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Home > Cats > How to Train a Maine Coon: 6 Vet Approved Tips

How to Train a Maine Coon: 6 Vet Approved Tips

calico maine coon cat lying on the grass

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There is a grave misconception that you can’t train cats. While this stigma is getting corrected over time, many don’t understand just how easy it may be to train the feline in your home. And if you have a Maine Coon cat, you are in luck!

These cats are incredibly brilliant and receptive to training—with the proper training techniques, of course!


Disclaimer: Before Training Begins

Before starting the training process, it’s essential to understand that every training technique will differ depending on the training you are trying to accomplish. You can train your Maine Coon all sorts of things like tricks, litter training, carrier training, and behavior training.

Each one of these subjects comes with its own set of techniques. But here, we’ll give you a comprehensive list of tips that work in any category. Let’s get started!


The 6 Tips on How to Train a Maine Coon

1. Bond with Your Cat First

Before training can take place, you must bond with your cat. Establishing a relationship can take a long time or very little time. It depends on the connection you and your cat have between your two personalities.

In any case, getting to know someone is a challenge, feline and human alike. So, you’ll first want to lay off any rigorous training, just getting to know your cat and taking particular notice of their likes and dislikes. Once they develop that trust and connection, you can start training as soon as you feel the time is right.

Think about it–if you feel safe in a situation, aren’t you more likely to perform better? The same concept extends to how vital bonding is between a cat and its owner. Unlike dogs, cats are a little more independent, with less tolerance for things they don’t see the point in.

They don’t fall for ruses as easily and are not motivated to do better because of them.

gray Maine Coon cat in the hands of the owner
Image by: glebantiy, Shutterstock

2. Have Patience with the Process

Patience is always key when training any animal. You are trying to negotiate a transaction between that pet and yourself. This requires patience and attentiveness on both ends as this is a joint effort. So before anything else, remember that they are learning a new skill, and this will be a time-consuming task.

Some cats pick up tasks quickly, while others take a little longer to catch the ropes. Regardless of the pace your cat works or how adequately you train, try to have patience and consistency throughout the entire process.

The more you keep up with a routine and make your cat feel safe in their surroundings, the greater the likelihood that it will be receptive to training.

3. Keep a Treasure Trove of Yummy Treats Nearby

Treats are definitely going to be a favorite during training time. If your cat is anything like most, they are highly food motivated so you can use this in your favor. Have a variety of treats on hand so your cat will stay interested and not get bored.

Every time your cat performs the correct action, you should treat them immediately. The time between action and reward has to be within seconds for your cat to link the two.  It will take many repetitions to successfully train a new behavior.  Once the behavior is learned you can reduce the frequency of the treats but initially be liberal in your praise.

Some cats are not food motivated and so toys, vocal praise, clicker training or petting them may be more effective. Keep training sessions short, less than 15 minutes as cats typically have a short attention span.

Adorable Maine Coon cat near bowl with food at home
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

4. Make a Schedule You Can Stick to

You will find a schedule that works for you and your cat. But having one in the first place is very important. Say you make it a point to practice for 10 minutes every few days. That is an excellent way to help your cat keep up the knowledge that they’re taking in and help them progress without regressing.

Many tricks have to be broken down into smaller easier-to-learn chunks before working up to the whole trick.

5. Avoid Harsh Punishments

When you are training your Maine Coon, you must avoid the use of harsh punishments, aversives or negative reinforcement. Once you start using any form of harsh punishment, it can increase feelings of anxiety and stress in your cat.

Not only can this prolong and derail training, it can also cause behavioral problems in the long run. Instead, you want to make training fun and light. Don’t try to take it too seriously. If your cat can perform daily functions like knowing where to go to the bathroom, anything extra is just icing on the cake.

Try not to take it so seriously, and don’t expect too much from your cat. Work with its personality without expectations and try your best to do all the things we mentioned in this article to enhance training success.

The last thing you would want is for your Maine Coon to fear you, creating a lasting effect on your relationship.

a tabby maine coon cat at home
Image by: Daniel Zopf, Unsplash

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional Support

Also, we definitely need to touch on behavior. Many people think they can train certain behaviors out of their cats. While this might be true, you have to be mindful of where the behavior is coming from in the first place. Professional cat behaviorists can help with any issues you might have.

If you consult a professional to pinpoint and work with certain cat behaviors, it will give you a solid base for further training at home. Most people don’t understand that with any professional animal training, the work you continue to do at home is just as crucial as the training your cat does with a professional.

After all, you have to set your own standards at home so that your cat is always fully capable of understanding that the behavior is expected both with their trainer and humans at home. You might be surprised how many cat behavior specialists are near you.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for a consultation. Even if you don’t end up utilizing the full cat training resources that the professional might offer, you can get terrific advice on managing yourself. Availability will be different depending on where you are in the world. Rural areas typically have fewer options than big cities, obviously.

But thanks to social distancing, there are a lot more options for online consultations through FaceTime, telephone, and even chat. So you can always check out virtual options for help during cat training.


Training Goals Matter

What kind of training do you want your cat to perform? Are you training them in the basics, like how to use the litter box? Do you want them to learn more advanced training like how to do tricks or use the human toilet?

All of these things can be done with practice and patience. We all know that the relationship between a human and their cat is the most important part. But some advancements go into this as well.

pet owner feeding blue maine coon cat with treats outdoors in garden
Image by: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Are You Sure It’s Not Hormones? The Reality of Unaltered Cats

Hormones play a huge role in certain quirks that your cat may have, especially as they reach adulthood. Many of them are coming into sexual maturity, meaning their physical actions and behaviors might totally change. That’s why it’s so important to spay and neuter your cats before they reach this point.

Once your cat reaches sexual maturity, whether male or female, it will only be natural for them to start looking for a mate. Sometimes this transition can cause aggression, overly affectionate actions, and even attempting to escape the home.

It can seem like you’re working with an entirely different animal which is to be expected. Your cat might start spraying or marking their territory or acting like a typical adolescent.

Unfortunately, spaying or neutering after your cat starts to spray is not an adequate solution to the problem. So, let’s just say, you have a cat and did not fix them before they reached maturity.

Now you see that your male or female cat is spraying or urinating outside of the litter box in your home. You think that this is a behavioral issue that training will fix. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Are there things you can do to curb these behaviors and possibly prevent some accidents? Absolutely.

We just don’t want you to think that it’s the same results you can expect from trick training or litter box training. You should make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat has any concerning or new behaviors to ensure there is no medical reason before attempting training.


Final Thoughts

Even though your Maine Coon might be one independent little skipper, training is definitely possible. While simple concepts like litter training should come as a breeze to them, other more advanced training techniques could take a lot longer for your cat to learn.

It might even take some time for you to learn how to work with cats to ensure the success of the training. Again, if all else fails, don’t hesitate to reach out for outside resources. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube and professionals willing to do consultations in person and online. Whether you choose free resources or paid training, learning more about specific goal training can really help you out in this arena.

Featured Image Credit: Aleksei Verhovski, Shutterstock

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