Cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent but those of us who share our homes with Maine Coons definitely disagree. Maine Coons are extremely sociable and thrive on human interactions.
To back us up, a recent study demonstrates that cats develop attachment bonds with their humans in the same way that children do. In fact, 64% of kittens studied are described as “securely attached.”
Do Maine Coons Get Separation Anxiety?
Maine Coon cats can suffer from separation anxiety, especially females and those orphaned at a young age. There is a whole raft of Maine Coon separation anxiety symptoms with the most noticeable being excessive vocalizations, eating disorders, and toileting issues.
If you believe your Maine Coon cat has separation anxiety, follow these three steps:
- Get a diagnosis
- Establish the causes
- Provide relief
How To Recognize The Signs of Separation Anxiety in Maine Coon Cats
Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a type of mental health problem that occurs as a result of excessive attachment. Maine Coon cats can develop separation anxiety syndrome with many of the signs being the same as those seen in dogs.
Every Maine Coon’s set of symptoms is unique but their general signs of separation anxiety will include some or all of the following:
- Excessive vocalizations
- Difficulty resting or settling down
- Excessive destructive behavior such as scratching furniture
- Eating too fast
- Vomiting food or hairballs
- Not eating or picky eating
- Excessive self-grooming
- Elimination outside of the litter box
- Often attempting to escape
- Excessive excitement when you return home
- Startled by normal day-to-day household noises
- Hiding away too often
- Following you around excessively
- Regular diarrhea with no other signs of illness
Understanding The Causes of Separation Anxiety in Maine Coon Cats
Separation anxiety is a state of distress, experienced by a Maine Coon when it realizes it’s about to be left alone, or once it has been left.
Not all Maine Coons experience this distress. Some seem to be predisposed to developing separation anxiety whereas in others environmental factors trigger it.
Known triggers for separation anxiety in Maine Coons, are:
- Being a female: Female cats are diagnosed with separation anxiety more often than males
- Being orphaned
- Being weaned early, or bottle-fed
- Living in a home with no other pets
- Living strictly indoors
- Living in a home with only one adult
- A change of owner
- Moving home
- A change of routine such as the main caregiver suddenly going out to work instead of working from home
How To Diagnose Separation Anxiety in Maine Coons Cats
If you are concerned that your Maine Coon has separation anxiety you should first ask a vet for a full health check. This is essential because some of the symptoms could be indicative of a physical health condition.
Once physical illnesses have been ruled out, steps can be taken to diagnose an emotional disorder
You should expect a vet to request blood work and a urine test and also to ask detailed questions about your Maine Coon’s behavior and general home life.
The more detail and examples you can give, the better so take a list of these with you to your consultation.
Video evidence is very helpful for a vet so if at all possible film your cat’s behavior that’s worrying you.
The more you can tell your vet, the easier it will be for them to make an accurate diagnosis.
How to Reduce Separation Anxiety in Maine Coon Cats
There are three main approaches to relieving separation anxiety in Maine Coons:
- Making gradual changes to their environment
- Using vet-prescribed anxiety relief medication
- Work on preventing or changing their anxious behavior
1. Make gradual changes to a Maine Coons environment
Altering a Maine Coon’s environment in a positive way can go a long way toward lowering its feelings of separation anxiety.
Here are some simple changes you can make immediately.
Create a routine that you can stick to
Maine Coons, like all cats, get to know routines and expect things to happen according to them every day. They have internal clocks set for things such as feeding time, playtime, and even your bedtime.
The more things you do consistently the less anxious your Maine Coon will become. Obviously, it’s humanly impossible to do things at the exact same time every day but you should try to do so as much as you can.
Enrich your Maine Coon’s environment
A Maine Coon that’s kept in a confined space with little enrichment will get bored and anxious when you leave the home. Enriching a cat’s living space is essential, especially if you are out for several hours at a time.
Leaving your usual radio station on or music playing whilst you’re out can help things to seem normal to a cat. There are even TV programs designed to entertain cats – if your cat happens to pay attention to the TV.
Placing a bird table near a window your Maine Coon cat looks out of as you leave is a great distraction. Don’t worry about this causing unnecessary frustration – it really doesn’t.
Leave a few favorite (safe) toys in strategic positions. Try a puzzle feeder that releases treats when it’s patted around. If you give this to your Maine Coon a while before you go can be an ideal distraction.
2. Vet-prescribed medication
If following a routine and enriching its environment does not alleviate your Maine Coon’s separation anxiety symptoms, your vet may prescribe medication.
If you carry out your own research and opt to source remedies online, tread carefully! Always ask your trusted vet for their opinion on any product you are intending to use. You don’t want to make matters worse,
Though people may believe natural supplements improve a Maine Coon’s anxiety, vet-approved medications are known to yield more reliable improvements.
The goal of vet-prescribed medications is to make adjustments to a cat’s brain chemistry and keep it from experiencing feelings of anxiety.
3. Preventing or changing anxious behavior
Changing a Maine Coon’s anxious behavior might sound like an impossible task but it is possible over time. What you’re aiming to do is help them cope and alter their response to stressful situations.
Encourage your Maine Coon to be independent by gradually introducing time apart as part of a normal routine.
Build this time up until you can go out for a few hours, or even a whole day without any adverse reaction.
Remember Maine Coons are social cats so if you intend to be out a lot, it is always better to have more than one cat to lower the feeling of isolation for both.
Discourage attention-seeking behavior
Try to ignore attention-seeking behavior by treating and praising your cat when it acts independently. This is not as easy as it sounds as it’s almost impossible not to react to a cat when it clearly wants something from you.
Keep your comings and goings fuss-free
From the day you first decide to go out and leave your Maine Coon, keep your comings and goings from and to the home as low-key as possible.
The less fuss you make, the less of a big deal it will be to your Maine coon. Be consistent with this and your cat will learn to remain calm and not feel anxious.
Let your cat learn to entertain itself
Though it is recommended to play with Maine Coons of all ages, they can benefit from playing alone. Encourage this by leaving a selection of toys out and changing them regularly.
If your cat starts to play without you instigating it, resist the temptation to join in so your cat learns to entertain itself. This way, hopefully, it will do the same when you’re not home.
Cats love to climb so if you can, invest in a cat tower where it can get a different view of its world. These also offer a safe high space for a Maine Coon to retreat to if it feels the need.
We have an Amazon Basics cat tree which I’m happy to recommend. You can see two of our Maine Coons enjoying it below. If you’d like to see more information and the latest price of a similar model on Amazon, click this link.
Four Things To Avoid for Separation Anxiety in Maine Coon Cats
There are many suggestions for relieving a Maine Coon’s separation anxiety and most are worth a try. However, here are four things that can actually make matters far worse:
Not going to the vet for a diagnosis
If you are not a trained vet, you should not assume your Maine Coon is suffering from separation anxiety simply based on its behavior.
Many of the symptoms attributed to separation anxiety can also be symptoms of other underlying medical conditions.
By not asking a vet for a diagnosis, you could miss catching a health condition that’s more treatable at an early stage, allowing it to progress to something much more serious.
Getting an Additional Cat
Getting two kittens at the same time is always ideal because they will bond and entertain each other and keep each other company when you go out.
And under normal circumstances, it is fine to introduce a new cat to an existing cat in your household.
However, if you have a Maine Coon that’s suffering from separation anxiety, introducing a new cat into the mix can spell disaster.
There is no guarantee that your Maine Coon will accept a new cat and instead of relieving its separation anxiety, you could increase it.
As well as hating the new cat, your Maine Coon might well find the other changes this newcomer necessitates unbearable: for example, extra litter boxes, new sleeping arrangements, and sharing its territory.
You should never punish a cat in any way, shape, or form. You will simply make its separation anxiety far worse.
Cats do not act up deliberately or behave out of spite. Separation anxiety is a medical condition like any other and should be treated accordingly.
Don’t be tempted to confine your cat to a smaller room, and especially don’t put it in a crate like you might a dog. Confining a cat raises its stress levels and will worsen all anxieties it feels.
Buying over-the-counter remedies
When you buy over-the-counter remedies you often have no guarantee of the quality or quantity of their ingredients.
Often, extensive research into their suitability and effectiveness is unavailable or totally lacking. And many companies producing these remedies are completely ungoverned.
It simply isn’t worth taking the risk unless your vet approves them first.
Separation Anxiety in Indoor-only Maine Coons
Maine Coons that have separation anxiety are often indoor cats who never get to go outside. If you have an outside space, consider making it secure so your Maine Coon can experience the great outdoors.
The easiest option is a large, secure run known as a catio. These are often attached to the home with a catflap or further out in the garden or yard with an access tunnel.
A second option is to have high fences with a special topper that prevents cats from climbing over. This gives a Maine Coon the greatest ability to explore, hunt and exert energy as a cat would naturally.
If you can’t offer either of the above two options, consider harness training your Maine Coon at a young age so you can take it out for safe walks.
Always make sure your Maine Coon is microchipped and fully vaccinated before letting outside under any of the above conditions.
Pheromone Diffusers and Maine Coon Separation Anxiety
Pheromone diffusers are designed to mimic the scent of chemicals released by the various glands over your cat’s body. All cats know how to read these chemical signals and they are thought to make them feel less anxious and stressed.
There are not many scientific studies on how effective pheromone diffusers are. However, some research has seen positive results.
It is something you could consider trying in conjunction with the anxiety-reducing techniques covered earlier.
Can Maine Coons Be Left Alone?
Maine Coons prefer company but can be left alone once they are acclimatized to their new home with you.
Most Maine Coons are a minimum of 13 weeks old when they leave their mums, and ideally, you should ensure someone is home with them for their first 8 weeks at your house.
As long as you gradually increase your time away, a Maine Coon cat should cope well at home alone. Of course, it’s always better if there is at least one other cat because cats are social animals.
If you are always at home and suddenly go out for a whole day, it is natural that your Maine Coon will wonder where you are and feel anxious.
This doesn’t automatically mean it will develop separation anxiety but its wise to gradually increase the amount of time you leave a Maine Coon alone so it gets used to the feeling.
Maine Coons can be left alone for a day but this should not exceed 12 hours. After this time, they’ll need fresh food, a litter box refresh, and possibly fresh water – and of course will be in need of some human company.
If you need to go away overnight, arrange for someone to check in with your cat whilst you’re away to ensure everything is OK.
Always catproof your home regardless of whether you are at home all the time or not. There are many hazards for cats indoors (and outdoors) so I’ve written a whole article on how to make a home and garden thoroughly cat proof and you can read it here.
Are Maine Coons clingy?
Maine Coons like human company but are not particularly clingy cats. They can be independent to an extent but do like human company.
Having separation anxiety is not a sign of a clingy cat and it doesn’t follow that a clingy cat has separation anxiety.
You can find out more about how independent Maine Coons in my article on the subject: Are Maine Coons Independent?
Maine Coon Separation Anxiety: Conclusion
Maine Coons can suffer from mild separation anxiety through to full-on Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD). The only way to establish this for certain is to take your cat to a vet for a thorough investigation.
Your vet may prescribe medication and you can reduce the symptoms by making adjustments to your cat’s environment, and your household routines.
Don’t fret as separation anxiety in Maine Coons is not prevalent, most of them are well-adjusted cats. But if yours is a sufferer, you can definitely relieve its stress with the correct treatment