Skip to Content

The Temperament of a Maine Coon Cat: how to influence it

A Maine Coon’s temperament is certainly something to understand before becoming a proud owner. What might interest you is knowing how you can directly affect it.

Maine Coons are popular cats and you’ve possibly heard them described as sociable, dog-like, gentle giants. Before making the decision to bring a Maine Coon into your life, you may well want to know more about the intricacies of this cat’s temperament.

What is the Maine Coon temperament?

A Maine Coon’s temperament is a set of characteristics largely influenced by three important variables: genetics, environment, and interactions. You can’t amend a cat’s genetics but it is possible to ensure a Maine Coon develops the best temperament possible by ensuring it is well-socialized as a kitten in a loving home environment.

A tortoiseshell Maine Coon with her paws crossed.
Rosie, our blue smoke tortie

When a Maine Coon has a good temperament, it will naturally develop the individual personality traits that make every cat unique under the influence of its owners (or te humans it owns.)

Make no mistake, no two Maine Coon personalities are the same. They’ll be a mix of many traits from the following list: sociable, gentle, sweet-natured, loving, cuddly, intelligent, shy, confident, nervous, independent, friendly, quiet, noisy, active, lethargic, feisty … and the list goes on.

If you buy a Maine Coon from the best breeder you can find, one who socializes their kittens well, you’ll be off to a good start.

Once your Main Coon is living with you, there are many things you can do to ensure develops into a friendly, confident, and happy adult cat.

How to influence a Maine Coon’s temperament

Choose the right breeder

Part of a Maine Coon’s temperament is dependent on genetics. Certain behavioral traits are inherited. These cannot be influenced once a cat is born but before this, it’s a different story.

If a cat’s parents have good natures, the chances are strong that it will be a good-natured cat too. Therefore, breeders should make every effort to ensure all breeding cats have the right temperament.

Before you decide on a Maine Coon kitten, meet the mother, and the father if possible, to get an idea of their temperament.

Visit the breeder’s home. The best kittens are raised in a homely, cozy, and loving environment. They have plenty of toys and interaction with humans to ensure they develop confidence.

Spend quality time with your Maine Coon

Once your Maine Coon lives with you, you can really influence the development of its personality as follows:

  • Let it settle in and get used to you over time – there’s no rush
  • Make time for lots of play sessions every day and continue these when its an adult
  • Spend time at home as much as possible so your cat has company and doesn’t get lonely
  • Allow it to be alone when it wants to be
  • Be kind at all times and never raise your voice or give it a reason to fear you

Which Maine Coon has the best temperament, male or female?

Ask any breeder and they will confirm that they receive more requests for male Maine Coons than females, generally for two reasons:

  1. Prospective owners believe male Maine Coons are always larger than females
  2. People tend to believe male Maine Coons have better temperaments than females

As an owner of two male and two female Maine Coons, I can honestly say neither point is true.

Both male and female Maine Coons can have wonderful temperaments. And though males are generally slightly bigger, not all are.

Our female Maine Coons are both as sociable and loving as our males. This has a lot to do with the way they have been raised.

Maine Coon personality traits that affect temperament

A Maine Coon’s temperament is a complex combination of personality traits. Here are 15 of these explained:

1. A loving nature

A Maine Coon close to a child.

The Maine Coon temperament can include it being extremely affectionate 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. A lack of aggression

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. Independence

Maine Coons are affectionate and loving but are not often 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. The cuddle factor

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 a chance of cuddles with it. Never force a Maine Coon cat against its will to be cuddled as you could lose its trust.

5. The destructive element

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 from scratching things. 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!

6. High Energy

A Maine Coon with one foot on a bird box.

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.

7. Intelligence

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.

8. Jealousy

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 toward 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.

9. Dog-like ways

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.

10. Confidence

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.

11. Playfulness

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.

12. Territorial Instincts

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

13. Vocalizations

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.

What is the Maine Coon temperament? Conclusion

When people ask what the temperament of a Maine Coon is they really want to know how they behave and what their personalities are like.

The best part is that, like all cats, Maine Coons are generally friendly and love people. They fit in well with family life.

The even better part is that you can help to nurture a Maine Coon’s temperament by being the best owner that you can be. You’ll reap the rewards for your effort.