Maine Coon

A complete breed guide

Last Updated THURS 14 NOV 2019

This breed profile is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc.

Often dubbed as 'gentle giants' or 'dogs of the cat world', Maine Coons are large cats with a reputation for having an easy going and friendly nature. Although the Maine Coon is laid back, they are a highly intelligent breed and do best with regular interactive play to keep their bodies and minds active.

Contents:

1. At a glance

2. History

3. Personality and Characteristics

4. Common Health Problems

5. Nutritional Requirements

6. Grooming

Further reading

At a glance

Place of origin: Life expectancy: Other names:
USA 9 to 13 years American Longhair, American Forest Cat, Maine Shag and American Coon Cat, Maine Cat, Snowshoe Cat
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Medium Medium White, Black, Blue, Red, Cream, Brown, Silver, Tortoiseshell, Bluecream, Golden
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Long, straight Female: 3.6 to 5.4kg, Male: 5.4kg+ Solid, Bicolor, Tortoiseshell, Calico, Tabby, Smoke, Shaded
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Eye colour:
High High Green, gold or copper. White cats and cats with white may have blue or odd eyes.

History

The origins and ancestry of the Maine Coon are steeped in folklore but ultimately unknown. Considered to be the only longhair cat breed native to the USA, there is some speculation that the Maine Coon may have come about following crossing of local short haired breeds with long haired cats brought by English sailors or Norsemen. The breed bears a resemblance to the Norwegian Forest Cat, another cat descended from long haired cats who travelled with Norsemen.

The Maine Coon breed first began to be written about in the mid to late 19th century, with a Maine Coon, "Cosey", being crowned best in show at the very first North American Cat Show in 1895.

Personality and characteristics

Maine Coon cats tend to be easy going and loyal with a playful and intelligent nature. Maine Coons are highly adaptable and usually get along with other pets and children, making them an excellent family pet. Their high level of intelligence and moderate to high energy levels mean that Maine Coons enjoy interactive play and are well suited to learning tricks and commands.

Top toys and accessories for Maine Coon cats

KONG Cat Wobbler

Ideal for the intelligent, food motivated Maine Coon, this toy can be used to dispense kibble or treats to provide both physical and mental stimulation.

Gigwi Melody Chaser Bird

This convincing bird toy makes realistic bird noises when touched to tap into your cat's inner hunting instincts.

Cat Harnesses

The Maine Coon's intelligent, easy going and loyal nature makes it the ideal breed for training to walk in a harness and lead.

KONG Play Spaces Burrow

Give your cat somewhere to sleep, chill and play in this cute woodland themed tunnel with a peek a boo window and crinkly attachments.

Health concerns

While generally a fairly robust breed, Maine Coons are predisposed to a few health conditions including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, polycystic kidney disease and hip dysplasia. Some Maine Coons also have a tendency to become overweight, so their weight and food intake should be closely monitored and controlled.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a condition where the muscular walls of the heart thicken excessively, reducing its ability to pump blood effectively resulting in heart failure. Although the underlying cause of HCM is not always clear, genetics do appear to be a factor in some cases.

Signs of heart failure may not be apparent in the early stages of the disease, however as the condition progresses and the heart function deteriorates signs of heart failure such as rapid breathing or loss of appetite or other complications may develop. In most cases HCM is first detected at routine health checks when the veterinarian is able to hear an additional heart sound (murmur) or abnormal rhythm. An ultrasound of the heart is then used to confirm the diagnosis and gauge the severity. While there is no cure for HCM the symptoms and progression may be managed with medication.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition most commonly associated with dogs but it can also occur in cats, and Maine Coons appear to be a predisposed breed. When hip dysplasia occurs, the conformation of the hip joint is abnormal. A healthy hip joint operates as a smooth 'ball and socket' type joint, whereas hips affected by dysplasia typically have a flattening of the 'socket' component of the joint, resulting in a shallow joint where the 'ball' or head of the femur is not held securely. This leads to instability of the joint which may cause pain in the young cat and ultimately causes development of osteoarthritis.

Signs of osteoarthritis in cats can be quite subtle, often cats with arthritis will just appear to sleep more, have reduced activity levels and groom themselves less. They may be reluctant to jump up on to high surfaces (such as benches or tables) and can also become aggressive when touched or picked up. If your cat shows signs of arthritis it's important to seek veterinary attention as the symptoms can be managed with a combination of medication, nutrition, environmental changes and other therapies such as physiotherapy or acupuncture.

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a disease where cysts form in the kidney, disrupting its normal function and leading to kidney failure. It is known to have a genetic linkage in Maine Coon cats and can be screened for using genetic testing. While PKD is an autosomal dominant trait, meaning that all cats with the gene are affected, there does appear to be varying degrees of severity. When purchasing a Maine Coon kitten from a breeder, it's a good idea to ask if the parents have been screened for PKD and if there is any history of the disease in their kittens.

Nutrition

As Maine Coon cats can have a predisposition to weight gain, a food with a moderate calorie level and nutrition geared towards joint and heart health is an ideal choice. Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your Maine Coon's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

Top dry foods for adult Maine Coon cats

Advance Adult Neutered Cat

This Australian made formula contains nutrients to support health and wellbeing in neutered cats while being lower in calories to help prevent weight gain.

Royal Canin Adult Maine Coon

With kibble specially designed to be appealing to Maine Coon cats, this formula contains targeted nutrition to support joint, heart, skin and coat health.

Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight

This premium quality, highly digestible formula contains a unique blend of ingredients designed to support the maintenance of a healthy weight.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea

This all natural, limited ingredient food for cats is made with salmon and menhaden fish meal, so it's naturally high in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Top wet foods for Maine Coon cats

Advance Feline Wet Varieties

Made in Australia, these premium quality canned cat food recipes are packed with nutrition designed to support your adult cat's health and vitality.

Royal Canin Adult Maine Coon

With an appealing chunks in gravy texture, this wet food contains targeted nutrition to support joint, heart, skin and coat health.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Wet Varieties

These high quality wet cat food formulas are easily digested and contain proven nutrition to support your cat's health and wellbeing.

Ziwi Feline Canned Varieties

Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all adult cats.

5. Grooming

The Maine Coon has long fur designed for insulation against snow. However, despite this dense fur, their grooming requirement is surprisingly low maintenance as they are generally adept at grooming themselves. They may benefit from brushing once per week, and we recommend using a wire bristle brush. Try to start as early in life as possible so they become accustomed to the sensation of being brushed.

Kong Zoom Groom

This gentle rubber brush is perfect for high-shedding cats as it removes excess fur while providing a gentle massage.

Furminator

This clever de-shedding comb helps reduce the risk of hairballs in long-haired breeds.

Style it Slicker Brush

This wire-bristled brush is perfect for removing loose fur in long-haired breeds of cats.

Hill's Wet Varieties

This innovative 'glove brush' is the perfect tool for encouraging bonding while grooming your kitty.