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Portrait of a Maine Coon cat

Getting to know the Maine Coon cat

If you’re looking for a large purebred cat that’s an excellent mouser and a loyal companion with an easygoing disposition and a playful side, the Maine Coon may be the ideal breed for you.

Origins of the Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon’s origins are a bit of a mystery, though the breed is strongly associated with the fishing communities of northern New England. Some have theorized that its ancestors were longhaired felines brought to the New World by Viking explorers. There’s even folk legend that the Maine Coon is the product of crossbreeding between cats and raccoons. The legend is false, though it was likely spawned by the breed’s ringed tail. Whatever its origins, the Maine Coon first appeared in the literature during the mid-19th century and has continued to be a popular pet and show breed.

Physical Description

The Maine Coon is big for a cat, weighing in at an average of 9–19 pounds, with larger examples on record. With its broad paws, muscular build, and keen hunting instinct, it has proven itself invaluable as a mouser. While not as fluffy as a Persian, the Main Coon is a longer-haired breed, with a two-layered coat with longer guard hairs and a satin undercoat. They tend to shed and require regular brushing, but unlike other longhaired breeds, the Maine Coon’s fur is silky and does not mat easily. The breed’s two-layered coat, broad paws, and bushy tail make it perfectly adapted for colder climates where snowy winters are common.

Personality & Sociability

Nicknamed “the gentle giant,” the Maine Coon is known for its easygoing disposition. Typically, they like to be around people and will bond easily with family members. While the Maine Coon is curious and enjoys human company, it is able to amuse itself and is not considered needy or clingy. They enjoy physical affection and play, though they are not considered lap cats. The Maine Coon is a robust animal that is not easily rattled by the bustle and noise of a busy household. The breed’s sturdy build and calm disposition make it a good choice for families with kids. The Maine Coon also gets along well with other cats, as well as with dogs.

Care & Grooming

Since the Maine Coon has longer hair, you’ll want to keep a grooming brush handy. Like most cats, they enjoy a gentle grooming, but beware of tangles. Preventing hairballs will be important. Also, you’ll want to be extra-vigilant about those litter box cleanings, as feces can cling to the longer hairs around the cat’s feet and tail. If your Maine Coon’s fur begins to look oily or flat, it’s time for a bath. The breed tends to be less water-phobic than other cats, which is helpful, since you don’t want to struggle to bathe an angry 15-pound cat.

Common Health Issues

While generally healthy, the Maine Coon is a purebred animal prone to some health concerns. For example, some may develop hip dysplasia, which in severe cases can cause lameness. A genetically inherited form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy does occur in the breed but can be identified by DNA testing. Maine Coons also show some predisposition to polycystic kidney disease, a progressive condition that impairs renal function, and to spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition affecting the musculoskeletal system. (A genetic test can help identify carriers and kittens with the disorder.)

We hope this quick fact sheet will help you decide if the Maine Coon is the purr-fect pet for you!

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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