My not so gentle giant, MAXIMUS

My not so gentle giant, MAXIMUS

by Gwendolyn Edwards
(Los Angeles)


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


HI!....I "inherited" a Maine Coon a couple years ago, from a friend who had a baby, had to move, and the cat didn't fit the new life. 🙁

That said, I kind of understand why now! He is absolutely off the charts for the size of most Maine Coons. He weighs in at OVER 30 lbs. He's a little overweight, but not bad- he's just very long with GIANT bones. I've attached a picture - you won't believe it.

I am completely, madly IN LOVE with him. And I am a DOG person- I've never really liked cats!

But in the past few months he's become very hard to live with. He has always been very lovable with me and very loyal. But recently, he has started trying to attack me. He is not playing- he is coming after me and doing this growly snarly thing that's scary!

Through process of elimination I've been trying to figure out what could be causing it. The only thing I've found is that he seems to get agitated if his bowl is less than half full. (It's never empty, but if I never let the bottom of the bowl show through- he seems a little more relaxed.)

This is no small (or inexpensive) feat because the big guy eats as much as a HORSE.

Any advice?

I'm in love with him and definitely in it for the long haul- but I live alone, am a petite girl, and honestly- the big guy scares me sometimes!!

Haha. Love some advice! Or feel free to just tell me all about how you fell over when you saw how big he is.


Hi Gwendolyn.... OMG...He is massive. I was shocked when I saw the photo. I think he is the biggest domestic other than F1 Savannah MAGIC that I have seen.

Thanks for visiting, sharing and asking. So, I wonder what is wrong?

My initial thought when I read the bit about him suddenly becoming aggressive was that he might be in pain, in discomfort, which is making him unhappy and irritated.

Is he walking OK. Maine Coons can suffer from Hip Dysplasia ("dysplasia" means an abnormal development). It can cause painful arthritis.

Now, if he has arthritis it would be very irritating. His enormous size also points to putting more stress on the joints which may encourage arthritis. I am just thinking out aloud and this is guesswork except that I am relying on known diseases that can be inherited by this very popular breed, which must be a decent starting point.

Any cat in pain, no matter how docile may scratch or bite (book 1). See the full list of Maine Coon health problems.

Another idea...Many cases of unexplained aggression are brought about by environment stress which leads to heightened fear and distress.

He may be upset if you are trying to diet him. He may like his food too much due to some kitten experiences. You diet him as a result and he becomes distressed.

Thyroid problems can cause a cat to become aggressive too. Is his coat thinning?

You have isolated the possible source is his food. He is hungry it seems. As you say the first thing is to isolate the cause.

I'll come back to this page soon as I have to go to the gym right now...!

Michael Avatar

My not so gentle giant, MAXIMUS to Maine Coon Cats

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My not so gentle giant, MAXIMUS

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May 18, 2010 Love of our cats
by: Diane

My husband and I have loved and lost 10 sweet cats over the last 20 years. We nursed them each as far as we were able, then one or both of us were with them at the end to bid farewell. Your heart is broken, but time will sooth it and your happy memories of Maximus will make you smile. Do I believe our pets are in heaven? Yes, I do. They are given to us in trust and I don't think God will take them away from us in heaven any more than He would take our family members from us. Take care.

May 11, 2010 Losing a friend
by: Tom

Hi Gwen,

I understand what you're feeling. We recently lost one of our feline family members. She was doing fine, and within days was very ill. She had cancer in a location very difficult to remove. Such surgery would have also taken away the independance that is such a part of being a cat. I was with her when the vet administered those final shots... I couldn't let her die with strangers. She was a good friend for well over a decade and can never be replaced. Now, months later, I still tear up when I think of her not being around. In my heart, she's still with me.

Apr 04, 2010 Sad news
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Gwen. This was very sad news indeed and I feel so sorry, knowing how much Maximus meant to you. Having to say goodbye to an affectionate friend is the hardest part of living with cats, but it comes to everybody some day.
You did the right thing, because hospitalization would only have prolonged his suffering with nothing but a very slim chance of recovery. It is part of human responsibility to decide when the time has come to stop treatment and you took that upon yourself. It's never easy, I know.
Maximus was a fine cat and had deserved many more years. I'm sure he will live on in your memory forever and also with many of us here.

Apr 03, 2010 Very sad for you
by: Ruth

Gwen I am so sad to read your news and nothing anyone can say can help much I know.
You never get over losing a much loved pet but with time you start to accept them not being around.
I have been heartbroken many times at the loss of our cats over the years so I do know how you feel.
I think you made the right decision because hospitalisation for a cat is terrifying,they do hate to be away from home. Maximus would more than likely have died there with strangers as he was so very ill, so try to take comfort he was at home,you were with him and he knew that, and that he also knew you loved him very much.
R.I.P dear Maximus.
Take care Gwen

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Apr 03, 2010 So very sorry
by: Babz

Gwen, I'm so sorry to read of your loss of Maximus, each and every cat is so special and so unique and the space left when they leave us is unbearable. No words are adequate, just know there are other people on this site who have also lived with the horror of what you're going through at the moment so we understand. Maximus was well loved and he obviously loved you totally too. RIP Maximus.

Apr 02, 2010 Bye sweet Maximus
by: Anonymous

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

Wednesday night, my Maximus passed away.
I am really grieving and just wanted to post as a tribute to him and to all sweet furry friends who have moved on and left us changed.

I took my sweet Max in to the vet, and they found that he had a certain specific feline anemia, where his body was destroying his red blood cells.

He was doing okay, but then quickly took a turn for the worse, and his red blood cell count dropped really low. The $ to give him the blood transfusions and hospitalization he needed became too much. (multiple thousands) How do you deal with that decision? I just cried and cried to the vet.

There was a chance he could still fight back on his own, so I brought him home and administered the drugs to help him fight. We laid on the floor for 4 hours and “talked” through it while he fought. As usual he was so funny- we were having staring contests, and I would say “you still fighting?” and he’d say “reeoww reeooooow”, & we went back and forth like that, until he would nap, and I would nap, and then he’d wake up & we’d do that again- for literally hours. He got better, but then took a turn, and went downhill fast from there. I just.. couldn’t do Anything to save him. I lost him at about 10pm Wed night.

I'm just so heartbroken. I can’t hardly stand it. I just couldn’t believe it- it was so fast. We were just playing in the plants 3 days ago. I feel like I would beg, borrow & steal now to get the $ to have him back.

I know you’re all cat lovers and understand the loss. So I thought maybe this would be a good place to reach out for some comforting words. I would appreciate any thoughts from anyone who's also grieved the loss of their friend.

Maximus was amazing, and loving and loud and gigantic and cuddly and moody and so, so loved. Thank you for all your advice and kind thoughts.

Lastly, please hug and kiss your sweet furry friends extra, extra hard today... for me & sweet Max.


Mar 01, 2010 Disassociate Yourself from Food
by: MC Owner in San Diego

Great picture. I've got a huge MC myself (25 lbs).

If you're sure about the food being the point of contention and you feed him dry food, get an automatic feeder. My MC had a similar problem. He would constantly hound me to fill his dish--this was especially true when my vet told me to start him on a diet.

The auto feeder disassociates me from the feeding process. In that way, my MC doesn't "hold it against me" for little food, no food, etc. The feeder just delivers its measured quantity on its given schedule and I'm not involved in the process. No grudges.

NOTE. There are big differences in feeders. The "pet mate" ones are not very good at all. The "super feeder" is outstanding--a little hard to fill; however, no problems.

Good luck. Aloha, Brian.

Feb 28, 2010 Good luck from me too
by: Babz

He's gorgeous, just have him checked over for your own peace of mind. Purrs to you both.

Barbara avatar

Feb 27, 2010 Maximus
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Gwen. I like the positive way you took the comments and hopefully it will help Maximus back to his old gentle self. A cat this big is really special, but also a bit scary if it gets grumpy. Hopefully nothing serious is wrong, but please have him checked. Good luck to you both. 🙂

Finn Frode avatar

Feb 27, 2010 To Gwen
by: Ruth

Hi again Gwen, how refreshing it is to meet someone who asks for advice then doesn't turn on people who give it, if it isn't what they want to hear !
This just shows you truly do love your Maximus.
I hope you have his problem solved soon and have many more happy years together.
Do let us know how he gets on please.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Feb 27, 2010 Good feeling
by: Michael

Hi Gwendolyn, I get a strong feeling that you are a very loving human companion to the big guy.

Being away a lot can be a problem. When I was working (I am retired now and do this website at home) my lady cat used to get a bit p*ss*d off with me for being out so much. I didn't like that I was not there for her.

I don't know what food you feed him. Dry food only is not considered good but is convenient if we are out a lot. I used to fed dry food a lot as advised by the vet and he was wrong.

Cats don't tend to compensate enough by drinking more water when they only eat dry food, in my experience.

Some vets think that commercial dry food can cause health issues such as diabetes. Feeding wet food is the best way with perhaps some dry food grazing from time time time.

Michael Avatar

Feb 26, 2010 Thanks
by: Gwen

Okay, thanks guys. I only picked him up this way to show his size, but I won't be doing that anymore as I feel sufficiently scolded. (Don't want to hurt him.)

Michael- THANK YOU for the thoughts/input. He does urinate a LOT, and eats more than I do! So the diabetes thing worries me - I am taking him to the vet ASAP to check that. Mostly he is very happy and loving. But he's alone a lot (I work a lot) so I think that may also be a part of what is agitating him. I give him so much attention and love when I'm home, but the sweet big guy always wants more. I just feel like he needs more entertainment.

Regarding the toys, playing, etc.- I have a box FULL of sad little Maximus-toys I've bought him that he dismissed after 2 seconds. He's a complete "toy-snob" and will have nothing to do with them. He does have a scratch post that he uses. But the only thing I've ever gotten him to play with is a certain house plant that he just loves, and a broken guitar string! (I just leave it broken on the guitar because he loves to bat it around so much.)

As I said, mostly he's a happy, cuddly wonderful cat. But he is definitely not shy about letting me know ANY time he's not happy. (I just have to add that his meow is not this cute little trill I've read others describe. Rather, it's something more like a loud banshee shriek.) Haha, he's special. I love my little (giant) banshee.

So I'm trying to be a good mama & figure out the source of anything causing him distress. THANKS everyone & I'll let you know anything interesting from the vet.

🙂 Gwen

Feb 26, 2010 Maximus
by: Sue

Poor Maximus,the same old story,he was the baby until the real baby came along!
My blood ran cold at the way you are holding him,yes the dead fish hold causes cats harm.
Even posing for a photo like that is too much strain on a cats front end.
No matter how big Maximus is,he is a cat,he is not a child or a dog.He needs cats games, scratching post,toys,running around after something type games.He is probably bored witless so has taken to playing stalking in the hopes of some exercise.
I'd invest in a good book about the needs and behaviour of cats if I were you.

Feb 26, 2010 Maximux
by: Babz

As petite as you are it seems you are still able to lift Maximus so I don't think you need be too scared of being overpowered by him, but I think that some of the problem could be in the way you lift him, as has already been mentioned by Ruth. The "dead fish" hold puts a lot of strain around the chest and upper body area and the tight grip necessary to hold such a large boy combined with his weight pulling on him could bruise his chest or pull the muscles in his forelegs or upper back. We rarely pick up our cats because it seems an invasion of their personal space unless they come asking to be lifted, but when we do it's the "cats cradle" lift we use, making sure the weight of the back end is supported and not pulling on the front end.

Perhaps Maximus sees his food as his security, if he isn't very overweight I wouldn't worry too much other than having him checked over by the vet next time his vaccinations are due. The thing to bear in mind with cats is than whatever size they are they are not mini dogs, they have their own ways and we have to respect them, I think Max had a bit of a sad time before he came to you, he was "got rid of" and that isn't nice for any cat. Plenty of love and attention, fun and strenuous games to tire him out will keep him happy, healthy and make him too tired to stalk you.

Barbara avatar

Feb 26, 2010 Increased appetite
by: Michael

I am back from the gym...

Is there an increase in appetite and/or increased urination? It sounds not but if there were it might be the early stages of diabetes.

If he was hungry having diabetes and he was being dieted (because he was a bit overweight) he might be stressed and as a consequence, aggressive without good apparent cause.

Just a thought, no more.

Michael Avatar

Feb 26, 2010 Maximus
by: Ruth

What a beautiful big boy Maximus is ! I hope you won't take this as criticism but you should never pick up or hold a cat without supporting his whole weight.You need to lift him from his middle and at the same time make a sort of seat with one hand for his back end.
I think with Maximus this will be pretty difficult but not picking up or holding a cat properly puts strain on their front end and can lead to problems.
If this has been happening to him before you got him and how you lift him now it may be why he's turning grumpy, he may be in pain.I'd have him checked over by a vet if I was you as he could be suffering from arthritis.
Apart from that always treat him very gently, he may be a big cat but he is still a vulnerable creature and cats start to be on the defensive if anyone or anything makes them nervous.
He also needs a BIG tall strong scratching post and lots of catnip toys, to take his attention from food sometimes.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

1 thought on “My not so gentle giant, MAXIMUS”

  1. Hello Gwen,

    First, thanks for taking care of Maximus when his other people decided to abandon him instead of trying to adapt their home situation. At any rate, I have 2 Maine Coons, one is HUGE (named Mr. Tibbs) and the other is just large (named Tigger) lol. I take the big guy (21 lbs.) to the vet regularly. Getting bloodwork to test for diabetes, kidney problems, etc. is a good idea for overweight cats, and should be done annually.

    Also, I feed him a prescription diet (Hill’s Science Diet Metabolic) to insure that he gets enough to feel full and yet is not overeating. Those are the basics. But of course, we have Maine Coons, and there is nothing basic about them! When I was gone for work a lot, my large guy, Tigger, would get very upset. He would attack my feet and cause some damage. I found that coming home and playing with him more helped.

    I also picked him up and put him in my room with the door shut when he attacked, which helped him calm down and kept me from getting injured. My best advice is to observe when this behavior happens. When you get home after a long absence? Only when his bowl is empty? In the morning or early evening (cats are more active during these times that any other). By noting WHEN the behavior occurs, you can help narrow down the cause. If you are away a lot, providing him with battery-operated cat toys (or better yet, having a friend come visit him) may also help if he’s lonely, if having a friend visit is feasible for you.

    Maine Coons are very social (as a general rule) and love to be around people. In short: rule out organic causes such as illness by talking to a vet, then do some deductive research to find the root of the behavior. Doing so should help you curb it. I hope this helps!


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