not essential though. If your cat doesn’t want to perform your chosen tricks then just play games it enjoys and
Popular Maine Coon Tricks
Training a Maine Coon to Sit
The best way to teach a cat to sit is by standing it on a table in front of you whilst holding a treat. Notice that if you hold the treat out of your cats reach in front of its nose and then raise it above your cats head, your cat will naturally lower its bottom as it tips its head up towards the treat.
You don’t need to issue the sit command at first. Once your cat is sitting give it the treat and praise and stroke it. Try this a few times before saying ‘sit’ as it lowers its bottom. Eventually, it will make the association and sit as you say the word.
Other Popular Moves
These include the High Five, Rollover, Lay Down and Stand Up.
Here’s another lovely clip that shows off all these moves:
Some people like to train their Maine Coons and some don’t. Some Maine Coons are so lazy you have no chance! As you can see in the two videos above, some Maine Coons are happy to perform as long as it’s encouraged in a loving and caring manner.
If you decide to teach your Maine Coon, old or young, a few tricks … have fun!