One of the first questions any new Maine coon owners ask is, should I let my Maine coon go outside? It’s an important question as it will have an affect on many different aspects of your Maine coon’s life. So much so that breeders will often ask you if you intend to keep your Maine coon indoors and sometime will even refuse to sell you a kitten if you answer ‘no’ to this question.
So why are Maine coons often kept as indoor cats?
Well there are numerous reasons for this. Let’s take a look at why you might want to keep your coon indoors.
It is much safer for a cat to remain indoors. One of the main reasons being that your cat will not be coming into contact with moving vehicles. It’s also much less likely that they are going to find spaces to get trapped between or holes to fall down. Keeping your coon indoors means that they are much less likely to come to harm. You will likely find that you will be offered cheaper pet insurance as a result because your pet is at much lower risk of claiming for accident cover. For more information see my article: How much does pet insurance cost for a Maine coon?
Purebred Cats are Expensive
You want to be able to keep an eye on your prized pet. When we were discussing what we would do with our coons my husband said, ‘well, that would be a lot of money walking around on the road out there.’ It’s unlikely to happen but pet theft is a real thing. If someone knew what they were looking for then a Maine coon would a prime candidate for cat theft.
No Chance of Going Missing
Further to that, Maine coons are not easy cats to put a collar on. They have a lot of fur, especially around the neck area. Letting cats go outside without a collar is not a good idea as they could easily wander off and get lost. It wouldn’t be until someone had taken them to the vet for whatever reason that the microchip would be scanned and they could identify you as their owner. A good example of this happened with my cousin. He took in a stray with no collar and it wasn’t until a year later when the cat needed to see the vet that they found it that this cat was registered as missing and the owners wanted it back. It was heart-breaking for all involved.
Better for Hygiene
Finally, Maine coon fur requires good care! It’s much easier to keep Maine coon cats clean if they stay indoors. Maine coons have a lovely, majestic coat but it can easily get dirty and matted. This is much less likely to be such a problem when they are kept indoors. Indoor cats will not need bathing so frequently, if at all. This is especially important if your cats are not fans of the water.
Less Chance of Picking Up Nasties
Indoor cats have a decreased risk of picking up parasitic infections such as worms or fleas. It is still advisable to give them treatments to fend off these infections but this may be required less frequently than with an outdoor cat; this is something you should discuss with your veterinarian.
How do I exercise an indoor cat?
So if you do decide to keep your Maine coon indoors then you may worry that they will not get enough exercise. Cat obesity is a real problem and it’s often hard to tell the real size when it comes to a coon because of all that fur.
Maine coons don’t like to jump around as much as other breeds of cat; you’re much more likely to see them padding around at floor level. They are large, heavy cats which puts a lot of stress on their joints. In addition there are many health conditions which affect Maine coons. Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are conditions which affect their musculoskeletal system. A cat with either of these conditions is not going to be doing an awful lot of jumping about. You can read all about the Common Health Conditions Affecting Maine Coons in my article.
With all this in mind, here are a few ideas to help you keep your Maine coon healthy whilst keeping them indoors.
Play with them
When keeping a cat indoors it is important that you provide them with opportunity for exercise. Stimulate them at least once a day by playing with them. Coons are known to have dog-like tendencies, they will fetch small objects when thrown so this is a good game to get them moving. Also make them work for any treats you might be providing. Tease them, make them jump around and really earn their snack.
Take them for a walk
You can also take your Maine coon out for a walk on a lead. Walking them with a harness may or may not go well depending on the temperament of your cat. Some get on with the harness just fine and others will not have it at all. Walking them with a harness allows you to exercise them thoroughly but safely too. There’s much less chance of them getting muddy or coming to harm if you have some degree of control over where they are walking.
Buy a Cat Tree
Investing in a cat tree can be great for the health of your Maine coon. A cat tree is a structure, usually made out of wood, with multiple levels and features to interest your cat. There are platforms to climb on, boxes to walk in and out of and areas to scratch (instead of your furniture). The size of the cat tree you choose will largely depend on the space that you have available in your home. There are some absolutely enormous ones available out there! For some guidance on cat trees for Maine coons please see my guide to the Best Cat Trees For Maine Coons.
Get an Indoor Cat Wheel
I knew nothing about these until recently when my friend showed me a video clip of her Bengal cat. A cat wheel is a great way of exercising an indoor cat, particularly if they’ve got a few extra pounds on board! It may take a little bit of time to teach them what they need to do to get started but once they’re away there’s not stopping them.
Construct a Catio
So I hear you ask, what is a catio? Well the word is an amalgamation of the words ‘cat’ and ‘patio’. A catio is a great way of allowing your indoor cat to go out into your garden with no worry that they are about to run away and jump over the fence. They also have the added advantage of protecting the local wildlife from your coon as they are notorious for finding little ‘gifts’ for you. These cat enclosures are usually wooden structures with sides made from wire mesh. Features similar to those of a cat tree can be added, depending on the size of the catio. We don’t have a catio in our garden purely because of space. We have a very small garden and I use the space to grow our own vegetables. I probably would consider one if we had a bigger garden and they look like great fun!
Follow the tips in this article and you’ll have the makings of a happy, healthy and stimulated indoor coon!