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Welcome, Crazy Cat People!
Maine Coons are a playful and active breed but can you train your Maine coon to play fetch?
The Maine coon is a cat breed I have studied for a long time. I have also spent time around this breed and closely observed their behaviour. So let’s answer your question!
As a general rule, the Maine coon loves to play fetch. The Maine coon is very active and intelligent, so it is normally quite easy to teach them how to fetch. Their playful personality often matches that of a puppy and this is one of the reasons they are such a popular breed.
Later in this post, we look at some of the benefits of teaching your Maine coon to play fetch and I will also run you through step by step on how to teach them! You will have so much fun interacting with your Maine coon and it will strengthen the bond you have with your cat!
So keep reading crazy cat people to learn more!
I made an ULTIMATE GUIDE on how to train your Maine coon and how to teach them a variety of tricks! Click here now to take a look or bookmark for a later read!
Why Do Maine Coons Play Fetch?
Let’s examine the personality of a Maine coon to learn more about why they should naturally enjoy playing fetch.
Maine coons are friendly, they act just like a dog (especially the males), they love attention from their owners but not in a needy way and they are super intelligent which means they require mental and physical stimulation regularly.
With all of these traits combined it means that you are in for a cat who will greatly benefit from interactive play and training sessions. They will need to exercise their intelligence frequently and they are also amazing mousers some say they were used as mouse catchers by the Vikings onboard their ships!
When you throw a toy for them to catch you are replicating their need to hunt and chase their prey!
So there is no wonder that playing fetch is one of their favourite games! Yes, it will require patience to teach them how to retrieve the toy and bring it back but a Maine coon should take to it like a duck out of the water!
Benefits of Teaching your Maine Coon To Play Fetch
There are numerous benefits of teaching your cat to play fetch!
One of the big benefits of any form of play or teaching your cat tricks is that you strengthen the bond you have with your cat.
Maine coons are known to form incredibly tight bonds with their owners from a young age but any form of play and training will increase the special bond you have with them.
Some of the other benefits of fetch are
- Use up their play energy fast to help calm them down and prevent bad behaviour
- Physical exercise is good for their health and reduces obesity
- Mental stimulation helps to prevent boredom and reduce anxiety/depression
- Maine coons can often be dizzy and docile which makes them quite funny while training
- Playing fetch with your children (If you have them) will keep both your Maine coon and child entertained! (Two birds with one stone)
Items You Will Need For Fetch
Before we look at how to train your Maine coon to play fetch let’s have a look at the items you are going to need.
I have included links for these essential items below.
The clicker should be in every cat owner’s cupboard for when you are teaching them how to play fetch and learn tricks
The set I would personally recommend is this Cat School Training Set on Amazon. You can take a look by clicking here or clicking the image below to check out the price!
The set above contains a full starter pack with a target stick which you may need for any future tricks you teach your cat but if you just want a clicker then you may choose to purchase this set of two clickers instead.
You also need a toy for them to chase. I recommend something like a soft toy mouse or their favourite small toy and you will also need a box of treats as you must ALWAYS reward good behaviour when they bring you their toy!
Cats LOVE temptations so why not get this big 30oz box of them!
How To Teach Your Maine Coon To Play Fetch
The first thing you need when training your cat to play fetch is patience!
Teaching your cat to fetch consists of several different processes and all the links in this process must run smoothly, so I would consider this one a more complex trick to learn especially if we compare it to teaching your cat to ”sit” for example.
This is why patience is required and it’s best to aim for 10-minute long training sessions a few times a day to prevent your cat from becoming bored and to also prevent you from becoming frustrated in any way.
Teach them to associate the clicker with a reward
This is where your clicker comes in handy. The whole idea of a clicker is to teach your cat that when they hear the clicking sound they should expect a reward.
It is a useful device to let your cat know they have done something correctly throughout your training sessions.
First, we need to associate the clicking sound with a reward. So all you need to do is click and then give your cat a treat. Build up this association over the space of a few days in frequent sessions to cement this association before moving on to the next steps.
Never click the clicker without giving a treat!
Getting your cat to pick up a toy
Now it’s time to teach your cat how to pick up a toy, a very important first step.
So the best way I have found to do this is to get a treat and roll it up in a piece of paper, a stick it note will do fine with the treat right at the very end. It needs to be small enough so the cat can grasp it with its teeth.
Hold the rolled up piece of paper out in front of your cat and when they try to bite the paper with the treat inside then click and reward with a treat and make sure you feed them the treat directly from your hand.
Repeat this a few times to get them used to this step.
Next present your cat the rolled up piece of paper but with no treat inside and when they try to grab the paper with their mouth, again click and reward. At first, because there is no treat in the paper they may resist but again please be patient with this step and take your time.
Next what you want to do is instead of presenting the paper to your Maine coon you want to hold it in your hand and encourage your cat to still pick up the paper with their mouth and drop it back in your hand.
When they do this again click and reward to let them know they have completed this step!
It’s important to carry on repeating this step and allowing them to keep picking up and dropping while lowering your hand each time until eventually, you drop the paper on the floor and they pick it up.
When they successfully do this then move on to Step 3!
Now repeat step 2 but with a toy
I told you you’re Maine coon was a clever cat!
If you have got this far then well done. It’s now time to find a small toy such as a stuffed mouse it’s important to make sure that the toy isn’t too big though as they need to be able to carry this around in their mouth.
Get them comfortable picking up the toy and dropping it remembering to click and reward every time they carry out the successful behaviour.
Get the cat to place the toy on a target
For this step, you will need a plastic circular dish that you can easily fit the small toy on.
Start by placing a treat on the target lid a short distance away from the cat and when he moves forward to get the treat then click your clicker and reward him with another treat. What you are doing here is associating the lid with a reward!
Now place the stuffed toy on the lid and as long as your cat picks up the toy and drops it back down on the lid then click and reward with a treat on the lid which will encourage him to keep on dropping the ball there once he has picked it up.
Next when your cat is comfortable picking the toy off the target and dropping it back down on the lid it is then time to place the toy off the target on the floor while you hold the lid, encouraging them to pick up the toy and drop it back onto the target and again when they do this click and reward.
Rinse and repeat the above a few times before moving on!
Once he is comfortable placing the toy on the lid then it’s time to hold the lid a little further away from him with the toy in front of him so he has to take a few steps with the toy in his mouth before dropping it on the target. The goal here is to keep moving it further and further away so your cat is having to walk closer each time to the lid.
Start to play fetch!
Now it’s time to start playing fetch with your cat! Start to throw the toy a short distance away from you and watch as your Maine coon brings the toy to you and drops it in your hand!
Gradually you can increase the distance you throw the toy away from you until your cat has got the hang of it!
There we go my crazy fellow cat lovers!
Your cat should now enjoy playing fetch with you and you can make this part of your training and play routine. It may take some cats longer to learn this more complex trick so again please be patient and take your time.
I learned this trick with my cats from a great youtube channel called cat school clicker training, give them a follow if you can and watch the video below!
Check out these other cool posts within this series
Click the links to take a look
Are Maine Coon Cats Easy To Train?
Can You Train A Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash?
How To Train Your Maine Coon To Sit Down?
As always take care of yourself and your little fur babies!
Mark (The Crazy Cat Man)