The family of cats includes another intelligent breed- Maine Coon. Known to be a heavily boned muscular breed, the Maine coon is a strong cat that originated in the 1700s. Nobody really knows much about their origin. However, studies say they arrived in England from European homelands (Northern Europe and Scandinavia), accompanying their shipmates. With time, they started interacting with the cats of other breeds and Boom!, the Maine Coon Cat breed was born.
These cats are originally a working breed. They are rugged and solid and can even stand the harsh climate. The Maine Coon cat breed is also famous for its massive size (about 40 inches in length) and is perfect for being a loving family pet. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has listed this breed to be the fifth most popular cat breed in 2019.
How to distinguish them?
The Maine Coon cat is a very gentle breed and can get along easily with other cats. They are also very healthy and hardy. After the 1700s, they got caught up in jobs like catching mice from farms which gradually developed their hunting, stalking and other physical skills.
This breed was first recognised in a place called ‘Maine’ in the United States of America, hence the name Maine Coon. The build of this cat, including the semi-long coat and the brush-like tails is similar to that of a racoon. “Miniature panthers with long fur”, is how owners describe them.
|Size||The size of a Maine Coon cat breed is 40-44 inches.|
|Weight||The weight of a male Maine Coon cat breed is 22-24 pounds.The weight of a female Maine Coon cat breed is 15-20 pounds.|
|Coat type||The Maine Coon cat breed has a smooth and shaggy coat. It is long and silky and shortens near the shoulders.|
|Undercoat||The coat of this breed is double-layered. The top layer is oily and has semi-water-repellent properties while the undercoat is short and fine-textured.|
|Coat colour||The Maine Coon cat breed comes in some unique colours- Tiger stripped and Brown tabby. Besides them, they are also found in 75 different shades. Some of them include:BlackWhiteBlueRedCreamTortoiseshell (shaded and smoky)Bi-colour Parti-colour|
|Coat Pattern||The breed has tabby patterns. These patterns include classic and mackerel patterns.|
|Eye colour||Purebred Main Coon cats will have eye colours of green, green-gold, gold or copper. Those with a white coat colour will have blue eyes.|
|Life expectancy||The average life span of a Maine Coon cat breed is 10-13 years. However, few of them continue to live longer than 15 years.|
|Price||USA: $400-$3000United Kingdom: £450-£600India: ₹15,000-₹20,000|
Appearance of a Maine Coon cat breed
The Maine Coon Cat is considered the oldest American Domestic cat breed. Besides their huge size, these felines are also known for their physical features like bushy tails and pointed ears. The ruffs of hair around the neck of this breed also confirm them as purebred.
- Build Up: The Maine Coon cat breed has a muscular broad chest whose size varies from medium to large. They have a long body, proportional to all the other parts. This gives them a well-balanced rectangular appearance.
- Head: They have a medium shaped head where the length is slightly more than the width. This gives its muzzle a square shape. The ears and the nose tip are at equal distances from the nasal bridge.
- Muzzle: The muzzle of this breed is visibly square and not tapering. The chin is firm and in line with the upper lip. The breed also has fairly full cheeks and high cheekbones.
- Ears: The ears of this cat breed are large and tall. They are wider at the base and pointed at the top. You will also find tufts of hair growing inside their ears.
- Neck: The breed has a medium-long neck that is particularly thick and muscular in male cats.
- Eyes: The Maine Coon cat breed has an expressive set of large eyes that are open oval-shaped. The outer base of their eyes is slightly slanting. Also, the distance between them is spaced with an oblique aperture.
- Tail: The tail of this breed is wide at the base and tapering towards the tip. It is also fur flowing, bushy and extends to their back.
- Legs: The legs of this breed are medium in length and are in proportion to the body. The forelegs are straight when seen from any angle while the hind legs appear straight when seen from the back.
- Paws: Maine Coons have large, well-tufted paws that are round in shape. There have five toes in the front and four in the back.
- Markings: The easiest way to identify a Maine coon cat is to search for the ‘M’ mark on their forehead. The frown marks on their forehead indicate this ‘M’ mark.
Besides their coat colours, this cat breed comes in a variety of patterns.
Tabby Pattern: Maine Coons with tabby patterns have flowing coats. Besides the ‘M’ on the forehead, other markings are found in the lips and the lower jaw. This pattern includes two types:
- Classic Pattern: Coons with this pattern have an unbroken strip running from the outer corner of their eyes and narrowing near the cheeks. The edge of the ear has the same colour as the markings. They also have an unbroken stripe on their spine that runs back to their tail and an ‘oyster-shaped’ patch on the flank. The legs have even bracelet markings and the toes are spotted.
- Mackerel Pattern: In this pattern, the markings are deep and defined. Here also, there is an unbroken line on the spine from which, the broken lines begin and continue vertically to all parts of the body. These lines are very narrow and many. The tip of the tail also has the same colour as the other markings of the body.
Temperament and Personality of Maine Coon cat Breed
- The Maine Coons have a big reputation as ‘Gentle Giants’. Besides having a unique height and weight, the breed is also known for its kind disposition and intelligence.
- A fascinating fact about the Maine Coon cat breed is that they love water. Technically, they can stay in water for as long as you want them to. In fact, they are good swimmers!
- They are a very gentle breed and have an easy-going personality. Some owners claim them to be, “intelligent, affectionate, and remain playful well into life.”
- Fortunately, they are not very serious about private space. They love to be around people and prefer sitting next to their owners.
- They are very patient and love spending time with children because just like kids, they also love to play. They can also socialize easily with other animals.
- They are called ‘Clown cats of the world’ by the Maine Coon Cat Club.
Health issues of the Maine Coon cat breed
Every owner makes sure that their cat stays healthy. Yet, certain health issues can occur in them unknowingly. While some of them are genetic, some can be caused by an activity. The common health problems in Maine Coon cat breed includes-
Gingivitis: In this health condition, the Maine Coon cat breed suffers through inflammation of gums or gingiva. However, it can be treated with a mouth rinse. But, keeping it un-medicated can lead to severe problems like stomatitis in them.
Symptoms- Redness and pain in the gums
Retinal/ acute kidney Failure: The kidney of the cat fails to perform its functions of cleaning the waste from the blood and regulating hydration. This inability causes retinal failure in the breed. It is also a genetic issue for many-a-times, small kittens inhabit this kidney defect. But, it is more common in older cats.
- Strange breath odour
- Lack of appetite
Deafness: Maine Coon cats (especially the white ones having blue eyes) are susceptible to congenital deafness. Some are even born with reduced hearing. This is also one of the genetic issues that existed throughout the Maine Coon bloodline. Unfortunately, if the deafness is genetic; there is no cure for it. Also, adopting a deaf breed can be challenging. As a precaution, owners should avoid taking them outdoors and risking their lives.
- Lack of response
- Vocalizing louder than normal
- Pawing the ears
- Inflammation/redness in the ears
Hip Dysplasia: This is a degenerative condition in Maine Coon cat breeds that affects the coxofemoral joint. There is an abnormal anatomical development along with weight-bearing forces that leads to degenerative joint diseases. Considerable research has concluded that the problem is much more genetic than being caused by external factors.
- Retreating itself when the hip is touched
- Persistent licking
- Avoiding physical activities
Afibrinogenaemic haemorrhage: This is one of the most serious genetic health issues in the breed. It has also resulted in the death of two Maine Coon cats due to surgical non-haemostasis. Lack of fibrinogen in the blood stops it from clotting. As a result, spaces between joints or muscles get filled with it making it fatal for cats.
Symptoms- Cell mutations in the cat breed
Regular visits to the veterinarian are very important for keeping up the health of the breed. Those who have owned a Maine Coon suggest that you should “follow your veterinarian’s recommendations as to what types of foods and treats to avoid (if he has any restrictions) and keep your pet up to date on immunizations recommended for your area”.
Maine Coon grooming and shedding
“Tight balls of fur are actually painful for a cat”. Therefore, Maine Coon cats should be groomed properly. Regular grooming will not only improve the texture of the fur but will also affect the age, lifestyle and overall health of the breed.
- Brush them once a week. You can use metal combs to brush their long fur as they get matted easily. Also, brush the tails and the hindquarters of the breed daily.
- Start grooming them from a young age.
- Be gentle while dealing with mats. Rough handling can rip off their delicate skin. You can also use a de-shedding tool to remove the dead hair follicles.
- Use a toothbrush to get rid of the tartar build-up on the teeth.
- Trim their claws once in a while. If required, you can also give them scratching posts for clawing.
The grooming process not only makes your cat look beautiful but also develops a bond between you and your pet. “Don’t underestimate cats: they are smart, trainable, and able to do a lot more than many people think they can, largely because it is hard to break stereotypes.”
Maine Coons shed depending on the coat type. Those who have a fluffier coat tend to shed more while those with a silky coat shed occasionally. However, the ones with dense coats shed throughout the year.
Training a Maine Coon cat Breed
Train your kitten as early as possible. Once they get old, it becomes difficult to house-train them or teach them new tricks. Try giving them litter box training. As large pets, they would want a litter box to do their work comfortably. You can also use different instruments to make the training easier.
- A leash and a harness
- A clicker
- A cat Backpack
- Cat treats
To remain healthy, these cats need human intervention. Regular exercise keeps them healthy both mentally and physically. As responsible owners, you can also buy toys for them. This will give you a chance to build up a relationship with your pet during its play-time. Further, a fixed play-time will also help to curb the urge to hunt in them.
Feeding a Maine Coon
- The best way to keep your Maine Coon healthy is to give him fat-free food. Owners say that “a combination of raw and wet food, 3 times a day” is essential for the breed.
- Checking that the cat is not overfed ensures good health.
- They should be given food that is rich in proteins (35%-50%), should contain an adequate amount of fat (20%-30%) and should be low in carbohydrates (12%).
- A dozen different vitamins and minerals are required by cats for maintaining their health. But, which food is best for your cat? To help this situation, the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has set up guidelines for pet food manufacturers. You can easily buy food for your Maine Coon by simply looking at the tag on the packing.
Facts about Maine Coon
- These cats are famous for their nickname ‘Gentle Giants‘. Apart from being huge in size, these cats have wonderful personalities and go well with children.
- Maine Coon in Italy was awarded the title of the largest Domesticated Cat breed by the Guinness Book of World Record.
- After the breed originated, they were used by farmers to catch mice. But, when in 1895, America was introduced to other exotic breeds like the Persian cat, this breed started losing its popularity and was on the verge of extinction. To save them, they were declared as the ‘State Cat of Maine’.
- These cats are very expensive. A silver smoke Maine Coon cat can cost you a minimum of $2,200.
- They have been part of a few well-renowned films like Harry Potter, where a female Maine Coon named Pebbles played the role of Mrs Norris.
Drawing conclusions for such an interesting breed is very difficult. These have always expressed dog-like characteristics by being loyal human companions. It is only for a few breeders who took interest in them that the Maine Coon breed was recognised by Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1968.
Q. Do Maine Coon cats take part in Cat shows?
Maine Coons are active participants for Cat shows. A cat named Leo was also awarded the prize for the ‘Best Cat in New York City’ in 1895. It also won the Cat Show of Boston consecutively in 1897, 1898, and 1899.
Q. Are Maine Coon Cats out-going?
The Maine Coon cat breed, especially the male ones, are much more out-going than the female breed. They have their way of entertaining humans and socializing freely with almost everyone.
Q. What is the most unique trait about Maine Coons?
The most unique trait about Maine Coons is that they love to play with water. Also, the fur of this breed is water-resistant; meaning the water is not going to wet their skin, even while swimming.