Do Maine Coons Live in the Wild?


The Maine Coon is a stunning cat. Its looks, size, and personality make it one of the most popular cat breeds in the United States and across Europe. I’ve owned Maine Coons for around 25 years and can’t imagine life without one.

The Maine Coon is different from most other cat breeds. It is different in the way it looks, in the way it communicates, and in the way it interacts with you. It is a sociable cat that courts human attention and is not a cat that likes to be left alone for long periods.

In fact, this cat will positively sulk if it sees you getting the suitcases out – don’t be surprised to have one jump in to try and prevent you from going anywhere!

Do Maine Coons live in the wild? Maine Coons do not naturally live in the wild though one might survive in the wild if lost or abandoned. The breed originated in Maine, USA, hence their name. They generally lived on farms where they were wild enough to scare vermin away.

Are Maine Coons Wild Cats?

Their wild looks have people wondering if Maine Coons are descendants of wild cats. They may look the part but Maine Coon cats are 100% domestic.

They are sometimes mistaken for their wild relatives but they are not actually descended from them. Maine Coons are gentle giants with no vicious tendencies.

What is a Maine Coon Cat?

The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural breeds of cat in North America but its actual origins are unknown.

It is also one of the largest breeds of domestic can you can own – the longest domestic cat ever recorded happened to be a Maine Coon and was well over a meter in length (123 cm from the tip of its nose to the very end of its tail).

They are a long-haired breed and can be found in pretty much any color combination you can think of.

Their thick coat lends itself to survival in cold climates and their fur is dense and water-resistant which prevents their skin from being chilled by rainfall or snow.

They have an ability to curl up, like a fox, wrapping their tail around their face which provides warmth and some protection from the elements.

Do Maine Coons live in the wild?
Harry and Charlie

The Maine Coon is classed as an intelligent cat and they have some pretty good hunting skills. Our two (Harry and Charlie, see above) have brought in all kinds of presents from the fields outside our house for us to sample.

Different types of mice, a few birds, and some rabbits seem to be among their favorites. I would have preferred a McDonald’s, personally speaking, but we don’t like to appear rude 🙂

Why this is interesting and related to the question is because the traits that this cat exhibits lend itself to being able to survive in the wild. Which brings us nicely to the next point.

What Does a Cat Need to Survive in the Wild?

So, let’s take a look at the things that are needed for a cat to live in the wild and thrive:

  • Hunting Skills – the cat will need to find sources of food and water to be able to survive. Like us, depending on the climate and the condition of the feline, they can last for up to 2 to 3 days without water but can survive much longer without food – up to a week and in some cases longer. They will also need to be quick enough to be able to catch prey and survive on this.
  • Climate Protection – the cat will need to ensure it does not succumb to the elements. Depending on the local climate, a longer coat is preferred as without a source of heat the cat’s core temperature will quickly drop to levels which may put its life at risk.
  • Intelligence – they will need to keep out of risky situations as in the wild it may, depending on its location, have several animals that will consider it as prey. Some birds (like the owl), wild dogs, coyotes, cougars, raccoons, snakes, scorpions, and rats are just some of the animals that will see the cat as a potential source of food. The feline will need to be able to avoid these animals using speed and cunning.
  • Independence – there are some cats that depend on human interaction more than others, such as the Ragdoll or Burmese for example.

This is interesting, wouldn’t you say? Think about the skills the Maine Coon has and compare these to the above list. Apart from (arguably) the point about independence, they tick all the boxes, right?

Regarding that last point, the Maine Coon is somewhere between wanting to spend all their time with us and wanting to do things when they want and how they want.

They will be in our company when they want to be and they’re not usually considered a lap cat, although there are exceptions.

Do Maine Coons live in the wild?

So, we know that they have the attributes to be able to survive in the wild, but did they, and if not, could they?

Did the Maine Coon Ever Live in the Wild?

There is no evidence to suggest that the Maine Coon has existed successfully in the wild, at least in recent times. As the origins of this breed aren’t documented we have no idea when they first came about so we have no idea whether they really existed in the wild at all.

I imagine it’s possible but if it did happen, it would have occurred most likely centuries ago when population densities were much lower – but it’s pure speculation.

Do Maine Coons Live in the Wild?

Maybe a better question would be to understand whether the Maine Coon could survive in the wild, so let’s explore that.

Could the Maine Coon Survive in the Wild?

The Maine Coon would probably not last very long in the wild these days. This is a domesticated breed of cat and has been for a very long time. The thing about the Maine Coon though is it doesn’t look like your average cat.

It looks more like a small lion than your average moggy and arguably one of the main reasons why this is such a popular breed of cat is because of its looks.

Photos of the Maine Coon are shared globally these days with the help of the Social Media generation and us people are simple beings really, we like pretty things – and the Maine Coon is certainly that!

Do Maine Coons live in the wild?

But how does being pretty affect how it could survive in the wild? Well, for starters it might not live very long in the wild because as soon as it made contact with a human, it would be rescued. The Maine Coon is far too beautiful to be left alone in the wild 🙂

However, take the human element away and what do you have? Arguably (I’ve said that a few times in this article) it would survive just fine. With its natural ability to hunt, stay warm, and as it is intelligent enough to survive, it is quite possible that the Maine Coon would do just fine in the wild.

It might miss us (just a tiny bit) and it might take a few generations for it to hone its survival skills but it would get there in the end.

What Cats Live in the Wild?

There are several cats known to live in the wild, in fact, there are 36 breeds of cat known to currently survive out there. I won’t mention them all, but here are a few of interest:

  • African Wild Cat – this breed emerged over 130,000 years ago and is actually found domesticated in some parts of the Middle East.
  • Andean Mountain Cat – currently the most at-risk wild cat in America. Every single example of this breed has died when in captivity, almost straight away.
  • Chilean Cat – this is the smallest (wild) of South America.
  • European Wild Cat – looks similar to a domestic moggy (although a little bigger) and can be seen throughout European countries.
  • Geoffroy’s Cat – the most common wild cat in South America and is unfortunately hunted for its pelt, it is in ‘near-threatened’.
  • Margay – found in the rainforests in Central and South America. Similar looking to the Ocelot and grows up to almost 30 inches in length.
  • Rusty-Spotted Cat – one of the smallest wild cats in existence and is listed as ‘vulnerable’ – found in India and Sri Lanka.

What is a Wild Cat’s Lifespan?

There is a common myth that wild cats only live for 3 to 5 years but this is actually far from the truth. Actually, wild cats can last for the same amount of time as domesticated cats, up to 16 years of age. In some cases, they live longer than domesticated cats!

This may surprise you, as it did me. In fact, I didn’t believe quite what I was reading so I dug a bit further and found some research relating to the wildcat which states just this. If you’d like to look at this source yourself, take a look here (opens in a new window).

Finally

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Maine Coon and whether it could survive in the wild. If you’d like to know more, then please check out my Complete Guide to the Maine Coon – where you will find everything you ever want to know about this fantastic breed of cat!

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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