If you are thinking of getting a Maine Coon cat you are probably aware of how large they can grow. You might wonder if this means they have lots of energy and will not be happy as an indoor cat. You might wonder, “Can Maine Coon cats go outside?”
Maine Coon cats can definitely go outside. There is no physical reason why they can’t. As a responsible owner, you need to carefully weigh up the pros and cons of letting your Maine Coon outside or keeping it as an indoor cat. If you just can’t decide, maybe this article will help.
We also describe how we prepared for letting our two Maine Coons go outside.
Letting a Maine Coon outside
The Maine Coon is a hardy cat that has evolved to cope with harsh climates. It has well-tufted ears, a very thick coat and large fluffy paws making it the only domestic breed of cat that can truly thrive in harsh outdoor conditions.
Maine Coons cats have lots of energy and are curious, natural explorers. They are easily intrigued and stimulated by the numerous fascinating sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells they may encounter outside including insects, the play of light and shadow, rodents, birds, and plants, to name a few.
Some of the benefits of letting a Maine Coon cat go outside:
- Outdoor cats have many more opportunities to get the physical activity they need by climbing, running and exploring. An outdoor Maine Coon cat is less likely to become overweight.
- When outdoors, a Maine Coon is at liberty to engage in instinctive cat behavior such as scratching that you may not appreciate indoors on your carpet, furniture, and curtains.
- The great outdoors offers endless opportunities for an inquisitive Maine Coon to explore wider spaces and encounter new sights, smells, tastes, textures, and experiences, stimulating its natural curiosity and wellbeing.
- Cats like to bask in the sun and enjoy doing this in the fresh air rather than through a window.
- Cats need access to grass. They do this to make them regurgitate anything they have eaten that disagrees with them (expect your cat to throw up any time soon after consuming grass).
- If you allow a Maine Coon to go outside you won’t be forever worrying about it accidentally escaping.
- You won’t have to have a litter box or the daily chore of cleaning it and disposing of soiled litter, and won’t have the expense of purchasing litter.
Some of the risks involved with letting a Maine Coon cat go outside:
- Road traffic is one of the greatest risks to an outdoor cat. A busy road is a very dangerous place for a cat but a quiet country road can be too.
- A Maine Coon is a particularly adventurous cat and may wander too far and get lost. Consider using a well-fitted safety collar with an ID disc. This type will come off easily if your cat gets it snagged on anything and will prevent injury or, worse, strangulation. Also, it’s wise to have a Maine Coon microchipped as this makes it much easier for a vet or animal shelter to find out who a cat belongs to.
- Other animals such as dogs, foxes, and potentially hostile rival cats are also a real threat to an outdoor cat.
- There is more chance of an outdoor cat being exposed to and contracting infectious diseases especially through fighting with other cats. These include Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDS, abscesses, and upper respiratory infections amongst others.
- You may not have these, but other peoples outside areas may contain toxic substances such as slug pellets, anti-freeze, or rat poison all of which are harmful Maine Coon cats.
- Various common garden plants and flowers such as lilies and poinsettias are toxic to cats.
- Your cat may get trapped in a garage, outbuilding, or shed.
- There are unscrupulous people who may steal your cat.
- Nosey cats can sneak into open vehicles and be accidentally driven away.
- There will probably be many occasions where you will have no idea where your cat is.
Keeping a Maine Coon cat as an indoor cat
Keeping your Maine Coon indoors will help keep it safe and give you peace of mind, but some indoor environments can become predictable and boring, leading to stress, inactivity, and weight gain.
It can be particularly hard for cats to cope with living indoors if they have lots of energy, love to explore and have previously been allowed time outdoors.
The benefits of keeping a Maine Coon cat indoors
- You will always know your cat is safe and sound.
- Your cat will never catch a bird and bring it home as a present for you.
- You will never have a soaking wet and muddy cat leave paw prints all over your carpets, furniture and bed linen.
- Your cat is less likely to contract the illnesses mentioned above.
If you’re wondering whether you should keep a Maine Coon in an apartment, check out the article (opens in a new tab).
The downsides of keeping a Maine Coon cat indoors
- You will need to ensure your cat has plenty of space to move around in.
- An indoor cat will become very dependant on you and often quite clingy.
- Your cat will need lots of toys to keep it stimulated.
- You will have to change your cat’s indoor environment regularly to prevent it from becoming bored and frustrated.
- You’ll need to buy (or make) a good sturdy scratching post for an indoor cat where it can sharpen its claws, strengthen its muscles and mark its territory.
- Even if you have a scratching post your cat is still quite likely to claw your furniture, carpets, and curtains.
- You will have to have a litter box and clean it every day. You will also need to buy plenty of litter.
- Your cat will need a lot of attention from you, particularly encouragement to play on a daily basis to ensure it gets plenty of exercise.
- An indoor cat should not be left alone for long spells as it’s likely to become distressed and even depressed.
- You will need to grow some grass in trays for an indoor cat to nibble.
Can your cat have the best of both worlds?
Some people construct large cat enclosures in their gardens. These can be purchased or homemade. They need to be furnished with plenty of things to keep your cat amused such as tunnels, ladders, platforms and various toys. Some people even have bushes and small trees planted within.
Walking indoor cats in harnesses seems to have gained popularity in recent years. People can be seen walking cats through cities and parks.
Some cats may adapt to a harness quite happily but some most definitely won’t. Cats have different temperaments to dogs and a harness takes away the control of its movements.
If something shocks or scares a cat, its natural reaction is to run and hide. If it is in a harness and can’t fulfill this natural reaction it can become very stressed.
There are plenty of pet locators on the market. Some of these have GPS trackers that enable you to see where your cat is via an app on your mobile phone.
This is a brand we’ve used before and found to work really well (over at Amazon). To use one your cat would have to wear a collar. You should always pick a safety collar like this that your cat can get free from should it get caught on anything.
You may be thinking that your cat could end up losing its locator tag but you will be able to find it with the app (hopefully on an occasion like this your cat doesn’t also go missing!
Limit outside time to daylight hours
On average most cats have accidents and fights when it’s dark out. You could let your Maine Coon out during daylight hours only.
Most cats will come home for their tea and you could make that the time you lock the flap or shut the door so they can’t go out afterward.
These are a great idea too because, wherever you are, you can open an app and see what your Maine Coon is up to at home. Just place the camera where it will pass by most often. There are even models available where you can talk to your cat.
Can Maine Coons go outside? The answer is a resounding yes but it is you who needs to weigh up the risks for your cat in your neighborhood. Ask yourself if you will ever truly relax not knowing where your cat is.
Take steps to deter a Maine Coon from wandering too far such as neutering/spaying and making your garden a very stimulating place for your cat to hang out.
Finally… our experience
Our Maine Coons, Harry and Charlie, were 18 weeks old when they came to live with us. We made sure they didn’t go out at all for the first month. We then supervised them in the garden at all times until they were about 8 months old.
From 8 months of age, they were allowed out alone when we got home from work, with the kitchen door left open. It was July and so still light outside.
After a couple of hours, we called them in by tapping their food dish. It worked a treat. We always made sure they were safely home indoors when we went out or to bed.
This pattern continued until they were 2 years old when, having observed their outdoor habits, we decided to install a catflap.
We unlocked the flap each morning at 7 am and they came and went as they pleased, until we locked it once they were both home, and always before dark.
When Harry and Charlie were 6, we moved to a very rural location and decided to leave the flap open at all times. To this day they always come in for the night. We know an indoor life would never have suited them and are glad they have had such happy healthy outdoor lives.