Why does my Maine Coon cat bite me?


Some Maine Coons have a habit of nipping. Their biting is often playful, but generally, it is undesirable behavior and can hurt. Maine Coons bite for numerous reasons. In order to address your cat’s biting habit, you need to identify why it is doing it in the first place. Only then can you take appropriate action to deter it.

A common reason for a Maine Coon to bite relates to natural dominant cat behavior. In this case, your Maine Coon is biting you to give you the message that it’s in charge. That said, we’ve witnessed 15 reasons why Maine Coons bite, and understanding them could help you prevent this painful problem.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite me? Black kitten biting a finger

You might have taken your Maine Coon by surprise and its biting reaction is a defense mechanism. If your cat is being unusually vicious, back away and leave it to calm down naturally.

Never punish your cat by shouting at it or smacking it and I wouldn’t advise you to attempt to placate it either as you could make the situation worse.

Take your time to learn your cat’s body language and to recognize signs that it might be about to turn.

15 Reasons why your Maine Coon cat bites or scratches you

There are many reasons or situations which may cause a Maine coon cat to scratch and bite. Let’s looks at some of them:

Genetics

Studies have shown that cats with friendly fathers tend to be friendly themselves, especially if they have been socialized with humans from an early age.

I’m not sure I agree with this theory because, as mentioned above, our cats have the same parents yet one is much more gentle-natured than the other.

Handling young kittens

It is very important to begin to handle kittens once they reach two weeks of age and to keep doing so until they go to live with their new owners. This ensures they get used to people.

Without this socializing, they may become timid of people and react viciously to being approached, held or petted.

Kitten play

The way you play with a Maine Coon kitten can affect its temperament. For instance, you may have seen how some people place a hand on a kitten’s tummy as it lies on its back and then give it a playful shake.

The kitten’s instinctive reaction to this is to clasp all four paws (and sets of claws) around the hand and even to chew it. This teaches biting and scratching at an early age.

For this reason, it is advisable to use toys and not your hand to play with a kitten.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite and scratch me?

Your behavior can affect your Maine Coon’s behavior

Always treat a Maine Coon cat kindly. Never punish your Maine Coon physically or raise your voice at it. If you behave aggressively towards your cat it might behave aggressively towards you. If you approach your cat in an angry mood or with a sudden movement, it may react defensively.

Changes at home

Maine Coons can be sensitive to changes at home and can become stressed. For instance, if you introduce a new pet to the home this may not go down too well.

If you have a baby your cat may be inquisitive and want to get a closer look, but it is very rare for a cat to harm a baby if unprovoked.

Most incidents occur due to the baby’s sudden movements surprising the cat, so you should always be vigilant. To be safe, never leave a cat and a baby alone together.

Old age

An old Maine Coon cat can become a little cantankerous, just like an old human can.  To save yourself from bites and scratches, just learn when your cat doesn’t want your attention and respect this.

Grumpy

Just like humans, Maine Coon cats of any age can have grumpy days. On days like this, a bite or a scratch is your cat’s way of saying leave me alone.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite and scratch me?

Feeling scared

If your Maine Coon feels cornered it may scratch or bite you as a defense mechanism. For example, if you make a sudden move towards a cat in the corner of a room it may feel threatened and lash out as it has nowhere to retreat from you.

Provocation

A cat Maine Coon can be provoked into scratching or biting if someone (often a child) continually pokes or prods at them.

For instance, if a child continually grabs at a cat’s tail because they think it’s funny to do so, don’t be surprised if the cat eventually lashes out.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite and scratch me?

Feeling ill

If your Maine Coon is usually affectionate and seems uncharacteristically vicious one day, it could be feeling under the weather.

Try to establish if your cat is feeling pain when you touch a particular area. If you believe your cat is reacting to pain you should make an appointment with your vet for a check-up.

Play

It is not unusual for a Maine Coon to become overexcited during play. Our Maine Coons are 14 but revert to extreme kitten-like behavior when we play with them. Sometimes they get carried away and claw and bite us as well as their toys.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite and scratch me?

I just want your attention!

Sometimes a Maine Coon will give you gentle scratches and bites just to get your attention. A stroke or a cuddle is usually all that is required to put a stop to your pain.

Matted fur

Maine Coons require a lot of grooming to keep their fur knot-free. If your cat has lots of mats in its fur these can pull on its skin making it sore in that area.

If you touch a knot it can irritate its skin, provoking a reaction such as a bite or a scratch. Pull your own hair several times in the same place to get an idea of what your cat might feel … see if you like it.

If your cat won’t let you groom it, make an appointment for a grooming session (ours have to go for a sedated groom.) Your cat will be a lot happier when it is not knotty!

I’ve had enough of being stroked!

The fact is, we probably enjoy stroking Maine Coons more than they enjoy being stroked. Look for signs that they have had enough such as tail wagging, lack of purring, ears going flat and low growls.

These are sure signs that your cat doesn’t want to be fussed anymore. Take note of these signs and save yourself an injury.

Hunger

One of our Maine Coon cats follows me everywhere, meowing when he’s hungry. I’ve heard stories of others nipping at their human’s ankles to remind them that it is meal time.

These types of bite are usually gentle but it’s best to take notice and provide food in case harder ones follows!

How to deal with biting and scratching

Firstly, cat bites and scratches can be painful and can also become infected. Make sure you clean any injuries properly. It is difficult to live in harmony with a cat that constantly scratches and bites you. Quite often stress can cause this unwanted behavior.

People have reported that Feliway spray or room diffuser can help to calm cats down, particularly in a new environment. It can take up to 4 weeks to work, so be patient.

If a cat is spiteful to a particular person try gently removing it from the room that person is in and then letting it back in for a short time. Gradually increase the time. That person could also give the cat a small treat to gain its trust.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite me? – Conclusion

Maine Coons are generally gentle and wonderful at showing affectionOpens in a new tab.. However, there are various reasons for a Maine Coon to bite and scratch now and then. You’ll have to become an interpreter of your cat’s moods to understand why.

I’m pretty certain cats aren’t vindictive and don’t harbor feelings of hate for you. They don’t bite and scratch out of pure spite, there is always a reason… you just have to work out what that might be.

The more you get to know your cat the more expert you will become at understanding its particular ways.

Always be kind and caring to your cat. Never punish it for biting or scratching as it won’t understand and will just become afraid of you.

Learn when your cat does or does not want your attention and maybe then you can live in pain-free harmony.

And finally…

Try to grasp that your Maine Coon’s feelings are not like yours.

Don’t try to rationalize a cat’s behavior by comparing it to human behavior and human reactions.

Imagine living with your mum and half a dozen siblings one day and the next being whipped away to live in a totally strange environment.

Consider how you would feel if you were contentedly sleeping on a sofa and someone rushed up and rubbed their hands all over your head and back and cooed directly into your face.

Why does my Maine Coon cat bite and scratch me?

Think about how you would feel if someone 10 times your size scooped you from your bed up into the air at high speed, turned you on your back, and started to tickle your tummy.

Would you like to be followed around the house by a large, boisterous child (compared to you) who is hell-bent on making you play with a feather on a stick when you’re really not in the mood?

How would you like it if you were really hungry but not able to communicate that to the person in charge of the food? And how would you feel if you did not have the ability to raid the fridge for a tasty morsel when you felt peckish during the evening.

These are just some examples of a day in the life of a cat. Try to put yourself in your cat’s place. Consider your cat’s feelings. Do your best to make your cat’s life as happy as possible. Remember, he depends on you.

Further information

You’ll find lots more information about dissuading cats from biting in our article 11 ways to stop your cat from bitingOpens in a new tab..

If you’re thinking of becoming an owner, our article What’s it like to own a Maine Coon gives great insights into what living with one of these beautiful cats is really like.

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Jane

Hi. I'm Jane Pettitt and I co-own petsKB with my husband, Matt. I've always been crazy about animals and have shared my whole life with cats, We currently live with 4 gorgeous Maine Coons and have 25 years of experience with this breed. There's not much we can't tell you about them. We've also owned dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, mice, and tortoises. All of our articles draw on the extensive pet knowledge base we've built up throughout our lives as pet lovers.

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