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Why don’t Maine Coons like to be held?

If you are desperate to cuddle your Maine Coon but it just won’t let you, be assured, you’re not the only owner to experience this. The fact is that although they are an affectionate breed, some Maine Coons just don’t like being picked up.

The number one reason why many Maine Coon cats don’t like to be held is a lack of proper socialization when they were kittens. If your cat wasn’t introduced to being held between the age of 2 to 12 weeks, it will not have developed a trust of being picked up and cuddled.

There is also the fact that being held and restricted is not a natural interaction for a cat, Maine Coon otherwise.

A Maine Coon on his dad's lap having a snuggle.
Fred snuggling with his dad, Matt

8 reasons why Maine Coons don’t like to be held

As with all cat behavior, there are many reasons why Maine Coons don’t like being held. These are the 8 most common:

1. Lack of socialization

From the age of 2 weeks, it is advisable to start gently handling kittens so they get used to human interaction.

If for whatever reason your Maine Coon was not socialized very well, it is very likely that it will not like being held.

The best way to deal with this is to stop constantly trying to pick your Maine Coon up. Only do this if it is really necessary such as to put it in a carrier to go to the vet or bring it in from the garden or catio.

Form a bond by playing with your Maine Coon for a few hours spread throughout the day every day. Use food and treats as positive reinforcement.

Let your Maine Coon come to you of its own accord, pet it if it’s receptive and when you do attempt to pick it up do this slowly and ensure you well-support its weight so that it feels comfortable and secure. Put it down equally gently if it struggles at all.

If your Maine Coon never warms to being picked up, this is perfectly natural – some cats just never do.

2. It’s not natural

Being held isn’t a natural interaction for Maine Coon cats. They show affection to each other through slow approaches, rubbing, sniffing and licking.

Although you see holding your cat as a friendly action they may see it as an attack. The feeling of being restrained makes them feel trapped and they may think they’re about to be injured or even killed!

3. You’re doing it wrong!

Always use both hands when picking up a Maine Coon to hold it, whether they are small or large. Using one hand doesn’t feel secure and is uncomfortable for the cat.

Always support a Maine Coon’s back feet on your arm or hand once lifted and let its front legs rest over your other arm. This allows them to feel they are free to escape if they need to.

Never let a Maine Coons legs dangle by holding it under the arms. This feels very awkward for a cat, and painful if they are heavy.

The following photo shows our cat Harry demonstrating the best way for a Maine Coon to be held.

How to hold a Maine Coon cat: Matt holding Harry

4. It’s feeling scared

Put yourself in your Maine Coon’s shoes and imagine you’re on the ground minding your own business when a giant comes along and suddenly sweeps you up into the air. You’d probably feel scared!

Some Maine Coons don’t like being picked up because the experience is literally terrifying. This is especially true of those who are fearful of sudden movements.

If your Maine Coon seems frightened and struggles when you pick it up, plump for sitting on the ground next to it and petting it instead.

Eventually, it may choose to sit on your lap and one day even develop enough trust to allow you to pick it up.

5. It feels restricted

If you pick up a Maine Coon cat for a cuddle it might not be receptive because it feels restricted.

Cats always assess their environment for a way out should one be required. When you scoop a cat up and hold it in your arms, especially tight against your chest, it may feel a sense of panic because it can’t get away easily.

So, if a Maine Coon feels that you’re preventing its movements, it will struggle to get free. This doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t like being picked up, it just hates the feeling of being restricted.

A Maine Coon cat happy sleeping in a hammock.
Oscar in his hammock

6. A negative association has been triggered

If your Maine Coon has suffered a traumatic experience whilst being picked up or held, this may prevent it from tolerating being picked up again.

If a past event has made your Maine Coone afraid of being picked up or being held, you’ll have to try to break that association.

For example, a loud noise like a dog barking may have scared your cat whilst it was being held and now it thinks this could happen every time it is picked up.

7. Your cat is hurt

If you’ve been able to pick up your Main Coon but suddenly it is not happy about it, it could be that it hurts.

It may wince or meow as you lift it, or it may just try to avoid being picked up in the first place.

If this is obviously the case, a trip to the vet as soon as possible is advisable.

8. It’s a personality thing

Some Maine Coons like to be cuddled and held and some just don’t. Some cats are more skittish than others and always will be.

You may just have to accept your Maine Coon is never going to want to be picked up. Hopefully, you can bond through play and be happy to get close enough to enjoy a petting session.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve found that the older Maine Coons get, the more they settle down and allow you to cuddle them. So you’ll have to be patient and see what happens.

Some cats just make you work hard at earning the right to pick them up.

Two Maine Coons cuddling.
A young Monae and Rosie cuddling

Do Maine Coons like to be picked up?

Many Maine Coons are happy to be picked up because they like human interaction and being up high.

However, not all Maine Coons want to be swooped up into their owner’s arms every time.

You can tell if a Maine is receptive to being picked up if it stands still and doesn’t struggle as you begin to lift it.

If your Maine Coon tries to walk away or attempts to get down the minute you lift it, it’s safe to assume it doesn’t want to be picked up at that moment.

Although Maine Coons are affectionate and enjoy attention not all like to be picked up. Some enjoy being above the ground in your arms but some prefer to be on terra firmer and prefer you to get down to their level.

How do I bond with my Maine Coon?

The ideal way to bond with a Maine Coon is to give it lots of kind attention, play with it as much as possible and be the person who gives it food and treats.

Basically the more time you have to dedicate to your Maine Coon, the more it will grow to trust you and enjoy your company.

Three Maine Coons snuggling on a bed.
Three of our Maine Coons snuggling on our bed!

Do Maine Coons like to snuggle?

One of the best characteristics of Maine Coons is that they are snuggly, cuddly cats. It may take a few years for a Maine Coon to settle down and become a snuggler but it usually happens sooner or later.

The best time to elicit cuddles from a Maine Coon is when it’s sleepy. If you like cats on your bed, many Maine Coons love to snuggle up with you at night.

If your Maine Coon isn’t cuddly, it might be because it’s young or because it needs time to get used to you. A lot of cats like cuddles on their own terms, not yours.

Top tip: Offering treats is a great way to entice a Maine Coon onto your lap.


So why don’t Maine Coons like to be held? As with all cat behavior quirks, there are many reasons.

It may be a lack of socialization that stops your Maine Coon from wanting you to pick it up or it could just be the mood it’s in that day.

If your Maine Coon never wants to be held, this is OK: your cat is not broken! Sometimes you just have to accept this is how it is and enjoy your Maine Coon in other ways.

Instigate play sessions, sit and admire its beauty, its comical ways, how it chats to you, and many other characteristics.

Simply enjoy sharing your life with one of the most incredible of Mother Nature’s creations: the Maine Coon cat.

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