How to Discipline a Maine Coon Cat? As I write this, my tuxedo shorthair is on the counter. We just moved to a new place and the cats seem to think that the rules have changed with their location, so they’ve been pushing their bad behaviors. Back to training for them!
When we think of training and disciplining animals, we tend to think of dogs or larger animals, but cats usually need some training as well and beyond the litter box.
Whether it’s training them to stay off your counters (“Down Alfred!”) or training them to walk on a leash or stay out of your food, cats usually need a bit of training and discipline in order to keep them from getting into (much) trouble. And the more intelligent and inquisitive the cat is, the more training and discipline they will probably need!
This leads us to Maine Coons. Maine Coon cats are large, curious, smart, and enjoy doing all the things that their humans do.
This means that they are likely to get into mischief, whether it’s climbing on furniture they aren’t allowed on, trying to eat the food they shouldn’t be eating, or trying to go outside when it’s not safe to.
If your Maine Coon is more brat than cat, how can you discipline it without causing more harm?
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What are some ways to discipline a Maine Coon cat?
Generally speaking, Maine Coons respond best to positive reinforcement and are often food motivated. Like any other animal, they do not respond well to physical punishment, being yelled at, or any other form of punitive punishment.
Figure Out the Reason for the Behavior
Before getting into good ways to discipline and train your Maine Coon, it’s important to figure out whyyour cat is behaving the way they do.
The average Maine Coon, assuming it has been properly socialized, is gentle, playful, enjoys being up high to survey their kingdom, extremely vocal, and good with other animals.
If your Maine Coon isn’t doing most or any of these things, you may want to look at what’s going on, particularly if your cat is aggressive or afraid.
Some of the reasons why a cat may be displaying behaviors against their breed standard:
- In pain
- Not well socialized as a kitten
- May have been abandoned
- May have been weaned too early
- May have been abused
- Not enough space to be comfortable
If you notice your cat exhibiting strange behavior, particularly if it’s sudden, it’s important to take your pet to the vet to rule out any health problems or injuries.
Cats will usually ‘hide’ their injuries or sickness, but it comes out in strange behaviors. Dealing with the root cause can often deal with the behavior without any need for training or discipline.
Other things can be dealt with by changing their environment. Maine Coons have a high hunter drive and a need to be up high.
This means that if they don’t have appropriate perches, they’ll just make their own. (My cats like being on top of my bookshelves). You should also make sure that your Maine coon has some good toys and if possible, even a buddy to play with and keep them company.
But there are some cases where your cat will simply need some boundaries set down to learn what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t.
How Not to Discipline Your Maine Coon Cat
A lot of behavior is hardwired into cats, so getting mad at them for it won’t do anyone any good.
Cats do not respond to being yelled at, struck, confined, or abused – they will run the gamut from completely ignoring you to learning fear-based and aggressive behaviors, which is basically the opposite of what you’re after!
No matter how frustrated you get with your Maine Coon, it’s important to not yell, spank, or throw things – they won’t learn anything from that except to be afraid or even more aggressive with you.
Ways to Positively Discipline Your Maine Coon Cat
It can take some time and patience, but Maine Coons are smart and can pick up on all sorts of training.
Once you’ve made sure that the source of the bad behavior isn’t related to health, consider the following:
- Is your Maine Coon getting enough attention? Maine Coons are highly sociable pets who will want some dedicated time to hang out with their owner. Without that, they often start acting out
- Is your Maine Coon getting enough mental stimulation? A bored Maine Coon is often a destructive one.
- Does your Maine Coon have some space to call its own? A lack of ‘territory’ in your house that your cat can relax in can make it stressed and start acting out to force territory. Also, make sure your cat has some perching spots if you don’t want them on your bookcases.
Once you’ve ruled out these things, then it’s time to look at some training. While results will depend on your cat, there are some generally good things to try.
A popular method of training a cat is clicker training. With a clicker in one hand and treats in the other, click your clicker and tell your cat what you want it to do.
If it does it, the cat gets a treat. Over time, decrease the treats until your cat does the behavior you want on click, without the need for a treat.
Another way to discipline a cat is to use spray bottles. Although Maine Coons often enjoy water and snow, they enjoy it on theirterms and won’t be happy getting a squirt of water to the top of the head.
Don’t use freezing or hot water and don’t douse them or squirt them in the eye, but a quick squirt of water with a firm No can help your cat associate this with poor behavior and stop doing it.
Maine Coons also tend to respond well to a firm voice and rules that remain consistent. Don’t confuse your pet with a lot of words (remember, they don’t really understand more than the basics), but they will quickly learn ‘No’ to mean stop as long as you are consistent.
Set the rules down from minute one of your cat’s arrival and make sure everyone else is on the same page. Then be consistent about stopping your cat every time they do something they shouldn’t be doing. Most cats pick it up after a while.
Finally, redirecting your Maine Coon from an undesirable activityto something else is pretty effective.
For example, if you notice your cat getting on the counter, scooping it up and redirecting it to the toys can help teach it not to go where it shouldn’t be going and keep them from feeling too bad about it.
You can also redirect them from one activity to another by moving them from the bad thing (like scratching the furniture) to their scratching post and teaching them that way.
On the health front, it’s also important to spay or neuter your cat (this cuts way down on undesirable mating behavior like yowling, spraying, and fighting) and control when they eat so that they don’t make themselves sick or obese.
Maine Coons are intelligent cats and so they can be successfully trained and disciplined when exhibiting poor behaviors. Once you have ruled out health problems, target the undesirable behavior with things like clicker training, spray bottles, and redirecting.
Occasionally, you may have to use the sixty-second time out to totally separate your cat from its bad behaviors. As long as you are consistent about the rules and how they are enforced, most cats will learn and you will get a polite pet instead of a terror on four legs!
And back on my tuxedo terror… I firmly told him ‘No Alfred’ when he was thinking about hopping on the counter again and he sauntered off and went on my sister’s bed to have a nap. They’ll (re)learn!
Have you had to discipline your Maine Coon? How did it work for you? What methods did you use?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.