MAINE COON CAT INFORMATION
With their sweet temperament, bushy tails and longhaired shaggy coats, Maine Coon cats are one of the most recognisable and popular domesticated cat breeds. Even before the first official cat shows were held in the United States in the 1890s, they appeared in special competitions at agricultural shows in New England in the 1860s.
A natural breed, it was named the official state cat of Maine, where it originated, and was highly prized as a hunter of vermin. They evolved as sturdy working cats, with their physique and coat suited to the climate of the region. At the first major cat show held in the United States, at Madison Square Garden in New York in May 1895, a brown tabby Maine Coon female called Cosey was chosen as ‘Best Cat’.
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, “the gentle giant”. It is characterised by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, an uneven two-layered coat with longer guard hairs over a silky satin undercoat, and a long, bushy tail.
The Maine Coon is a long- or medium-haired cat. The coat is soft and silky, although texture may vary with coat colour. The length is shorter on the head and shoulders and longer on the stomach and flanks, with some cats having a leonine ruff around their neck. Minimal grooming is required for the breed compared to other long-haired breeds, as their coat is mostly self-maintaining owing to a light-density undercoat. The coat is subject to seasonal variation, with the fur being thicker in the winter and thinner during the summer.
Maine Coons have several physical adaptations for survival in harsh winter climates. Their dense water-resistant fur is longer and shaggier on their underside and rear for extra protection when they are walking or sitting on top of
wet surfaces of snow or ice. Their long and bushy raccoon-like tail is resistant to sinking in snow, and can be curled around their face and shoulders for warmth and protection from wind and blowing snow.
It can even be curled around their backside like an insulated seat cushion when sitting down on a frozen surface. Large paws, and especially the extra-large paws of polydactyl Maine Coons, facilitate walking on snow and are often compared to snowshoes. Long tufts of fur growing between their toes help keep the toes warm and further aid walking on snow by giving the paws additional structure without significant extra weight. Heavily furred ears with extra long tufts of fur growing from inside can keep warm more easily.
They have a personality to match their size. They are high energy and, because of their large size, need plenty of room to play and work off their natural hunting instinct. An assortment of toys and a very strong climbing frame that will support their weight and enable them to access high places will be appreciated. Like all other cats and kittens, they enjoy a snooze and will search out the most comfortable spot. Often known as ‘the gentle giant’, their temperament belies their size, for they are gentle and friendly, as well as playful.
They make wonderful family pets as they enjoy being involved in whatever is going on with their humans and form strong bonds with their family. Maine Coons do not cope very well as an only pet or if their owners are out all day. Their above average intelligence does make them easier to train. They have a quiet chirping voice, although they can also yowl when demanding food. They like company and will bond well with another cat or the family dog. Retaining their playful ways throughout their life, they are an affectionate and fun companion.
The Maine Coon was considered the largest breed of domestic cat until the introduction of the Savannah cat in the mid 1980s, and is still the largest non-hybrid breed. On average, males weigh from 13 to 18 lb (5.9 to 8.2 kg), with
females weighing from 8 to 12 lb (3.6 to 5.4 kg). The height of adults can vary between 10 and 16 in (25 and 41 cm) and they can reach a length of up to 38 in (97 cm), including the tail, which can reach a length of 14 in (36 cm) and is long, tapering, and heavily furred, almost resembling a raccoon’s tail.
The body is solid and muscular, which is necessary for supporting their weight, and the chest is broad. Maine Coons possess a rectangular body shape and are slow to physically mature; their full size is normally not reached until they are three to five years old, while other cats take about one year.
Their large ears should be regularly checked to ensure they are clean. Care should be taken with their nutrition as they can have a tendency to become overweight.
How long do they live?
They are generally a healthy breed, with a life expectancy between 10 – 15 years.