Maine Coons are a naturally calm and gentle cat breed and love human company and attention. There is usually a good reason for any change for the worse in their behavior and attitude towards people.
A Maine Coon rarely attacks anyone unprovoked. If your cat does become aggressive, leave it alone to calm down. A cornered cat may scratch or bite out of fear and an unwell cat often behaves defensively. If play gets out of hand it can lead to your cat attacking you out of sheer excitement.
The Maine Coon Nature
The Maine Coon has many traits that make it a very appealing cat to so many people. They are known as the gentle giant of the cat world, which they are most of the time. They are typically extremely friendly, affectionate and very sociable. They are also intelligent, extremely curious (about everything) and are usually very playful (even at 14 years old, like ours).
A Maine Coon is a cat that will get on with children and other pets. They make a fantastic hunter so will keep any vermin from your house. They crave attention from their owners and will follow them around all day.
Why Has Your Maine Coon Attacked You?
A Maine Coon is not an aggressive cat by nature. If your cat has decided to attack you then (at least in its head) there will be a very good reason to do so. It is this reason that you need to work out. Once you’ve found the cause of aggression you need to make changes in either the lifestyle of your Maine Coon or the way you (or other family members) behave around it.
The Importance of Early Socialization
When we talk about socialization and cats what does this actually mean? To give your cat the best chance of being comfortable around other pets and other people (not including your family members) then it needs to be socialized.
During the first 14 weeks of its life (and bear in mind you may only get her around 12 weeks) you need to introduce as many people (including lots of children and babies if you can) to it as you can.
Also, you should do the same with other animals so make sure she has lots of encounters with other pets, specifically other cats and dogs. Of course, you need to do this carefully and in a controlled manner.
So, why are we socializing your Maine Coon? The more interaction she can get during this crucial part of her life, the better. A cat (not just a Maine Coon) will, generally speaking, be a lot more comfortable later in life with other people and pets if she has been properly socialized during this time.
Is Your Maine Coon Playing or Attacking?
As a kitten, a Maine Coon will play with their brothers and sisters. This play-time will include play-fighting and this is where a cat will learn that biting/scratching can hurt.
When it gives its brother or sister a little nip, the recipient will give a little cry that will shock it into letting go and then
Problems can arise when a Maine Coon is taken away from its siblings too young and it misses out on this experience and learning opportunity. So, it doesn’t really know that this action can really hurt.
Fast forward a few years and an unsuspecting person uses his/her hand to stroke her and the cat, feeling a bit playful, will grab the hand and give it a nip. So, you think that she’s attacking you but she is most likely actually just playing.
How do you know? It’s harder than you think sometimes. One sign could be that your Maine Coon hisses at you, this behavior isn’t seen during play.
Is your Maine Coon Scared or Nervous?
If your Maine Coon has been socialized properly (see above) then this is less likely. However, not all of us get a chance to introduce other people and animals to her at this time. I am included in this.
If your Maine Coon is scared or nervous it is more likely to lash out than if it wasn’t. There are lots of things that can scare a cat, of course. However, what can scare one cat might not scare another. Even our two brothers react differently to certain situations. Today, for instance, we had a couple of strangers in the house fitting a new oven.
Harry, our ginger one, just sat there looking at them wondering when they were going to start playing with him. Charlie, as soon as he heard strange voices, cowered and immediately started looking for the higher ground or an escape route.
How can you tell whether they are scared or nervous? Look for these common signs:
- Running away or hiding – obviously, if your Maine Coon does this then it’s not going to attack you because it won’t be near you.
- Arching its back – if you notice this, possibly accompanied by growling then they are scared and are prepared to protect themselves.
- Still and staring – if your cat feels intimidated and vulnerable then it may decide the best course of action is to be as still as possible.
There are other signs, such as the hissing we mentioned previously but most of these will be pretty obvious.
Of course, the key is to find out why they are scared or nervous. What can achieve this quite quickly is a sudden movement or a loud
Not much you can do about this as kids will be kids but what you can do is try and teach them how to act when they’re around a Maine Coon. Especially a neurotic type (I’m talking about the cat here, not the child!) If you can get your kids to just slow things down a bit and be nice, calm and gentle with her, it will go a long way to alleviating this problem.
If the problem isn’t with the kids then look for other reasons. Could any other animals be coming into the house?
Is your Maine Coon in Pain?
It is less likely that your Maine Coon will attack you because she’s in pain than if she’s scared or nervous. However, if you don’t think something has scared her or she’s not the type to get scared then perhaps this is something to consider.
Typically, if a cat does not feel well then it will take itself off to somewhere quiet, somewhere it doesn’t feel like it will be disturbed – it doesn’t want to be disturbed. This is normal behavior and stems from a natural instinct to find a place where they are less likely to be attacked when they are injured.
If a Maine Coon is feeling ill and someone comes along and prods it or tries to play with it – typically a child who doesn’t understand – it may lash out. Imagine feeling rough yourself and someone comes up, pulls you about, wanting to play, you might not be over the moon about it either!
So, a Maine Coon might react in a defensive way, basically saying, “Please just leave me alone!”, which of course, you should do. If you suspect your Maine Coon is unwell, visit your vet.
The point I’m making is if your Maine Coon is unwell, it may lash out just because it’s feeling rough and doesn’t want attention.
What Should You Do to Stop your Maine Coon from Biting You?
If your Maine Coon attacks you, there are a few things you can do:
- The chances are, your Maine Coon believes it is playing with you. When they attack you, stop interacting with it and turn your back on her. Do this, without looking at her, for a minute. Alternatively, turn around and just walk away. Eventually, they will get the message that acting in this way ends the fun, which is not what she wants!
- Pick it up and put it in another room where it can not access you. Again, it will eventually associate its actions with being isolated from you and will eventually stop doing it.
- It could be that your Maine Coon bites and scratches you as it has too much energy and doesn’t know how to release it. Then you come along and, well, you know what happens next. Try and spend more time playing with her. Particularly activities that involve her running around the house to drain some of that energy.
- Don’t encourage this behavior. A lot of people play with their cats with their hands. This makes it okay, as far as your Maine Coon is concerned, to play with your hand – which could mean biting. Instead of using your hand, use toys.
What Should You NOT Do?
There are two main things that you should never do in this situation.
- You should never, ever, hit your cat. This goes without saying. It will not stop aggressive behavior and just raise the anxiety levels of your cat and confuse them. They will wonder why this person, who they love, is hurting them. It can take a long time to form a true, loving bond with your Maine Coon and you could ruin this in just a moment. Sometimes, there’s no way back from this and they will always associate you with the pain that you inflicted on them. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t shout at your cat. The problem with this is that your Maine Coon may see your reaction as a positive one. It’s done something and got a reaction from you, this is great (it will think) and will have to do it more often. So shouting and screaming at them can actually have the reverse effect.
Other people have suggested spraying water at them when it happens but firstly, you will need to have a water spray handy at all times and secondly, there are other ways to fix this problem without having to resort to this.
We all know that some cats have a more aggressive tenancy than others, including Maine Coons. There could be numerous reasons for this, perhaps the socialization wasn’t performed or maybe they just have a more aggressive personality. All cats are individuals, like us.
Try and establish whether they are playing, unwell or scared. Then, importantly, deal with it in a calm method!
The complete guide to the Maine Coons is the perfect place to learn everything you need to know about these majestic cats.