Maine coon cats are a favorite among cat lovers for a reason: they are adorably cute and have alluring personalities that win over the hearts of all who meet them. This long-haired cat can grow to be sturdy in size and has many quirky antics that will leave you giggling and falling in love with them at the same time. This gentle giant among cat breeds is actually the largest breed of domesticated cat.
History of Maine Coon Cats
Just like his name, the Maine Coon’s roots can be traced back to the New England states of Maine. This cat is the oldest natural breed in the United States and boasts excellent hunting skills. Going back to the early 19th century, this affectionate and playful feline was loved and popular as a mouser and even in ships to keep the ship clear of mice. His origins are a bit unclear in that some people believe Vikings first introduced him to North America, while others say this long-haired beauty is a relative of cats once owned by Marie Antoinette and were sent to the USA by her. Another possibility is that captains aboard ships who traveled overseas could have brought long-haired cats back to America with them, who later mated with cats in the New England states.
Many folk tales and ideas about exactly how the Maine Coon came to be and their history exist. One such idea is that a seafarer named Captain Charles Coon kept these cats aboard his ship in an effort to ward off mice and other small rodents. When landing in the New England states, the gentle giants would leave the ship and mate with the local cats in the area. However, the idea that has been widely accepted among cat enthusiasts is that the Maine Coon is a result of a domestic short hair cat mating with a longer haired breed, even one that has been brought to America from overseas. It is possible that the Maine Coon is related to the Norwegian Forest Cat, as there is a strong resemblance between the two breeds of cat.
Unlike their name, however, the Maine Coon is not the offspring of a cat and a racoon together. Some see a resemblance though, and the brown Main Coon cats were the first original Main Coon. Other long-haired cats in the area were once referred to as Maine shags. In 1908, the Cat Fanciers Association was first established. The Main Coon was the fifth registered cat. The first official Main Coon to be registered was named Molly Bond. Around this time, the long-haired Siamese and Persian cats, who were very exotic at the time and still are, became extremely popular and this spelled the end of the Maine Coon’s popularity for at least the next half-century.
Later in the 1960’s, the breed gained in popularity once again. These large, beautiful, affectionate cats are so loving that it isn’t a surprise as to why they possess a popularity among animal lovers. The Main Coon also happens to be the official cat of Maine. Though generally not a lap cat who will sit in your lap for hours, these gentle giants are very happy to be in your company and are not clingy or needy. They love small children and other pets in the house who also have a good disposition.
Size of the Main Coon Cat
Maine Coons can be quite the gentle giant for a breed of cat. Weighing anywhere from nine to eighteen pounds on average, they can be even larger in some instances. Males, of course, tip the scales at the higher end. A Maine Coon isn’t considered fully grown until they reach three to four years of age.
A physical trait that makes some Maine Coons very unique is that some display polydactylism. This means they possess an extra toe on their paws. This can be quite cute and can resemble the cats wearing mittens on their front paws. Among show breeds, this trait is not allowed within the show arena, but it still makes them adorable nonetheless. Maine Coons possess large paws. They are so large, in fact, that they are often compared to snowshoes. The large paws make it easier for them to walk on snow.
Maine Coon Personality Traits and Quirks
The sweet nature of the Maine Coon and his easygoing personality makes him adaptable and a joy to live with. This is a cat who can be happy living out in the country or becoming an apartment dweller with his best human friend. A fairly sociable cat, the Maine Coon enjoys being with people and in their company. He may follow his human around just to stay in their presence. Though not always a lap cat, he will prefer to be close to you, but at the same time, he isn’t a cat demanding attention or exhibiting neediness. He simply prefers to be in your company than not.
A skilled mouser, the Maine Coon will make sure that a home is free and clear of any small rodents. Having other pets in the house such as small rodents is not a good idea with a Maine Coon in the house, as they will see to it that the rodents are no more. Maine Coons possess good climbing skills, but will generally stay on ground level as this is where they prefer to be. Something that many cat lovers will find cute and charming is that a Maine Coon generally loves to play fetch and will chase and retrieve toys and small cat-sized balls.
Maine Coons are quite intelligent. They enjoy cat toys that are puzzles and can easily figure out various cat toy puzzles. Maine Coons are not particularly vocal or loud cats, but they may make small requests with light trills or meows. Maine Coons are very loyal to their family and may be cautious of strangers. Though they like meeting new people, it can take them a while to warm up to an outsider. They are independent and may spend long hours basking in front of a window soaking up the sun’s rays, but by the end of the day will retreat to lay close to their families. They develop close bonds with their loved ones and are caring, affectionate cats. Their high intelligence makes them easily trained. Their gentle nature puts them at ease around most dogs and other cats.
A quirk that many Maine Coon cats share in common is that they like water. This can be quite funny to watch. They have a fascination with water and may enjoy playing with toys in a sink filled half way with water. They may enjoy dipping their paws in a pond or even curiously dipping their paw in a stream of thin running water from a sink faucet.
Maine Coon Health
Maine Coons that are pedigreed as well as mixed Maine Coons are affected by some health ailments that may threaten their health. Generally health issues come up once the cat reaches the age of being considered a senior, usually around seven years of age for any breed of cat. These are not always the norm, but can afflict some Maine coon cats.
Maine Coons, because of their larger size, can be prone to hip dysplasia. This can be very painful and may require monitoring and even surgery in the worst case scenarios. Heart problems can be common among the breed. A heart condition known as hypertrophic caridomyopathy may present itself in some Maine Coons. It is a form of heart disease.
Polycystic kidney disease is a progressive form of kidney disease that may eventually result in renal failure. Kidney disease has no cure, but can be treated with a combination of a change in diet to support the kidneys as well as giving the cat subcutaneous fluids to help flush waste and toxins from the body while supporting the kidneys. This disease must be carefully monitored by a veterinarian on a consistent basis.
Though rare, spinal muscular atrophy has been seen in some Maine Coons. This disease affects the limbs and muscular system of the cat, making it hard for him to walk or get around. There is a test available that can help identify cats who may be carriers as well as kittens who have inherited the disease.
Maine Coon Kittens
Maine Coon kittens can be born in a variety of colors. Like all kittens, their eyes will not open until around five weeks of age. They must stay with their mothers for at least the first eight to twelve weeks of life. The mother cat shows them how to be a cat and teaches them important skills, such as using a litter box. Just like the fully grown adult Maine Coon, the kittens are adorably cute and cuddly. Playful and curious, these intelligent young Maine Coons can easily get into trouble around the house. It is a good idea to “kitten-proof” your home to keep this cutie safe from harm. Make sure that electrical cords and outlets are out of reach and covered. Ensure that the kitten can’t pull anything down or knock something over that is heavier and could harm them. Keep certain areas of the house blocked off that may have objects that are dangerous to the kitten. Maine Coon kittens, like many kittens, move very quickly and if you don’t keep a watchful eye on them, they can easily get away from you in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Care of the Maine Coon Breed
Their long and luxurious coat is quite silky and beautiful, but luckily, it tends not to mat very easily unlike many long-haired breeds of cats. However, this doesn’t mean that the Maine Coon doesn’t need a good brushing on a consistent basis. He will be sure to greet you with purrs and a contented look in his eyes if you indulge him with a good brushing session from time to time, as many Maine Coons relish in this activity. Brushing or combing at least twice a week is recommended. Doing so will help to distribute oils throughout their coat, keeping it shiny, soft, and silky. This will also help to keep tangles and mats at bay. Mats can be very painful and harmful to a cat’s health, so it is best to brush your cat consistently in order to prevent mats from ever occurring in the first place.
Invest in a good stainless steel comb to brush your Maine Coon or other long-haired cat. This will help to remove dead skin flakes and dead hair. Another tool to invest in is a grooming rake. This tool will help to remove dead undercoat, which is the culprit of matting and tangling in the coat of a cat or dog. These tools must be used gently, because anything less than gentle could hurt your cat. Be especially gentle along the stomach and tail, as these areas are much more sensitive. Though Maine Coons are very patient kitties, no cat enjoys having their fur pulled or to be brushed in an aggressive way. Be careful when attempting to remove mats and tangles not to become aggressive, as mats can be quite frustrating, but becoming aggressive could traumatize your cat and make him fearful of being brushed ever again.
Check around the tail to make sure it is clean. This area may also need to be brushed and cleaned, as the long hair of the Maine Coon can cause fecal matter to build up here. The Maine Coon probably won’t like being bathed, but some cats do enjoy water. Before bathing your Maine Coon, fill a sink with lukewarm (not hot and not cold) water. The water should be the same temperature you would use to give a baby a bath. Place a non-slip mat or a towel on the bottom of a sink. This will prevent your cat feeling like he is slipping on the surface, which can cause panic and a negative experience during bath time for your cat. Next, gently place your Maine Coon into the sink and gently scoop water over him, making sure his coat is saturated. Avoid getting the water in or around his eyes or ears. Gently massage him with shampoo and rinse. He may try to run away and escape during this process, which is normal as many cats don’t enjoy this process. Gently proceed with the bath. When finished, wrap him in a cushy towel and help to gently dry him off. It isn’t uncommon for cats to rub on surfaces such as carpets and bedding in a desperate attempt to dry themselves off after a bath.
To prevent periodontal (gum) disease, begin brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth at a young age using a toothbrush specifically mad for felines. Never use human toothpaste to brush their teeth, as it contains ingredients such as xylitol, among many others, that is highly toxic to cats and dogs. Gently massage the teeth and gums with the toothbrush. Daily dental hygiene is best, but once a week will also be excellent.
Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe your Maine Coon’s eyes clean of any discharge or debris. Maine Coons are notorious for having discharge in the corner of their eyes. Once dried, this can become uncomfortable, so helping to remove this will greatly benefit your Maine Coon. Their ears may also need a good cleaning from time to time. Never stick a cotton bud in their ears, as this can damage their inner ear. Instead, use a damp cloth to gently clean the outside portion of the ear. Veterinarians also offer an ear-cleaning solution the is gently use to squirt a few drops inside the ear, massage it a bit and remove earwax buildup and debris. Ask your veterinarian about this if you feel your cat’s ears need cleaning.
The Maine Coon is similar to other cats in that he appreciates a clean litter box. If the litter box is not kept clean, he may decide to do his business elsewhere. Keeping the litter box immaculate and cleaning it once to twice a day will help your Maine Coon consistently use his litter box. Litter box issues are rarely a problem among this popular breed, but a dirty litter box will surely encourage him to find another place, and this could very well be someplace in your house, so keep the litter box clean and your Maine Coon will keep using it.
Indoor cats have a lower risk of acquiring the many diseases that are common in cats. Cats are carriers of many diseases when not vaccinated or treated by a veterinarian. Maine Coons, being as beautiful as they are, run the risk of being stolen when let outside alone. If you choose to let your Maine Coon be an indoor and outdoor cat, keep careful supervision and a watchful eye on them while they go outside and don’t allow them to roam too far.
The dietary needs of a Maine Coon include a high quality protein. They also require an ample array of nutrients to keep them healthy and in top condition. This large breed with loads of energy requires a high quality cat food to keep them feeling good. Both wet and dry food should be offered to this cat in a 50/50 ratio, but talk to your veterinarian for specific dietary recommendations. Feeding a cat a good balance of wet food helps to include more moisture in their diets. Moisture intake is very important for domesticated cats because in the wild, a cat generally obtains most of their moisture through the food they eat. Since they eat prey animals, they obtain most of their liquid by eating raw meat and don’t drink much water. However, domesticated cats generally don’t eat raw meat and therefore must drink more water. Cats are not known to drink large amounts of water, so a dry food only diet can cause problems for their health, especially in later years when they are more prone to kidney disease. Wet food contains much more moisture than dry food, so this is why it is highly important to offer wet food to your cat every day.
Avoiding grain-based diets is important for a cat, as their natural diet in the wild would not contain any grains. Cats must have protein in the form of a high quality meat source to stay healthy. Cats are obligate carnivores and a vegetarian diet would be very unhealthy for a cat. The Maine Coon will benefit from a high quality cat food fed in both dry and wet formulas. Many will delight in wet food and eat every last bite. Search for a food with the meat as the first ingredient in the cat food and try to avoid by-products in cat food. Avoid feeding Maine Coons foods that list soy high up on the ingredients list. This ingredient is not especially good for the breed and they will benefit from avoiding this ingredient.
When it comes to feeding your Maine Coon, opt for ceramic or stainless steel bowls. These are more hygienic and will prevent irritation around your cat’s mouth. Many people are unaware, but cats can develop feline acne and unhygienic food and water bowls are often a culprit of this. Plastic bowls are not suitable and are highly unhygienic. It’s always best to avoid these options. Keep your Maine Coon’s food and water bowls clean and wash them at least two to three times a week.
Coat Color and Grooming of the Maine Coon
Maine Coons are known for being larger cats. This rugged cat was once used for mousing and generally spent his days doing just that. Hanging around on farms or among ships was how he spent his days, so this is a rugged breed of cat who is sturdy with a large build. His coat is beautiful, but also thick and helps keep him warm in colder weather conditions. However, Maine Coons are still very affected by the cold even though they have a thick coat. The thickness of an animal’s coat doesn’t make them immune to the cold and they should still be kept indoors during cold temperatures, as they can experience frostbite and hypothermia when temperatures are too cold.
Maine Coons are muscular and broad-chested and are able to climb well while chasing mice. Their curious nature means that at times, their coat may become dirty and unkempt. Their coat is generally longer around the stomach, legs, and tail while shorter around the shoulders. Their ears are large and come to a fine point and may have tufts. Their beautiful, sweet eyes may range in color from emerald green to brilliant golds. Copper and green-golds are also common as eye color among Maine Coons. A white or bi-colored Maine Coon may even boast beautiful blue eyes.
The most common coat variation of a Maine Coon is by far the brown tabby. This is the original Maine Coon that was sometimes mistakenly thought of being a cross between a cat and a raccoon. This is a very common coat color among Maine Coons. It is so popular, in fact, that some people don’t realize that there are other colors of Maine Coons besides this one. Maine Coons can actually come in any variety of color except “pointed,” which is what a Siamese is. Maine Coons can range from solid to tabby. Their coat colors range from white to multi-colored browns and reds.
Children and Other Pets
This loving and playful cat is an excellent choice for a family. He is good with small children and loving, sweet dogs who are nice to cats. Children must be taught to love and respect the Maine Coon. Although the Maine Coon is very good with children, no animal appreciates having their fur or tail pulled. Teaching children to be gentle with your Maine Coon and other animals in the house is imperative for healthy harmony in the home and is just generally good sense for teaching children to be kind to animals.
Maine Coon cats delight the attention that kids give them and will happily sit patiently for children who are kind and respectful. He will soak up all their attention as they pet and brush him. He can provide lots of fun and entertainment for children as they twirl around a cat fishing pole toy or string for him to chase and run. Hours of giggles and fun can result, as a playful Maine Coon tries to chase a cat toy as children have a great time watching him be his playful and quirky self.
Maine Coons enjoy the company of nice dogs, as well and will even play with them and lay quietly with them. He generally likes other cats. It is important to introduce animals to each other in a slow manner, allowing them to slowly become used to a new animal.