BREED SPOTLIGHT

Breed Spotlight: Maine Coon Cats

4 min read Jan 20, 2023
Orange Maine Coon cat standing on a stump outside on a sunny day

Maine Coon Quick Stats

Lifespan

 9 – 15 years

Weight

8 – 18 lbs

Height

10 – 16 inches

Do I Shed?

Yes

Personality: Loyal, playful, friendly, intelligent

Common Health Problems: Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, spinal muscular atrophy, polycystic kidney disease

Maine Coon: How Do I Look?

Upon first glance, the Maine coon cat’s size will likely grab your attention. Maine coons are a large and regal looking cat with long shaggy fur and a long fluffy tail. This breed comes in many different colors and patterns, although brown tabby is one of the most common. They have large tufted ears and large expressive eyes.

Coat Type and Colors

Maine coon cats have a silky undercoat and a long, waterproof top coat that gets longer around their stomach, legs, and neck. This leads the Maine coon to have a shaggy appearance while still being soft to the touch.

Maine coons come in almost every color combination imaginable – close to 75 varieties and two different tabby patterns.3

Ears and Tails

Maine coons usually have tufts of fur coming from the inside of their large ears (they even have fur tufts between their toes) and they have a long, fluffy tail that can be as long as their body.

Their eyes can come in many colors — mainly gold, copper, and green variations — but white Maine coons may have blue or odd eyes.5

Shedding and Grooming

A Maine coon’s fur is relatively self-maintained which makes grooming fairly easy compared to other long-haired breeds. Despite having two layers, their light-density undercoat helps keep shedding to a moderate amount.3

Maine coon cats still require frequent grooming and maintenance brushing to reduce shedding and keep their fur from matting.4 But they usually oblige without fuss because this cat breed loves to socialize and receive attention from their humans.

Maine Coon: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

I am a gentle giant that loves to play and socialize. I stay very close and devoted to you once I’ve decided I can trust you, which may not take long because I’m affectionate at heart. My big brain helps me stay curious so I can occupy myself while you’re away, but I prefer being around people more than being alone.

Behavior

In addition to their appearance, the Maine coon’s characteristics make them an easily loveable breed. One might say they’re a big cat with an even bigger personality! Their loyalty is one of the reasons this breed is often referred to as the “dog of the cat world.” Most Maine coons will follow their favorite person from room to room — which can mean instilling boundaries if you need privacy.

They’re also very intelligent and have a fascination with water, potentially due to their ship residing ancestors.4 Don’t be surprised if you find your Maine coon wanting to help you with water activities like showering or washing dishes.

If you want a lap cat, you may want to choose another breed. While Maine coon cats are very affectionate and love being around their humans, they prefer to be next to you, not on top of you.

Activity level

Maine coons like to catch mice. Although they will certainly help if you have a rodent issue, this also translates to an extremely playful breed of cat. Be sure to have plenty of toys for your Maine coon to “hunt” to keep them happy and busy.

Good With Other Pets?

The sociable disposition of Maine coons makes them a great breed to get along with other pets in your home.

Trainability

Maine coon cats can be very trainable due to their intelligence, inquisitive nature and devotion to their owner.3 Since Maine coons are playful, curious hunters, they may benefit from training that aligns with these natural behaviors.6 You could train your Main coon to find treats, go to a target spot, or to come back to you if you’re playing outside.

Just make sure what you’re training them to do is something they enjoy. Cats don’t respond to verbal praise or discipline like dogs do, they need to know the reward (i.e. treats or play) is worth the effort.

Noise level

The Maine coon cat can be talkative due to their sociable and affectionate nature. You may find your feline friend vocalizing through their distinctive howls, trills, or chirps.

Good with Kids?

When it comes to being comfortable around children, the gentle and friendly temperament of a Maine coon shines through. Maine coons are far less likely to hide than other breeds and you may find them loving being the center of attention.

Maine Coons: A History

Once mistakenly declared extinct, the Maine coon cat is now one of the most popular breeds in the United States.3 In fact, Maine claimed it as their official state cat after the state recognized it as an official breed.3

Although its exact origins are unknown, the Maine coon is considered a native American cat breed. It is believed that this breed descended from European long-haired cats brought to New England by settlers and ship captains who used the cats to control rodent problems on ship voyages.7

Some stories claim that the Maine coon’s trademark appearance came from cross breeding with bobcats or racoons, neither of which is biologically possible.7 For a more possible explanation, Maine coon cats may have developed into the rugged and hardy breed they are today due to interbreeding with shorter-haired cats already in America and surviving harsh Maine winters.3,7

The breed went from a rugged, rodent-catching barn cat to a beloved pet and cat show favorite in early 20th century America.3 Later on, Maine coon cats were slightly overshadowed by the introduction of Persian cats in the United States, but still hold a top spot in the hearts of many.

Similar Cat Breeds

●      Norwegian Forest Cat

●      Siberian Forest Cat

●      Ragdoll

4 Maine Coon Health Problems

Maine coon cats may experience a variety of health issues, including:

●      Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a progressive heart condition that can cause blood clots that may lead to hind leg paralysis, heart failure, and sudden death.

●      Hip dysplasia: This condition is when the hip joints develop abnormally and can cause arthritis or lameness.8

●      Spinal muscular atrophy: This is a disease causing muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and a shorter lifespan.9

●      Polycystic kidney disease: When afflicted with this condition, multiple cysts form in the kidneys and could grow large enough to cause kidney failure.10

Protect your Pets

Even the healthiest of pups can come with unexpected vet costs. Pet insurance can help keep your dog and your bank account happy.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Maine Coons

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Maine coon cats are prone to a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).11 This is a disease where the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied) and can make it more difficult for the heart to beat and pump blood effectively. It can cause blood clots to form in the heart that can be fatal.

To diagnose HCM, vets rely on electrocardiograms (EKGs), echocardiograms, and other diagnostic testing to rule out other common conditions.11 Treatment varies based on the individual cat but there is no cure. A veterinarian may prescribe medications to help regulate your cat’s heart rate or manage pain, or there may be medical procedures to help manage the condition and any side effects.

A cat insurance policy may help cover some of the costs of medications and procedures.2 Because HCM affects every cat differently, investing in an insurance policy while your Maine coon is young — before HCM becomes a preexisting condition — can be a good idea.

Hip dysplasia

Maine coons, along with other large breed domestic cats, can be prone to hip dysplasia.8 This genetically inherited hip joint malformation results in the hip ball and socket being misaligned and loose. Over time, without the smooth joint movement found in properly formed hips, it can cause painful wear and tear and lead to osteoarthritis or loss of normal use of the hip joint.8

If your Maine coon cat is showing signs of hip pain or discomfort, vets can diagnose hip dysplasia with an x-ray.8 Treatment may include medications and supplements to manage pain and maintain the strength of the hip joint’s connective tissues. Extreme cases may include surgically removing the femoral head of the hip joint so there’s no more grinding. This allows the surrounding hip muscles to continue doing their job at a relatively normal capacity, but it could result in some lameness and a shorter limb.

With the Maine coon’s lifespan reaching up to 15 years, medical procedures, supplements, and pain medications can add up. Investing in a pet insurance policy while your cat is young is a smart way to help cover those costs. For more information on how MetLife Pet Insurance1 can help your Maine coon, check out our guide on How Pet Insurance Works.

Protect your Maine Coon

Enroll in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3“About the Maine Coon Cat,” The Cat Fanciers’ Association

4”Maine Coon,” Daily Paws

5“Maine Coon Cat Breed Standard,” The Cat Fanciers’ Association

6“7 Essential Cat Training Tricks Your Kitty Can Really Learn,” Daily Paws

7”The History of the Maine Coon Cat,” Maine Coon Expert

8”Hip Dysplasia,” Cornell Feline Health Center

9”Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in Maine Coon Cats,” University of California Davis Veterinary Medicine

10”Polycystic Kidney Disease,” Cornell Feline Health Center

11”Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy,” Cornell Feline Health Center

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