What Is A Maine Coon Cat?


While Maine Coons are one of the most popular cat breeds out there, buying a Maine Coon is a big responsibility, which makes it imperative to understand what to expect with a Maine Coon cat. That way, you will be able to give your Maine Coon optimal care and provide for its needs.

So, what exactly is a Maine Coon cat?

Maine Coons are large domesticated cats with a distinctive ruff on their chest, robust bone structure, long, rectangular bodies, luscious, long, two-layered coats, and long, bushy tails. They are affectionate, highly intelligent, sociable, easy-going, playful, and curious with a sweet and gentle temperament.

With their gentle, kitten-like disposition contrasting their large sizes, Maine Coon cats are nicknamed gentle giants.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the Maine Coon cat breed, and how you will need to adapt your home to meet your new kitten’s needs.

What Is A Maine Coon Cat?

The magnificent Maine Coon cat breed is one of the most popular and beloved cat breeds across the world.

These gentle giants are known for their distinctive physical appearance, and, the fact that they are the largest domesticated cat breed in the world!

You might be surprised to discover that most Maine Coon cats weigh anywhere between 8 – 25 pounds, with the male of the species being bulkier and significantly larger than their female counterparts.

If you were looking at a Maine Coon cat you would instantly notice that they have muscular bodies and are long, growing up to an impressive 40 inches in length, and 10 – 16 inches tall!

At first glance, the Maine Coons rectangular body shape is very noticeable. Their other body parts are also all in proportion, which gives them a well-balanced, rectangular appearance.

Other defining physical features of this large feline include their:

  • Large Well-Tufted Ears
  • Square Muzzle
  • Expressive
  • Oval-Shaped Eyes
  • Long, Bushy Tails

Pedigree Maine Coons cats have the following eye colors:

If you wish to learn more about the Maine Coon cat’s eye colorings, make sure you read this article I wrote.

You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought that a Maine Coon kitten has blue eyes. As they age though, the pigmentation settles into the iris of the eyes as the cat matures (source 1).

Maine Coon cats come in 75 different color combinations, meaning there is a color or pattern to suit virtually everyone’s preferences.

They have uneven two-layered coats with longer guard fur over a silky satin undercoat. Many people love their luscious shaggy coats, which are perfectly suited for cuddling. But are these large cats lap cats? Click here to find out.

It is vital that you groom your big feline 2-3 times a week with these particular cat grooming tools though since they will keep a Maine Coons fur in top-notch condition.

Surprisingly, the origin of Maine Coon cats is not known. In fact, until today, there are no records of the Maine Coon origins and date of introduction to Maine, US, where they are believed to originate.

With so many legends about their origin, including a claim that they are closely related to the Siberian cat and the Norwegian Forest cat, many people still ask what breed is a Maine Coon cat?

If you are planning to buy a Maine Coon, along with contemplating their fascinating history, you could be wondering why are they called Maine Coon cats?

It is believed the Maine Coon cats are descendants of longhaired cats that were brought to Maine, US, by seafarers. These foreign long-haired cats mated with local shorthair cats and gave birth to large, muscular cats that resembled raccoons, hence the name Maine Coon.

The Maine Coot cat is also famous for its ever-loving personality. It is their gentle and loving personality that makes them ideal family companions.

Despite being known to have impressive hunting instincts and skills, they barely use their claws, meaning they are safe around children. Many owners say that they are patient with kids.

Wondering what is special about Maine Coons cats?

Well, besides their immensely large physique, Maine Coons have dog-like dispositions, a reason why they are baptized “dog of the cat world”.

With their true love of life and adoration of human company, it is not unusual for your Maine Coon cat to greet you when you arrive home. Like dogs, Maine Coons are trainable and will happily play fetch if you train them to play whilst they are kittens.

Oddly enough, they can be leashed and walked outdoors like dogs.

Overall, Maine Coons are excellent family pets. Unlike many other cat breeds, they are not even phased by loud children or noisy, busy homes. They are adaptable and will remain loyal to their owners as long as they are well-cared for.

You will almost certainly be fascinated by the Maine Coon voice as these cats are not known to meow. Maine Coon cats make trill and chirp sounds that will seldom annoy you (source 1,2,3).

History Of The Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coon cats are among the oldest natural breeds in North America, with a history dating back to the 18th century, and possibly even earlier.

The breed was popular in cat shows and exhibitions in the late 19th century, but its existence was threatened in the early 1900s when long-haired, more fashionable breeds from overseas were introduced to North America.

Starting from 1911, the population of Maine Coon cats declined so severely that the breed was nearly extinct in the 1950s. Interestingly though, the Maine Coon cat breed made a strong comeback and are now thought to be one of the most popular cat breeds, coming second only to the Siberian cat.

True to their name, they are regarded as native to Maine, United States. The real question regards how they first arrived there in the first place though, and where their progenitors came from is still shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

The myths surrounding the Maine Coon cat breed’s origin make it difficult to understand what is a Maine Coon cat mixed with since the ancestral origins of Maine Coons are not known.

Below are some popular myths and folklore stories that attempt to explain this large cat breeds origins:

1. Interspecies Hybrid

One of the famous folklore claims is that the Maine Coon cat is the result of forbidden love between a raccoon and a domestic cat.

Whilst raccoons and Maine Coon cats have similarities in appearance, this myth is not thought to be true since the two breeds are completely different species.

Scientists have now discounted this theory, stating that Maine Coon cats are not genetically related to raccoons, and cannot breed with each other. This myth is therefore biologically impossible!

Therefore, the theory of the Maine Coon cat being half raccoon has no proof, despite the possibility that “Coon” in Maine Coon could have been borrowed from “raccoon”.

In connection to this folklore, there is another strain suggesting that Maine Coons are descendants of bobcats.

While the theory sounds more probable because the bobcats and Maine Coons belong to the Felidae family, it is scientifically and genetically impossible for a pairing of this kind to exist.

2. Marie Antoinette’s Angora Cats

The story of Maine Coon cats having descended from French cats sent to Maine by Marie Antoinette is arguably the most fanciful and interesting legend about the origin of Maine Coon cats.

As the story goes, when Marie Antoinette and her family were arrested at Versailles, her ship captain and some of her sympathizers planned an escape to the state of Maine, US.

At the docks, there was a ship that regularly traveled the merchant route between France and Maine, and the plan was to ship the family to Maine safely.

While Marie Antoinette and her family were confined in prison, the ship’s captain and other sympathizers loaded the ship with Antoinette’s belongings and, quite probably, her six Angora cats. Sadly, the rescue attempts failed, and immediately after the royal family was executed, the ship left France in a hurry and sailed to Maine.

As for the Maine Coon cat descending from Marie Antoinette’s royal Angora cats, there is no real documented proof, only speculation.

This could be the most interesting story of the lot, if there was proof that the Angora cats were bred with other cat breeds in Wiscasset, Maine.

3. Captain Charles Coon

The last anecdote is believed by many to be the answer to the question of, where did Maine Coon cats originate?

It is a story of a sea captain named Charles Coon, who owned a long-haired cat. He took his cat on his ship excursions to keep the mice and rat populations at bay.

While at America’s northeastern coast, Charles Coon’s long-haired cat bred with local feral cats, and when long-haired kittens resembling the captain’s cats started showing up in litters all over the coast, they were named Coon’s Cats.

Despite the captain’s name being a remarkably convenient match for the Maine Coon cat origin, there is no proof this event actually happened, so while it is an interesting folklore story, it is only that – folklore.

Maine Coon Size

The Maine Coon is the largest domestic cat breed in the world.

Even though they grow very slowly, they are visually larger than “normal” cats from kittenhood through to old age. So, what size is a Maine Coon cat?

Take a closer look at the details below to get a true appreciation of just how large these majestic felines are:

Height

The height of a full-grown Maine Coon usually varies between 10 – 16 inches.

Although male Maine Coon cats tend to be visually larger than their female counterparts, they don’t differ significantly in terms of height.

Weight

If you are thinking of buying a Maine Coon cat, you may want to know what is the average weight of a Maine Coon cat.

The average weight of your cat will depend on its gender and genetics.

On average, Maine Coon cats vary between 8 – 25 lbs. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Male Maine Coons: 15 – 25 lbs.

Female Maine Coons: 8 – 12 lbs.

Length

Maine Coons are among the longest cats in the world.

On average, they grow up to 40 inches in length but can reach a higher mark. One of the biggest Maine Coon cats is known to have reached a staggering length of 48.6 inches!

Notably, the average length of Maine Coons is inclusive of their long tails, which can reach a length of 14 inches.

Build

It is not easy to mistake a Maine Coon cat for another cat breed.

Maine Coons are visually large and come with well-balanced rectangular-shaped, muscled bodies with board chests.

All their body parts are in proportion, which gives them a pleasant, well-balanced appearance.

While their rectangular bodies distinguish them from other breeds, it is worth noting that Maine Coons have medium-long, stocky legs. If you are wondering if Maine Coon cats can have short legs, read this.

Their heads are wedge-shaped with large, square muzzles that are proportionate to their head.

They have medium-long noses with a gentle, concave curve, and no break or bump (source 1,2).

Maine Coon Characteristics And Personality

The Maine Coon is adored by many people not just because of its impressively luscious, shaggy coat but also for its ever-loving personality.

Although the males are comical and more outgoing than their female counterparts, you are sure to have a great experience with either gender.

Here is a great guide that perfectly explains the difference in personality between a female vs male Maine Coon cat.

If you are a first-time owner, here are key Maine Coon personality traits:

1. Friendly

Maine Coon cats are among the friendliest cat breeds you can purchase.

They are known for their true love and adoration of human company, but at the same time, they are very independent.

The characteristics of a Maine Coon cat make it a perfect family pet.

If you hesitant to own a Maine Coon for fear they may not get on with your children, watch this video of our large male Maine Coon interacting with our 5 year old daughter:

Are Maine Coons Family Friendly?

2. Highly Sociable

Maine Coons are naturally outgoing, which means that they won’t shy away from humans.

They bond well with their human companions, but the male Maine Coons tend to be more sociable.

A male Maine Coon will adapt well to strangers and have a good time with them.

3. Gentle Giant

Despite being large, Maine Coon cats have an agreeable temperament.

Owners describe them to be very gentle and caring around children and other pets.

Learn more about whether adopting/buying a Maine Coon cat is wise if you already have other cats and dogs living within your home.

4. Dog-Like Behavior

Maine Coon cats exhibit many dog-like dispositions, which have earned them the name ‘dog of the cat world’.

An example of their dog-like behavior is that a Maine Coon will often greet their owners when they come home. While this can be considered a sign of their guaranteed loyalty, it is also a trait commonly associated with dogs, not felines.

So, expect your cat to be waiting at the door for you when they hear you approaching!

Furthermore, have you ever seen a cat playing fetch before? No? … Well, you haven’t met a Maine Coon cat yet then!

5. Playful

Maine Coons are incredibly energetic cats.

They are curious and will remain playful from kittenhood through to adulthood.

Although they are independent and able to amuse themselves, they love to play with their humans.

6. Highly Intelligent

Relative to other cat breeds, Maine Coon cats are incredibly intelligent. As such, they learn quickly, which makes it easy to train them.

7. Affectionate

While Maine Coons are not necessarily lap cats, they are overly affectionate and love to groom their owners.

If you are keen to encourage lap cat behavior in your Maine Coon, make sure you read this article.

With such an outgoing character, they will sometimes show their affection to strangers too.

8. Loyal

The Maine Coon is an extremely loyal cat breed.

As long as you show affection to your cat, trust and loyalty are promised.

9. Curious

These cats are very curious and promise a helping hand in nearly everything you do.

Their curiosity pushes them to always investigate and get involved in most things that their owner does. This is likely why so many owners find these large felines following them from room to room.

That said, it is not unusual for your Maine Coon to often observe whatever you do very curiously.

Here’s why these large felines follow their owners:

Why Your Maine Coon Follows You

10. Family-Friendly

Maine Coon cats are very loyal to their family and love their human companions.

They have a sweet and gentle temperament and barely use their claws, meaning they are safe around kids.

Despite their huge size, this breed is praised for being completely gentle and patient with kids.

They are not phased by noisy, busy homes.

11. Laid-Back

If you want to adopt a laid-back feline, the Maine Coon is one of the most laid-back cat breeds you could ever own.

They are not aggressive in nature but will act up if they do not have a space that feels like their own.

12. Good With Other Pets

Maine Coons have a friendly temperament, and, in most cases, they will get on well with other household animals, including other cats and dogs.

Maine Coon Lifespan

If you are wanting to adopt or buy a Maine Coon kitten, you are likely wondering what is the lifespan of a Maine Coon cat?

Well, while the life expectancy of every cat will depend on several factors, the average lifespan of a Maine Coon cat ranges between 12 to 15 years.

However, this doesn’t mean that your Maine Coon cat cannot live beyond 15 years. In fact, some owners have reported that their Maine Coons lived up to over 20 years!

The length of time your cat lives will depend on a number of factors, including its:

  • Lifestyle
  • General Health
  • Diet
  • Genetics
  • Exercise Levels

What Color Are Maine Coon Cats?

Many people admire Maine Coon cats because of their long, beautiful, shaggy coats.

These beloved cats also come in a full range of colors, allowing animal lovers to find a Maine Coon cat in a pattern and coloring they love.

There are currently 75 different Maine Coon Colors, categorized within several color classes. Here’s a full list of them for you to peruse.

Maine Coons can be categorized into:

  • Solid
  • Tabbies
  • Tabbies with white
  • Bi-color
  • Parti-color
  • Shaded
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Smoked

The most popular colorings are the black Maine Coon and the red Maine Coon, also labeled as orange Maine Coon because they are not exactly red but somewhat a blend of an orange and ginger color.

No matter the color Maine Coon you purchase, the personality of these adorable cats will almost certainly win you within minutes (source 1).

Let’s take a closer look at the Maine Coon color categories:

Solid

In a nutshell, these are Maine Coons cats with a single coloring across their entire body.

Their striking appearance makes them easily recognizable, even from a distance.

Solid Maine Coons are available in white, black, blue, red, and cream. If you are keen to learn more about these colorings, click on the appropriate link below:

White Maine Coon Cat

Black Maine Coon Cat

Blue Maine Coon Cat

Red Maine Coon Cat

Cream Maine Coon Cat

Notably, individuals not acquainted with the Maine Coon classification commonly label the red Maine Coon as orange Maine Coon.

Tabbies

Tabby Maine Coons are arguably one of the most popular colorings. Rumor has it that the first Maine Coon cat seen in Wiscasset had a tabby pattern.

Tabbies are available in a vast range of different pattern markings, including:

  • Stripes
  • Spots
  • Swirls

Due to variety, the CFA further divides tabbies into:

  • Classic
  • Ticked
  • Mackerel

Importantly, all Maine Coon tabbies have distinctive “M” markings on their forehead. Here’s why.

Tabbies With White

These are cats with tabby Maine Coon colors, but white paws and chest.

Tortoiseshell

As the name suggests, these are Maine Coons with patterns that match those of the tortoiseshell turtle.

Their coats are usually black, with red and cream patches.

Smoke

These Maine Coons have a solid coloring, but the coloring fades on their undercoat, and, sometimes their chest.

It is important to note that many smoke-colored Maine Coons have silvery-colored undercoats whose color gets prominent by age. Learn more about the smoke Maine Coon in my fact-filled article.

Shaded

Maine Coons with shaded patterns usually have pale undercoats with a mantle over the top.

Bi-Color

Maine Coons with bi-color patterns have one color mixed with white, where white is more prominent in the back legs, chest, tummy, and facial area.

Parti-Color

These are cats with two colors mixed with white.

The white often shows up on their head, chest, tummy, and limbs.

What Is The Cost Of A Maine Coon Cat?

There is a lot that goes into breeding Maine Coons.

If you are planning to buy a Maine Coon kitten and wonder what a Maine Coon cat costs, you might be shocked to discover that Maine Coons have premium price tags.

The average price of a Maine Coon cat is approximately $1,000.

When buying a Maine Coon from a reputable buyer (such as these), you can expect to pay anywhere between $800 to upwards of $2,500.

Adult Maine Coons can be bought for as low as $600.

If you elect to adopt, the cost of adopting a Maine Coon is around $100 – $250.

Maine Coon Nutritional Needs

Maine Coons have specific nutritional requirements that must be met, to ensure that they stay fit and healthy, and grow at a steady pace.

Whilst a Maine coon cat is relatively expensive to purchase, you can avoid straining your pocket or bank account too much when it comes to cat food. Whilst these 5 dry foods are not the cheapest, they are ideal for a Maine Coon cat.

These big playful cats require food that will provide them with enough energy to keep playing and stay active.

A Maine Coons diet should consist of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and fatty acids. This food should be served in different proportions to help them grow up healthy and strong.

  • Protein: Maine Coons require lots of protein to maintain their physique and achieve full growth. Protein foods are also essential to provide enough energy to support the Maine Coons numerous playtime activities. Fish and chicken will provide ideal levels of protein that your Maine Coon can feed on.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are mainly sourced from wet and dry cat foods, and they help Maine Coons grow healthily. Carbohydrates should be served in low quantities to reduce the chances of your feline getting obese.
  • Vitamins: Cats require vitamins A, B, and K in their diet to have healthy bodies.
  • Fat and Fatty Acids: Small amounts of fat and fatty acids like taurine, arachidonic acids, and amino acids in Maine Coon food helps these feline to maintain their shiny fur. The fats can be sauced from wet and dry foods.

Considering the energy requirements of your majestic feline, you need to ensure that your cat’s diet is tailored towards the healthy growth and happy life of your cat.

Maine Coon Hair Care

A Maine Coons long hair can become matted easily as it plays around; thus, they need to be groomed 2 to 3 times a week. Here’s how to do it.

You may be wondering, do Maine coons shed a lot of hair? The simple answer is yes! This is why they need to be groomed regularly to maintain their fur hygiene.

Whereas most cats don’t like being groomed, the Maine Coon is an exception. They may even find regular grooming with their owner quite enjoyable.

Follow the tips below to make sure your Maine Coon grooming sessions are pleasing to both yourself and your cat:

1. Start Young

When you start exposing your cat to numerous grooming sessions at an early age, they get used to it and consider it a routine.

Most Maine Coons are not too bothered if you brush their back and head, but they will mind when you move too close to their belly and hind areas.

2. Use A Soft Bristle Brush

To make grooming sessions enjoyable, use a soft bristle brush that will gently touch the cat’s skin.

A hard bristle brush can easily scratch your feline’s skin and discourage them from getting groomed.

Continuous use of a soft bristle brush keeps the fur controlled and does not cause any harm to the cat’s skin.

These are my favorite Maine Coon cat brushes for grooming our large thick-haired Maine Coon cat.

3. Clip The Hair

You can clip a Maine Coons fur with scissors to maintain its length, though many owners consider this procedure to be barbaric. Click here to learn why so many people are opposed to the Maine Coon lion cut.

However, you may need to cut your Maine Coons fur to remove the matted fur. Either ask a professional to do this or, alternatively use a comb to hold between the skin and the matted fur to avoid snipping your cat’s sensitive skin.

4. Bathe Your Feline

Maine Coon cats can be bathed to remove dirt and loosen knotted fur.

Since this breed are well known for loving water, bathing is rarely an issue for owners. However, it is worth noting that the concept of bathing must be introduced to the cat from a young age.

You may also use cat wipes when you are not ready to bathe your Maine Coon.

If you are not too sure how to bathe a Maine Coon cat, make sure you take a look at my article ‘How To Groom A Maine Coon Cat‘.

5. Clip The Claws

You should use a special cat claw clipper to clip your cat’s claws or invite your vet to help you clip the claws.

Alternatively, purchase a couple of heavy-duty cat scratchers for your big feline to keep their claws in top-notch condition.

I personally love this large cat scratcher sold on Amazon, as the cheaper versions we historically purchased did not last long. This scratcher is particularly effective because our male Maine Coon is unable to knock it over with his 20lbs of weight!

6. Consistent Encouragement

Generously treat your Maine Coon after every grooming session, so that they see grooming as a positive action.

As the weeks go by, you may reduce the generosity gradually but definitely not completely.

Maine Coon Health Problems

Maine Coons are well known for being a hardy cat breed. Unfortunately, though, they are prone to certain hereditary Maine Coon health problems.

The most common Maine Coon health issues include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic defect where the hip joint fails to fit well in the hip socket. It may lead to arthritis or paralysis. Here are a few tips on how you can help your cat.
  • Polycystic kidney disease(PKD): This is a genetic disease in Maine Coons where small cysts form in the kidneys. The cyst develops from birth and make the kidney tissues too big, reducing their functionality. Learn more about this particular Maine Coon health condition in my article ‘Maine Coon Polycystic Kidney Disease‘.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): Otherwise known as HCM, this is a heart disease that mainly affects adult Maine Coon cats. It occurs when the muscle walls of a cat’s heart thicken, causing the heart to pump inefficiently. Keep an eye out for these HCM signs and symptoms.
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA): SMA is a hereditary genetic disease that can reduce the lifespan of your Maine Coon kitten. It occurs when there is a loss of motor neurons in the cat’s lower spinal cord and muscle problems in its hind limbs. Learn more about this medical condition.

Although Maine Coon cats are hardy, these health problems can potentially shorten a Maine Coon cat’s life. Before you go, make sure you read my complete guide: ‘Top 7 Maine Coon Health Problems‘.

Conclusion

Maine Coons are large adorable cats with a winning personality. If you are looking to buy a Maine Coon cat, hopefully, this comprehensive post helps you understand what is a Maine Coon cat is so that you can make an informed decision.

Related Question

French Maine Coon Cat

The French Maine Coon cat is not a breed on its own. They are just Maine Coons cats bred according to The International Cat Association (TICA) standard.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self-confessed CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 9 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend!

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