Maine Coon cats love to interact with their owners. They enjoy being the center of attention which is one aspect of their personalities that makes them perfect family pets.
Whereas some cats might run a mile from boisterous children, Maine Coons will confidently hold their ground. Just as kids love to play so do these fun-loving cats.
What do Maine Coons like to play with? Maine Coons like to play with anything that moves. They like it if someone instigates playing but will also entertain themselves if the mood takes them. You can be quite inventive with their toys; a Maine Coon won’t care if they are homemade or shop-bought.
The best thing is a Maine Coon will play like a kitten throughout its life so set aside at least 15 minutes every day to have fun with yours.
Do Maine Coons like to play?
Maine Coon cats are renowned for their playful personalities which develop as kittens and stay with them throughout their lives. Maine Coon cats need the mental and physical stimulation that play affords them.
They also thrive on the attention their owners lavish on them during play sessions. Being playful provides important physical exercise, especially for indoor Maine Coons. It is also a great substitute for real hunting and in reality, when a Maine Coon plays it is honing its natural ability to pounce on its prey.
In this article, we look at why cats play, the different things they like to play with and the best toys for Maine Coons.
Types of Maine Coon Play
You can loosely divide cat play into 4 categories:
- Object Play – This involves a cat playing with anything that it considers a toy. It will chase, paw, claw, and catch during this type of play which is usually initiated by movement or noise.
- Social Play – Play with another cat or a person is social play, for example, when kittens in a litter play together or when a kitten can’t resist attacking your ankles. This type of play usually decreases with age.
- Self Directed Play – This is the type of play a cat indulges in when there is no one else to amuse it. You might notice your cat chasing its own tail or pouncing on one of its toys.
- Locomotory Play – This involves movement in changeable directions for its own sake. Sometimes this is a solo activity and sometimes with another cat. A cat involved in this type of play will tear excitedly about the house or garden, jump up things, do U-turns, and all for no obvious reason. If you can get close enough, you will notice its pupils are dilated.
Why Do Maine Coons Play?
It’s easy to presume that kittens play to practice the survival skills they might need as adults. It is true that play can hone the skills required for hunting. This doesn’t explain why adult cats continue to involve themselves enthusiastically in play sessions right into their
Cat play has many purposes and benefits:
- It is a good way to develop a kitten’s coordination. If it’s boisterous enough it develops fitness and muscles. With adult cats, especially indoor cats, it provides daily exercise to help keep them fit and at a healthy weight.
- It provides interaction and stimulation that’s good for a cat’s mental health. Playing with adult and senior cats can help stave off conditions such as dementia.
- It relieves cat stress as it offers a way to release pent up energy. Remember this when your cat next punishes its scratching post – rather that than you or your furniture.
- It provides kittens with painful lessons that show them the damage their teeth and claws can inflict. It’s how they learn what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
- It allows for social bonding, whether it’s among kittens or between you and your cat. Your cat will think of you as the provider of fun as you play together which will strengthen the bond between the two of you.
- It can help timid cats to relax and learn to trust you. They can play with you at a distance and gradually you can close this gap
- It can settle cats in a new environment such as a new home. Spending time with your cat and its familiar toys is a good distraction.
So the act of playing has plenty of positive effects on cats from relieving stress to stimulating them mentally and physically. If you can dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes a day to play the results will be rewarding.
What Will a Maine Coon Play With?
Why do cats play with their prey? The reason for this is simple. They are not deliberately torturing it.
Once prey is caught a cat must kill it by delivering a swift bite to the nape of the neck to sever the spinal cord. In order to do this, the cat must momentarily release the creature to position for this bite at which point the creature sees a chance of escape and runs.
The cat grabs it again and, of course, needs to release it yet again to aim a bite at its neck.
As you can imagine this can give the appearance that a cat is toying with its prey, but it really isn’t. So those of you who think cats have a mean streak when they witness this behavior might want to adjust your opinion.
Once their prey is dead, many cats play with it. Capturing and killing it was driven by instinct. Once it is dead they don’t need to eat it because they have already filled up their belly with the nice food you provided. So some cats will just bat whatever it is about like any other toy.
Wool or String
In balls or as separate strands, most cats can’t resist wool or string. A kitten will turn onto its back and hug a ball of wool to its belly as its paws get to work pulling it apart. An adult will chase a string and if you tie something to the end it will attract more interest.
Cats love a feather. You can waive one by the tip or attach it to string and watch your cat dance and attempt to catch it with both paws as you raise it in the air.
Scrunched Up Paper
You can make a nice light ball perfect for batting about and your cat will love the noise it makes too.
A Paper Bag
Cats can’t resist an empty paper bag. First, cut off any handles to prevent your cat running around with it caught around its neck. Throw something in or leave it empty. Many cats seem to play hide and seek in these and love to pounce on each other from them. Again it could be the noise that attracts them so much.
A Small Ball
Cats love the way these roll. Hollow ones are best as they are light and can be tossed into the air.
A Laser Dot
These are a great toy if you are in a lazy mood as you can wear your cat out from the comfort of your chair. Do let your cat capture the dot now and to prevent frustration. And avoid shining it into your cat’s eyes!
A Cat Dancer/Wand
These colorful sticks come with a variety of toys attached. You can wave them high up and encourage your cat to leap or you can wiggle them on the ground and encourage your cat to pounce.
A flimsy stick is an ideal free toy. You can use it just like the wand mentioned above.
A Toy Mouse
Most cats will play with a toy mouse, especially if it’s filled with catnip.
A Hair Band
One of my Maine Coons steals these to play with. He runs after them and fetches them back. Sometimes he brings one to me when I’m in bed to signal it’s playtime.
If you allow your Maine Coon outside, in the fall season a dry leaf caught on a breeze is perfect to chase.
Christmas Tree Decorations
These are irresistible to cats. The ones on the lowest branches usually end up on the floor overnight.
If you have a kitten, then tying shoes laces becomes tricky as they think this is a game. Be careful of your fingers!
I don’t what made someone invent a catnip banana but cats love them and they so look funny as they chew them.
It’s a combination of being somewhere to hide and pounce from and the noise they make that make these a hit with many cats.
Nerf Gun Bullets
These little foam bullets are very attractive to cats. I have a son and an endless supply of these scattered around the house. The cats are happy about this.
If you know how to make woolen pom-poms, your cat will play with them for hours. They like the way their claws attach to the wool enabling them to pick them up and roll around with them.
This isn’t something we want our cats to play with, especially if it is attached around the bottom of furniture, but they can’t resist it. A cat we had when I was young could do several loops of the couch on its side purely by pulling itself around on the fringing. It was amazing to witness, but for some
Cats love springs and you can buy packets of them especially designed for cats to play with. These colorful plastic ones
Any toy that squeaks goes down well with a cat and if it has added catnip it will be a winner.
These are so entertaining, especially for indoor cats. With a variety of levels to climb, holes to hide in and areas to scratch, they never seem to tire of them. They are a great investment if you have space for one. We have an old one but I would choose one of these three if we ever have to replace it.
These are always popular too and if you introduce them to your cats as kittens you might save your furniture and carpets.
These are relatively cheap and can be easily folded for storage. Both my Maine Coons love theirs and are in it every day.
Incorporating a scratching pad and a ball to push around, the Turbo Scratcher is a phenomenally popular cat toy. It has thousands of 5-star reviews written by owners on behalf of their cats. This might have to be our next cat toy purchase!
Finally, if you’d like a Complete Guide to the Maine Coon – then do take a look at my post.