Meet the Maine Coon Cat
Another Calgary Cat Show has come and gone, making us think it was time to do another Meet The Breed. One of the most popular and well-recognized breeds that we see is the Maine Coon Cat. Just the name of the breed is enough to make people think of size and hair – they have a lot of both!
Maine Coon cats originated in Maine, though likely not from cross-breeding of raccoons and domestic cats, as the old tale goes. Most likely local domestic cats crossed with longhaired cats that came over on sailing ships. The first recorded notation of the breed is from 1861, and the first one to win in a cat show was in 1895 at Madison Square Garden. Needless to say, so they have been around a long time! While many owners think that their Maine Coon should weigh 20 extra pounds, the breed standard calls for the males to weigh between 13 and 18 pounds and the females as little as 9 to 13 pounds. They are slow to mature – often not reaching their full size until three years of age or later for the males. They have a long coat that is shorter on the top and bushier underneath. Their paws and ears are hairy, which helped keep them warm and able to walk on top of the snow when they hunted during cold Maine winters. The colour combinations are almost endless, with the classic brown tabby being the original type. Because they developed as an outside working type cat, they often still have a highly developed play drive. This means Maine Coons are often happy doing more than just curling up on the couch and sleeping their days away.
If you are considering a Maine Coon, you can expect them to follow you around the house, pester you for attention, or to play one more round of fetch. They also have a fondness and fascination with water – don’t be surprised when your Maine Coon tries to climb in the shower with you!
While their coats are usually easy to keep tangle free, they do tend to need more brushing in the spring and fall when they shed their seasonal coats. As with any purebred cat, there are a few health problems we need to look out for.
Maine Coons are known to be pre-disposed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which causes a thickening of the heart muscle. There is a genetic test for the mutation that causes this in Maine Coon cats. Some cats have been found to have the disease without the mutation, making testing less than 100% reliable. Maine Coons also have higher than average incidences of polycystic kidney disease and joint issues, such as hip dysplasia. As vets, we do also find specific family lines of Maine Coons have more dental health issues than others.
If you have ever thought of bringing a Maine Coon into your life consider adoption – there are many large loveable longhaired cats out there! If you do want a Maine Coon that comes with paperwork, do your research and find a breeder who you trust. Unfortunately, being popular can lead to ‘backyard breeders’ who focus on profit over producing a quality pet.
Have you ever had a Maine Coon or do you have one now? We’d love to see pictures and hear stories! Send us your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Dr. Tasha Kean, DVM