Do Maine Coons act like dogs? Read why the question is misleading.

So called experts say that Maine Coons are dog-like. The top Google search result declares with unwavering confidence that Maine Coons act like dogs. Come on, please ? . All Maine Coons are not specifically ‘dog-like’ and they don’t act like dogs because they are cats acting like cats. That’s obvious but it needs stating. The point is that feline and canine behavior overlaps. They can share similar traits.

Dozens of Maine coon kittens move their heads in sync as they track object

Dozens of Maine coon kittens (actually 15 on my count!) move their heads in sync as they track an object. Screenshot.

There are two problems with the question. Firstly, depending on the individual cat’s character, all domestic cats have the potential to behave in some ways like dogs and we are mainly referring to cats entertaining themselves by playing fetch.

Some cats enjoy doing this. But one swallow does not make a summer. Some cats play fetch because they are play hunting. They chase the ball or other object as if it is a prey item, grab it in their mouths and carry it back to their human caregiver. The last bit is asking the caregiver to do it again or it is bringing a prey animal back to their human as if they are a kitten to be trained how to kill prey. This is a reversal of the usual role of the human caergiver being the surrogate mother.

When dogs play fetch it might be a working dog, such as a retriever, selectively bred to collect an animal that has been shot by his master. Working dogs are trained to do this. Or it’ll be inherited, instinctive behaviour whereby the dog brings prey back to their family. The latter reason is very similar to feline behaviour as described.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

This is to be expected as in the wild both the dog’s wild ancestor, the grey wolf, and the African wildcat, the ancestor of the domestic cat, are both predators catching and bringing prey to their puppies and kittens respectively.

So, dog-like is also cat-like in some regards. There is an overlap between feline and canine behaviour. This is why the question in the title is misleading.

However, internet authors like to ask the question and the answers are often repeated by others and bit-by-bit incomplete answers become comprehensive fact.

The conclusion is that some individual Maine Coons act like dogs in that they fetch and carry prey animal substitutes which replicates grey wolf and wildcat behaviour. Other Maine Coons won’t be interested in playing fetch. They’d far rather mess around with some string or something else.

William and Wallace an affectionate Maine Coon

William and Wallace. Photo: Katrina Stewart.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. tamara beinlich says:

    In 1972 I saw my first Maine Coon cat. He was huge and he actually was hiking his leg on a tree peeing just like a dog. His owners had just moved in 3 doors down. Being a cat lover all my life I followed him home. His owners told me he weighed 28 pounds. Unfortunately he nearly killed my cat and any other outdoor cat in the neighborhood. With many threats the owners were forced to keep him inside because he got to attacking people where other cats lived. Total brute. If you smelled like cat you got attacked. He was a bad dog…

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