Maine Coon body language is a complex and fascinating means of communication that allows these enigmatic creatures to express a wide range of emotions and intentions.
Through their voices, body postures, movements, and facial expressions, Maine Coon cats convey how they’re feeling, whether it’s affection, curiosity, fear, or aggression.
Here are the most common Maine Coon body language cues and what each typically means:
1. Vertical Tail
A Maine Coon cat with its tail held high is often feeling confident, content, and happy. This is a sign of a positive mood and can indicate that the cat is comfortable in its environment and with the people or animals around it.
A vertical tail can also be a form of greeting or recognition. When a cat greets another cat, animal, or even a human friend, it might raise its tail in a friendly manner as a way of acknowledging their presence and showing recognition.
2. Puffed Tail
Maine Coons puff their tails as a defensive behavior, often referred to as “piloerection” or “piloerector reflex.” This reaction is most commonly seen when a cat feels threatened, scared, or agitated.
The puffing of the tail is a visual signal meant to make the cat appear larger and more intimidating to potential threats. It’s a natural response that helps cats try to fend off perceived danger.
When a Maine Coon’s tail puffs up, it’s not just the fur standing on end but also the underlying muscles contracting. This can make the tail look much thicker and more substantial than usual.
The puffed tail, along with other defensive behaviors like arching the back, hissing, and raised fur along the body, aims to make the cat seem less vulnerable and potentially discourage predators or threats from approaching.
It’s important to note that not all instances of a puffed tail in Maine Coons are related to fear or aggression. Sometimes, a cat might display this behavior in response to excitement, intense play, or even during interactions with other cats.
Understanding the context and other accompanying behaviors can help interpret why a Maine Coon is puffing its tail.
3. Low Tail
When a Maine Coon holds its tail low, it generally indicates one of the following:
- Relaxation: A Maine Coon with its tail held low and gently swaying might be in a relaxed and content state. This is often seen when a cat is lounging or resting comfortably.
- Submissiveness: Maine Coons might lower their tails as a sign of submission, especially when interacting with a dominant or aggressive cat. It’s a way of showing deference and avoiding confrontation.
- Caution or Uncertainty: When a Maine Coon is unsure or cautious about its surroundings or an unfamiliar situation, it may hold its tail low. This could be a defensive posture, signaling that the cat is ready to retreat if necessary.
- Sickness or Pain: Maine Coons that are feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort may hold their tails low as a sign of their physical state. If you notice your cat’s behavior changes suddenly and they are holding their tail low persistently, it might be a good idea to consult your vet.
- Aging: Older Maine Coons might carry their tails lower due to factors like reduced muscle tone or joint stiffness that come with age.
4. Twitching Tail Tip
A twitching tail tip can indicate a Maine Coon cat’s excitement or anticipation. It’s often seen during play or when a cat is focused on something, like a toy or prey.
5. Curved Tail
A slightly curved tail is a sign of a relaxed and happy Maine Coon. If the tail curves at the tip like a question mark, it can be a friendly and inviting gesture.
6. Tail Tucked Under
A tucked-under tail is a sign of submission or fear. Maine Coons might do this when they encounter a dominant cat or a new and intimidating situation.
7. Tail Flicking
A rapidly flicking tail can indicate irritation, annoyance, or impatience. It’s often seen when a Maine Coon is getting annoyed with a person or another animal.
8. Slow Tail Swish
A slow swish of the tail can indicate a Maine Coon’s focused attention. It might be observing something or deciding how to react.
9. Tail Quivering
A quivering tail can indicate excitement, usually seen when a Maine Coon is about to pounce on something such as a toy or real prey.
10. Lashing Tail
A vigorously lashing tail can indicate extreme agitation or anger. It’s often seen in Maine Coons that are highly aroused or about to engage in a fight.
11. Wrapped Tail
When a Maine Coon wraps its tail around another cat, animal, or your leg, it’s a sign of friendship, comfort, or affection.
12. Tail Vibrating
A vibrating tail can indicate intense excitement or happiness, often seen when a Maine Coon gets excited to see someone, is being petted or is scratching in a favorite spot.
1. Forward and Upright Ears
When a Maine Coon’s ears are facing forward and upright, it usually indicates that the cat is alert, curious, and interested in something in its environment. This is a neutral or positive ear position.
2. Slightly Tilted Forward Ears
A slight forward tilt of the ears can signal that a Maine Coon is feeling friendly and approachable. Cats may display this ear position when interacting with their owners or other familiar animals.
3. Sideways and Flattened Ears AKA Airplain ears
Flattened ears pressed towards the side of the head often indicate that a Maine Coon is feeling scared, threatened, or defensive. This ear position is commonly observed when a cat is confronted by a potential threat.
4. Ears Pointed Slightly Back
Ears that are pointed slightly back but not flattened could mean a Maine Coon is feeling cautious or uncertain. It might be assessing a situation before deciding how to react.
5. Flat Back and Pinned Ears
This indicates intense fear, aggression, or extreme discomfort. A Maine Coon displaying this ear position might be ready to attack or defend itself.
6. One Ear Forward, One Ear Back
If a Maine Coon has one ear facing forward and the other facing back, it might be signaling conflicted feelings. For instance, the cat might be curious but also cautious about a situation.
7. Twitching or Rotating Ears
Rapid twitching or rotating of the ears can indicate excitement or arousal. Maine Coons may do this when they’re about to pounce on a toy or engage in play.
8. Backward Ears with Raised Hackles
When a Maine Coon’s ears are flattened, and its hackles are up (fur along its back is raised), it’s likely feeling extremely threatened and may be ready to fight or flee.
9. Relaxed Ears During Grooming
While grooming, a Maine Coon’s ears are often relaxed and may point slightly outward. This indicates contentment and relaxation.
1. Dilated Pupils
Enlarged pupils can indicate excitement, arousal, or fear. Maine Coons often have dilated pupils when they’re playing, hunting, or engaged in intense activity. However, dilated pupils can also be a sign that a cat is feeling threatened or anxious.
2. Constricted Pupils
Narrowed pupils are typically seen in well-lit environments. If a Maine Coon’s pupils are constricted, it may mean they are feeling content, relaxed, or even slightly drowsy. However, persistent or extreme constriction in normal lighting might indicate pain or discomfort.
3. Slow Blinking
Slow blinking is often referred to as “cat kisses” and is a sign of trust and affection. When a Maine Coon blinks slowly at you, it’s a way of indicating that they feel comfortable and safe in your presence. You can reciprocate by blinking slowly back at them.
4. Rapid Blinking or Squinting
Rapid blinking or squinting can signal relaxation and contentment. Maine Coons may also squint when they’re feeling sleepy or if they’re in a calm and cozy environment.
5. Wide, Staring Eyes
Wide eyes with fixed staring can indicate intense focus, excitement, or alarm. If a Maine Coon is staring intensely at something, they might be interested or curious about it.
6. Half-Closed Eyes
Half-closed eyes can indicate relaxation and trust. Maine Coons may partially close their eyes when they’re feeling at ease and comfortable, especially when being petted or cuddled.
7. Gaze Aversion
If a Maine Coon avoids making direct eye contact with you or quickly looks away, it can be a sign of submission or a way to defuse potential aggression. It’s often seen in social interactions between cats.
8. Blinking or Closing Eyes Completely
Fully closing their eyes can indicate complete relaxation and a deep sense of trust. Cats may do this when they feel completely safe and content.
9. Darting Eyes
Rapid and darting eye movements might suggest that a Maine Coon is feeling agitated, anxious, or on high alert. This can happen when a cat is unsure about a situation or feels threatened.
10. Rolling Eyes
Rolling the eyes backward can indicate irritation or annoyance. Maine Coons may roll their eyes when they’re displeased with something or someone.
11. Holding Blink
Holding a blink (keeping the eyes closed for a longer time) can be a sign of submission. Maine Coons might do this to show deference to a more dominant cat or to a human they trust.
1. Relaxed and Neutral Whiskers
When a Maine coon’s whiskers are in their normal, relaxed position – neither forward nor backward – it usually suggests that the cat is feeling calm and at ease.
2. Forward Whiskers
Whiskers pointing forward are a sign of curiosity and alertness. Maine Coons do this when they’re exploring something interesting or investigating a new scent, object, or situation.
3. Backward Whiskers
Whiskers pulled back against the face can indicate fear, anxiety, or an attempt to make a Maine Coon’s face appear smaller. This defensive posture may be observed when a cat is feeling threatened or uncertain.
4. Slightly Sideways Whiskers
Whiskers that are slightly angled to the sides might indicate that a Maine Coon is in a more relaxed state. This could be seen during grooming or when a cat is resting.
5. Whiskers Flattened Back
Flattened whiskers that lie tight against the face are often a response to intense fear, stress, or aggression. A cat displaying this position may be preparing to defend itself.
6. Whiskers Pulled Forward and Trembling
When a Maine coon’s whiskers are not only forward but also trembling, it could be a sign of excitement, anticipation, or eagerness. This might be seen when a cat is about to play or pounce.
7. Whiskers Spread Out Sideways
Whiskers that are spread wide to the sides may indicate a heightened emotional state, such as aggression or intense playfulness. This can be observed during play or when Maine Coons are interacting with each other.
8. One Whisker Forward, One Whisker Back
As with ears, if one whisker is forward and the other is back, it might signify mixed emotions or uncertainty about a situation.
9. Whiskers Pushed Forward During Hunting
When a Maine Coon is focused on hunting or stalking, its whiskers might be pushed forward to help it gauge distances and navigate in low light conditions.
10. Whiskers Pulled Back During Eating
Maine Coons may pull back their whiskers while eating to prevent them from coming into contact with the sides of bowls or food, as sensitive whiskers touching surfaces can be uncomfortable.
1. Relaxed and Content
A Maine Coon that is lying on its side or back with its legs stretched out and belly exposed is likely feeling very comfortable and secure. This posture indicates trust and relaxation.
2. Curled Up
When a Maine Coon is curled into a ball with its tail wrapped around its body, it’s conserving warmth and protecting its vital organs. Cats often adopt this position when they’re resting or sleeping.
3. Crouched Low
A Maine Coon that is crouched low to the ground with its body tense and ready to spring may be in hunting mode or preparing to play. This posture indicates focus and readiness for action.
4. Arched Back and Raised Fur (Piloerection)
An arched back with raised fur along the spine and tail is a defensive posture. Maine Coon’s do this to appear larger and more intimidating when they feel threatened or agitated.
5. Sideways or Half-Turned Body
A Maine Coon that presents a sideways or half-turned body is showing a level of trust and comfort. This posture is often seen during play or when cats are interacting amicably.
6. Back Arched, Hair Standing Up, Sideways
A Maine Coon that is standing sideways with an arched back and raised fur may be trying to appear intimidating. This posture is often seen in confrontations between cats.
7. Sitting Upright
When a Maine Coon sits upright on its haunches, it’s typically in an alert and attentive state. This posture can indicate curiosity and readiness to react.
8. Belly Up, Exposing Belly
While exposing the belly is a sign of trust and relaxation, it’s important to note that not all Maine Coons enjoy belly rubs. Some might show their belly as a friendly gesture, while others might react defensively if their belly is touched.
9. Tail Flicking with Raised Hindquarters
If a Maine Coon’s tail is flicking while its hindquarters are raised, it might indicate excitement, playfulness, or arousal.
A content Maine Coon will often groom itself, in the morning, after eating, after toileting, and before settling down for a nap.
Maine Coons might groom themselves when they’re feeling stressed or anxious. The act of grooming can have a soothing effect and help cats cope with various emotions.
However, overgrooming and pulling out excessive fur can be a sign of severe anxiety or stress so a visit to the vet is wise if your Maine Coon does this.
Maine Coons also use grooming as a way to regulate their body temperature. The evaporation of saliva during grooming can help cool their skin.
2. Mutual Grooming (allogrooming)
In multi-cat households or in social situations, Maine Coons might engage in allogrooming, which is grooming each other. This behavior strengthens social bonds and can provide comfort to cats.
1. Territory Marking
Maine Coons have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch, they release pheromones onto the surface they’re scratching. This serves to mark their territory and communicate their presence to other cats.
2. Maintaining Claw Health
Scratching helps Maine Coons shed the outer sheath of their claws, keeping them sharp and healthy. It’s a form of natural claw maintenance.
3. Stretching and Exercise
Scratching also allows Maine Coons to stretch their muscles, particularly those in their shoulders, back, and legs. It’s a way for them to keep their bodies flexible and in good condition.
4. Emotional Outlet
Scratching can be a way for Maine Coons to release pent-up energy, stress, or frustration. It’s a form of emotional expression and stress relief.
1. Kitten Behavior
Kneading is a behavior that starts when Maine Coons are kittens. Nursing kittens knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow. This instinctive behavior often continues into adulthood.
2. Comfort and Contentment
Maine Coons often knead soft surfaces, such as blankets or their human’s lap, when they are feeling relaxed and content. They often appear to go into a trance as they do it.
It can be a comforting behavior that reminds them of kittenhood and being close to their mother.
3. Scent Marking
As mentioned before, Maine Coons have scent glands in their paws, and kneading releases pheromones onto the surface they’re kneading. This can be a way for them to mark their territory or leave their scent behind.
Maine Coons often knead their human companions as a sign of affection and bonding. When a cat kneads you, it’s like they’re expressing their trust and love for you.
Head Butting and Rubbing
1. Scent Marking
Maine Coons have scent glands located on their heads, cheeks, and paws. When a cat headbutts or rubs against something or someone, it leaves its scent behind.
This is a way to mark their territory and communicate their presence to other cats or animals.
2. Affection and Bonding
Maine Coons headbutt and rub against their favorite humans as a sign of affection and bonding. It’s their way of showing that they feel comfortable and safe around you.
When a Maine Coon headbutts you, it’s like it is giving you a friendly “kitty kiss.”
3. Social Greeting
In a Maine Coon’s world, headbutting and rubbing are both a form of social greeting. Cats greet each other by touching noses or rubbing cheeks to exchange scents and establish familiarity.
4. Stress Reduction
Maine Coons may headbutt or rub against objects when they’re feeling stressed or anxious. The act of rubbing can help release pheromones, which have a calming effect on the cat.
Headbutting can convey different messages. It can signal a request for attention, playtime, or food. By headbutting or rubbing against you, a Maine Coon might be trying to convey a particular desire.
6. Mimicking Kitten Behavior
Mother Maine Coons often use their heads to nuzzle and groom their kittens. Maine Coons often continue this behavior into adulthood, using it as a way to show care and comfort.
7. Exploration and Scent Exchange
Maine Coons are curious creatures (nosey, if you like), and they explore their environment by rubbing their heads against objects.
This action not only marks the object with their scent but also allows them to collect information about their surroundings.
Hissing, Growling, and Swatting
Hissing is a Maine Coon’s way of warning potential threats to back off. When a cat hisses, it’s trying to intimidate the perceived threat by making itself appear larger and more formidable.
The hissing sound is accompanied by an open mouth, bared teeth, and often a puffed-up body and arched back.
Growling is another warning signal that a Maine Coon uses to communicate its discomfort. It’s a low, guttural sound that serves to deter other animals or humans from approaching too closely.
Growling can also be a sign of territorial behavior or a response to feeling cornered.
Swatting is a defensive behavior that Maine Coons use to keep potential threats at a distance.
When a cat swats, it often extends its paw with claws exposed, but the intent is not necessarily to harm—it’s more about creating space and preventing any unwanted interactions.
Meowing is a versatile sound that Maine Coons, like all cats, use to communicate with their owners.
It can signify a range of things, such as hunger, wanting attention, greeting, or even just expressing their presence. The tone and frequency of the meow can give you clues about their mood.
Purring is typically a sign of contentment and relaxation. Maine Coons may purr when they’re being petted, cuddled, or are in a comfortable environment.
If a Maine Coon is purring when all alone, it could be comforting itself.
3. Chirping and Chattering
Maine Coons are known for their unique chirping and chattering sounds, often observed when they’re looking at birds or other small animals through a window.
It’s believed that this behavior is an instinctual hunting response, expressing their frustration at not being able to capture their prey.
Trilling is a sound that’s somewhere between a meow and a purr. Maine Coons might trill when they’re excited, happy, or want to get your attention.
For instance, they will use this trilling sound as a greeting as they enter a room their human is in, or they might use it to call to other cats in the house.
Yowling is a more intense and often louder vocalization that can indicate various things. In females, it might be a sign of being in heat, while in males, it could signify a desire to mate.
Neutered cats might yowl if they’re feeling territorial or agitated.
6. Hissing and Growling
These sounds are clear signs of fear, aggression, or feeling threatened. Maine Coons may hiss and growl if they encounter a new and potentially intimidating situation, person, or animal.
This is a loud, wailing sound that is most commonly associated with females in heat. It’s a call to attract males for mating and can be quite distressing to hear.
8. Silent Meowing
Sometimes, a Maine Coon might open their mouth to meow but produce no sound. This could be due to various reasons, such as illness, discomfort, or just a way to get your attention.
Maine Coons might make a low, grumbling sound when they’re mildly annoyed or disgruntled. It’s often a warning that they’re not in the mood for interaction.
Interpreting a Maine Coon cats body language: Conclusion
Every move and sound a Maine Coon makes can be interpreted in one way or another, you just need a body language guide like this one to understand them.
However, it’s important to consider the overall context along with your Maine Coon’s body language when trying to establish their mood.
Remember, cats use a combination of postures, facial expressions, vocalizations, and tail movements to convey their feelings and intentions.