Maine Coon cats are a beautiful, large breed of cat often referred to as “gentle giants” due to their size and pleasant disposition. The breed is considered native to the United States, particularly the northeastern states, as they have been present there since the days of colonial America.
Read on to find out why the intelligent, friendly, and playful Maine Coon cat is considered to be an awesome pet:
1. A very popular breed of cat
Today, Maine Coon is the third most popular breed of cat in the United States, and you can find them almost anywhere in the United States and even around the globe. Their unusual name points to how prolific they were in the state of Maine particularly. They eventually became the official state cat breed of Maine in 1985. However, the “coon” part of their name may be misleading. It is a biological impossibility for these cats to have any raccoon heredity.
2. Fascinating history
The origin of the Maine Coon cat is not known for sure, but there are several interesting theories. Some think that the Maine Coon cat is the result of relations between wild bobcats and domestics European cats brought over by colonists. This could account for their large size and how well they are adapted to harsh conditions.
Others have suggested they may have descended from the long-haired cats belonging to Marie Antoinette, who were brought to the new land by a captain sympathetic to the former queen, who had hoped to bring the queen to the new land as well. There are also stories of a Captain Coon who brought long-haired cats with him on excursions to North America in the 1700s.
Some stories go back even further, to the Vikings bringing over long-haired cats on ships even before Columbus sailed. In the end, we do not know for sure how this breed originated, but cat lovers all around are certainly glad to have the Maine Coon cat in their homes as well as in shows. In fact, it was a Maine Coon cat named Cosey, who won the title ‘Best in Show’ at the very first cat show in the US. This event took place in Madison Square Garden in 1895. Since then, Maine Coons have had a long history of showmanship.
3. Long haired
If you want to identify a Maine Coon cat, look for a large, well-proportioned cat with long, thick hair. The hair will be extra-long under the cat’s belly and around their rump to protect them from ice and snow. Ears are tufted, and the face is rectangular.
4. Comfortable around water
In terms of behavior, the Maine Coon cat is comfortable around water, possibly due to its wild origins or time spent on ships.
5. Not a lap cat
The Maine Coon cat likes being close to people, though not necessarily in laps. Sorry if you were looking for a cat to cuddle with.
6. The largest breed of domestic cats
Maine Coon cats are the largest breed of domestic cats, and several Maine Coons have beaten records for the longest cat. Adult females will weigh from 8 to 12 lbs, while adult males can weigh as much as 18 lbs! Understandably, they also eat heartily.
Their height can vary from 10-18 inches, and their length can reach 38 inches, including their tale. Keep in mind that they have a slow growth maturity and may not reach their full size until they are 3-5 years old.
The Maine Coon cat is visually pleasing to most people because it is well balanced in both its body parts and facial features. The face is squarish, and the ears are tufted and appear tapered to a point. Wide-set, oval eyes can be any color, including green, copper, gold, and blue, though for competition, blue or bi-colored eyes are disallowed unless the animal’s fur is white.
7. Comes in variety of colors
Tabbies may have the shape of an “M” on their foreheads, but solid-colored Maine Coon cats will not. Maine Coon cats come with all varieties of coloring and markings. Brown, black, white, or red solid colored fur, tabby patterns, and bicolored patterns such as calico or tortoiseshell are all seen among Maine Coons. Chocolate and lavender are the only fur colors not allowed in competition.
The legs are medium length with large, furry paws. Though many Maine Coon cats have been polydactyl, meaning they have extra toes on their paws, fewer polydactyl cats exist now because this feature is disallowed from competition and so breeders sought to avoid it. However, there are now breeders who specifically seek to preserve this unique trait in animals raised as pets.
9. Gentle giants
As mentioned above, Maine Coon cats are referred to as gentle giants. They are affectionate toward their owners and like to be around people, though they may initially be reserved around strangers. They are very intelligent so this reserve may be a part of their decision-making process. They usually do not prefer to be in someone’s lap but are playful and energetic, especially as a kitten. Even adults will remain playful with a high energy level compared to other cats.
10. Excellent hunting instincts
Keep in mind that they do have excellent hunting instincts. They will benefit from a diet that is primarily meat. They will have a natural impulse to scratch things including your furniture. They make great mousers if you have trouble with rodents in your house or barn. If you do not have live mice, Maine Coons will enjoy play that involves chasing and fetching toys. They may even enjoy puzzle toys or learning tricks.
11. Gets along with cats, dogs and children
Their intelligence, playfulness, and affectionate nature makes them good companions for other cats, dogs, and children. They are very social so they will benefit from some companionship during the day if you are away from the house regularly. Maine Coons do meow and can be quite vocal at times.
12. Hardy breed
More than half of Maine Coon cats live over 12 years. They are a very hardy breed, fit to survive harsh New England winters. The biggest health risk is one common to cats in general (purebred or not) which is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This disease is more common in older cats and males. It affects the heart and could lead to blood clots, partial paralysis, heart failure, and death. There is testing available to see if your Maine Coon has a certain mutation that might make them more susceptible to this disease.
It is also possible for Maine Coons to suffer from another genetically inherited health problem such as spinal muscular dystrophy or hip dysplasia, which is when an abnormality in the joint can cause lameness or arthritis. Polycystic Kidney Disease is yet another inherited trait to watch out for. This one means there are cysts in the kidneys that grow over time and could cause kidney failure.
13. Needs protein rich diet
Because Maine Coons are large and high energy animals, it is important that their diet is high in protein. Meat should be the first ingredient in their food source. They will need more calories a day than the average cat.
14. Exercise is important
As with all cats, exercise is also important. At least 15 minutes of exercise a day is recommended. The good news is that because of their playful nature, it will not be hard to motivate Maine Coons to play, even when they are older.
15. Low maintenance
The good news is, that despite their large size, Maine Coon cats are surprisingly low key and low maintenance. Maine Coons usually like the water and are not afraid of getting a little wet, though they may still be wary of a dunk in the bathtub. Baths may be necessary if you notice their fur is stringy or matted. Because it is a long-haired variety of cat, grooming regularly with a brush will help prevent its fur from getting matted. Training them from a kitten to the feel of the brush will have the best results. They will shed regularly, and for this reason, people who have allergies may want to avoid this breed.
You may also find it beneficial to brush your cat’s teeth regularly and trim their nails every couple of weeks. While grooming, check their eyes and ear. You can gently wipe away any discharge from their eyes with a damp cloth and clean their ears with a cloth or cotton ball that has been moistened with equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.
Bringing Home a Maine Coon cat
If you think that a Maine Coon is the right breed of cat for your family, the good news is that there are plenty of good options for you at reasonable costs. If you are looking for a Maine Coon strictly as a pet, this will likely be more affordable than looking for one to use for breeding and/or for show.
There are more restrictions on what kinds of cats are allowed to be used in shows and breeders will be aware of the subtle differences which will make certain cats more desirable for show. The cost will be less if you are not concerned about show quality or breeding rights.
The cost of buying a kitten could be between $2000 and $5000. If you are choosing to buy a kitten, you should research the breeder thoroughly and ask lots of questions to ensure that you are not giving your money and support to inhumane treatment of animals. You will want to ask about health records, see where they are sheltered, find out as much as you can about their daily care, etc.
Aside from buying a kitten, there are also many Maine Coon cats available for adoption or in need of rescue. Because Maine Coons have long life spans and remain energetic and playful for years, they can bring these great qualities to your home even if you adopt them later in their life. Keep in mind that many rescue animals may not have a perfect pedigree or be purebred, but there are many cats out there with these wonderful Maine Coon qualities that may still win your heart.
Here are two resources with national connections that can facilitate the adoption of Maine Coons.