Updated: November 10, 2021
The Maine Coon is one of the biggest breeds of domestic cat, and is often described by its owners as a gentle giant. Easy-going, affectionate and loyal, these cats enjoy spending lots of time with their owners and get along well with children and other pets.
The Maine Coon was made the official state cat of Maine in 1985, and they are still a popular breed across all of America, as well as in Europe and Japan. With their bushy tails, large paws and semi-longhaired, waterproof coats, the Maine Coon is naturally designed for cold, snowy weather. Paired with a strong hunting instinct and exceptional intelligence, it’s no surprise that these cats made for popular farm cats and mousers for our North American ancestors.
The origin of Maine Coons remains a mystery, but they are likely to be the oldest cat breed native to America. Although the brown tabby is the most commonly found, other colours and patterns are found in purebred Maine Coons and are highly desired by pet owners.
Perfect for owners looking for a laidback and affectionate companion.
- Large (25cm to 40cm)
- Typically weighing between 4kg and 8kg
- 10 to 15 years life expectancy
Exercise and nutrition
Because of their size, Maine Coon cats need lots of space to roam around and exercise in. Many owners choose to keep them as indoor cats due to their pedigree status, but you will need a large home for your feline friend to explore if you decide to follow suit. Giving them a fenced-off area of your garden to explore or taking them outside on a leash might also help them exercise and stretch their legs.
As highly intelligent cats, Maine Coons have been known to learn tricks, play fetch, and solve puzzles, so you may find that your cat enjoys new and exciting toys and games. That being said, the natural mouse-catcher in them will still relish a simple string toy to chase around the room.
Maine Coons are big, high-energy cats and so, unsurprisingly, a nutritious diet with protein is particularly important. Try to pick food that lists meat as one of the first ingredients for best quality. The amount of food will depend on your cat’s size and activity, and it’s worth remembering that Maine Coons mature much slower than other cats, so they may require kitten food for longer.
Common health problems and illnesses
Maine Coons are pre-dispositioned to a number of health issues, and purebred cats are more likely to develop hereditary diseases than mixed-breeds. A good safety net for the future is to take out pet insurance early on for your Maine Coon kitten before any conditions show themselves.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease which is common in cats and has been found to be hereditary in Maine Coons. The walls of the heart thicken as a result of this condition, which can lead to sudden heart failure or blood clots. Symptoms may not appear for several years and the effects can be very serious so it’s important you report any changes in behaviour - such as loss of appetite, lethargy, aversion to exercise, difficulty breathing – to your vet, and be sure to get regular check-ups.
Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary disease affecting the hip socket. Grinding in the hip joint caused by malformation can cause your feline pain and lead them to limp and avoid exercise. This can then lead to further problems such as cat obesity. Your vet can offer a variety of treatments depending on the severity of the condition, but may include lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory medications, or, in extreme cases, surgery.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a genetic disorder that is often diagnosed in Maine Coon kittens and results from the loss of lower spinal cord neurons. Suffering kittens will have muscle weakness in their rear ends which may make them unsteady and sway. You vet will be able to test for this condition so that owners can decide whether to breed their cats, but cannot treat the disease. However, cats with SMA can lead normal, happy lives.
Polycystic Kidney Disease is a life-threatening condition where cysts form on the kidney. These can cause organ failure and unfortunately cannot be removed. Your vet can usually offer medication to minimize the symptoms and delay kidney failure.
Maine Coons need to be brushed at least once a week to keep their coats in good condition and prevent matting. Improper care can lead to matted hair which, when severe, can be unhygienic and painful for your cat, and may lead to skin inflammation or infections.
- Maine Coons are one of the few cats that enjoy swimming, possibly because of their thick, weather-resistant coats!
- America’s first major cat show was won by a Maine Coon called Cosie back in 1895. Her collar and medal are on display at the Cat Fanciers’ Association headquarters.
- Despite now appearing in the top 5 most popular cat breeds year after year, in the 1950s Maine Coons were so rare they were thought to be extinct!
- Maine Coons are sometimes known as the dogs of the cat-world because of their size, loyalty and ability to learn tricks.
- The Guinness World Record for the longest domestic cat ever, belongs to a Maine Coon named Stewie, who measured 123cm!