Maine Coons are NOT dog-like

People ask, "Are Maine Coons like dogs?" And the INCORRECT response of many websites which focus on this cat breed is that they are, indeed, dog-like. These websites give the impression that all Maine Coons behave like dogs. This is obviously ridiculous. Interestingly, by the way, there are some Maine Coons which are as big as dogs if not bigger so those Maine Coons in respect of size are like dogs 👍. But this is not the point. People are asking whether Maine Coons behave like dogs. It is a poor question. It is probably a reference to playing fetch. But this is a not an exclusively canine behavioural trait (working dog trait).

What does dog-like mean anyway? Does it mean that a cat is friendly and likes human company? That is normal for all, socialised domestic cats. Does it mean that they are trainable? All domestic cats can be trained using positive reinforcement. The question is poor in any case. There is an overlap in canine and feline behavior so all cats have some canine qualities.

Ginger tabby Maine Coon kitten
Ginger tabby Maine Coon kitten. Photo:  Cattery Marvel Forest in Russia.

Legacy of the Cat

The best book that I have seen on the cat breeds is Gloria Stephens' Legacy of the Cat. It's a great book and in the section on the Maine Coon she makes NO reference to this breed being dog-like. She says that they get along well with children and dogs and other cats and are people orientated. They have a tiny voice and can be quite quiet. But nothing about behaving like a dog.

That Yankee Cat

The 'bible' on Maine Coons is That Yankee Cat by Marilis Hornidge. I have the new revised edition of the book in my possession. She has a section on the personality of the Maine Coon. Not once does she mention the dog-like behaviour of the Maine Coon. There is no mention of it at all. And she asked a number of breeders and owners of Maine Coons. She enlisted the help of Beth Hicks, a senior member of the cat fancy, "whose network of breeders, owners, and fanciers verges on the encyclopaedic". She found people who could provide accurate information about this cat's character.

Hornidge says that "several adjectives ran like a thread through all the responses. The first and by far the most frequent was "intelligent". Right behind it was "affectionate", coupled with "demonstrative"." 

And many said that this breeder is people-orientated, family-orientated and good company. They said that this cat is addictive. They also appear to have confirmed what is generally agreed namely that the females are "matriarchs-in-the making, full of charm and affection with an implacable, quiet determination to have their own way."

In contrast, the "males, on the other hand, are little boys. If they were cast into human form, they would have frogs in their pockets, freckles and dirt on their faces, and complete confidence that the world revolves around them."

I stress, that this is a very definitive description of the Maine Coon cat from a lot of very good sources. They do NOT state that this breeder is dog-like.

TICA

The International Cat Association (TICA) also makes no mention of the Maine Coon behaving like a dog. 

CFA

The Cat Fanciers' Association states that "Maine Coon cats are intelligent, trainable and described as "dog-like". They have taken the lead from somebody else. They have said that this cat is "described as dog-like". In other words, they are not saying that Maine Coon are categorically dog-like. That's important. They are hedging their bets. What they are staying is that some people anecdotally report that Maine Coons are dog-like. They are regurgitating what has been said before. And they are the sole respected source to hint at a dog-like behavior that I have found.

Any domestic cat can be dog-like sometimes

But the point is this: many non-purebred cats and cats of other cat breeds can also behave on occasions like dogs. You will see them on the Internet, on YouTube. Some cats like to play fetch. It's just part of a game. They are chasing a ball or some other similar item as if they were chasing prey and because they enjoy it, they might bring it back to their caregiver to play it again. It's a form of self-training.

Cats are individuals

Also, it is unrealistic to state that all cats of one cat breed have the same character. There may be a tendency for all cats are one cat breed to, on occasions, have a similar characteristic in terms of behaviour but you cannot say that all individuals have the same character. It is biologically impossible to say it because each individual cat has different life experiences, and we know that character is based upon inherited genetics and life experiences: nature and nurture.

Disappointing

It is disappointing that some websites which get found by the Google search engine promulgate this inaccuracy about Maine Coons being dog-like. They tend to regurgitate what somebody else's said. They don't think for themselves.

Personal experience

I don't own a Maine Coon and therefore have not had the pleasure of living with a Maine Coon for a long period. I have lived with two Maine Coons for about two weeks. They were just charming domestic cats like all others. There were no signs that they had dog-like behaviour. That's not a test because it's just two cats but it is the sum total of my first-hand experience in this matter.

Conclusion

As a whole Maine Coons are not dog-like. Some individuals may be, but this is normal for all domestic cats.

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