Maine Coons have a large rugged appearance which causes many owners to wonder, do Maine Coon cats live in the wild?
Their mysterious origins also make them seem well suited to life in the wild.
Maine Coons originated in the wild, but today, these cats are almost completely domestic. It is possible for Maine Coons to escape and survive in the wild though, producing more offspring that grow up feral. However, since these cats are expensive and highly sought after, it is rare to find them in the wild.
Maine Coons might be almost entirely domestic cats today, but long ago, they roamed freely through parts of the United States.
Read on to learn how the Maine Coon’s wild origins make these cats perfectly suited to extreme weather conditions!
Do Maine Coon Cats Live In The Wild?
The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed in the entire world, but this is only one reason for their great popularity.
Maine Coons are also a favorite cat breed among many cat enthusiasts, highly coveted for their:
- Long, Thick Fur
- Handsome Appearance
- Loving Personality
Even though Maine Coons are known for being incredibly friendly and loving, they are also incredibly intelligent with sharp hunting instincts.
The Maine Coon’s origins can be traced back several hundred years.
This cat breed originated naturally in the frigid state of Maine, where they became popular among farmers and sailors for their ability to hunt:
- Other Vermin
The Maine Coon’s exact ancestry and origins are something of a mystery though, which only adds to this breed’s rugged charm.
Read the full story of their history in my article.
Even though Maine Coons initially developed and thrived in the wild, they are almost completely domestic today.
Cat fanciers have been breeding these cats for over two hundred years now, which means that the Maine Coon we know and love today is quite a bit different from the breed’s original population.
Whilst it is possible to find Maine Coons still living in the wild, this is incredibly rare, and you are far more likely to find a Maine Coon mix than a purebred Maine Coon wandering around in the wilderness.
What Does A Maine Coon Cat Look Like?
Maine Coons might have a distinctive appearance, yet many people still confuse this pedigree breed with other cats.
In fact, it is incredibly common for people to assume that any large, long-haired cat is a Maine Coon, when in fact these cats have a number of unique traits.
Maine Coons have long, thick fur, but what sets them apart from other long-haired cats most is that their fur length changes throughout their body.
Their fur is much longer on their:
Many Maine Coons also have distinctive ear tufts. Learn why the breeds lynx tips have made them famous in this article.
Maine Coons also have powerful, muscular bodies.
Their muzzles have a distinctive square shape, and the rest of their body appears more square and stocky rather than long, slender, or round.
Finally, Maine Coons can come in just about any color and pattern imaginable (these 75 different colors, to be exact), and their eyes are usually:
Read our comprehensive guides to gain a full in-depth understanding of this much-loved cat breed:
Maine Coon Size Compared To Normal Cat
The average cat weighs between 8 and 10 pounds, and measures between 15 and 20 inches long and 10 inches tall.
A Maine Coon size, however, is typically much larger than the average cat since they can:
- Weigh: 8 – 25 pounds
- Length: Measure 19 – 40 inches
- Height: 8 to 16 inches
Males are typically larger than females, who usually weigh between 8 – 15 pounds maximum.
Are Maine Coons Wild Cats?
Contrary to popular belief, Maine Coons are not actually wild cats. Instead, they are part of the species Felis silvestris, also known as the domestic cat.
Despite this, many people still think the Maine Coon is a wild cat!
- Maine Coons Have a Rugged Appearance: One look at a Maine Coon is enough to convince most people that this breed is a kind of wild cat. Their long fur creates a ruff or mane around their shoulders, and they have powerful square muzzles similar to many large cats.
- Their Name Is Misleading: The name Maine Coon has caused many to wonder if Maine Coons are related to raccoons. Another trait that helps this myth is the fact that many Maine Coons have distinctive rings around their tails, similar to raccoons. Read more about the suposed link between these two species.
- Many Maine Coons Have Lynx Tip Ears: A common trait among Maine Coon cats is lynx tip ears, which are little tufts of fur at the top of their ears that appear similar to lynxes and other wild cats. Does this mean that Maine Coons are part lynx? Click here to find out.
- They Have Mysterious Origins: Nobody knows exactly how Maine Coons came to be, which has fueled all sorts of rumors. However, genetic testing has proven that Maine Coons are fully related to other domestic cats, and have no wild cat ancestry.
- They Are Incredibly Large Cats: Finally, the Maine Coon’s huge size is another reason why people commonly believe these cats are wild. Whilst they are much bigger than the average domestic cat, this has nothing to do with being related to wild cats.
Where Do Maine Coon Cats Originate From?
Maine Coons naturally developed in the cold state of Maine, but there are lots of wild theories about how these cats truly came to be.
Here are a few funny folktales that have done the rounds for decades.
The breed was first discovered in the 1800s, and this has led many people to posit that the Maine Coon descended from royal cats or even the cats of Vikings.
Most likely, however, the Maine Coon is the result of breeding between a regular domestic cat and some kind of longhaired cat breed brought over from Europe.
Regardless of how they came to be, these cats soon became a favorite amongst the people of Maine, who kept these intelligent hunters around to keep away mice and other vermin.
In the early 1900s, Maine Coons, unfortunately, became less popular due to the introduction of other cat breeds, such as the Persian.
As a result, the Maine Coon cat breed nearly went extinct, until cat fanciers brought the breed back and began introducing them into cat shows.
Finally, in 1985, the Maine Coon was announced as the official state cat breed of Maine.
So where do Maine Coon cats live today?
The original cats that founded the breed in the early 1800s are now nowhere to be found. They have likely been bred with other domestic cat breeds until all traces of their Maine Coon lineage disappeared.
Instead, today you can find Maine Coon cats through registered breeders, such as these and, in rare cases, you can find some Maine Coons and Maine Coon mixes at shelters or in wild or feral cat populations (sources 1,2,3).
What Do Maine Coon Cats Eat In The Wild?
While it is rare to find a Maine Coon or even a Maine Coon mix in the wild, these cats haven’t lost their sharp hunting instincts.
A Maine Coon left to its own devices is likely to survive, although there are many dangers in the wilderness that can easily kill a cat.
Thankfully, the Mane Coon’s intelligence and high prey drive means that these cats are likely to hunt well for themselves.
In the wild Maine Coons eat:
- Some Reptiles and Amphibians
Unfortunately, many wild and feral cats are so good at hunting and reproducing that they often become a threat to local wildlife.
In fact, feral and outdoor cats are responsible for the extinction of 63 different animal species worldwide (source 1).
Are Maine Coon Cats Dangerous?
At first glance, the Maine Coon’s large size and rugged appearance can make them look more dangerous than they actually are.
Please keep in mind, however, that even the biggest Maine Coon cats aren’t much more dangerous than the average domestic cat.
The only real danger that Maine Coons pose, aside from a few scratches or bites, is infection.
All cats have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, which helps to weaken prey. This means that a bite from a cat if left unchecked, can lead to a serious infection.
In fact, untreated infection can lead to amputation of entire limbs or even death! (source 1)
Are Maine Coons Friendly Cats?
Maine Coons are some of the friendliest cats out there.
They develop very close bonds with their owners, and are very social, even to strangers!
In fact, the Maine Coon’s friendly personality is so well known that it earned these cats the nickname “gentle giants.”
Maine Coons are also highly intelligent creatures that are famous for being playful and loving.
While the Maine Coon’s large size is one reason for their popularity, the unique Maine Coon temperament is even more attractive than their large, beautiful appearance.
Do Maine Coons Make Good Indoor Cats?
Maine Coons are loving, playful pets, but are Maine Coons good cats to keep indoors?
Many owners wonder if the Maine Coons highly intelligent minds mean that they will quickly become bored if kept indoors all the time.
This leads them to ask cat specialists, such as myself, will Maine Coons run away?
Since Maine Coons are more intelligent than most other cat breeds, and because they have very high prey drives, it is easier for these cats to become bored and destructive.
They need a lot of enrichment to keep themselves entertained, but if you provide enough stimulation, they make wonderful indoor cats.
Here is a list of toys and other ideas that will keep your Maine Coon perfectly happy indoors:
- Motorized Cat Toys: Toys that move on their own, such as motorized mice, are a favorite among Maine Coons. Moving toys stimulate their high prey drive and keep them entertained.
- Floor Toys: Your Maine Coon should always have a wide variety of floor toys to play with when it is alone. Springs, crinkly balls, balls with bells, and toy mice are all great options to keep around the house.
- Lasers and Feather Toys: Laser pointers, feather toys, and toys on a string are all great options for playing with your cat. Maine Coons need time to play alone, but they also need to play with their owners. Moving objects are far more exciting to Maine Coons than a toy that does not move at all.
- Cat Trees: Maine Coons love to jump and climb, and a large, sturdy cat tree (like these) is essential to providing enrichment. You might even want to consider installing shelves along the walls so your cat can run around and have additional space that is up high, away from any other pets or children.
These are my favorite Maine Coon cat toys.
Can House Cats Survive In The Wild?
While Maine Coons may have originated in the wild, that does not mean all Maine Coons are suited to that lifestyle today. Even the smartest cats cannot overcome infection, disease, or injury.
Still, there are a lot of traits that can increase a cat’s chances of surviving in the wild.
These traits include:
- Claws: One of the most important factors of a cat’s survival in the wild is claws. Not only is declawing a painful and inhumane practice for indoor cats, it also greatly harms a wild or outdoor cat’s chances of defending itself in the wild. Discover more about declawing cats in my article.
- High Prey Drive: A natural instinct for chasing and hunting prey is essential to a cat’s survival. Some “lazy” domestic cats do not care much for chasing toys, which means they likely won’t be able to hunt well for themselves in the wild. Since Maine Coons have naturally high prey drives, they are more likely to catch the prey they need to survive in the wild.
- Intelligence: Intelligent cats are able to problem solve and recognize patterns, which are valuable assets in the wild. Unintelligent cats are more likely to end up in dangerous situations.
- Resistance To Weather: Harsh weather such as rain or snow, or even extreme heat or cold can easily kill a cat. Maine Coons have long, thick, semi-water-resistant fur, which is a great asset against the cold and snow. However, even the fluffiest cat can succumb to frostbite and extreme temperatures.
- Healthy Weight: Obese or underweight cats are far less likely to survive in the wild than cats that are at a healthy weight. Obesity can affect a cat’s endurance and agility, making it more difficult to chase prey or escape from threats. Underweight cats will not have as much energy to hunt or defend themselves, and are more susceptible to starvation, infection, and disease.
Do Wild Cats Still Exist?
Maine Coons used to live in the wild, but they are still part of the domestic cat species, known as Felis silvestris, and have never been considered true wild cats.
Still, there are plenty of other wild cat breeds all over the world.
So if the Maine Coon isn’t one of the American wild cat breeds, what kind of wild cats are in the United States today?
In total, there are seven different kinds of wild cats that can be found throughout the United States.
These include (source 1):
- Mountain Lions (also known as Cougars or Pumas)
- Canada Lynxes
How Long Do Cats Live In The Wild?
The average expected Maine Coon lifespan is between 12 and 15 years old.
A cat named Rubble, however, ended up being the oldest Maine Coon ever recorded, and he lived for a total of 31 years!
By comparison, cats living in the wild have very high mortality rates, especially during the first year of their lives. It is thought that only 25% of feral cats even survive a year.
Infection, starvation, exposure to extreme weather, and injury can all lead to death.
While it is difficult to know for sure what the life expectancy of a cat living in the wild truly is, most estimate that a wild cat’s lifespan is between 2 and 3 years on average, although some cats can live for as long as 8- 15 years (sources 1,2).
How Much Are Maine Coon Cats?
Maine Coons are highly coveted cats, but they are very expensive.
Here is what you can expect Maine Coons to cost, based on various scenarios (source 1):
- Purebred Kitten: If you purchase a Maine Coon kitten from a breeder you can expect it to cost between $400 and $2,000. It is common for breeders to require all of their kittens to be neutered, so you may have to pay an extra fee for an unneutered cat.
- Stray Maine Coon: Stray Maine Coons are incredibly rare, but you can get any stray for free. Of course, you will still have to pay a lot for supplies, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, deworming, and other medical care.
- Shelter Maine Coon: It is possible to find mixed and purebred Maine Coons at shelters, and they usually only cost between $100 and $200.
- Maine Coon Show Cat: If you are looking for a show cat, you will have to purchase a purebred Maine Coon through a registered breeder (like these). High quality show cats are more expensive, and will usually cost between $1,000 and $2,500.
- Retired Maine Coon: You can sometimes purchase retired Maine Coon cats, or retired Maine Coon show cats from breeders, and they often cost less than kittens or young, healthy cats. You should expect to pay between $400 and $1,500 for a retired Maine Coon.
Maine Coons may have originated in the wild, but do Maine Coon cats live in the wild today?
The realistic answer is that most Maine Coons do not live in the wild, as they are a highly coveted and expensive breed.
It is possible to find stray Maine Coons, however, that have escaped or bred in the wild, but this is incredibly rare.
Overall, Maine Coons may be well adapted to life in the wild, but living indoors with a loving family is the safest and healthiest option for them.
Do Maine Coon Cats Get Stolen?
Maine Coons are such popular and expensive cats that they are one of the most commonly stolen cat breeds. Keep your pet safe by getting them microchipped and keeping them indoors.
Are Maine Coons Related To Bobcats?
Despite their wild and rugged appearance, Maine Coons are not related to bobcats or any other wild cats. They developed naturally from domestic cats, known as Felis silvestris.
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