- Why Should You Teach Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash?
- What Are the Maine Types Of Harnesses For My Maine Coon?
- How To Choose A Harness For My Maine Coon?
- The Age and Size Of Your Maine Coon
- The Climate Where You Live
- Your Maine Coon’s Coat
- The Health Of Your Maine Coon
- Your Maine Coon’s Temperament
- Is A Flat Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
- Is A Bungee Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
- Is A Retractable Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
- Step 1: Let Your Maine Coon Get Used To Wearing A Harness Around The House
- Step 2: Start Training Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash Around The House
- Step 3: Introduce Your Maine Coon To The Outdoors
- Step 4: Repeat Daily
- Common Plants That Are Poisonous To Maine Coons
- Keep Your Maine Coon Away From Busy Roads
- Dogs Barking Can Spook Your Maine Coon
The Maine Coon cat is an exceptional breed, with many talents, including the ability to train to walk on a leash, just like a dog.
And so yes, you can train a Maine Coon to walk on a leash.
I have trained my own Maine Coon Ragnar to walk on a leash, and he is very obedient, doesn’t pull and loves nothing more than to venture out and chase bugs and bees.
This blog will explore the ins and outs of training your Maine Coon to walk on a leash, the types of leashes and harnesses you can purchase and the health benefits for both you and your Maine Coon. I will also explore how you can start training them today, how often you should walk them, and the dangers to look out for.
Why Should You Teach Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash?
The Maine Coon is a curious cat that loves an adventure. Thinking back to when they were living in Maine, in the USA. Their environment allowed them to explore the snowy forests, waters and rugged coastline.
Maine Coons used to hunt on their own, climbed trees and were generally very active day and night. Even today, they still need this mental stimulation, and a daily walk is sometimes just what they need.
You’ll see for yourself just how content they are, sniffing everything in sight, and stalking bugs and critters. They will no doubt be the centre of attention, gaining the popularity and approval of your neighbours.
It’s always beneficial to let your Maine Coon reap the benefits of both indoor and outdoor access.
What Are the Maine Types Of Harnesses For My Maine Coon?
There are three main types of cat harnesses available for your Maine Coon. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s really up to you to weigh up and decide which one is best for your Maine Coon.
The table below explores the three types of cat harnesses.
|Harness Type||Harness Description||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|H-harness||These harnesses are shaped like an “H”, hence their name.|
They come with adjustable slides for your Maine Coons neck and girth and provide the least amount of contact
|This type of harness has fewer pressure points which can help your Maine Coon feel more comfortable, especially for sensitive cats.||Some cats have reportedly managed to escape from their “H” style harness. |
These types of harnesses also don’t spread the pressure like other types of harnesses.
|Vest Harness||These harnesses look just like a vest and provide more immediate contact and pressure distribution than the H-Harness. |
I started training my Maine Coon Ragnar on the vest harness.
|They are mostly made of a mesh material which can be more comfortable for your Maine Coon especially if it likes to pull and riggle. |
They can also be calming for your Maine Coon due to that extra pressure which causes them to release endorphins.
|Depending on how your cat harness is made, it might require you to place your Maine Coon’s paws and head into the respective holes beforehand. |
They might not like this, but they should get used to the sensation.
|Jacket Harness||This type of harness is probably the safest if you are concerned about your Maine Coon escaping.|
It is often referred to as a butterfly harness due to its shape of it when placed flat on the floor.
This is the type f harness Ragnar used today.
|A jacket harness is a safe option for your Maine Coon. It fits snug, but not too much that it is uncomfortable to wear. |
It fits around the chest and neck of your Maine Coon providing more security than the H Harness or Vest Harness.
|It takes time choosing the right Jacket Harness as you need to take into consideration your Maine Coon’s coat density, and the climate you live in to ensure they don’t overheat.|
How To Choose A Harness For My Maine Coon?
Now that you know the different types of Harnesses available to your Maine Coon, there are some considerations.
The Age and Size Of Your Maine Coon
Depending on the size of your Maine Coon, they may be more suited to one style of harness over another.
For example, if your Maine Coon is still a kitten, then you may require a harness that adjusts more easily, and fits more securely across its body.
It’s always worth trialling out the different styles in your house if you are to train your Maine Coon to walk on a leash. Remember that the most important thing is your Maine Coon’s safety. They can still get spooked outside, and so you want to ensure whatever harness you decide on, your Maine Coon cannot wriggle out of it.
The Climate Where You Live
Do you live in a hot climate, or somewhere cold like Scotland where I live?
The weather climate has a big impact on what style of harness to choose, as the last thing you need is your Maine Coon overheating or freezing depending on where you live.
I prefer using the jacket harness for Ragnar as it’s mostly quite cold here in Scotland, so it keeps him warm whilst providing the safety that I want from it. However, the H Harness might be the option for you if you live somewhere warm.
Your Maine Coon’s Coat
With the Maine Coon’s extra-long coat, they can be prone to overheating more so than other cat breeds. This is obviously a factor when deciding what harness to choose.
Also, their long fur can get caught up in velcro when using a jacket harness. I do find this happens, however, it’s not so much an issue if you’re careful.
The Health Of Your Maine Coon
Some Maine Coons have chronic health conditions which can make wearing a harness a troublesome experience.
For example, if your Maine Coon has asthma, then choosing a harness that fits around the neck is not recommended.
It’s really important to consider your Maine Coon’s health before deciding on the right type of harness.
Your Maine Coon’s Temperament
Is your Maine Coon obedient, or is it a little too curious, and prone to pulling on a leash? Does your Maine Coon obey commands? Does your Maine Coon get spooked easily?
These are also considerations when choosing a harness before you train your Maine Coon to walk on a leash. For example, my Maine Coon Ragnar loves going outside, however, he gets spooked at loud sounds.
For this reason, I choose a jacket harness that I know he is secure in, and that he can’t wriggle out of. It’s not worth taking the chance with a regular harness if there is a chance your Maine Coon will get spooked and escape.
What Type Of Leash Should I Use For My Maine Coon?
Another decision you will have to make is what type of leash to purchase before you train your Maine Coon to walk on a leash. Just like harnesses, there are several types of leashes available on the market. Let’s explore them.
Is A Flat Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
Perhaps the most common, the standard flat leash is an easy and affordable option for your Maine Coon.
The flat leash is usually shorter, therefore less likely to tangle. This also means that your Maine Coon can’t explore as far as they may like. If your Maine Coon has a tendency to pull on the leash, then the restricted length might be an issue for their neck.
Is A Bungee Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
Bungee leashes can be a great option for your Maine Coon which likes to make sudden movements. This type of leash extends (like a bungee) as your Maine Coon makes those sudden movements. This can help reduce any pressure as a result.
This is a great option for your Maine Coon and because it can clip onto the harness, it’s a safe option and with no pressure on their delicate necks,
Is A Retractable Leash Good For My Maine Coon?
Do you prefer to have complete control over the radius your Maine Coon can walk? If so, then the retractable leash might be for you.
You can control the length of this type of leash. It is also a great option for those Maine Coons that like to make sudden movements.
You do have to be aware of a couple of factors with the retractable leash. For example, it can make a loud noise when you are retracting it. From my own experience, this can spook your Maine Coon. It can also be more prone to tangling, being longer than other leashes.
Other than those issues, it is still a great option.
How To Train Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash
There are several steps you can take to ensure your Maine Coon is best prepared to walk on a leash with no issues, and this begins indoors.
So now that we’ve explored your options for harnesses and leashes, the first thing you require is exactly those. You might want to invest in a few so that you can see what ones your Maine Coon responds to.
Important note: Do not use any dog equipment when training your Maine Coon. That means no chain leashes, no dog harnesses, no neck collars. You have to put the safety of your Maine Coon first when training them to walk on a leash.
Step 1: Let Your Maine Coon Get Used To Wearing A Harness Around The House
This is an important step in your Maine Coon’s leash and harness training journey as it isn’t always straightforward initially.
Secure your Maine Coon safely into the harness with no leash attached. When they do this, reward them with positive reinforcement. Pet them, say well done and even give them a treat.
You might find they roll out, or lie flat on the ground when you place the harness on them. This is completely normal and shouldn’t last. This is their flight or fight response kicking in.
Just remember to provide positive reinforcement, and they should quickly come out of this.
Repeat this process and gradually increase the amount of time your Maine Coon is in the harness. You may want to do this over a few days, or weeks. Do so until you feel comfortable that your Maine Coon is comfortable.
Step 2: Start Training Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash Around The House
As soon as you are happy with your Maine Coon’s progress wearing a harness, you can begin using a leash around the house. Attach the leash to the harness and let your Maine Coon wander.
Is important to not force the direction of your Maine Coon. Remember that they will not behave like a dog, and wander on ahead. Most likely, they will sniff everything, and wander back and forth, left to right.
Your Maine Coon walks you, not the other way around I’m afraid!
This is a great time to test out the tension of your leash. To do this, let your Maine Coon drag the leash around so they get used to how tension feels. It is not recommended to do this outdoors. You should always have a hold of the leash so they don’t wander off. Never get complacent.
Again, provide lots of positive reinforcement to your Maine Coon for good behaviour.
Step 3: Introduce Your Maine Coon To The Outdoors
Now that you have completed steps 1 and 2, and are satisfied that your Maine Coon is both comfortable wearing a harness and walking on a leash, you can slowly introduce them to the outdoors.
If you have a garden, then this is a great first step. If you don’t have a garden, then ideally find a quiet spot in your neighbourhood, away from busy roads, and at busy times when they are more likely to get spooked.
This might be too much for your Maine Coon, so don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s always safest to stay close to home for this reason.
Again, for any good behaviour, they display and provide positive reinforcement in the form of treats or vocal reassurance.
Step 4: Repeat Daily
By repeating step 3 on a daily basis, and in a short 10-minute burst, your Maine Coon will quickly adapt to the leash.
The key is to be patient, let them go crazy with their senses (to an extent), and reward them for good behaviour. You can start to encourage your Maine Coon to move on every time they display good behaviour and this will encourage them to walk in a straight line.
But remember they are cats, and sometimes a Maine Coon just wants to venture off in all directions depending on where their senses take them.
Are Maine Coons Hard To Leash Train?
Maine Coons are intelligent cats, therefore we all know it doesn’t take them long to learn tricks and play fetch. The same applies to leash training your Maine Coon.
All it takes is dedication and patience from the owners and plenty of positive reinforcement.
By following the steps above, and taking the different types of harnesses and leashes available to best suit your Maine Coon, you can be off to a great start in your Maine Coon’s leash training journey.
If you do encounter any issues, just stop and consider whether it’s worth going back a step, or looking at another type of harness/leash. Are you providing your Maine Coon with rewards for any encouraging behaviour? Are there any distractions?
What are Safety Considerations When Taking Your Maine Coon Outdoors?
As with any pet going outdoors, there are safety implications and hazards you must be aware of when walking your Maine Coon on a leash. These might be things you wouldn’t even consider such as certain plants that present a danger, to the area you live in and how busy it is.
Common Plants That Are Poisonous To Maine Coons
Do you ever wander outdoors, and look at the tulips and lilies and admire their beauty? Me too, but when you have a Maine Coon, you have to think differently.
The most dangerous plant to a cat is the Lilly. All parts of a Lilly are toxic to your Maine Coon, both indoor and outdoor Lillies.
Your Maine Coon is smart however and is unlikely to go near a Lilly, but it has happened in the past. Even rubbing themselves against it, and later grooming themselves can present issues.
Another pretty flower that we love to see in Spring, yet it is dangerous to all cats including Maine Coons.
The reason for this is that daffodils contain lycorine, a poisonous substance that can cause serious illness, including stomach upset and vomiting.
Although not as toxic as the Lilly and daffodil, juniper berries can cause your Maine Coon to choke and vomit. It’s always safer to keep an eye out for these, although your Maine Coon is smart and unlikely to do this.
Keep Your Maine Coon Away From Busy Roads
Busy roads are the last place we want to take our Maine Coons. They can be sensitive to noise, and they are just dangerous. Any threat that spooks your Maine Coon can cause them to try and escape.
It’s always better to take your Maine Coon to a quiet place, where they can enjoy roaming the wild.
Dogs Barking Can Spook Your Maine Coon
If your Maine Coon(s) live with other dogs, then this might not be an issue, but for other Maine Coons, walking on a leash can be an overwhelming experience when faced with threats; dog barking being one of them.
I would always advise taking your Maine Coon somewhere quiet, even your garden, where you know they are less likely to come across dogs. You want their experience in the outdoors to be enjoyable and memorable.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking My Maine Coon Outside?
We all have a requirement to stimulate our mental health, including our beloved Maine Coons. The outdoors can do just this, and so if you can safely take your Maine Coon outdoors, be it your garden or a local park, then yes you should absolutely let them explore.
Just like us, humans, having access to the outdoors to appreciate nature can alleviate tension and provide Maine Coons with the mental stimulation they require for positive mental health.
By exploring the outdoors, they have access to a variety of sounds and smells where they can let their senses go wild.
Your Maine Coon can also exercise outdoors, whether it’s climbing up trees or stalking bugs, you can be sure that they will get their recommended daily exercise.
You can do all of this safely, it just takes some patience, training, and common sense from owners.
How Long Will It Take To Leash Train My Maine Coon?
It shouldn’t take long at all. Maine Coons are known for their intelligence. By following the proper steps during the leash training process, and providing your Maine Coon with positive reinforcement, you can expect them to be leash trained in as little as a week.
Why Does My Maine Coon Flop To The Ground When Harness Training?
Initially when placing a harness on your Maine Coon can often trigger a survival response in them, such as would when grabbed by a predator out in the wild. There is nothing to worry about, as this is completely normal behaviour at the start of harness training and is only temporary.
When this does happen, help them through this instinctual behaviour by encouraging them to get up and providing lots of positive reinforcement such as presenting them with a toy or treat.
Is It Cruel To Keep A Maine Coon Indoors?
Absolutely not. So as long as your Maine Coon is loved, and provided with enough mental stimulation day to day, there is nothing wrong with keeping them indoors.
Some owners prefer to do this due to the various safety implications presented by the outdoors. Some outdoor environments can be a stress on both Maine Coons and their owners such as busy roads, dangerous plants, and other animals.
Don’t feel guilty for choosing to keep your Maine Coon indoors.
Should I Invest In A GPS Collar Tracker For My Maine Coon?
If you are anything like me, and constantly worried about the safety of your Maine Coon, then it can do no harm by investing in a GPS collar tracker.
Important note: Microchips do not come with GPS trackers, so you cannot rely on this alone.
If you require peace of mind that your Maine Coon is safe, even when by your side, then it’s worth investing in one of these. You never know what could happen when outdoors, there are many factors at play.
A GPS collar tracker will let you monitor where your Maine Coon is, should they wander off or escape. They provide real-time GPS location information that can feed back to your phone. And if you do have a Maine Coon that is allowed to venture the outdoors on its own, then you can amuse yourself with their daily adventures.
What Are The Dangers Of Cat Collars For My Maine Coon?
Relying on a cat collar alone when taking your Maine Coon for a walk, is not the best idea. There have been many reports that cats have become injured when their collar has got caught on something, causing restriction to their neck.
Also, a collar alone is not the safest option when training your Maine Coon to walk on a leash. Imagine how much easier it is for them to escape in comparison to a harness that secures them completely.
Therefore I advise against collars completely, and when my Maine Coons are roaming inside the house, they don’t have anything on at all.
Do Maine Coons Come To Their Owners When Called?
You may be wondering whether Maine Coons come to their owners when called, especially if you are in the process of training them to walk on a leash. The good news is that Maine Coons can be trained to come when called due to their intelligence, and well-mannered nature presents during training.
This can be beneficial when walking your Maine Coon on a leash, so they don’t wander too far!
It is entirely possible to train a Maine Coon to walk on a leash and there is nothing better than being able to provide your cat with the benefits of both indoor and outdoor stimulation.
If you are considering training your Maine Coon for this purpose, it is worth reading up on the various types of harnesses and leashes. It is also recommended to consider the behavioural and health factors of your Maine Coon so you can best adapt them to outdoor walking.
Lastly, being mindful of the hazards that present themselves in the outdoors is important. This may be certain plants, noises or other animals that your Maine Coon might come across.
Considering all the pros and cons when walking your Maine Coon on a leash will best prepare you for any situation.
Happy leash training!