Hair & Eyes
Health and Diseases
Maine Coon Types
Environment and conditions
What you’ll need
Maine Coons are the largest breed of cats. Males weigh 5.9kg-8.2kg (up to 12kg if castrated), while females weigh 3.6kg-5.4kg (up to 8.5kg if sterilized). Adult cats are from 25 to 41 cm tall at the shoulders (withers) and up to 120 cm long, 36 cm of which is the tail. Maine Coon kittens are also larger than kittens of other breeds (between 100-180 g at birth, but at least 80 g).
The cats are fully grown by the ages of 3 to 5 years, whereas most other cat breeds reach their adult size by year 1. All Maine Coons have small tassels on the tips of their ears as well as long hair inside, keeping the ears warm in cold weather. Maine Coons are highly sexually dimorphic.
Hair & Eyes
Maine Coons are long haired cats. The hair is soft and silky and color and texture vary by the kind of Maine Coon. The hair is shorter on the head and shoulders and longer on the sides and stomach for sitting and walking through ice and snow. Some cats have a developed mane. The hair is subject to seasonal changes, shorter and thinner in the summer, and longer and denser in the winter. The hair is well-adapted to cold climates.
Maine Coon may be of any color, typical for ordinary domestic cats, but artificial colors saying of possible impurities of other breeds, such as chocolate, lavender, color - point or tipping are accepted not in all federations. For example, color- point in Maine Coon colors is accepted only in TICA.
The most common color is brown or smoky tabby. Maine Coons come with all eye colors, including blue or heterochromic (differently colored eyes) in exceptional cases in case with hair other than white.
Most of the original Maine Coon cats that lived in New England had a feature known as polydactylism (presence of one or more fingers on the paw). The feature as well as long hair bundles between the pads acts like a snowshoe and makes it easier for the cat to walk on snow. Although some sources say this feature is present in 40% of the Maine Coon population in Maine, polydactylism is rarely seen in Maine Coon exhibitions as it is not accepted according to common standards for semi-long haired breeds in the main federations. The feature is no longer present because it meant an automatic disqualification in exhibitions. However, it is now proven that polydactylism gene is basic autosomal dominant gene that is not dangerous for the cat's health. In our times, private organizations and breeders set the goal of preventing of disappearances of polydactylism among Maine Coon, bred such animals separately from the basic breed lines, accepted by WCF and AFC.
Ancestors of Maine Coons were big cats who lived in northern US. These animals lived in the wild and their domestication and breeding began more than 250 years ago. Maine Coon is translated from English as Manx Raccoon which is why these cats are also known as the Manx Raccoon Cat.
Their visual resemblance with raccoons gives rise to legends of their origin. One of them holds that Maine Coons’ ancestors were a domestic tomcat and a female raccoon, from which it inherited its gorgeous striped tail. Another holds the origin as due to crossbreeding of domestic cats with tabby colors and North American tortie. The cats’ ear tassels are held up as proof of this hypothesis. Cat genetics disprove both: they are simply a natural population of North America. They were originally domesticated on farms to protect against rats and were taken aboard vessels for the same purpose.
Health and Diseases
These cats are basically a healthy and hardy breed well-adapted to snowy climates. According to Swiss life insurance data an average life expectancy is 12.5 years.
The most serious diseases for Maine Coons is heart disease. It’s thought that this is the result of autosomnal dominant inheritance manifested among the animals of middle and old age. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease leading to the lung's edema, sudden hind limb paralysis and death. That's why timely diagnosis is extremely important. There is a practice of DNA testing for genes responsible for the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in USA.
Another potential health problem is spinal muscular atrophy, another genetically determined disease (autosomal recessive inheritance) in which the neurons of the spinals cord conductive impulses to the skeletal muscles of the trunk and limbs are affected. First symptoms appear at the age of 3-4 months. The kitten's back part of the body sways while walking, its kneecaps are almost touching.
At the age of 5-6 months the animal is not able to jump on furniture can land awkwardly while jumping down. Still, sick kittens eat well and play and most of them live out long lives as purely domestic cats that don’t go outdoors. Testing for SMA is also available.
Hip dysplasia – its inferiority touching one or both joints, most often affected Maine Coon and Persians as the large breeds. This disease is genetic but usually manifests with age in the form of osteoarthritis – the animal begins to limp.
Polycystic kidney disease is hereditary slowly progressing irreversible striking as it was thought both Persian cat and related breeds. Recent research confirms that kidney cysts are rate among Maine Coons and have no relation to Persian cats’ PKP. Genetically testing for Maine Coon PKP gives negative results.
Maine Coon Types
This breed is considered to be aboriginal to the United States and one of the oldest. But European breeders created new lines, with a familiar look but new traits. As a result, there are now two sub-breeds: the American and the European.
American Maine Coons have a tough and strong core, are a little lower than their European cousins but maintain weight and strength parity. The Americans have a bigger head and a more prominent transition from the slightly protruding forehead to the nose. Eyes are round, and ears are shorter and wider than the Europeans’ and without lynx tassels. They visually resemble the Norwegian Forest or Siberian types.
European Maine Coons was developed by the 1990s. A noticeable difference is their somewhat squinted eyes which gives them a slightly predatory and disdainful look. The muzzle looks triangular, the body and the tail are longer and should read the shoulders. Their legs are longer.
Your Maine Coon will have the same personality as its owner. As they grow older, these cats carefully watch their owners and copy their character traits and behavior. Despite its size, the Maine Coon is almost never aggressive and gets along with people and other animals.
These cats like to play, but can lay next to the owner for a long time to watch a favorite TV show. Unlike most other cat breeds, Maine Coons are not vengeful and don’t damage footwear and furniture out of spite. Maine Coons are easily trained and can learn to open doors and use the human bathroom.
Unlike other cats, Maine Coons also like water. They can play with water, wash their food by holding it in their claws, or swim.
Such a large breed eats a lot and often. It’s important to pick a direction in nutrition: either you buy ready to eat feed of the highest quality or you buy natural products. If the former, add canned food two to three times per week, taking care to stick to the same manufacturer. If the latter:
- Protein comes from raw or cooked beef, rabbit or turkey. Do not feed your cat pork, duck or goose meat because they are too fatty. Do not feed your cat sausages. Use cooked, saltwater fish.
- Add dairy products, boiled yolk and quail eggs.
- For fiber, feed cereal porridges.
- Vitamins and minerals are added separately and also from sprouted grains. A rule of thumb for all food: make sure there is always water in the water bowl and don’t forget the anti-hair paste. Do not use plastic bowls, only glass or metal.
All animals of large breeds have the same problem area, which is their bones and joints. To protect your Maine Coon he needs to receive vitamin additives, calcium and potassium and regular physical exercise.
Since this is a longhaired breed, the cat needs to receive a special paste to clean its stomach from hair. You need to brush your cat a few times per week.
Aside from that, caring for your Maine Coon is the same as for other cats: regular vaccinations, parasite control, and cleaning ears and eyes.
Environment and conditions
Maine Coons are excellent hunters. They catch birds, rodents and fish. So if you get a cat of this breed and you have other small animals in the home, it’s safe to say that this will end badly for the latter.
At the same time, Maine Coons get along with other cats and dogs well, whether the animal came into the home at the same time as the cat or later, when the cat was already the complete owner of the house.
It’s very important that the Maine Coon has a space he can call his own, a place where he can get away from human attention and rest. He also needs a large place to walk around because they don’t like to sit in place and need to walk, play and hunt.
What you’ll need
You just brought a small furry ball into your home? Or are you only planning a new kitten? Carefully study the information below – it’s a list of everything you’ll need.
Ask the breeder or veterinarian (and better to listen to both) what you should feed your kitten. Definitely find out what he ate at the breeder’s. If you decide to change the food, do it gradually, so you will need to get both the familiar and the new food.
The kitten needs two bowls: for food and water. Bowls must be steady so they don’t tip over and must fit the kitten’s size. It’s not recommended to have a double bowl, but to use two separate ones. Cats don’t like to eat and drink from the same place, perhaps thinking that the water may be contaminated by the food and refuse to drink it altogether.
What litterbox to pick depends on your and your kitten’s preferences. A litterbox with a mesh doesn’t need litter, whereas litterboxes with tall sides keep the litter from spreading. The latter also contain odor thanks to special air filters
Litter can be wood based, pine, paper, silica gel etc. They can also be scented or not, different size, thickness and color. Choose one that fits both you and your kitten.
Definitely find out what litter did your kitten’s breeder used because your kitten can refuse to use a different one at first! And don’t be disappointed if you won’t train the kitten to only use the litterbox at first. Try changing the litter, the litterbox and its location. The kitten could be trying to explain to you as best as he can that he doesn’t like something.
5. Cat Home and Scratching Post
Cats need to scratch and sharpen their claws, so you need to get your kitten a scratching post and even his own small home. If you train your kitten to use a scratching post from an early age, he won’t need to damage your walls and furniture.
Scratching posts are made of different materials: from carpet, fur and cardboard, so every cat can pick the best fit. Scratching posts are often treated with catnip and other aromatic products to make it easier to train your kitten to use it.
6. Sleeping areas and carriers
Every animal needs its own place in the home where it can rest undisturbed. Even if (especially if!) your kitten picked your favorite pillow or slipper, it’s time to get a sleeping area. Most cats love closed-off, soft houses or baskets. But others who love soft, cozy pillows. If your kitten has a special tunnel, he will be able to not only rest but also play when he wakes up.
A carrier is necessary to visit the vet, cat shows, moving and just for traveling with your pet.
What child doesn’t like to play? Kittens are no exception! But kittens need games not only to playfully spend time between eating and sleeping. Games are your kitten’s way to develop, grow, learn the world around him, and learn how to interact with people and other animals.
8. Care Products
You can’t wash your cat with a shampoo made for humans. Fur specifics are not considered in human shampoo. Only use shampoo specifically designed for cats.
When choosing shampoo, you need to consider your kitten’s specific fur. For example, there are shampoos made specifically for white cats, for shorthaired and longhaired, hairless and others. Besides shampoo, you may need to use conditioner and other treatments as needed.
9. First aid
As we said before, cats are very clean animals. But in one instance their cleanliness comes back to harm them. Due to specific tongue structure, cats can’t spit out what gets into their mouth. Therefore, all of the hair that they lick off themselves when they clean up, they swallow.
Hair practically doesn’t digest. Big hairballs can lead to serious gastrointestinal illness. Thankfully, there are special food additive that aid the easy removal of hair from your kitten’s stomach.
If you are planning to train your kitten to go outside, don’t forget vaccinations and treatment against fleas and ticks, and only then go outside. But you need to familiarize the kitten with the equipment ahead of time.
You’ll need to get a harness if you want to walk your kitten. Cats like harnesses better than collars and a sudden jerk of the collar can scare and even hurt your kitten. On the other hand, do but a separate collar to add an address tag to your kitten. In case your cat runs away or gets lost, people will be able to give you a call. Collars often come with a special rubber band where the cat can get free from the newly-dangerous accessory in case the collar catches on something.
If you want to do something nice for your kitten or train him, it’s best to buy snacks designed especially for cats. They will definitely not hurt anything and many are made with healthy vitamins and minerals.
The main thing, though, is happiness and peacefulness for your kitten, which depend on his health, and his health, in term, depend on quality and competent care.
Try to make sure you have all of these items ready from the beginning and the kitten will return the favor with love and warmth, like only cats can!