April 14, 2021 PetGuide
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Maine Coon

 
  • Height: 10-16 inches
  • Weight: 10-25 lb
  • Lifespan: 9-15 years
  • Physique: large cat, heavy coat
  • Best Suited For: Families with yards. Loves being indoors and outside
  • Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, and independent. A gentle giant
  • Comparable Breeds: Pixie Bob, Siberian, British Shorthair

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The Maine Coon is considered to be the largest of all domesticated cat breeds, but while its impressive size might be clear to all, its origins are somewhat murky. No one can tell for sure where and when exactly these gorgeous cats came to be, but most agree that the United States of America are where the breed was most likely developed into what it is today.

There are a lot of myths surrounding the origin of the Maine Coon, and one of the most popular theories around is that the breed was developed from 6 cats Marie Antoinette sent to the Americas while planning her escape from the French revolutionaries (which we all know didn’t end well for her). These cats were supposedly smuggled onto a ship to the colonies- or Wiscasset, Maine, to be precise- and their destination is what gave these cats their name. Another of these unlikely theories includes the biologically impossible notion that the Maine Coon is the descendent of a domestic cat and a raccoon. While it sounds like fun, that’s definitely not how the breed came to be. Most experts agree that the Maine Coon are the result of matings between shorthair cats native to the United States and some of the longhaired breeds imported from overseas, but the specifics remain a mystery. 

The first mentions of Maine Coon cats was in an opera called “Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines” which made its debut in 1861. and featured a black and white Maine Coon. It was the year before that the first Maine Coon show ever took place in the city of Skowhegan in Main, so it might be where the writer got his inspiration.

These cats have long, thick hair that evolved naturally to help them survive the harsh winters of the northeast coast. Once regarded as basic barn cats, the breed was thought to have disappeared completely in the 1950s. However, enthusiasts worked to rescue the Maine Coon from extinction, forming the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association in 1968. The breed was accepted for championship status by the CFA in 1976, and is currently the second most popular breed in the United States. 

Maine Coons are attentive enough to be almost intrusive at times.

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While every cat will have its own unique personality, there are still some shared characteristics for all breeds. In the case of Maine Coone cats, you can expect most of them to be friendly, affectionate and silly. Whether it’s their large size to blame, but many describe them as dogs of the cat world. So if you want a gentle giant in your family or a pet that brings the best traits of both the cat and dog world to the table, Maine Coon is your guy (or gal!). 

Maine Coons are attentive enough to be almost intrusive at times. They like to be a part of anything that’s going on, and don’t take kindly to being on the wrong side of a closed door. They enjoy playing in water, and will even wash their food before they eat. It’s both hilarious and unusual- these are just some of the quirks these big kitties have.

Unlike most felines which boast willfulness and stubbornness, Maine Coons are trainable and even though highly intelligent, they retain a kind of kittenish energy throughout their lives. They like interaction, but tend to prefer to be close to their humans rather than “on” them. They rarely use their voices, and when they do, the sound is a distinct chirp or trill, often with an inquisitive or independent tone. Their warm and friendly character only adds to their appeal- many pet owners choose Maine Coons more because of their behavior and temperament than their stunning looks, and that speaks volume about their personality.

Maine Coons are big cats, with some males weighing as much as 25 lbs. Their large size is definitely their most distinct trait! They have muscular, rectangular bodies with broad chests. Slow to mature, individuals do not reach their full size for three to five years. Their thick coats are water resistant, with thicker growth on their ruff, stomach, and britches where they most need protection from cold and wet conditions. Their bushy tails wrap easily around their bodies to provide an additional source of warmth. These cats have large rounded feet with tufts that serve as natural snowshoes. Their eyes are big and round and can be copper, green, or gold in tone.

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The traditional coloration for this breed is a brown tabby, but the coat can actually be any shade except pointed colors or patterns. Most common solid colors are black, cream, white, and blue, and there are also variations such as tortie or part-white combinations. In fact, experts say that there are over 84 distinct colors and patterns of Maine Coon coat, meaning that any pet owner can find a specimen of this breed to suit their own liking.

The silky coat of the Maine Coon has a tendency to be somewhat oily, but although dense, little grooming is required. These cats are good at self-maintenance, but like the attention of being brushed or combed. Once a week is sufficient to keep the coat in good shape, but you may find that the cat enjoys the interaction enough to make more frequent and shorter grooming periods practical and pleasurable for both parties. As with any long-haired breed, a combination of a bristled brush and a wire comb is good.

Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock


Comparable Breeds

Go to Pixie Bob

Pixie Bob

  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 11-22 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Physique: Stocky body, polydactyl
  • Best Suited For: Families with children and pets, or singles with pets
  • Temperament: Demanding but patient, vocal, playful, inquisitive and affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: Ragamuffin, Birman
Go to Siberian

Siberian

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 10-20 lb
  • Lifespan: 11-15 years
  • Physique: Stocky build
  • Best Suited For: Families with children and other pets as well as singles
  • Temperament: Considered a “gentle giant”. Very loyal and affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: British Longhair, Ragamuffin
Go to British Shorthair

British Shorthair

  • Height: 12-14 inches
  • Weight: 7-17 lb
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Physique: Sturdy, big bodied cats
  • Best Suited For: Families and singles with or without children and pets
  • Temperament: Calm, easy going, adaptable, affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: British Longhair, Ragamuffin