Maine Coon Cats

Maine Coon cats are becoming more and more popular among cat owners. Their personality and dog-like behavior make the main coon an amazing pet. They are one of the largest domestic cat breeds but are very lovable and a great cat to own. Read on to learn more about the Maine Coon.

Grey maine coon cat

History of the Maine Coon

Maine Coons are native to the New England region of the USA. Their exact origins are unknown, but they have been around for centuries. A popular myth has circulated about the Maine Coon’s history, suggesting that the breed’s ancestors belonged to Marie Antoinette. It’s said that they were smuggled by boat into New England along with her possessions, supposed to be taken care of by the captain of the ship after her execution.

There are also variations to the story of a “Captain Coon” who was said to travel with his long-haired cats and inadvertently created the Maine Coon breed when he and his feline shipmates ported in Maine.While these are fun stories, there is no evidence to either the tale of Marie Antoinette or any verifiable Captain Coon who could be credited with the breed’s presence in North America. Though these origin stories untrue, it’s entertaining to hear the folklore around the history and origin of the Maine Coon.

While the exact breed of the Maine Coon’s ancestors are not known, it’s believed that they arrived in North America with European colonists. They would have been rugged “working cats” who would protect the ship’s food source from mice and other scavengers and had to be up for the challenge of adapting to the harsh environment they came to call home. As such, they are a very hardy breed of cat with many physical adaptations to enable them to thrive in a cold climate like Maine’s.

Arguably the most far-fetched rumor about the Maine Coon’s origin is that breed is half cat, half raccoon.
It’s not hard to see how someone might hear this myth and not thinking too much about it, passingly accept it as a fact. In part from its name and perhaps due to the tail’s “coon-like” appearance, it’s not a huge jump.
However, it’s scientifically impossible for a raccoon and cat to breed, and so their relationship to one another starts and ends at the passing physical resemblance they share.

They are a very old and interesting breed of domesticated cat, with a history of being true survivors (surviving more than just Maine’s winter, but even a brief stint on the extinct species list!)

Maine Coons were very popular in the 1800s. Their tough physical exteriors are balanced out by typically lovely, playful personalities and they make great companion pets. In the early 20th century, the popularity of long-haired cats exploded. However, there was a strong preference for other breeds that were imported from Europe, and the Maine Coon was overshadowed.

The popularity of the other breeds had a very extreme and surprising consequence: Many people are taken aback by the fact that in the 1950s, the Maine Coon was declared to be extinct!

While the breed was certainly in trouble, they weren’t completely extinct as had been reported. In response to the declining numbers, the efforts of Ethyl in Whittemore, Alta Smith, and Ruby Dyer and the creating the Central Maine Cat Club helped save the Maine Coon. They are credited for recovering the breed’s popularity and establishing the presented breed standard.

The breed made a spectacular recovery since then: today, the Maine Coon is one of the top three most popular cat breeds that is owned. It is also the Official State Cat of Maine.

Physical Attributes of the Maine Coon

Height: 10 – 16in.
Length: 30-40 in. (Including tail)
Weight: 9-18 lbs.
Lifespan: 9-15 yrs.

Because of the Maine Coon’s origins, it’s well adapted to harsh climates. The traits that helped it survive working on ships and in other outdoor conditions throughout the centuries are what give Maine Coons their distinctive look. From head to toe, many features of the breed are apparent adaptations to the severe climate it originates from.

Maine Coons are a very large, muscular cat with a sturdy build.

They have high cheekbones that accentuate large, expressive eyes. Both their eyesight and hearing are very good, as their survival depended on being effective hunters. Their distinctive ears are very large and pointed, wide at their base and then tapering into their characteristically pointed tips. They are well insulated with fur to protect them from the cold.

The Maine Coon’s powerful legs and their large, tufted feet are adapted to help them navigate difficult and snowy terrain. These large, hardy cats have a keen sense of agility and speed.

Maine Coons are the second largest domesticated cat breed, with the first largest being Savannah Cats (a relatively new hybrid breed established in the 1980s that replaced the Maine Coon as biggest domestic cat).

  • Males are typically bigger than females: The average weight of a male is 13 – 18 lbs, with females averaging 8-12 lbs. Their “winter coats” and muscular build sometimes make them seem even bigger than they are.
  • Maine Coons have very long, bushy tails that can reach up to 14 inches.
  • The total length of an adult Maine Coon can be up to 40 inches, including their prolific tails.

The defining look of their shaggy hair and their thick, water-repelling undercoats are well suited for the harsh winter climate they are accustomed to. Despite it’s heavy-duty functioning, their coat is described as silky and relatively easy for pet owners to maintain grooming requirements, compared to other long haired breeds.

There is a lot of variance in the colors and patterns of Maine Coon’s. Each cat will be unique in it’s size, appearance, and general temperament. These often vary even from kittens of the same litter, and it’s difficult to predict adult size.

Maine Coons can take 3-5 years to fully grow. A healthy cat who is well looked after can have an expected life span of up to 15 years.

Maine Coons are generally a healthy breed. They may be prone to hip dysplasia and certain heart conditions, that are not breed-specific but rather common in cats in general. Like with any cat, their health is determined by a number of factors including their genetics, and level of care.

Regular vet visits will help keep your pet healthy and enable you to be aware of potential health problems as soon as they become apparent.
It’s important that those considering any breed of purebred cat research the breeder thoroughly and ask as many questions as possible to ensure the health and longevity of their pet.

Personality and Temperament

Maine Coons are very intelligent, loyal, and make engaging pets. They love attention from their owners, yet are also independent and not overly needy. They are very social and are known to get along well with children and other animals, especially when raised together.

The personality traits of an individual cat varies largely based on it’s background and early experiences as a kitten and young cat. Maine Coons are typically very friendly, easygoing pets. They are often called the “Gentle Giants” of the feline world. Despite their hardy exterior, they are sweet and playful cats. They are often said to have “kitten-like” personalities throughout their life. They love to explore and play, but also have a generally laid back nature.

Maine Coons have a unique quirk. It is often described as “chirping” – they make a variety of high pitched sounds when happy and excited. Theses types of sounds can be unexpected and are humorously contrasting to their large size and gruffer demeanor. These unique vocalizations and talkative natures are part of what makes them an interesting breed for those considering a pet. Some Maine Coons will be more “chatty” than others, as they are individuals with their own personalities and tendencies.

They are very social and will follow their owners around, much like a dog. They are keen hunters who are therefore very aware of their surroundings (may house mice be warned!).
They are curious to investigate new sights, sounds, and people. They will naturally want to explore their surroundings, and have a strong prey-drive. As with any cat, other small pets in the house should be kept safely secure from the Maine Coon.

Contrary to the common stereotype of cats hating water, nearly all Maine Coons have a fondness for water. They enjoy playing in water, and watching it fall. It’s common for Maine Coons to want to join their owners in the shower or tub, or “supervise” the cleaning up of dishes, watering plants, or any other chores that might use water. This love for water might make make for a potential increase in mess if a cat decides to go “swimming” in the water dish (or possibly the toilet if you’re not careful). A prospective Maine Coon owner should be prepared for this dog-like tendency in their cat.

In general, they are very affectionate and loving cats. A Maine Coon will adapt to whatever it’s owner is doing, whether they’re lounging on the couch, working on the computer, or playing in the yard – the cat will just want to be close by.

While they have this need for socialization with their people, they are also independent and need to be able to do their own thing. They don’t require a complicated level of care, beyond the same dedication of time and effort all cats need.

Overall they are very engaging and fun pets, suitable for a variety of owners regardless of previous cat experience. Because they take longer to fully mature (3-5 years) they tend to act like kittens for longer than other cats. Aside from the occasional mischief, you can expect a healthy, socialized Maine Coon to be well-tempered, playful, and fully live up to the nickname of “Gentle Giant”.

Cost to Adopt

Costs of a Maine Coon will vary based on a number of factors. They are a popular purebred cat and their cost will reflect that when purchasing kittens from a reputable breeder.

A prospective Maine Coon owner should expect to pay up to $400 on the lower end, ranging from upwards of $2000 for a top show-quality cat.

If the “purity” of the breed or age of cat doesn’t necessarily matter, a number of Maine Coons (or large, fluffy giants closely resembling the breed) can possibly be found for adoption through local agencies and shelters. The cost of adopting through these types of places will vary based on location.

Want to learn more about the Maine Coon Cat? Check out my post: 24 Fun Facts About Main Coon Cats

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