Maine Coon cats
The Maine Coon is perhaps the largest of all the cat breeds that live indoors with humans. It's hard to overlook their imposing appearance. Despite their size, Maine Coon cats have a very calm personality, which might surprise many people. Here you can find everything you want to know about the breed, their care, health and ideal living conditions.
A Brief History of the Maine Coon breed
There are many fantastic tales about the origins of this breed. The first part of the name suggests that these cats originated in the US state of Maine and some claim that the term Coon comes from the cat being a cross between a cat and a raccoon. The cat’s long body and the stripes on their fur make this story very plausible, but biologically breeding between a wild cat and a raccoon is impossible.
This breed is also often linked to the French queen Marie Antoinette, who sent her long-haired cats ahead when she wanted to escape to America. The Queen herself never made the trip, but old documents show that as many as six of her cats did arrive on the US mainland.
What is probably true is that Maine Coons are a cross between cats transported by sea and the farm cats they encountered on land. They likely developed their large size and thick fur as a result of the harsh conditions at sea and the freezing cold on land.
The Maine Coon’s Appearance
From head to tail, a Maine Coon can be up to one metre long and, depending on their length, an adult cat weighs between 4 -10 Kg. Male cats usually weigh more than the females.These cats are not fully grown until they are around four years of age and so it is very difficult to estimate what size your Maine Coon will be as an adult.
A striking feature of this breed is their plush coat, which is very fluffy but also sometimes feels oily. Their thick undercoat protects them against cold and their topcoat is waterproof. These cats have a great variety of different patterns and colours.
All purebred Maine Coons have tufts of fur on their ears and legs. A thick collar of fur around their head extends to the chest giving them an appearance similar to that of a lion. Their tail is as long as their bodies because it is used to protect them from cold. While not commonly seen in the UK, this cat will drape their tail over their paws when outside in freezing weather.
The Maine Coon cat’s personality
Many people are surprised that the big Coon cats have such a calm and tolerant nature. They are very friendly and sociable and bond very quickly with their family. Because of their size, this breed is not your ideal lap cat, but you will soon discover that they always want to be near you.
They adapt easily to new environments and will be very curious rather than fearful. Changes are seen as new and welcome challenges.
Playing with your Maine Coon cat will ensure that they don’t get into mischief. Even once they are older they still have a lot of energy and want to play. They will be quite happy with simple toys and love playing with cat toy wands that you swing around. Some owners have even taught their Maine Coon cats to play a game of fetch.
Something that you should keep in mind is that Maine Coons meow quite a bit more than your average cat, and often for nothing. Fortunately, their voice doesn’t quite match their size, with their meow being high-pitched rather than deep and loud. These cats will meow when they are bored, when they want attention, when they are hungry or when they can’t see you. If your cat really meows a long It might help to have them sterilised.
Maine Coon cat grooming
Their coat does not need a lot of attention. Combing out their long hair once a week will be more than enough. In general, these cats don't mind if you pull at their hair a bit and so getting any knots out won’t be much of a problem. With the right equipment you will never hurt your cat unnecessarily and the time you spend grooming is good for strengthening the bond between you.
The ideal environment for the Maine Coons
A small residence without a garden is not ideal for this breed. These cats need space to move around in and get rid of all their energy. A large house or a small house with a garden would be suitable, but not a city apartment. By nature, the breed loves to hunt and it would be perfect if they are able to chase birds in your back garden.
Unlike most other cats, Maine Coons also love to play in water. You could place containers that collect rainwater in your garden or create spots for puddles. Because of their water-repellent fur you don’t have to be concerned about having a dirty cat in the house.
Maine Coons get along well with other cats, but they often need to get used to new people. Children in the home are no problem at all because they just provide your cat with more opportunities to play.
These cats prefer to spend most of their time with the family and do not like being left alone. Your cat cannot tell you that they don’t enjoy being alone and so you might not necessarily realise that your cat is stressed.
Over time, a Maine Coon that is often alone might become antisocial and sometimes even aggressive. Always try to keep the amount of time that your cat is alone as short as possible. Also try to go out at the same times each day so that your cat can get used to the routine.
Raising a Maine Coon kitten
Preferably you shouldn’t leave your Maine Coon kitten alone at all during their first two weeks in your home as this is a significant time for their socialisation. Use this time to get your kitten used to the people and other pets, being touched, grooming, and the different sounds in the environment.
Also start teaching your kitten what is and what is not allowed. As soon as the kitten scratches your sofa, you can pick them up and place them next to the scratching post. It is very important for them to learn the correct behaviour at an early age, otherwise you will end up with a huge cat that likes hanging onto your curtains.
A Maine Coon kitten that is not correctly socialised will grow into a stressed and anxious adult cat. When you remove a Maine Coon kitten from the breeder at around 12 weeks of age most of their socialisation should already have taken place. So always make sure that you choose a breeder who takes this process seriously.
Always get the right supplies for your kitten. To start with you could get away with a smaller scratching post, but a full-grown Coon needs a scratching post of at least one metre in height. You should also get quite a lot of different toys so that you can bond with your kitten through play and also for them to have fun with on their own.
Should I Let My Maine Coon Out?
Many people think that a big cat like the Maine Coon should go outside, but nothing could be further from the truth. If there is enough space inside the house, they will have enough room to enjoy themselves. Furthermore, a Maine Coon is very expensive and many people prefer not to take the risk of allowing their cat to roam around in the streets. There is also a chance that the cat might be stolen.
If you do allow your cat outside, you don't have to worry about them getting lost. These cats are inclined to never stray far from home and will always know how to find their way back.
Some owners choose to close up their garden so that their cat can’t get out. However, keep in mind that these cats have huge jumps and some could even scale a fence of as high as 1.5 metres. Also remove objects like rubbish bins that your cat can use to jump up onto higher places.
Health profile of Maine Coons
This breed has an average lifespan of between 12 and 15 years of age.
Because of their size Maine Coons are prone to hip dysplasia and other joint problems, which are also partly genetically determined. Although these conditions will be uncomfortable for your cat, they are not life-threatening. Always check with the breeder whether both the kitten’s father and mother have been tested to reduce the chances of their kittens suffering from these hereditary disorders.
Furthermore, these cats are sometimes born with extra toes and while this is a genetic predisposition it is not harmful to their health.
The right food for a Maine Coon
Maine Coon kittens are only fully grown after a relatively long time. This is why it is important for you to provide them from a young age with all the nutrients needed to support their development. Foods that are too high in energy could make your cat grow too fast and this could lead to an unstable bone structure.
You should feed them food that consists of at least 30% protein. This applies to both Yarrah's organic dry cat food with MSC herring, organic chicken, peas and lupin beans, and the cat food with organic chicken and peas. In addition, all Yarrah cat food is made without any added chemical fragrances, colours and flavours, pesticides or GMO, so that your cat only gets the pure nutrients.
These cats are also known for being real gourmets who love to eat. It’s best to feed your cat small amounts of food a few times a day rather than a large meal once a day. On our product pages you can find the daily recommended amount for each type of food. You only have to enter your cat’s level of activity and estimated weight. You will be surprised to learn that a Maine Coon cat doesn't need much more food than other, smaller cat breeds.
This breed's love of water can also be seen in their eating and drinking habits. They prefer to drink their water straight from a tap, and for this reason it might be a good idea to set up a special cat drinking fountain. Then your cat will always have running water available and it will prevent them from jumping onto the counter when you open the tap.