How to keep your Maine Coon cat happy and healthy indoors

Maine Coon cat

The wild ancestors of your Maine Coon cat had once roamed snow covered forests and battled the wildlife to survive as a cunning predator. Your domesticated Maine Coon today has many of the same skills and instincts but the dangers outside have multiplied manifold. The romance of the wild existence wasn’t all that it’s cut out to be today either. The cats had no secure shelter, they starved when they couldn’t hunt, without vaccines diseases were rampant, and most Maine Coons had low life expectancy in a time when no vet could be called to patch up injuries. While the strongest and luckiest survived to father the modern Maine Coon cats, many died of easily treatable injuries and a lack of shelter.

Today, when cats roam outdoors they face many more dangers despite the security of home and predictable meal times. While humanity wouldn’t notice the deaths of thousands of wild Maine Coons, so long as the species did not go extinct, pet parents feel the loss of every individual cat deeply. To give your Maine Coon a better chance of survival than his unfortunate ancestors had a century ago, it’s advisable to keep him indoors and safe[1].

This idea goes against the grain for many people who dislike the notion of “caging” their pet in the house. They forget that while cats have amazing instincts in hunt and can walk along narrow ledges like pros, they might as well be children when it comes to man-made dangers outside. There is a reason we refuse to let young children outside unsupervised. Nature hasn’t equipped your Maine Coon to deal with cars, rat poison, and cruelty of people like the cat-nappers who use stolen pets in underground fights or the man who got caught selling cat fur[2].

When your Maine Coon goes outside, he can get into territorial fights with other cats and dogs, he can pick up diseases from trash, he can have a violent allergic reaction, or get caught up in an accident. Research has shown that cats who live indoors have a much longer life than cats who are allowed to roam outside. While there are vaccines for many of the diseases contracted through bites, some diseases, like the Feline AIDS has no cure[3]. Even without going that far, something as simple as tick fever, contracted from the insects your Maine Coon carries back in his luxurious coat, can be fatal. Heartworms, carried by mosquitoes, also have easier access to your cat, when he lounges outside the safety of your house.

If you realize the dangers but worry about the quality of an indoor cat’s life, there are things you can do to keep your Maine Coon happy and willing to stay indoors.

Play. Maine Coon cats are more enthusiastic about games than any other breed of cats. They can be kept occupied for hours with interesting toys and some engaging play. Spare fifteen to twenty minutes of your day to exercise your cat. Use strings, laser pointers, battery-operated mice, or toys with catnip in them Make them run and jump around. Just twenty minutes a day is all a cat needs to have a healthy, long life[4]. A Maine Coon is built for short bursts of energetic hunting, not long distance running. Once you satisfy your cat’s prey drive with some play, he will happily while away the rest of the day snoozing and gently batting around his toys. You can also buy interactive toys and food dispensers that make your Maine Coon work for his meals. It’s an excellent way to keep them on their toes and develop their minds.

Walks. The Maine Coon breed is exceptionally trainable. They do very well with common commands and are happy to go on walks with their humans just like a dog. Start small by letting your cat wear the harness indoor and distracting him from the unfamiliar sensation by playing with him and giving him ample treats. Once he no longer notices the contraction strapped to his chest, hook the leash in and walk around the house. Teach your Maine Coon that if he stops when you stop, he gets a treat. They are very clever cat and it won’t be too long before the catch on. The next step is to go out with them for short sessions. Restrict yourself to the backyard of the pavement in front of your house. Don’t go too far too soon. Do this several times a day, until your cat gets the hang of it. Much like walking a dog, going out with your cat will also become a daily routine, and under your supervision, this will be a welcome and safe exercise for your Maine Coon.

Windows. Their access to the outside world should be limited to viewing, unless you go on a supervised walk with them. Cats can lounge around all day watching the world outside. Even when they are outdoors they are less interested in participating and more in observing. To make the most of this characteristic of your Maine Coon, create spaces for your cat to look outside and judge the passer-by at his leisure. Have a cat perched installed next to window, or place the cat tree close to the view. Some people go for catios, which are likely protruding patio-like boxed in areas that overlook the streets below, while letting the cat feel the sun and the wind directly on his fur.

Cat Trees. It’s well known that Maine Coon cats are climbers, and yet, people don’t follow that line of thought and realize that they can provide the same exercise and vantage right inside the house[5]. Cat trees come in all sizes and shapes. Some touch the ceiling, while others are only a few feet off the ground. Not every Maine Coon is comfortable sitting a dozen feet above the ground. Figure out first, how high your cat likes to go. Make your purchase accordingly. You can also invest time in a DIY project and come up with interesting architectures for your Maine Coon to explore. A cat castle is a popular and highly effective construct.

Litter bins. Aside from the lure of the outside world, some cats only go out to keep the house clean. They prefer to eliminate away from their home, which is a natural feline instinct. A Maine Coon is an amazingly clean cat and dirty litter boxes are very hard on them. So, if you want your cat to be happy indoors, you have to make a habit of scooping the litter twice a day. The clean the litter box, the less reason your cat has to go anywhere else[6].

Start as early as possible with these practises. You’ll have an easier time with a kitten who’s never gone outside, than with an adult Maine Coon who suddenly finds his roaming curtailed. With the adult, you must be more alert, since every time he escapes, you inadvertently train him to feel the thrill of pitting his wit against yours. In the initial days, your cat might persuade you to let them go outside, but for the sake of your pet’s long and healthy life, remain determined in the face of their urging. In time, the habit will fade and your Maine Coon will happily remain indoors.

Reference List

[1] 10 Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors

[2] Why All Cats Should Be Indoor Cats

[3] Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

[4] Support Keeping Cats Indoors

[5] Keeping cats indoors

[6] Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

Checkout More! Maine Coon Cat Characteristics