Maine Coon Aggression Q & A's


These Maine Coon aggression questions and answers cover aggressive cat behavior problems. Lots of suggestions, solutions and experiences are offered!

Aggressive Maine Coon Rescue

Elisabeth in Holland, OH asks:

I adopted Zetty from the local humane society 2 years ago. He's now abt 4 yrs old. He was neutered when I adopted him, but I don't know at what age. I'm his 3rd owner.

According to the sketchy vet records that came with him, it appears that Zed's whiskers were burned when he was a kitten. (I don't know how old he was when he left his mother.) When I adopted him, the girl at the humane society told me that he tended to be "grouchy."

Within our first few months together, Zed had attacked my feet w/o warning & drawn blood 3 times. The last time was bad enough that I needed a tetanus shot & antibiotics. Then he seemed to relax and the attacks stopped.

I figured Zetty had become the lovable Maine Coon I had heard so much about. He snuggled with me on the sofa, frequently washed my face and then nipped the end of my nose, was a generally great cat.

Fast forward to the end of July 2010. Zetty & I now live in a small house with a Rottie mix that I adopted from the shelter in January. Within 2 days, Zetty had out-of-nowhere attacked me AND the dog. This attack was by far the worse: this time on my calf & it was almost instantly infected. The doctor at Urgent Care was amazed that a cat was responsible for such a large and severe bite.

Zed's vet says it's a temperament issue. My mom, who has 2 MCs, says Zed is making a play for Alpha now that the dog has accepted me as "pack leader". All I know is that I don't trust Zed any more, but I can't bear the thought of having him euthanized. (I don't think it's fair to Zetty or whoever might adopt him to shuffle him off to yet another home.)

If you were in my shoes, would you give up on Zed?

Reply:
Hi Elisabeth,

Boy, you have had a hard time. I'm sorry to hear your rescue story hasn't exactly been what one hopes for.

It does sound like Zed hasn't been properly loved or socialized before he came to you. Getting the dog probably set him right over the edge. And just when he was coming around, too! That must be frustrating.

Your question "would I give up on Zed" is so hard to answer. In an ideal world, I'd say no, never give up. But I have young children. That's one of many personal situations that can change someone's answer.

Would I have him euthanized? No, absolutely not, not ever. That's an area I can't go, unless an animal is already dying.

I don't know if you'll be able to keep him or not, but I'm sure he'd rather go to another home than be put down. That would be his say.

Speaking of his say, he could be saying he needs to be in a home without any other pets. This is the case with lots of rescue pets. They've been through "the system" and just can't get along with other pets. It's ok, they need to be someone's only pet.

So, considering that to be the last resort, lets think about what to do to keep him. If he's making a play for Alpha, consider establishing that as your role. Clip his claws, or use claw covers.

Go ahead and use behavioral techniques when he bites you, like a spray bottle, blowing in his face (to cats, that is the same as you hissing at him!) and even using your hand to "lightly spank" his nose. Another trick is to make a loud, and sudden "Pssst!" sound. He needs to know he can't aggressively bite any person, least of all you.

Think about a mother cat or dog with her litter. She puts them right in their place when they get out of line, not violently, but matter-of-factly. Maybe these things could help, along with segregation and re-introduction to the poor dog, who I'm sure is a lovely addition.

Look into supplements for stress, anxiety and aggression. Many cat owners have found that to help.

If none of this help, meaning it's not just a play for Alpha position, I'd say he just can't live in peace with other animals. Maybe you could take your time finding a new home where he could find peace again. He could reach the happy place he was in before the dog came.

Best Wishes,
~Carrie

Comments:

try another vet..
It sounds to me as if you've tried, the cat has tried and the dog. But it appears it's the vet who is the weak link in all of this. Look around, there are vets who specialize in cats and there are some who have an unofficial specialty in behavioral matters.

Call your closest school of veterinary medicine, if they're close enough it might be worth a trip for a consult or they may be able to suggest someone nearby. Their website would be another great resource.

Another option is to check in with a respected local breeder of any breed of pure-bred cats and see who they suggest you talk to. I know there are now all sorts of psychiatric drugs available for dogs (neighbor's beagle is on prozaac for separation anxiety and it has worked wonders) but I'm not sure what's around for cats. It's worth pursuing. Good luck.

Aggressive Maine Coon Rescue
I hand-feed my maine coone his favorite snack, sliced roast beef. I also let him have his way around the house. I found that if I ignore him, he will come to me for attention.

dog/cat relations
A puppy can be very stressful for an adult cat. Providing puppy free areas, and letting him know that he is still loved are important. Even the addition of an adult dog can be difficult. How is the dog approaching the cat.

If it is full of energy and bouncy, the cat will be very leery and lash out to get the dog to bounce somewhere else. If your cat was used to a play time or a pet time, he needs it now more than ever. It lets him know that the dog is not your only concern.

Do look at getting claw covers. I won't suggest any particular brand. (no experience in that field, mine has always used no claws.) The cat wants a return to normalcy, which doesn't include a dog.

A child fence may be a good idea to help provide a dog free area, and allows enough smell and investigate contact that the cat can feel safe and check it out on his own terms. Standing on the cat side of the fence may also help your cat.

Giving your cat treats when he is near the fence can help him to learn that the dog is not always a bad experience. The dog will also need this experience, to know that he isn't to bounce at or chase the cat. (My Tinkers has an issue with daschunds.)

She met one that bounced at her barking when she was small. I got climbed like a tree.) I've had a cat that would ignore the dog as long as she was under the furniture, and one that would sit with the dog eating the dog's food.

It is up to your cat what level of involvement he chooses to have with the dog, but you can make the process as stress free as possible. Good luck :)



Are All Short Haired Maine Coons Aggressive?

I rescued him at about 8 weeks old, he's almost 12 now. He doesn't listen at all; I try to show him when something is not right by spraying him with water, but he walks away just for that second he still comes back and does it again....

And when he is out in the living room he just meows a lot and jumps and runs. Is it weird? Because everyone I know that has a cat they are all calm and a little lazy, he is the opposite ...

I really want to have him sleep in bed and all but i don't trust him. I'm afraid he will make a mess (bite , rip , or knock something over)

Reply:
Hi,

It sounds like your cat is 12 weeks old now (not 12 years), is that right?

If so, he sounds like a normal and rambunctious kitten. It will be some time before he is a lazy cat like your friends'.

You're right, kittens are a bit crazy and they will knock things over. If you are concerned, put him in a "safe room" at night. Many cat owners do this.

Don't worry, this cute, adorable, and entertaining phase will pass. Then he will be a calm companion for you.

And regarding the water bottle, that is a good training tool, but I would say not a first choice. Spraying a cat with water is for very naughty behaviors or very stubborn cats. Right now, he has no idea what is off limits.

If he gets on a kitchen counter, for example, I would recommend clapping, saying "psst!", or better yet simply putting him down. He'll get it.

And yes, cats have a mind of their own. I find your statement about his "not listening" interesting. Dogs can be trained to listen up and obey, but not so much cats. All cats will do as expected when you are watching, and do as they please when you are not. It their nature.

And lastly, about your title: "Are All Short Haired Maine Coons Aggressive?", unless he is acting out in other ways, such as biting, growling, hissing and scratching people or other cats, what you have is not aggression. He sounds normal.

Also, there is not a short-haired variety of Maine Coon cat. You may have a tabby cat who resembles a Maine Coon in some ways. If you suspect he is a Maine Coon mix I would recommend reading our articles on Maine Coon Mixes and Maine Coon Cat Traits.

All The Best to you and your new boy,
~Carrie



Roaring Cats

Nic in London,UK asks:

Hi Carrie
We have had Jasper (Maine Coon) and Juno (British Short Hair) for about 9 months now. The were both rescued at the same time and adopted into our family and as kittens they used to play together running up and down the hall way and being generally kittens.

However since we got them both neutered and spayed for their own safety and responsibly Jasper seems to have changed and seems more aloof with Juno and sometimes hisses at her or swats her.

We do have separate food bowls and sleeping places for them, but Juno tends to sleep anywhere but Jasper is pretty set in stone that he only sleeps in 2 places either at the foot of our bed or on the sofa where his pillow is.

And if Juno comes anywhere near these places she will know about it from him. In fact yesterday he 'roared' at her like a lion like a dog sounded thing.

In short is this normal behavior for a Maine Coon adolescent male or is this caused by his neutering and emasculation?

Nic

Reply:

Hi Nic,
I don't think it has anything to do with Jasper's being neutered. If anything, that would cause him to be more mellow, not less.

I think it's the natural process of the cats figuring out their "pecking order." It could stop or diminish over time, or he might always be more aloof with her. It's hard to say. But I think if Juno is easy-going about it, Jasper will "get over himself" eventually!

The only other thing I can think of is stress. If anything major has changed in the house, such as the addition of another pet, it could set him on edge. That could take a while.

All The Best,
~Carrie



Foundling Aggression Issues

Lindsey in NM asks:

foundling kitty

I have what appears to all the information I can find a Ragdoll, Maine Coon mix.

She is around 4-5 yrs old (She was found behind a coffee shop, hiding in the dumpster.) She has always been aggressive with people she has not accepted into the family.

I have tried letting the visitor give her a treat or play with her when they come in. She still insists on either being actively aggressive (indicating that she will bite or scratch if they come near,) or sneakily aggressive (attacking elbows or ankles, with light bites or hard swats with no claws.)

Other than this behavior with visitors and sometimes myself, she adores my husband. He can do no wrong in her eyes. She constantly bugs him for lap time. She is very pissy about being disciplined to the point of hissing and swatting with both my husband and myself. (We do not touch her for discipline other than remove her from the area and telling her no.)

I would like to train her to a less aggressive stance. She is highly intelligent and will do tricks for treats, plays fetch and other play activities with her pound rescue Tabby/Egyptian Mau cross; so I know she is trainable.

Any ideas on how to train her to tone down the aggression? (I'm hoping for at least no active aggression with visitors.) (I believe her issue with me is a jealousy of my husband's attentions.)

Reply:

Hi,
I think you are right that her issues with you are related to her love of you husband. Although, that is still not a good thing. It's a display of dominance, and she is showing that he is "her" person.

The same is probably the case with your visitors. She feels she needs to assert her Alpha position to anyone who enters.

As for tips and training techniques for aggression, that does fall outside of my scope. The Maine Coon cat breed is specifically bred for an agreeable temperament. Ragdolls are also known for being exceptionally even-tempered.

Since around 97% of cats are of no particular breed, most domestic long haired or domestic medium haired cats are just that: DLH or DMH. They may have similar length of coat or size of a purebred. My past kitty Clyde was a Domestic Long Haired cat with a sweet nature and intelligence. He was what I'd call a Maine Coon Lookalike.

It would be very unlikely that a Maine Coon and Ragdoll mix would be aggressive, unless it was poorly bred or mistreated.

In any event, it is wonderful that you took her in and that she now has a stable home with you. She's a pretty girl.

How long have you had her? If it is not long, she probably needs more time to settle. She's probably trying to figure out her place. A momma cat would never tolerate dominance from her kittens, so keep that in mind when your girl tries to put you in your place.

The fact that she doesn't use her claws and her bites are light indicates that she doesn't want to hurt anyone. It could be fear, she may feel she needs to protect herself. Again, it sounds like she's not fully settled yet.

Some tried and true methods include a water bottle, clapping, or saying "Psst!" when a cat misbehaves.

I hope things turn out well for you and your girl,
~Carrie

Comments:

Kitty Behavior
When cats try to assert their territory like your kitty is,... it's best to actually take them out of the place where they'd be aggressive. Most will run when there are "visitors". Some want to stand their ground. You've got the latter. Best to isolate them from visitors by putting them in a comfy room with places to go sleep/curl up and ignore the world.

When they swat - learn to ignore them. Push them away/or walk away if they swat or nip and don't give the behavior any attention. Good or bad. Patience is the key here. Kitty behavior is stubborn sometimes. cheers.

Foundling Aggression
by: Judy
Hi, Sounds like you're being patient - keep it up. We found when our male Maine Coon was dominant we blew in his face. He hated it and retreated. No shouting, bottle rattling.

On a more severe occasion Buddy drew blood from my husband's forehead, perilously close to an eye! This from a clawed swipe, through the stairs. Buddy got the surprise of his life. He got a Cesar Milan 'bite.' Buddy hasn't repeated his bad behaviour.

If you've watched the dog Whisperer, the 'bite' is where you splay your fingers into a claw and push (not hard), at the side of the cat or dog, simulating a bite.Good luck!

confirmed Maine Coon cross
by: S. Lindsey
Her mother's owner has been found finally. The former owner, a college student from another state, admitted to leaving her Maine Coon to roam while she went home for summer break. She expected to rejoin her cat in the fall.

The Ragdoll part is a guess from a vet based on her going limp when being picked up (a common Ragdoll trait.) With my husband, she is all the sweetness and affection of both breeds. I received her when she was about 4-5 months. She had been rescued along with her 2 brothers at ~3 months by a college student with 3 dogs and 2 ferrets.

I don't know what her experience was before she became my Tinkerbella. Shortly thereafter I started dating my husband, and she decided he was HER boyfriend. I am on a fixed and limited income so I have to save up for their vet visits which shots are this month.

Unfortunately I cannot afford to also buy a book. Free advice is appreciated. Thank you for the suggestions and thoughts. 


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