Are Maine Coon cats stubborn?

I am taking a simple philosophical approach to answering the question in the title. If you disagree, please comment.

In order to answer the question properly, I think I have to start off with the definition of the word "stubborn" because I think we need to figure out whether this word only applies to people or to people AND cat! 

I say this because sometimes we anthropomorphise (humanise) our cats and we expect them to behave like little humans because they are seen as members of the family. That's great and it's normal but we need to keep an eye on that aspect of our relationship.

The word "stubborn" means: having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

There are two elements to that definition (1) and unwillingness to change's mind and (2) in the face of good arguments or reasons.

Taking number 2 first; this can't apply to Maine Coon cats because we can't argue or discuss things with Maine Coon cats. We can entice them to do things such as eat their dinner or to come to us but this is not a discussion or argument in the normal sense of the word.

But an argument about something isn't the main part of the definition. It also includes an intransigence to change one's attitude.

I don't think it applies to Maine Coon cats either. If we describe a Maine Coon cat as stubborn because they won't come when we call them or they won't jump on our lap when we want them to, it is not about an unwillingness to change's mind on something, it's just that your cat wants to do what they are doing already.

We don't expect a Maine Coon cat to change their attitude or position on something. We expect domestic cats including Maine Coon cats to behave as cats do. That's why we like them and live with them sometimes.

Domestic cats behave instinctively. You can't have a rational conversation with them to change their attitude or mind on something. We accept their instinctive behaviour. My conclusion is that the word "stubborn" is not really applicable to Maine Coon cats.

You might want to apply it to a Maine Coon cat who refuses to jump onto your lap because they are not a lap cat. But is this stubbornness? I don't think it is. As a character trait Maine Coon cats are not normally great lap cats. 

A character trait is not a state of mind and an attitude or a decision to do something. It is more deeply ingrained than that. It is part of the cat's inherited behaviour. You're not going to change that in any way and it can't be changed with inducements or arguments. You just have to accept it.

And, in any case, all domestic cats tend to do what they want to do. You CAN train domestic cats including Maine Coon cats to do certain things such as come on your call or jump through hoops! But this is about cat training using clicker training techniques perhaps. It's using positive reinforcement to do certain tasks.

But getting a cat to do certain tasks because you train them to do so is not about overcoming a cat's stubbornness to do something, it is more about using positive reinforcement to carry out certain behaviours on command. This is, if you like a robotic, instinctive action because the cat does these things because of the treat they get if they do them.

My conclusion is that Maine Coon Cats are not stubborn in the true meaning of the word; they simply do what they need and want to do because they are felines with a feline character. The human caregiver accepts it and learns to live with it and enjoy the cat's character.


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