If you’re considering becoming a cat owner, you may have been looking at the beautiful, large and fluffy Maine Coon breed of cat. They are natural marvels, but just how much damage can the impressive Maine Coon do to your house? Is it a destructive cat, and are you at risk of losing your favorite furniture?
Are Maine Coons destructive? Maine Coons are not known for being destructive, but a fully grown Maine Coon can do a lot of damage. Like most other breeds, if poorly managed, bored and unhappy, a Maine Coon cat can turn your new couch into shreds in the space of one afternoon. Luckily, there are very easy ways to prevent this kind of behavior, through exercise, proper care, and positive reinforcement.
There are many ways in which you can avoid your valuable possessions becoming cat toys, including preparing your house for your new cat, preventing bad behavior, deterring it when it happens, and rewarding good behavior.
Read on to take a look at our top tips to keep your Maine Coon from getting destructive!
Why would a Maine Coon cat become destructive?
Maine Coon cats usually are quite laid back creatures. There's no reason to worry about them destroying your house, at least not more than any other breed of cat. Of course, there are always exceptions, and you may end up with the kitten equivalent of Terminator.
However, Main Coon cats are impressively large, tending to weigh in around 7 kg or 15 lbs. This means that if they do decide to party, it will most certainly be a mess.
They have the ability to reach more or less everywhere and destroy more or less everything if they so desire.
Not paying attention to your cat can very quickly turn your house into a war zone. So what exactly should you be paying attention to?
- Spending too much time alone – While a normal work schedule shouldn’t phase this hardy breed, that doesn’t mean you can take off every weekend and leave her home alone with a supply of tuna cans and a can opener. Be reasonable, this breed is very affectionate and needs to be close to you.
- Not getting any exercise at all – Especially in the case of apartment cats that get no roaming rights at all, there’s a risk that they will become sedentary. If they have nothing to climb, nowhere to jump, nothing to chase, and you never play with them, sooner or later something’s going to give.
- Not getting appropriate outlets for their scratching and chewing needs – all cats have these behaviors embedded in their DNA. To a certain extent, scratching things for your cat is inevitable. They should, however, have access to their own favorite cat-friendly toys on which to unleash these impulses and be educated to use them.
Which things will a bored Maine Coon try to destroy?
It’s a known fact that each cat has different preferences when it comes to the texture, smell, position, and sound of the things that they rip to shreds. Since fore-warned is fore-armed, here is an outline of the kinds of things in your house that you can expect will be at risk.
- Plants – A lot of house cats end up chewing on indoor plants to substitute the outdoor plants they would normally interact with as part of their day. They are curious and want to experiment, but often these experiments can become dangerous when the plant in question is poisonous. Your veterinarian or local poison control center will be able to tell you exactly which plants are dangerous in your area.
- Your couch – It’s a prime target not only because it smells like you, and cats will try to mark their own scent on it, but also because it’s probably made of a nice fabric like cotton, leather or raffia. Your favorite chairs and armchairs are included in this category. The good news is that seeing which fabric your cat likes to scratch will give you a great hint as to what kinds of scratching post she’s most likely to be happy with.
- Small objects on any surface they can reach – The best proof that cats understand the notion of fun is their constant need to knock small things off of high places. It stimulates their prey drive, their sense of mischief, and it usually gets them your attention. Unfortunately, they can't tell which objects are valuable to you and which are horrible gifts from your aunt – everything goes.
- Anything you value dearly – Based solely on Murphy’s Law, you might as well expect that if there’s something extremely valuable that you are really concerned about, it’s probably at risk. Don’t leave your priceless vintage Hi-Fi system in easy reach if it’s just going to become a reason for you to be anxious while you’re at work.
How can I prevent destructive behavior?
The good news is that destructive behavior in Maine Coon cats is entirely preventable. This breed does not have any innate tendencies to wreck things, so a healthy and happy Maine coon should give you no trouble at all.
The first way to prevent having any problem is to prepare for the worst. In case anything does happen, it would be great if it didn’t happen to your favorite slippers, right?
Take a good hard look around yourself, and find a safe place for anything you just couldn’t bear to lose. Pay extra attention to plants that might be harmful to your cat, small objects that might get ingested, or large wobbly pieces of furniture that could fall if climbed on.
Before you even bring your Maine Coon cat home, there are a few things you should have in your arsenal that will help direct her attention away from your furniture from day one. You can buy most of these in any pet store, and they include:
- A good quality, durable scratching post, and perch – placed in a strategic area to make your cat want to explore and use it. (Here are 5 awesome scratching posts for Maine Coons)
- A selection of different textured and flavored cat chew toys – including food puzzle toys to keep your cat’s brain active.
- A selection of chase and play toys that you can use together with your cat for some good quality bonding and social interaction.
- A stick of catnip to chew on left in an easily accessible spot.
- Some catnip oil to spread on your cat’s toys and post to get their interest.
- Bitter apple spray that you can use to deter her from chewing certain items before the habit forms.
- A sewing kit. Because accidents will happen anyway.
Of course, these objects by themselves are not enough. The most important tool in preventing the bad behavior of your Maine Coon is your time.
You need to make sure that your cat gets plenty of chances to socialize and hang out with you. You should set aside regular play time and find some favorite chase games that will keep your kitten fit.
What do I do if my Maine Coon destroys my furniture?
So you weren't prepared, or you got the Terminator of kittens on your hands. Everything seemed fine, then you came home, and the house was in tatters. What can be done?
The best thing to do, and the only thing that works, is to take a deep breath and start over. Give up your ruined items for lost, toss them out, and replace them – preferably with something more durable, and in a different texture.
Don’t, under any circumstances, get upset at your cat. Punishing her won’t help, as she won’t have any clue as to why she’s being punished.
Most of the time, when a cat destroys something of yours, she has no idea that she’s doing something bad. Many owners try to convince themselves that animals can get a “Guilty Look” but this is just fantasy.
The animal is reacting to the owner’s emotions, the tone of voice and body language.
Once you’ve replaced the items in question, look at your cat’s living space again with a critical eye. Is there enough to chew? Is there space to climb? Does she like the texture of her scratching post?
Creative owners might even find it a good idea to use their shredded curtains to cover the scratching post, much to the delight of their cat who clearly already loves that texture.
If all else fails, there are few situations in which a dab of catnip oil on the appropriate toys will fail to attract your cat. Combined with a bit of bitter apple on the edges or corners of forbidden areas, and you should be fine!
What are the biggest health problems of the Maine Coon cat breed?
While they can be wonderful pets and are very friendly and extremely tolerant of children and other animals, the Maine Coon can experience a great number of health problems, mainly due to its massive size. Some of these include hip dysplasia and spinal muscular atrophy. The Maine Coon is for sure a cat your vet should keep an eye on.
Which cat breeds are the least destructive?
It’s generally accepted that the lazier and more easy-going a cat is, the less likely it is to become destructive. While each kitten is different, some of the famously easygoing breeds include the Ragdoll, the Birman, and most Exotic breeds.