If your Maine Coon cat is anxious try these basic guidelines

Although unlikely, it is possible that a Maine Coon living in a nice home might become anxious. If the problem exists the causes would be a mixture of a timid character plus environmental circumstances such as the owner's absence or issues between cats in a multi-cat home.

Note: Although as mentioned Maine Coons can be anxious it should be relatively unusual as in general this cat breed is made up of pretty laid-back cats. They have solid characters. But bad circumstances can make any cat anxious.

Concerned Maine Coon
Concerned Maine Coon, probably because of the photographer! Image: PetCareRx

Here are some tips that might be helpful:
  • Don't force your Maine Coon cat to confront what frightens them. If they are frightened of a particular area such as near the washing machine don't take your cat to that particular area to try and show them that there is nothing to be frightened about. Rather gradually encourage them over a period of time to go closer to the room until they go there of their own free will. It is called desensitizing. The same technique is used to cure ailurophobia in people.
  • Let them find their own hiding place where they feel safe and don't disturb them there. The classic situation is that the cat caregiver should provide several hiding places for any cat but particularly one who might be prone to anxiety because of a slightly timid character.
  • Avoid direct eye contact as this might be scary for shy cats.
  • Avoid stroking and petting but use gentle words, games and food treats as rewards and enticements instead. The argument here is that people in general pet their cat because they like doing it but sometimes cats don't particularly enjoy it or they enjoy it for a limited time. It depends on how anxious a cat is. Very gentle petting might be acceptable but if it's a little bit strong and in the wrong place it might make an anxious cat react aggressively. See another article on this: Try feather-light petting to see if it pleases your cat more.
  • If they like a particular food you might try offering it from your extended hand while always crouching down very low and looking away.
  • A very good way to help an anxious cat to loosen up and forget their anxiety is to tap into their inherited, instinctive desire to play-hunt. It is a deep rooted instinctive feline need so if you use a cat tease such as dangling a small soft toy in front of them it will trigger this interest and, in their response, they will forget their anxiety.
  • Stick to routines. Cats like routines as they create a reassuring environment. I call them routines and rhythms. It helps to make the cat's world predictable. Predictability removes anxiety.
  • And avoid changes to your cat's living space. Depending upon the cat's anxiety, even moving furniture around can trigger worry and fear in a shy cat.
  • The synthetic cheek-pheromone spray called 'Feliway' is well advertised on the Internet and used by a lot of people to help calm down cats. It has been proved effective in double-blind studies which is where the dispensing vets or cat owners don't know what is in the product they are giving to cats. It is used for a range of anxiety-related problems such as urine marking in multi-cat homes and for fearful cats when staying in a cattery or being transported in a carrier to a veterinary clinic.
Here is an infographic that may be helpful:


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