Maine Coons are many things. They are large cats with matching personalities. They are vocal and make a wide range of noises. They are sociable and enjoy human company. But are Maine Coons naughty?
Maine Coons are not naughty but they are capable of exhibiting undesirable behavior. These are not deliberate acts carried out in retaliation or spite. Cats do not decide to act in a way that will cause their owners upset or displeasure.
When Maine Coons behave in ways that we label as naughty we should try to establish the underlying cause.
Let’s examine what owners call ‘naughty’ behavior, its causes, and how you can change it.
Cats meow to communicate with their owners. So you can assume your cat is talking to you when it meows. There are several reasons why a cat meows:
- It’s greeting you.
- It wants something.
- Something is wrong.
- It’s lonely.
- It’s old and confused by the dark.
Obviously, you need to investigate why your cat is meowing to ensure it isn’t
If your senior cat meows at night, try leaving a lamp on or using a plug-in night light so it’s never in the dark.
When your cat is bored in the middle of the night and you get up to play with it, expect to be doing that every night from then on.
Prevent your cat from feeling bored by providing plenty of toys, giving it attention before you go to bed, and by playing with it for at least 15 minutes a day but not in the middle of the night.
Going To The Toilet Outside The Litterbox
This could be anywhere in the house. This could be triggered by a variety of reasons:
- It is finding it difficult to use its litter box.
- The litter box is too dirty.
- It doesn’t like the litter you are using.
- It doesn’t want to use it after another cat in the household has.
- It has a urinary tract infection.
- It’s getting senile and had forgotten where it should go to the toilet.
- It is suffering from stress.
What you can do:
- Ensure you clean your cat’s litter box as often as possible. If you are out for a long time every day, have two litter boxes.
- In a multi-cat household try having several litter boxes and use a multi-cat litter.
- Watch your cat when it pees to see if it looks to be in pain and visit your vet if necessary.
- With senior cats, place litter boxes wherever it spends a lot of time so they can reach one quite quickly.
- Try a different litter.
- Assess your cat’s general behavior. Is there anything that could be causing it to feel stressed such as a new pet, a house move, a rearrangement of its environment, change of routine? For more help regarding cat stress please see our article dedicated to this topic: What causes stress in a Maine Coon cat?
- Thoroughly clean any area it has used as a toilet or the scent will encourage it to go there again.
Scratching Furniture And Carpets
Maine Coons do love a good scratching session. They are powerful cats with sharp claws and can inflict untold damage.
You really have to expect this and should think carefully about how it will affect you before you buy a Maine Coon.
What you can do:
- Cover precious furniture.
- Buy several scratching posts (this one gets thousands of fantastic reviews) and positively encourage your cat to use them. You may need to show them! You may need to apply catnip. You should distract your cat with play to the area it is OK to scratch.
- Here’s an article dedicated to the scratching issue: How to stop your Maine Coon from scratching your furniture
Biting And Scratching
Nine times out of ten if your Maine Coon bites or scratches you it just wants to be left alone. If you walk away it will usually calm down and you’ll be able to make a fuss of it again later.
Check it is not injured or ill and take it to your vet if necessary.
If it’s a hot day allow it access to a cool spot in your home and make sure it has plenty to drink. Sometimes a cat can get overexcited during play sessions – if this is the case, take a break from the game.
Pushing Things Over The Edge
Have you heard the saying, “If the world was flat, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now?” Maine Coons are champions when it comes to shoving things off of shelves and tables. Are they doing this deliberately?
This behavior has been compared to how cats toy with their prey after a successful hunting session but I think they learn how we react to it by taking notice and picking up the object.
It’s just another game. They are not attempting to break our stuff they just like the attention the action attracts.
What can you do? Your cat wants your attention for a reason. Could it be
Waking You Up In The Middle Of The Night
This can become an annoying habit. If you are certain there is nothing seriously wrong with your cat, don’t jump out of bed every time it meows.
Instead, give it some quality time before your bedtime, and ignore the meows in the middle of the night. It’s the only way you’ll break the pattern.
Jumping Onto Your Kitchen Surfaces
You may be trying to train your cat not to jump up on your kitchen counters and if you’re around all day you may be able to eventually but as cats love to inhabit high ground this can be difficult to achieve.
Avoid squirting it with water as a deterrent as it might stop trusting you. Distraction techniques are far better. Lure your cat out of the kitchen before it gets a chance to jump up. Pick it up gently if it does jump up and remove it to another room.
Never get cross, this just doesn’t work with cats. Alternatively, accept it will happen. It can be difficult if your cat continuously springs up when you are trying to prepare food and you may have to ask someone else to distract it or shut it out of that room.
Drinking From Your Glass
It’s quite amazing to me how Maine Coons will drink from literally anywhere except their own water bowl. Ours sit by faucets waiting for us to turn them on and more disconcertingly, they drink water from our glasses on our bedside tables.
We will never know how many times they did this before we discovered this habit and so we will never know how much water full of cat dribble we consumed.
Anyway, your cat is not being naughty. Instinct might explain the preference for flowing water as it is likely to be cleaner and safer.
Some cats don’t like to drink near their food so try separating these two dishes. The bowl could be the wrong shape – if it touches their whiskers they might get whisker fatigue so try using a wider, shallower dish.
Drinking from a skinny glass is hard to explain … If you have a faucet-drinker, a cat fountain is a perfect solution. Here are three we recommend.
Refusing To Eat The Usual Food
Why is it that a Maine Coon will eat a particular brand for months and then one day decides it doesn’t like that variety anymore? Cats can get bored with the same flavors so try something different. Switch from meat in jelly to gravy or sauce.
Avoid dry food as much as possible. Try a little plain white fish. Just as you wouldn’t choose to eat the same meal twice a day, day in and day out, your cat can get fed up with this too.
Trying To Eat Your Food
It could be the smell that attracts your cat to your plate or it may just want to be near you, and it’s tempting to hand over a morsel or two if your cat looks on longingly as you eat.
Remember giving your cat your food will only develop bad habits and if you’ve encouraged your cat to eat things from your plate you can’t then get cross about it.
Hunting is a natural instinct and not bad behavior. You may think your well-fed cat should not be hunting but it’s in its genes to do so.
Bringing In Live Prey And Playing With It
Your cat isn’t being unkind when you see it releasing and recapturing its prey. A cat catches its prey and then has to deliver a fatal bite to its neck.
Unfortunately what we perceive as torturing is actually what happens when a cat lets go so as to position for the fatal bite and the prey making a run for it.
Bringing In Dead Prey
Don’t tell your cat off for bringing you a ‘present’, it’s only trying to please you by bringing home a meal for you.
Do Maine Coons have behavior problems?
Maine Coons do not tend to have behavior issues but if they do, it can generally be linked to one of the following factors:
- Insufficient socialization as a kitten which manifests as a fear of people or dislike of being handled
- Being separated from its mother too soon: this is often the reason behind toileting issues and biting
- An undiagnosed medical condition: this is something to consider if you’ve ruled out the first two reasons above
- An environmental issue such as the introduction of a new baby or another pet, or a house move or renovation
- Ill treatment which may have occurred pre your ownership or could be happening in your home without your knowledge
You can correct all of these problems over time, with a lot of care and patience.
Cats aren’t deliberately naughty. Naughty means being badly behaved or disobedient and cats don’t have a clue what this means.
So look for the reasons behind your cat’s unwanted behavior and see if you can remove them or just become more tolerant.
For lots more information on these fabulous cats, see our Complete Guide to Maine Coons.