Are Maine Coons Destructive? Full Explanation & Advices

Maine Coon cats captivate the hearts of cat lovers with their sociable temperament, striking features, and considerable size. These engaging felines are widely recognized for their playful energy, keen intellect, and curious nature, making them a cherished breed among cat aficionados. However, there’s a certain characteristic attributed to these magnificent cats that might catch some by surprise — their propensity to exhibit what can be perceived as destructive behavior.

In the realm of feline ownership, understanding why our cherished pets behave in certain ways is crucial. For potential and current Maine Coon owners, unraveling the mystery of whether these cats are inherently destructive or if there’s a different explanation is essential. Let’s embark on a journey to decode this behavior and provide you with some valuable insights and practical advice.

Are Maine Coons Destructive?

When it comes to determining whether Maine Coons are destructive, the answer isn’t as straightforward as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s true that these cats may display behaviors that seem destructive from a human perspective, but these often stem from normal feline behaviors or needs that aren’t adequately satisfied. All cats, Maine Coons included, harbor innate needs and behaviors like hunting, exploring, and playing. If deprived of proper outlets for these activities, they may resort to ones that seem destructive to us.

Moreover, it’s crucial to appreciate that these so-called ‘destructive’ behaviors usually serve a purpose for the cat. Actions like scratching furniture or toppling objects can serve as means of communication, interaction with their environment, or fulfilling their natural instincts. When these behaviors become excessive or problematic, they typically signal that something is amiss with the cat’s environment or routine, rather than suggesting a naturally destructive disposition.

Maine Coons are particularly bright and active cats. They crave physical and mental stimulation. If they aren’t provided with sufficient outlets for their energy and curiosity, they might invent their own — which could potentially be less appreciated by their human companions. By understanding their behaviors and needs, we can help to channel potentially destructive actions into more acceptable forms of activity.

Remember that every cat is unique. Not all Maine Coons will exhibit the same behaviors, and one cat’s captivating interest might be completely disregarded by another. A cat’s environment, upbringing, and individual personality can all shape their behavior.

Tabby Maine Coon cat.
Tabby Maine Coon Cat

Types Of Maine Coon Destructive Behavior

Just like other felines, Maine Coons can display a variety of behaviors that humans might label as destructive. Recognizing these behaviors and understanding their root causes can help us address them effectively.

  • Scratching: This is a natural behavior for all cats. Cats scratch to mark territory, to stretch and exercise their claws, and even to relieve stress. If a Maine Coon doesn’t have a suitable scratching post or surface, it might turn to furniture or carpets.
  • Knocking Things Over: Maine Coons may knock objects off shelves or tables, which is often a form of play or exploration. Cats are inherently curious and sometimes knock things over just to see what will happen.
  • Chewing or Biting: Some cats chew or bite objects. This could be a form of exploration or a way to alleviate stress or boredom.
  • Climbing and Jumping: Maine Coons are agile and active cats that may enjoy climbing on furniture or jumping onto counters or shelves, potentially knocking over or damaging items in the process.

What A Maine Coon Will Destroy

The type of objects a Maine Coon might ‘destroy’ largely depends on the individual cat and its surroundings. However, some common targets are:

  • Furniture: Furniture like sofas, chairs, and tables might be scratched, chewed, or climbed on, especially if the cat doesn’t have other suitable outlets for these behaviors.
  • Houseplants: Houseplants can be knocked over, chewed on, or used as a litter box. Some cats find the texture and taste of plants interesting, and knocking over a pot can provide a fun (if messy) game.
  • Small Objects: Small, lightweight objects left on counters or shelves can be knocked down as part of a cat’s play or exploration.
  • Cords and Wires: Some cats find the texture of cords and wires appealing to chew on, which can not only damage the cords but also pose a risk to the cat’s safety.

Understanding why a Maine Coon might engage in destructive behavior can help us address the issue effectively. Here are some common reasons for this behavior.

Why Do Maine Coons Destroy Things?

Boredom

Boredom can be a significant factor in destructive behavior. Maine Coons are intelligent cats that need a variety of mental and physical stimulation. Without enough to do, they might turn to destructive behaviors like scratching furniture or knocking things over as a form of self-entertainment.

The home environment should be enriched with activities that can engage a Maine Coon’s curiosity and playful nature. This can include interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and ample opportunities for play with their human companions. Without these, a bored Maine Coon might turn to whatever is available – which could include your belongings.

Moreover, a bored Maine Coon might also engage in destructive behavior simply as a way to burn off excess energy. Maine Coons are a large and active breed, and they need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and content. Lack of exercise can result in pent-up energy, which the cat might release through behaviors like running, jumping, climbing, and scratching.

Territorial Marking

Cats are naturally territorial animals, and Maine Coons are no exception. They might engage in destructive behavior as a way of marking their territory. This can include behaviors like scratching furniture, spraying urine, or chewing on objects.

Scratching, for example, serves a dual purpose. It helps cats to keep their claws sharp and healthy, but it also leaves visual and scent marks that signal to other cats that this is their territory. This is a natural behavior for cats, but it can be destructive if the cat is scratching on furniture or other inappropriate objects.

Urine spraying is another form of territorial marking that can be very destructive. While this behavior is more common in unneutered males, it can also occur in females and neutered males, especially in situations of stress or conflict.

Territorial marking behaviors can become more pronounced in multi-cat households, or if the cat feels threatened or insecure in some way. Providing enough resources (like scratching posts, litter boxes, and resting areas) for each cat, and ensuring that the cat feels secure in its environment, can help to reduce these behaviors.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Cats, including Maine Coons, may engage in destructive behaviors as a way of getting attention. This is especially likely if the cat has learned that engaging in the behavior results in immediate attention (even if that attention is negative, such as being scolded or chased).

For example, a Maine Coon might learn that scratching the sofa or knocking things off the counter gets an immediate reaction from their human. From the cat’s point of view, negative attention may be better than no attention at all.

In such cases, it’s important to try to ignore the unwanted behavior as much as possible, and instead reward the cat for engaging in appropriate behaviors. This might include providing plenty of attention and playtime when the cat is behaving well, and redirecting the cat to appropriate activities when it starts to engage in the unwanted behavior.

Keep in mind that attention-seeking behavior can sometimes be a sign that the cat is not getting enough social interaction or mental stimulation. Ensuring that the cat’s needs in these areas are being met can help to reduce attention-seeking behaviors.

Stress or Anxiety

Cats, like people, can become stressed or anxious, and this can result in destructive behaviors. For Maine Coons, common sources of stress might include changes in their environment (like moving to a new home or the arrival of a new pet or family member), lack of routine, conflict with other pets, or not having enough resources (like food, litter boxes, or safe resting places).

When a cat is stressed, it might scratch, chew, or spray more than usual as a way of dealing with its emotions. In some cases, the cat might also start to over-groom, resulting in patches of hair loss.

It’s important to try to identify and address the source of the cat’s stress as much as possible. This might include providing a stable routine, ensuring that the cat has enough resources, and providing a safe and secure space where the cat can retreat if it needs to.

Hunting Instincts

Maine Coons, like all cats, are natural hunters, and they may engage in destructive behaviors as a way of expressing their hunting instincts. This can include behaviors like pouncing on objects, batting at items on shelves, or chewing and biting on items.

Providing appropriate outlets for these hunting behaviors can help to reduce their impact on your home. This might include providing toys that the cat can chase, pounce on, and bite, and incorporating playtime into the cat’s daily routine.

Interactive play with toys that mimic the movement of prey, like wand toys or laser pointers, can be particularly effective for satisfying a cat’s hunting instincts. Providing puzzle feeders that require the cat to ‘work’ for its food can also be a great way to engage these instincts.

Orange Maine Coon.
Orange Maine Coon Cat

Do Maine Coons Like Scratching Furniture?

Many Maine Coon owners may find themselves asking this question as they look at their scratched-up sofa or curtains. Yes, Maine Coons, like all cats, do engage in scratching behavior. However, this doesn’t mean that they have an inherent preference for furniture. Instead, they’re simply looking for a suitable surface to perform a natural and necessary behavior.

When a cat scratches, it’s doing more than just sharpening its claws. Scratching also allows cats to stretch their muscles, particularly those in their back and shoulders. It’s also a way for them to mark their territory, both visually and with scent. The glands in their paw pads release pheromones when they scratch, leaving behind a scent mark that’s invisible to humans but very noticeable to other cats.

Why Do Maine Coons Scratch Furniture?

There are a few key reasons why a Maine Coon might be scratching your furniture:

  • It’s the right texture: Cats prefer certain textures for scratching, and many types of furniture coverings fit the bill perfectly.
  • It’s the right height: Cats like to scratch on surfaces that are tall enough for them to stretch out fully. This is why your cat might prefer the sofa or the curtains over the small scratching post you bought.
  • It’s in the right location: Cats often scratch when they wake up from a nap, or when they’re feeling excited. If your furniture is conveniently located in your cat’s favorite nap spot or near the front door (a high-excitement area for many cats), then it might be the first thing your cat sees when it feels the urge to scratch.
  • It helps them mark their territory: As mentioned, scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory. If your Maine Coon is scratching a piece of furniture in a prominent part of your home, it might be trying to leave a visual and olfactory message for other cats (or humans) in the household.

How To Stop Maine Coon Destroying Furniture

Here are some strategies to prevent your Maine Coon from destroying your furniture:

  • Provide appealing alternatives: Make sure your cat has plenty of cat-appropriate scratching posts or boards. These should be tall enough for your cat to stretch out fully, and should be covered in a material that your cat enjoys scratching.
  • Use deterrents: You can make your furniture less appealing to your cat by using pet-safe deterrent sprays, or by attaching sticky tape or aluminum foil to the areas where your cat likes to scratch.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Whenever your cat uses its scratching post, give it plenty of praise and a treat. This will help your cat associate the post with positive things, encouraging it to use the post more often.
  • Trim your cat’s claws: Regularly trimming your cat’s claws can reduce the damage caused by scratching. However, it’s important to do this correctly and safely to avoid hurting your cat or causing it to become afraid of claw trimming.

Ways To Discipline A Maine Coon Cat

It’s important to remember that discipline for cats isn’t about punishment, but about guiding them towards appropriate behavior. Here are some methods to discipline a Maine Coon:

  • Ignore unwanted behavior: Cats often engage in certain behaviors to get attention. Ignoring these behaviors can discourage them.
  • Redirect their attention: If your cat is about to engage in an unwanted behavior, try to redirect its attention with a toy or treat.
  • Positive reinforcement: Reward your cat for engaging in appropriate behavior. This could be with treats, praise, or extra playtime.
  • Environment management: If your cat is consistently engaging in an unwanted behavior, try to change the environment to prevent the behavior. This might mean covering furniture with a protective cover, or removing certain items from the cat’s reach.

Are Male Cats More Destructive?

There’s a common perception that male cats are more destructive than females, but this isn’t always the case. The level of destructive behavior in cats often has more to do with individual personality, environmental factors, and whether the cat has been neutered or spayed, rather than their gender.

While some studies have suggested that male cats are more prone to certain types of behavior problems, it’s important to remember that every cat is an individual. What matters most is to understand your cat’s unique personality and needs, and to provide a suitable environment that meets those needs.

Male cats, especially those that haven’t been neutered, can sometimes be more territorial and may engage in marking behavior more often. Neutering a male cat can often help to reduce these behaviors.

Maine Coon Is Destructive At Night

Maine Coons can sometimes seem more destructive at night, but there’s a good reason for this. Cats are naturally most active during the dawn and dusk hours, a trait they inherited from their wild ancestors who preferred to hunt when their prey was most active.

If your Maine Coon seems to be engaging in destructive behavior at night, it could be that it’s simply bored and looking for a way to burn off energy. Providing interactive toys, playtime, and other forms of stimulation during the evening hours can help to tire your cat out and reduce nighttime destruction.

However, if your Maine Coon’s nighttime activities are causing a problem, you may also want to consider ways to adjust its schedule. This could include feeding your cat its main meal just before your bedtime, as cats tend to sleep after a big meal, or gradually shifting playtimes to encourage your cat to be more active during the day and sleep at night.

Cats also need to feel secure to sleep deeply, so make sure your Maine Coon has a safe, comfortable, and quiet place to sleep at night. If necessary, you might also consider providing a nightlight or leaving a radio on low to provide some background noise and help your cat feel more secure.

Conclusion

Understanding and addressing your Maine Coon’s destructive behavior can make your home a more peaceful place for both you and your cat. Keep in mind that every cat is an individual, and what works for one cat might not work for another. Patience, consistency, and love are key.

Remember, destructive behavior can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue, such as stress, illness, or unmet needs. If your Maine Coon’s behavior is causing a problem and you’re not sure how to address it, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional, such as a veterinarian or a cat behaviorist. They can provide guidance and help you develop a plan to address the behavior effectively.

About The Author

Jennifer Terell, a valued author at Allpetsville, is an experienced cat owner and breeder. Her deep understanding of felines, coupled with a passion for writing, contributes to her insightful and engaging articles.

Her expertise in cat behavior, health, and breeding offers readers a comprehensive guide to feline care. Through her writings, Jennifer’s love for cats resonates, making her a reliable resource for cat owners and enthusiasts on their pet parenting journey.