Maine Coons are the symbol of the outdoor cat. They’re large, strong and prepared for harsh environments. However, just because your Maine Coon’s ancestors roamed the forests and hills of Maine several hundred years ago doesn’t mean it’s best for your pet to do so as well. You might feel that letting your cat outside will help keep away boredom or have some exercise, but there are plenty of reasons NOT to let your Maine Coon outside as well.
Indoor Cats Live Longer
Lifespan comparisons of purely indoor vs purely outdoor cats are pretty extreme. Statistics show that while indoor cats can live up to 17 or more years, outdoor cats may only live about 2-5 years. While this doesn’t take into account cats that spend time both indoors and outdoors, it’s still quite a stark comparison, and suggests that any time you let your cat outside you may be reducing their lifespan.
Wild animals oftentimes carry diseases, and it’s highly likely that if you let your Maine Coon outside they will eventually come in contact with a feral cat or other wild animal.
Some of these diseases include:
- Upper Respiratory Infections
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis
- Feline Leukemia
- Feline AIDS
- Feline distemper
Although not always deadly, parasites can cause unpleasant symptoms in your cat in the form of scratching, skin infections, vomiting and diarrhea. Parasites can also spread around your home and to humans, and can be very difficult to get rid of. Examples of these unsavory parasites include:
- Ear Mites
- Intestinal Worms
- Ringworm (fungal infection)
Although your Maine Coon is a big, hardy cat, remember that there are still dangers outside that are potentially hazardous to your cat. Remember, if your Maine Coon is inside most of the time, they may not understand to be fearful of certain things.
Most cats do not understand the dangers of streets and cars. Even if you do let your cat outside, keep them away from roads, period.
Unfortunately there are people that do not share your affinity for cats, and some have been known to use animals are target practice for BB guns or slingshots, or hit your cat at close range. Being naturally social and gentle cats, Maine Coons may not understand not all people are friendly and to stay away from them.
Your Maine Coon’s natural curiosity can work against her when she gets trapped in a shed, garage, basement or any other structure. The great outdoors is not a familiar environment to your cat, and they may not comprehend their limitations.
You may like to think that your Maine Coon is a fierce hunter, but the reality is there are a lot of wild animals that would love to have her as a snack. Be mindful of foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and stray dogs.
There are many outdoor poisons your cat could come in contact with, and plenty of man-made ones as well. Be wary of rat poison as it might be hidden in areas you don’t see, but your cat can find. Antifreeze is a common pet killer; it tastes pleasant but is highly toxic.
Someone Might want to Steal Your Maine Coon
Maine Coons are very recognizable and prized breeds, and someone might see your Maine Coon as worth money or want to keep them as their own. Nearly two million pets are stolen each year, and purebreds are the most targeted group. Even worse, only about 10% of stolen pets are returned home.
Consider the Environment
Believe it or not, stray and outdoor cats have a massive impact on the environment in the small animals they prey on and kill. Millions of birds are killed each year by outdoor cats, and that’s only 20% of wildlife cats kill.
If You Do Take Your Cat Outside
- Keep other cats (particularly strays) away from your cat.
- Train your Maine Coon to accept a cat/dog harness so you can keep them on a leash and restrict how far they can wander.
- Keep your Maine Coon up to date on their vet visits for vaccines and parasite screening.
- Make sure your Maine Coon has a microchip implant, that way if they wander off or get lost you can still locate or identify them.
- The best case scenario is to supervise your Maine Coon while they’re outside.