Maine Coons are large cats and because of their sociable natures, they are perfect family pets. Once you own one, you will instantly become attached and want to protect it forever. And the thought of letting one go outdoors may strike fear into your heart. Can a Maine Coon be an indoor cat?
You can keep a Maine Coon as an indoor cat; many people do. Maine Coons thrive well inside where life is safer. But indoor life can be lonely and lack stimulation so you will need to adapt your home to ensure your Maine Coon doesn’t become bored and lethargic.
Why some owners think Maine Coons should not be indoor cats
They are large
Maine Coons are large, energetic cats. It’s no surprise that some people think they will need to be allowed outside. Owners-to-be can’t imagine how a Maine Coon will be able to use up all its energy indoors and worry about their home getting damaged as a consequence.
If you have ever watched a Maine Coon in a garden you will know how much they love the freedom to run and climb.
They are inquisitive
Maine coons are inquisitive and nosey. The outside world is crammed full of new places to explore and new things to discover. People think a Maine Coon will never be satisfied with only being able to view the outside world from a window.
They love to scratch things
Maine Coons love scratching things and there are plenty of places outside where they can claw to their heart’s content.
Remember cats need to scratch: they are physically marking their territory; they are leaving their scent to let other cats know they own that spot; they are flexing and stretching their muscles to keep them strong and supple and they are shedding outer dead layers from their claws.
People considering owning a Maine Coon believe if you keep one as an indoor cat it will tear the furniture to shreds.
They are accomplished hunters
Maine Coons love to hunt. It’s a natural instinct and fulfilling the urge keeps them physically and mentally healthy. Some people believe a cat should not be deprived of doing what comes naturally and that being deprived of doing so will cause it mental anguish.
They need plenty of
Where better for a Maine Coon to get all the exercise it needs than outside where there is plenty of space to run free.
Just like us, cats need to move as much as possible every day to keep fit and healthy. Surely it is not possible for a Maine Coon to get enough exercise cooped up inside all day?
They need stimulation
Nothing can beat the outside world when it comes to stimulating a Maine Coon. There is plenty to see, smell, feel and discover to keep a cat’s mental well being on track.
And as the outside world is ever-changing, a cat never tires of it. People worry that living indoors all the time will deprive a cat of all the natural stimuli the outside world has to offer and can’t imagine how this will be replicated within four walls.
They like to nibble at grass
If a Maine Coon has eaten something that disagrees with it, it eats grass in order to regurgitate the contents of its stomach. This works because grass is indigestible to cats – they lack the necessary enzymes to break it down.
If you keep a cat indoors you prevent it from being able to do this if it ever needs to and so anything that is irritating its digestive system, such as bad food or fur balls, can’t be vomited to give it relief.
They might make the house smell
Some cat owners detest litter trays as they can make the house quite smelly. They prefer the idea of their cats doing their business outside. There’s nothing more unwelcoming than the
Why some owners prefer to keep Maine Coons indoors
There are many reasons why owners are reluctant to let Maine Coons venture outside:
If they live in a busy location it might not feel like a very safe or suitable place for a Maine Coon to roam around. They imagine all the possible bad things that could happen.
People worry about letting their cats out when it is hot. If you live in a hot country and are wondering if it’s OK to let a Maine Coon outside please see my article which covers this subject: Can Maine Coons Live in Hot Weather?
It’s easy to imagine a Maine Coon being stolen of it wanders into a public area. They are attractive cats and many people are aware of their financial value.
Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous people around who might pick up a Maine Coon thinking they can sell it on at a profit or even keep it for themselves. This is a very legitimate concern.
Owners worry that their Maine Coon may be attacked by a wild animal or a dog. People have reported their cats being attacked by racoons and coyotes. You should establish if this is a possibility in the area you live in.
Maine Coons are territorial and will attempt to see off other cats who wander onto their land. And if they wander into another cat’s territory they will be the one seen off.
If cats fight they can injure each other and sustain nasty bites and scratches. It is possible for infections to develop in these types of wounds and for cats to end up with tatty ears and other scars of battle.
No-one can bear the thought of their cat being run over. If you live near a busy road the chances of this happening could be pretty high. Most accidents with traffic occur at night so you should definitely keep a cat in after dark to reduce the risk.
Maine Coons do like to wander and explore, but not as much if they have been neutered or spayed. If a cat gets on the trail of something it is possible for it to suddenly find itself far from home and completely lost.
It’s a good idea to keep a new cat in for at least 2 weeks so that it is comfortable with you and its home before you let it out. Most cats become experts at finding their way home and gradually increase the distance they travel away so they are then able to return from whence they came.
Maine Coons do like to explore and can’t resist a shed or other outbuilding if the door is left open. These are good places to check if a cat goes missing for any length of time.
Also, an open car or van is often too good to resist, and before you know a cat can find itself off on an unknown journey to a mystery destination with an unsuspecting driver.
Catching diseases, fleas and ticks
Many diseases can be prevented by vaccinations, but cats can still pick up fleas and ticks if they go outside. Most people detest the thought of their cats becoming flea-infested.
Ticks can carry horrible diseases and so owners should be concerned about their cat being bitten by one. Always remove a tick immediately and carefully if you find one attached to your cat and then disinfect the area.
Eating something poisonous
This is always a worry and it is difficult to eliminate the risk of this as cats do wander and explore in all sorts of places. Sheds and garages can contain nasty stuff such as antifreeze which is highly dangerous if consumed. There are also several plants an pollens that are poisonous to cats.
How to successfully raise a Maine Coon as an indoor cat
Microchip your cat
First things first, always have a Maine Coon microchipped so that should it ever somehow escape from your home it has a better chance of being reunited with you.
Microchipping is a simple and relatively painless procedure where a tiny chip with a unique code programmed into it which is injected into the back of a cat’s neck.
A vet can use a hand-held scanner to read the code and compare it to codes on a database to match the cat to its owners. Make sure you keep your contact details up-to-date if you move home or change phone numbers.
And if you ever notice a stray cat, take it to a vet to be scanned for a microchip to give it the best chance of being reunited with its owners.
Cat-proof your home
A home can contain many hidden dangers for a cat. Make sure your home is safe for your Maine Coon, especially if you are going to leave it alone for any length of time. Here are some
- Secure loose blind cords
- Move fragile objects
- Keep washing machines and tumble dryers closed
- Always put toilet lids down
- Make sure there are no exposed electrical cables
- Make sure your cat can’t climb from open windows
- Keep doors to balconies closed
- Don’t leave candles burning
- Make sure there are no small places your cat can become trapped in
- Don’t leave hot hobs or pans boiling unattended
- Don’t leave hot drinks where your cat can knock them over
Get a decent sized litter tray
Maine Coons will need a large tray that is cleaned regularly. Keep this in a calm and quiet area, not a busy thoroughfare. Quite often cats don’t like to share, so two cats might mean two trays.
Consider having two cats
Maine Coons are sociable and intelligent creatures and don’t like being left alone for any length of time. They will soon get bored and fretful which can lead to psychological problems and poor behavior such as scratching (you and your furniture), biting, and going to the toilet outside of the litter box.
You really should consider getting two cats and if you get them at the same time (and even better, from the same litter) they will much more accepting of each other and less territorial. Two cats will play together, provide each other comfort, and keep each other company.
Don’t overfeed an indoor cat
Indoor Maine Coons need less food because they don’t get as much exercise as outdoor cats. It’s easy for an indoor cat to gain weight which can lead to serious health problems including urinary tract disease, kidney disease, diabetes and heart failure.
So make sure you keep a good eye on your cat’s weight and if it shows signs of gaining more than is healthy, cut back a little amount of food each day until it is back to the right weight for its size. This is really important because the more weight a cat gains the less it moves about and then it gains even more weight.
Allow your Maine Coon plenty of space
Maine Coons need a fair amount of space so it’s not a good idea to coop one up in a small space all day long. Leave doors to all rooms open and, if you have one, allow it access to a staircase. This way your Maine Coon will be able to burn up plenty of energy and stay fit an healthy.
Provide a sturdy scratching post
In the interest of preserving your furniture (well hopefully), invest in a decent scratching post and encourage your Maine Coon to use it from day one. Try using catnip to entice it to scratch there.
If your cat scratches your furniture, gently pick it up and put it on its scratching post. Resist the urge to tell it off and never shout.
Buy an indoor climbing tree
If you have enough space, an indoor tree is a great investment. The best ones have plenty of platforms and perches to leap to and from and provide lots of areas to scratch. I’ve seen some great climbing walls too that people have constructed themselves.
Give your cat plenty of toys
Indoor cats can suffer from boredom so give them plenty of toys and change them regularly. Have some dangling from the climbing tree so they can bat them about. Some cats are happy to chase balls of tinfoil, scrunched up paper and pieces of string – so you don’t have to go to great expense.
Play with your cat every day
Play with your Maine Coon every day, even when it is fully grown. Maine Coons are always kittens at heart. They need lots of mental stimulation and the ideal person to provide this is you.
Encourage your cat to prey on its toys as it would real prey in the outside world. Always make sure it has the satisfaction of catching it too. If a Maine Coon is understimulated it can develop behavioral issues because its mind is understimulated.
Make sure your cat can look out of a window
If your Maine Coon can sit and look out of a window to view the outside world it will enjoy doing this for hours. Try placing a bird table or feeder where your cat can see it for added interest. You may hear it chattering – it is thought cats only make this noise when watching prey that’s out of reach.
Best of both worlds – indoors and outdoors Maine Coons
Here are some ideas to give your cat a taste of the outside world in a controlled manner:
Enclose your garden
If you can, install high, cat-proof fences around your garden so that you can let your Maine Coon out and know it is safely confined. Try to provide structures for it to climb and scratch and play on.
You might still want to only let your cat out when you are there or you could have a cat-flap installed so it can pop in and out as it pleases.
If fencing off your garden is impossible, you can have an enclosure built or buy a ready made one. It should be as big as possible, contain places to climb and perch, plants and shrubs, a shelter and an area for going to the toilet. I think some of these look a bit like cages at a zoo and would not recommend leaving a cat in one all day.
Walking on a leash
Some Maine Coon owners say their cats are happy to wear a harness and take a walk on the end of a leash. This may not be every cat’s cup of tea but if your cat doesn’t seem to mind then go for it.
Maine Coons can be either indoor or outdoor cats and only you can decide what’s best for your cat and don’t be worried about what other people have to say about it.
It’s perfectly acceptable to keep a Maine Coon indoors as long as you do your best to ensure it has plenty of space to exercise, places to climb and scratch, and plenty of things to keep it stimulated.
Don’t forget you should do your bit by playing with your cat every day, and if possible have two cats so they can entertain each other and keep each other company.
If you want to let your cat outdoors then consider only letting it out during the day to lower its risk of being involved in an accident on the road, fighting with other cats and coming face-to-face with a predator.
Tip: the best way to get a cat home before dark is by letting it out hungry and calling it back for dinner.