Cat Breeds

Everything You Wanted to Know about Maine Coon Cats

orange and cream Maine Coon cat

Maine Coon cats are considered by many to be the “gentle giants” of the cat world and one of the most popular cat breeds. Their long hair will make you say, “Look at that floof!” 

With their humongous paws, you’ll hear them coming from a mile away. And we guarantee you’ll adore their friendly and intelligent personalities. 

If you’re looking for a huge furry friend, consider the Maine Coon.

History and Maine Coon Theories

How did they get their name? Maine Coons are originally from the state of Maine in the United States, hence their name. Over time, these cats adapted to Maine’s cold winters, developing thick fur coats and large paws for trudging through the snow. 

While their true origins before coming to Maine are not known, there are some theories. 

Marie Antoinette

One theory, although not proven, is that the breed is an ancestor of Marie Antoinette’s longhaired Angora cats. She planned to escape to America to avoid persecution and sent her cats and belongings ahead of time on a ship. Although she never made it to the United States, her cats did land in Maine.

Vikings

A second theory is that Vikings brought Norwegian Forest cats on their ships from Scandinavia and landed in what is now the United States. This would mean that Maine Coons are descended from the Norwegian Forest cats, and some people believe they are very similar animals.

Sea Captains

Another theory is that sea captains brought long-haired cats from Europe who later evolved into Maine Coons. A lot of ships harbored in Maine in the 1800s. So it’s thought that the captains brought the kitties’ long-hair descendants along for the ride. 

It was common to keep cats on ships to catch mice, and Maine Coons are particularly excellent mousers. Could they be descended from these ship cats?

Bobcats

Some people throw around the tale (or should we say, tail?) that Maine Coons have wild cat origins and are descended from bobcats. 

While they have some physical similarities, especially the ear tufts and thick fur coats, they are not the same species. Bobcats also can’t breed with house cats, so the theory doesn’t stick.

Raccoons

Another funny theory is that Maine Coons are a hybrid of a raccoon and a cat. Sure, they have a ringed tail similar to a raccoon, and they even have a similar name. But, alas, this breed is not related to the raccoon. 

Best in Show

Although there are theories about Maine Coons’ origins, we do know that they were a popular breed in cat shows in the 1800s in the United States. 

In 1895 a female Maine Coon was even named Best Cat at a New York cat show at Madison Square Garden. Throughout the nineteenth century, they were a beloved breed at many cat shows in the Northeast. 

Maine Coon Characteristics

Tabby Maine Coon

Now that we know the history of Maine Coons, what are the characteristics of this breed? Here are some of their particular traits:

– Large size

– Long-haired

– Friendly

– Gentle 

– Intelligent

– Affectionate

– Dog-like personality

– Good with other pets and children

– Love of water

Maine Coon Size and Appearance

Weight and Length

Maine Coons are big. And we mean BIG! Most stretch to over three feet from tail to nose. Males weigh between 13 to 18 pounds, and females weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds. They can also grow to be 10 to 16 inches tall in height.

It usually takes two years for a Maine Coon to be full grown. But it can take some up to four years to reach full size. 

Size Compared to Other Cats

How does their size compare to other cats? The average weight for most cats is between eight and ten pounds, and they have a length of up to two feet.

That means that some Maine Coons could be eight pounds heavier and over a foot longer.

Paws

Maine Coons have huge paws that they use for all kinds of activities. Whether it’s playing with toys, pushing their food, or trying to get your attention, their big paws are handy.

Their paws are also tufted, with pieces of fur growing off the ends. It almost makes it look like they have furry webbed feet. 

Some early Maine Coons were polydactyls, meaning they had extra toes on their paws. It’s possible that 40 percent had the extra digits. This may have helped early cats walk through the snow and use their paws like snowshoes. 

Over time, the numbers of polydactyl Maine Coons have declined. They were looked down on by cat associations, so they stopped being bred. Today some are born with six toes, although it doesn’t happen as often. 

Fur Coats

Maine Coons adapted to freezing Maine winters by developing the perfect fur coat. Their coats are thick with long pieces of fur that are water-repellant. They have thick fur on their chests, legs, and ruff. Plus, their belly fur is thick and long, almost touching the ground. This keeps them warm in cold temperatures and snow.

Ears and Tails

One of the ways to spot a Maine Coon is through their big tufted ears. Purebred Maine Coons often have wisps of hair that stick up at the top of their ear. 

The kitties also have long, bushy tails. If you spend time with one, you’ll notice that their fluffy tails can whip back and forth like a windshield wiper. They also wrap their tails around themselves if they’re cold, which must have worked especially well in Maine winters.

Colors

Many Maine Coons come in the brown tabby color. They might have brown and black stripes and a cream-colored belly. Others can be orange, black, white, tortoiseshell, or calico. They can come in solid colors or parti-color, which are two colors.

Maine Coon Personality

Maine Coons are notoriously dog-like. While they’re independent like all cats, they are friendly and love to be around people. 

They might follow you around the house or even snuggle up next to you. Not all are lap cats, but some might get comfy right on their person’s lap (which can get heavy, trust us). They also don’t mind being picked up and cradled.

These cats are also quite intelligent and can figure out problems, like how to get your attention or even open a door. At the same time, they are playful and will chase string and bat toys around, even as mature cats.

Maine Coon cats do well around other pets, even dogs. They also behave nicely around children and don’t get aggressive.

They’re also known for loving water. They like to dip their paws into water and drink out of faucets. Some are even known to swim, and their water-resistant fur coats help. 

Maine Coon Health

While no cat is 100% guaranteed to have perfect health, Maine Coons are a healthy breed overall. There are three hereditary issues that they could carry, though.

Hip Dysplasia

Large cats can develop this condition more often than small cats. It causes arthritis, which can be painful. Be sure to speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat has this condition.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy

This is a genetic disease that is noticeable when your Maine Coon kitten is three to four months old. It’s not painful, but it causes kittens to be unsteady and have trouble with their posture. If you notice your kitten having trouble walking, please be sure to speak with your veterinarian.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition is rare in Maine Coons, but it is serious. It causes the heart muscle to thicken. Your vet can test your cat for this heart disease.

Maine Coon Lifespan

The average lifespan for Maine Coons is ten to thirteen years. Some cats live beyond thirteen years

Taking Care of Maine Coons

It’s important to feed your Maine Coon high-quality dry food that has protein, vitamins, fats, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. These cats like to eat, so feed them at least twice a day. Watch for weight gain so that you don’t overfeed them.

They should also always have a bowl full of fresh water. Maine Coons like to play with their water, so keep an eye out for low water. 

Since they are long-haired cats with thick fur, it’s important to brush them every one or two days. If you don’t brush them regularly, their fur becomes matted. Brushing them often also decreases hairballs.

Because of their size, it’s best to use an extra-large litter box. You can also use litter made especially for long-haired cats so that it doesn’t stick to their fur. You should clean the box at least once or twice a day.

Maine Coons enjoy spending time with you, so be sure to play with your cat and give it snuggle time every day. 

Maine Coons for Adoption

At Meow and Tail, we 100% encourage cat adoptions. There are shelters, animal rescues, and sanctuaries that have cats needing loving forever homes.

Check out Petfinder, local shelters, The Humane Society, cat cafes, and animal rescues in your town or city. 

There are also organizations specifically dedicated to rescuing Maine Coon kittens, cats, and mixes. Try rescues like Only Maine Coons Rescue, Maine Coon Rescue, Arizona Maine Coon Cat Rescue, or East Coast Maine Coon Rescue.

Maine Coon mixes are often available to adopt, and you can search by breed on most pet adoption sites. A lot of people want to adopt kittens, but adult cats make wonderful pets, too. 

Adult cats already know how to use a litter box, are less likely to bite when playing, and may have experience around kids and other pets.

Maine Coons’ animated and friendly personalities make them excellent options for families with children, other cats, or dogs. Check the adoption profile for information on whether a particular cat is good with kids and other animals. 

One of the Popular Cats

We know many people who love Maine Coons. In fact, the Maine Coon came in at #5 on Cat Fanciers’ Association’s list of the world’s most popular cat breeds.

Even our Meow and Tail Team Captain, Bridget, is one. She is over three feet long (nose to tail) and weighs over eleven pounds. A giant fluff ball! 😸

Would you adopt a Maine Coon cat? What’s your favorite breed? Let us know in the comments.

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