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15 Aspects of Maine Coon Temperament

Maine Coons are one of the most popular family pets in the world today so there must be a good reason for this. Something inspires many people to share their lives with one of these majestic cats. Is it all down to their personality? What is the temperament of a Maine Coon really like?

The Maine Coon temperament is intelligent, gentle, and affectionate. These sweet-natured cats love and thrive on human attention, but are not too demanding. Maine Coons display loyalty and devotion similar to dogs making them wonderful companion pets.

A tortoiseshell Maine Coon with her paws crossed.

How a Maine Coon’s temperament develops depends on how well it is socialized and treated when it’s a kitten so this is an important thing to consider when you are choosing a kitten to share your life with.

I’ve picked 15 Maine Coon personality traits that all add up to make the ideal cat temperament.

1. Maine Coons are loving

A Maine Coon close to a child.

The Maine Coon temperament makes it an affectionate cat with many ways of showing its love for you. Here are the most obvious:

  • Slow blinking – If your Maine Coon makes eye contact with you and slow blinks this is a sure sign of the affection it feels for you. You should always slow blink back.
  • Headbutting – When a Maine Coon gently nudges you with its head, it is treating you like a member of the pack. This is another sign of its love for you.
  • Sitting on your lap – Not all Maine Coons like to sit on laps, preferring to be close by instead. If yours actually sits on your lap this is an absolute sign of affection and trust.
  • Displaying its belly – A Maine Coon will only honor you with a show of its tummy as a sign of complete trust as this is a cat’s most vulnerable position. This is the ultimate show of affection.
  • Bringing you gifts – Be it a little dead animal (try to hide your disgust) or a favorite toy, bringing you a gift is an expression of your cat’s affection for you. You should always praise your cat for bringing you something.
  • Gentle bites – These little nips are like love bites and are only meant affectionately.
  • Purring – If your cat is sitting near or on you and purring contentedly, it is feeling affectionate towards you.
  • Rubbing against your legs – Your cat is marking you with its scent which is always a sign of affection.

2. Maine Coons are not naturally aggressive

As a rule, the Maine Coon temperament is not aggressive. They are known as the gentle giants of the cat world.

But just like any cat, they are capable of being aggressive if provoked. These are some causes of aggression in Maine Coons:

  • Unneutered/unspayed Maine Coons are more likely to have spates of aggression due to hormonal changes. Sometimes they may become feisty and sometimes a little more aggressive. Consider getting your cat neutered/spayed to avoid this type of aggression – unless you are going to breed from it.
  • Pain from an injury or illness can cause a usually gentle Maine Coon to behave aggressively. If your cat suddenly becomes aggressive and you can’t determine a reason, take it to the vets for a health check.
  • Matted fur can cause pain because the mats can pull at a cat’s skin making it sore. If you touch a mat you could provoke an unwelcome reaction from your cat.
  • Provoking a Maine Coon by persisting with behavior that is clearly annoying it can bring out viciousness. They are tolerant cats but do have a tipping point. Always supervise young children around Maine Coons and teach them to always be kind. If you see your cat’s tail start to wave at the tip take this as a signal to leave it alone.
  • Introducing another pet into your household may cause aggressiveness in a Maine Coon. It can be done but requires a very gradual introduction and a lot of patience.
  • Maine Coons are territorial so if a strange cat enters its space there is likely to be an altercation. Be extremely careful if you attempt to break up a catfight as you could get caught in the crossfire.
A Kitten in a hand.

3. Maine Coons Are Not Too Clingy

Maine Coons are affectionate and loving but are not usually clingy. As kittens, two of ours were very independent. They occasionally allowed us to pick them up but if we sat down they immediately moved off to do their own thing.

As long as a Maine Coons has an interesting environment, it will amuse itself for hours. If you play with it and give it the right amount of attention, it should be happy and not become clingy.

4. Maine Coons Can Be Cuddly

Some Maine Coons are cuddly and some just aren’t. You can’t force a cat to sit on your lap; you have to let the cat decide if it wants to.

Often a Maine Coon will be happy to sit close to you but not actually on you. We have one cuddly Maine Coon and one that’s not so cuddly.

Sometimes one will relax in my arms for ages purring and at other times he wants to get down immediately. Give your cat plenty of time to get to know and trust you if you want to have any chance of cuddles with it. Never force a Maine Coon cat against its will to be cuddled as you could lose its trust.

5. Maine Coons Are Not Dangerous

A Maine Coon with one foot on a bird box.

Maine Coons are not dangerous where people are concerned but being accomplished hunters means they are a danger to certain wildlife – that’s if they are outdoor cats.

Our two occasionally bring home mice, birds, and even baby rabbits. If you have a Maine Coon and let it outside, ensure any other small pets you have such as guinea pigs and rabbits are securely enclosed.

I know we sometimes see cute videos of a cat and a budgie having a harmonious cuddle and I’ve even seen a cat nursing a brood of chics.

But remember these occurrences are rare and people share these clips because they are unusual.  You can be certain this is not normal cat behavior. As a rule of thumb, cats don’t cuddle birds, they kill them.

Where we live many people keep free-range chickens and, thankfully, our Maine Coons have never attempted to hunt these. They would, I’m sure, find chics hard to resist.

Hunting is a natural instinct even for domestic cats which don’t need to catch their own food. Don’t punish your cat for displaying this natural behavior. If you want to give wildlife a chance, put a bell on your cat’s collar.

There is also a myth that cats will deliberately suffocate a baby. This is not true either. A cat isn’t capable of planning like this.

However, cats do like warmth and there have been reports of a cat snuggling up close to a warm baby which understandably shocks the baby’s parents.

I can’t find any reports where it has been proven that a cat smothered a baby. My advice is if you can’t supervise a cat and a baby at all times then make sure your cat can’t get into the room where your baby is sleeping.

6. Maine Coons Can Be Destructive

A Maine Coon and his scratching toy.

Maine Coons are destructive in as much as they do like to sharpen their claws indoors as well as outdoors, wherever takes their fancy. You may well find that your carpets, curtains and furniture all suffer at the paws of a Maine Coon cat. 

Never ever get cross or punish a cat for scratching – it is only acting naturally. Scratching is an instinctive way to sharpen claws and flex muscles.

NEVER EVER have a cat declawed just to stop it scratching. There is plenty of information available as to why this is not acceptable, and many countries are now making moves to ban this cruel practice.

Maine Coons have quite a bit of energy. If you decide to keep one as an indoor cat then make sure you allow it plenty of space to move around and provide it with plenty of activities to keep it amused. The less bored a Maine Coon is the less destructive it is likely to be.

I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Accept that a Maine Coon will probably scratch your stuff and be prepared to tolerate this.
  2. From the moment you get a Maine Coon, you should encourage it to scratch on a scratching post or scratching tree (see more about these here) and distract it away from things you don’t want to be scratched. Use catnip spray to encourage your cat to scratch where it’s OK for it to scratch. Be prepared for this to take all your patience and still make no difference to where your Maine Coon scratches.
  3. If you can’t tolerate the thought of your possessions being unintentionally scratched and damaged by a Maine Coon then don’t get a Maine Coon!

7. Maine Coons Can Be High Energy

Maine Coons are high energy some of the time but downright lazy at other times. They do have mad half hours, especially on windy days. As kittens, they have a lot of crazy energy but do calm down as they mature.

Certain situations bring out the Maine Coon zoomies. Sometimes a windy day really gets them excited and they can always be activated by a good play session.

8. Maine Coons Are Clever Cats

Maine Coons do exhibit signs of being intelligent. For instance, they quickly learn how to communicate with people very effectively.

You will be able to tell if a Maine Coon wants to go out or wants something to eat and you will know if it just wants your attention. All of this is communicated using meows of different pitches, lengths, and volumes.

Maine Coons can often solve puzzle toys quite effectively, so try some out on yours if you can.

9. Maine Coons Can Be Jealous

A Maine Coon looking jealous

Maine Coon Cats can be jealous of other pets, other cats, people and even of inanimate objects.  For instance, whenever my husband lavishes too much attention on his PC, one of our Maine Coons blocks his view of the screen, lays on his keyboard and basically does anything to get his attention.

Jealousy of another pet or cat could manifest itself as aggression. You will have to make sure you divide your attention equally amongst all of your pets to prevent jealous reactions.

Signs that your Maine Coon is jealous can include:

  • Tipping over food bowls
  • Not responding to you in their usual way
  • Not making eye contact with you
  • Hiding away
  • Fighting with another household cat
  • Behaving viciously towards other pets

Don’t punish your cat for exhibiting signs of jealousy. Instead, try to resolve the problem by modifying your behavior to ensure the jealousy isn’t fuelled.

Older cats are not always accepting of new cats entering a household so be very careful if you plan to make such an introduction. It may be the end of peace and harmony as you know it.

Main causes of Maine Coon jealousy

Maine Coons can be quite possessive of their favorite person and if they sense their allegiance has altered, feelings of jealousy can emerge.

If you get a new pet, it is not uncommon for a Maine Coon to exhibit jealous behavior. A new baby might invoke a similar reaction.

Maine Coons can develop jealous tendencies if their favorite person brings a new partner home or changes their routine and pays it less attention.

Don’t allow your Maine Coon to feel envious by giving it the same amount of attention as you always did. It’s better to try to prevent your Maine Coon from becoming jealous in the first place.

10. Maine Coons Can Be More Like Dogs

Maine Coons can exhibit dog-like personality traits and are often considered to be the dogs of the cat world. If you have a Maine Coon with this personality trait you will find it is not at all aloof and thrives on human attention in a similar way to a dog.

One of our Maine Coons definitely fits this description. She greets me at the door, or he comes galloping down the stairs when I enter the house. She’ll often sit at the window watching as we drive off anywhere.

She will also play fetch with a hairband (but nothing else) and will steal them from the basket where I keep them until I have none left when I really need one.

This type of Maine Coon is often excited when you have guests and will give them a friendly welcome just like you’d expect a dog to do. Of course, not all Maine Coons are this way inclined and can have shy personalities.

We have one like this too. He’s great with us but keeps out of the way when guests arrive.

11. Maine Coons Are Not Mean Cats

I don’t think a Maine Coon (or any cat) can be described as being mean in the original sense of the word which is unwilling to give or share things.

But as there are several ways you can interpret the word ‘mean’, let’s look at the different definitions and whether any are true of Maine Coons:

  • Are Maine Coons unwilling to give or share things? – They may not want to give or share their food with you but they will share their affection and they are always willing to let you have anything they catch whilst out hunting.
  • Are Maine Coons unkind or unpleasant? – No, they are the opposite. Maine Coons are very sweet-natured and pleasant to live with.
  • Are Maine Coons of humble or lowly origin? – No, Maine Coons are purebred cat royalty and exhibit true high-class qualities.
  • Are Maine Coons poor or shabby? – Definitely not. They always look rich and stunning in their glorious fur coats.
  • Are Maine Coons bad-tempered and vicious? – Not if they come from reputable origins and are reared respectfully by kind and caring owners.
  • Are Maine Coons excellent and skillful? – Well, yes they are in my completely biased opinion as an owner of two extremely fabulous and intelligent Maine Coons. Many people will tell you how great their Maine Coons are at solving brain teaser toys.

12. Maine Coon Are Not Nervous Cats

A white Maine Coon in an office chair.

As a rule, Maine Coons are confident cats and will only seem nervous if something sudden and unexpected happens. If you catch a Maine Coon unawares then you will make it jump.

Maine Coons are sometimes shy around new people and can take a while to overcome this.

Another reason for a Maine Coon to display nervous behavior is if something it has not experienced before occurs.

One of our Maine Coons makes a quick exit if a stranger enters the room he’s in, but our other one couldn’t care less who comes or goes.

Nervousness in a Maine Coon has the best chance of being avoided if it is socialized well with lots of people and other pets as a kitten.

13. Maine Coons Are Playful

Maine Coon temperament means they are very playful cats. From kittens to old age, Maine Coons will respond well to playing with their owners.

It is actually really recommended that you make time to play with a Maine Coon every day to keep it active, healthy and to prevent boredom from setting in. Change your cat’s toys on a regular basis to keep it interested.

14. Maine Coon Have Territorial Instincts

Like all cats, the natural Maine Coon temperament leads them to be instinctively territorial. Many don’t like it when strange cats entering their space.

Once, a strange cat somehow entered our cat-proof garden. Plenty of growling and caterwauling was emitted from our cats through the window. I had to keep our cats in and open a door for the interloper to escape through. Being territorial is perfectly natural cat behavior.

When you own a Maine Coon it will seem more like it owns you and you are living in its house. Everywhere it goes you will notice it rubbing and leaving its scent. Maine Coons usually have lots of favorite spots, not just one.

There’s an old saying: “If you want the best seat in the house, you’ll have to move the cat.” This is definitely true when you own a Maine Coon. And just so you know, the place a Maine Coon is least likely to sleep is in the gorgeous cozy bed you lovingly purchased specifically for it.

15. Maine Coons Are Vocal

Two Maine Coons looking cheeky.

Maine Coons are known for being vocal and having a wide range of ‘vocabulary’. Did you know that mature cats only meow as a way of communicating with humans?

You won’t hear two adult cats meowing in conversation with each other. After a while, you will come to understand the meanings of the different meows, chirps and other noises that your cat emits.

Your cat will soon have you opening doors when it wants to enter a room, feeding it when it’s hungry and paying it attention whenever it requires some.

Finally …

I hope you have found the answers to your questions about the Maine Coon temperament and that if you were considering getting one I have helped you to make up your mind. Owning a Maine Coon (or two) is a very rewarding experience.