If you are ever lucky enough to share your life with a Maine Coon cat you will soon find that it has a wide variety of ways of communicating with you and showing you its feelings.
These beautiful cats express their moods through their voices, facial expressions, and body language. When they want to be noticed, they will pull out all the stops to get your attention.
How do Maine Coons show affection? Maine Coons are affectionate cats and will display their love of you in many ways. Making eye-contact, rubbing against you and purring are just a few signs of a Maine Coon’s feelings of affection towards you.
I’ve owned two Maine Coon boys for over 14 years and they both have their own unique ways of demonstrating affection.
In this article, I share how I’ve learned to interpret their many noises, expressions, and movements, and how to distinguish whether they are signs of affection or something else.
Discover the real meaning of a meow and much more in this journey into understanding how Maine Coons show affection and other feelings.
The Maine Coon voice
There are people who think Maine Coons never meow and there are those who will tell you they do. Both are right.
Some Maine Coons produce a very well pronounced “meow” whilst others do everything but make this noise. Maine Coons are also supposed to be one of the quietest cats but I’ve never found our two to live by this rule.
Did you know cats make more different sounds than any other household pet? They are capable of making many different noises, each with its own meaning.
They are also very good at recognizing how you react to the things they “say” to you. Here’s how to interpret the most commonly heard cat vocabulary:
This really is spelled as it sounds and it’s the classic noise associated with cats. Ask yourself if you have ever heard cats meowing to each other.
Your answer should be “no” as this is the sound they use almost exclusively to communicate with people. You will rarely hear a cat meow for any other reason.
Kittens meow at their mothers and but this communication ceases as they reach the age when they will leave her. Because we usually adopt kittens before the meowing stage is finished, they continue to meow at us.
As we find this sound endearing and respond to it, most cats will continue to meow throughout their lives.
Maine Coons seem to have four main reasons for meowing:
- they are hungry – you should obey this meow immediately, if you don’t there’ll be no let-up.
- they want you to let them into a room – I often hear this from our Harry when I’ve just stepped into the shower. It’s easier to get out and let him in because he becomes quite insistent.
- they want your attention – this happens whenever I settle onto the couch with my laptop.
- they are announcing their presence or arrival (a bit like saying “hello”) – we often hear this from Harry as he comes in through the catflap. It’s like he’s calling out, “I’m home!”
If your Maine Coon is meowing and you are able to rule out the above reasons, there’s a possibility that it isn’t feeling well or has an injury. Keep an eye out for any deterioration in health and visit your vet if there’s any doubt.
Also, speaking from experience, older Maine Coons seem to meow a bit more. This may be bought on by anxiety.
One of ours does it to be lifted up to the kitchen tap for a drink even though he has fresh water in his drinking bowl. It’s as if he’s lost his confidence in his ability to jump up on to high surfaces.
Occasionally you might hear incessant meowing. This may occur if you don’t react to earlier meows quickly enough. It can also mean your cat has sustained an injury so make sure you don’t just ignore it.
If a meow is more drawn out, it may be because your Maine Coon feels irritated by something – the reason might not be obvious but see what you can spot.
Cats yowl for many reasons. These include:
- As a means of communicating with each other.
- If they are worried, in pain or feeling ill.
- Older cats might yowl if they develop cognitive issues such as remembering where they are, or if they start to lose their senses such as sight or hearing.
- Being moved to a new environment where it misses its old territory.
If your Maine Coon yowls incessantly, it may be ill so visit your vet as soon as possible. Another reason fo yowling could be boredom or loneliness. Make sure your cat has plenty of toys and that you make time to play with it every day. Grown-up Maine Coons are still kittens at heart and playing with them keeps them happy.
Purring is traditionally linked with contentment. There’s nothing more satisfying than a contented cat purring loudly on your lap. Purrs can be gentle and low and if your cat is particularly happy they can sound quite manic or even tuneful, varying between high and low pitches.
Be aware that there are rare times when purring occurs for a reason other than feeling ecstatically happy. Some experts believe that a cat can’t help purring when it is agitated or worried, almost like an uncontrollable reflex. You could compare it to feeling nervous and putting on an act of bravado.
Signs that your Maine Coon is not purring with pleasure include a tense, unrelaxed stance. In this situation try to establish the source of your cat’s worry. For example, it could be purring because you have picked it up and this has made it nervous.
Cats are known to purr when they are hungry too. One of ours lays on my chest and purrs extremely loudly first thing every morning. It’s hard to go back to sleep in this situation, he knows this will get me up!
Finally, purring may also be a comfort-seeking device, for example, when a cat is recovering from an illness. If you are aware that your cat is very ill, sadly, it may purr when it is close to death.
When a cat watches through a window what it would prey on if it were outside, it often emits a strange chattering noise with its mouth slightly open. Its jaw also opens and closes quickly at the same time.
This noise is thought to be a sign of excitement coupled with the stress of not being able to get at the creature it is watching.
There’s a particular sound you’ll hear from a Maine Coon and that’s the meow attempted through a mouthful of something that’s intended as a present for you.
Some people’s Maine Coons bring them a favorite toy as a gift but when I hear this noise it’s always a dead creature they have just caught in the garden as a gift especially for me.
Your cat is genuinely trying to please you, so act that way. Say thank you, show your appreciation of its hunting skills and then distract it away from the area so you can clear up the “gift”.
Chirping and trilling
These tuneful sounds are how mother cats communicate with their kittens. Our Maine Coons sound like they are rolling the letter R, a bit like “rrrruh”, whilst ascending up a semitone.
If your cat makes these noises at you it may be feeling excited, happy or want to show you something or want you to follow it somewhere. I also hear my cats make these noises to each other and they are usually followed by a play fight which often gets a little out of hand and ends with a growl and a nip.
Hissing and spitting
A Maine Coon’s hiss can be quite chilling and you can be sure it’s a warning to cease what you’re doing and retreat. A hiss means your cat feels threatened and will fight if necessary. Quite often a hiss is accompanied by puffed out fur, an arched back and a display of teeth.
If it’s not aimed at you, remove the source (dog or another cat?) as quickly and carefully as possible. It’s extremely rare for a happy, domesticated Maine Coon to behave in this manner.
A cat’s growl is usually paired with hissing and snarling. Most of the time it’s caused by another cat entering your cat’s territory. Our cats do this at other cats through a window and it’s perfectly natural behavior so you shouldn’t interfere.
In this situation, I lock the flap so that they can’t go out and get physical. If your cat is having a faceoff with another cat outside or is involved in a fight, be very careful as you may be injured if you try to step in.
It’s better to squirt water or throw some from a distance and hope this does the trick. Try not to let your cat see you throw the water as it will lose trust in you.
This is the classic female mating call that you could also refer to as yowling. It sounds something like a drawn-out, throaty “ahh-roo-uhuhh-roo”.
If you have not had your female Maine Coon spayed she will transform into Houdini and do everything within her capability to get out and meet up with male cats. You will probably find plenty of these loitering close by and reciprocating with their own yowling.
Female cats often scream during mating. And it is common to hear cats scream during a fight. Having females spayed and males neutered can prevent both of these reasons for cats screaming.
Two sounds from my Maine Coons
Our white Maine Coon, Charlie, makes a very distinct, deep “mow” sound. He usually does this at night when he enters a room and finds no one is there. To us, he is calling to find out where we are.
Our ginger (red tabby), Harry, makes very clipped short-vowel sounds such as “a” and “ma”. He does this in a conversational way and if we speak back to him he does it all the more.
Does anyone else have Maine Coons that make these noises?
Understanding a Maine Coon’s facial expressions
Full eye contact
Cats can feel threatened by a direct stare. When a cat gravitates towards the person who least likes cats this is not because it senses that persons dislike and wants to annoy them, it’s because that person seems the least threatening because they are not trying to make eye contact.
When a cat is scared its pupils dilate. They are taking in as much information as possible and are ready for whatever threat they perceive to be coming their way.
A cat with this look is likely to want to get away as quickly as possible. If a cat relaxes and comfortably holds eye contact with you this could be a sign of devotion.
Moving one step on from eye contact, if your Maine Coon slow-blinks at you it is most definitely displaying its affection for you. When a cat closes its eyes in your presence it totally trusts you.
Always return this compliment by slow-blinking back at your cat. This will convey to it that you are not a threat.
Eyes shut tight
If your cat is asleep with eyes closed tightly then it feels very relaxed and safe in your presence. Your cat is still aware of its surroundings and will open its eyes the moment it senses anything unusual in the room or nearby.
Along with slow blinking, this is another sign of relaxation and trust. We yawn back at our cats and they seem to appreciate this and do it to us again.
We tend to think that cats only use their whiskers to sense the size of a space they need to pass through. But apparently, they can also be an indicator of mood.
A relaxed Maine Coon generally has horizontal whiskers. If it is feeling a little low, perhaps ill or stressed, its whiskers may point downwards.
If a cat’s whiskers point forward from its face this could indicate a hostile mood. I can’t say I have ever noticed these differences in whisker position but I shall look more carefully from now on.
When a Maine Coon puts its ears flat and out sideways (a bit like airplane wings) it is not happy. However, if you stroke its head from front to back and it lays its ear flat and backward it is happy with this attention.
When a Maine Coons ears are leaning forward it is on high alert and listening carefully to a noise it’s picked up. It is on high alert. When its ears are in a neutral, upright position, your Maine Coon is relaxed.
Reading a Maine Coons body language
Maine Coons show a lot of affection, and other feelings, through their body language – all you just need to do is learn how to interpret it. The longer you live together the more you will recognize how your cat’s posture and actions are conveying messages to you.
Showing you its belly
If your Maine Coon rolls onto its back in a relaxed and flirtatious fashion, giving you full eye contact and a full view of its tummy, this is a sign of absolute trust.
This is a cat’s most vulnerable position and it is confident that you love it enough not to harm it. But beware, this is not an invitation to dive in with a tickle and if you do so you may very quickly find yourself in the vice-like grip of 20 needle-sharp claws plus a set of extremely pointed teeth.
Definitely read this tummy display as giving the message, “You can look but you better not touch!”
On the other hand, if a cat cowers on its back in a corner, teeth showing, ears back and claws visible, this is not a display of trust. This is a defensive position. Walk away!
Your Maine Coon’s tail can tell you a thing or two about its mood:
- If it has a tall tail, straight up in the air this denotes a happy, confident cat.
- A tail held horizontal to the ground can mean your cat is in a curious or inquisitive mood.
- A tail that’s pointing down to the ground says it is feeling unhappy and insecure.
- Curling its tail around your legs is a sign of friendliness.
- An upright tail with hair standing out a right-angles like a bottle-brush shows a cat feels threatened.
- The bottle-brush tail with a back arched upwards with fur standing up like a Mohican along the spine is an extremely hostile stance.
- If a cat is twitching the tip of its tail it is a sign of boredom or restlessness.
- A whole tail wagging back and forth is a sign of utter displeasure, bordering on rage.
Rubbing up against you
When a cat rubs against your legs it is giving you a friendly greeting. This action is often accompanied by the tail curling around you as mentioned above.
If you lower your face gently towards your Maine Coon and it gently bumps its head against you, you can take this as a sign of deep affection. Your cat truly loves you and thinks of you and it as members of the same pack. Our white Maine Coon, Charlie, does this all the time.
Charlie also likes to hug us. He will climb up onto our chests and place a paw on each shoulder. Hugging is traditionally the way a cat subdues a victim.
Perhaps Charlie is telling us he owns us and it’s not the other way round! Our two Maine Coons are brothers and even after 13 years they still give each other a hug now and then.
As you can see, there are many ways a Maine Coon expresses affection and a whole other raft of feelings. There are probably other actions that I’ve not covered here. Let me know if you have Maine Coons who express their love for you in other ways.