When you think of a large cat, you likely picture a lion or tiger in your head. But, did you know that some domestic cat breeds can also grow into really large cats as well?
One example of this is the Maine Coon cat breed whose adult size might take you by surprise since many grow physically bigger than some small dogs! So why are Maine Coon cats so big? Is there a logical reason behind their large size, or are they simply a large cat breed that humans have domesticated?
Maine Coons are naturally big felines because they directly descend from Norwegian Forest Cats. Their natural lineage as wild cats living in Wiscasset, Maine contributes to their large size. Maine Coon are also big as a result of their slow growth rate which enables their bones structure and muscles to develop larger.
How Big Can Maine Coons Get?
As one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world, the Maine Coon cannot help but make an impression when they walk in the room. With such a large physical presence, regal looks, and gorgeous thick shaggy fur, many people are overwhelmed by how eye-catching this cat breed is.
I’ve actually lost count of the time my readers have asked me why are Maine Coon cats so big?!
Maine Coon cats are big, and renowned for their large physical proportions.
The average Maine Coon will grow between 19 – 40 inches in length (48 – 101 cm), and 8 – 16 inches (20 – 40 cm) high.
You shouldn’t expect your Maine Coon to weigh as light as a feather, either, since the average male Maine Coon weighs in at a staggering 15 – 25 lbs (6.8 – 11.3 kg)!
The table below shows how big a Maine Coon cat is likely to grow, once they reach their full size between 3-5 years of age:
Male Vs Female Maine Coon Size
This giant cat breed is also known as the ‘American Longhair’ and has grown in popularity over the last few decades, particularly in the United States where Maine Coons were voted one of the top 3 cats breeds to own, in 2015.
It is thought that their incredible size, added to their gentle, docile, yet energetic temperament is a key reason why this breed is so loved.
On average, the male Maine Coon will grow bigger than their female counterpart. This is evident from the visual diagram below, which quickly summarizes the difference between the Male Vs Female Maine Coon size.
Maine Coon Size Compared To Normal Cat
Whilst the male of the species is usually far bigger than their female counterpart, the Maine Coon breed as a whole is still considerably bigger than a normal cat.
To help you visualise the difference more clearly, I have created the following graphic which compares the Maine Coon size Vs a normal cat:
Why Maine Coons Grow So Big
The Maine Coons lineage is embroiled in much mystery and intrigue since no one can definitively answer the question ‘why are Maine Coon cats so big?’.
If we take a brief look at the Maine Coon cat’s history, we can see that they originated in Wiscasset (Maine) in the 1800s. They lived in the wilderness for many years, thanks to their hardy cat nature that enabled them to survive through even the harshest Winter climates of New England, where other domesticated cat breeds could not.
Their superb hunting skills were considered key in their survival, yet despite all these interesting factors, none help to explain why are Maine Coon cats so big.
Could another part of the Maine Coon’s history hold the key to this unanswered question? In order to answer this, we need to take a look at the three main folklore myths that are claimed to explain why the Maine Coon cat is so big.
These myths have been popular for hundreds of years, and may just explain why the Maine Coon is so large.
- Maine Coons are part Raccoon
- Descendents of Norwegian Forest Ship Cats
- Maine Coons have a royal heritage, linked to Marie Antoinette
1. Maine Coons Are Part Raccoon
The premise of this folklore myth is that a raccoon mated with a semi-wild domestic cat. Despite widespread popularity for this myth, scientists have discounted this option as a physical impossibility.
Below are the reasons this myth gained so much traction:
- Raccoon and Maine Coon look similar
- These animals are roughly the same size
- They both have a black ring around their tail
- Maine Coons are fascinated with water, like the raccoon
- Both are good climbers
For more fascinating discussions on this folklore myth, check out my article “Is a Maine Coon part raccoon?“.
2. Descendents of Norwegian Ship Cats
Vikings were well known for traveling the seas, and it is from this historical fact that this folklore emerged.
According to the storybooks, the Vikings kept long-haired cats on their ships in order to keep their mice population at bay. It is thought that the Vikings preferred using Norwegian Forest Cats for this role, due to their impressive hunting skills and hardy nature.
Legend has it that when these ships docked, the cats were allowed to roam across dry land freely. During one such stop-off, it is suspected that one of the long-haired cats mated with a short-haired domestic cat, producing the Maine Coon cat breed that we are familiar with today.
So, are the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat really related?
Take a look at their key differences, and similarities in my article: “Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: Key Differences“.
3. Maine Coons Have a Royal Heritage
According to this folklore myth, the Maine Coon cat descends from Marie Antoinette’s six prized Turkish Angora cats, whom she kept as pets.
The background behind this legend is that during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette (former Queen of France) desperately attempted to flee France by ship. She took refuge on a ship headed for the United States, which was Captained by Samuel Clough.
Marie convinced Captain Clough to permit her six pet Turkish Angora cats aboard too, and, despite being captured and executed in 1793, her precious cats were safely transported to Maine, United States.
These long-haired cats are thought to have bred with local domestic short-haired cats, residing in Maine, thus producing the Maine Coon cat breed.
Are All Maine Coon Cats Big?
You might be surprised to hear that not all Maine Coon cats are big, though on average they will still be larger than the average household cat that you encounter.
If you suspect your Maine Coon is on the smaller size of their breed, this may simply be because they are not genetically predisposed to grow large. However, these other factors might affect their overall growth:
1. Small Parents
If the parents of your Maine Coon are on the lower size of the growth spectrum, you should not expect your cat to grow to the larger proportions that the breed is recognized for achieving.
2. Mixed Breed
Maine Coons with mixed breed parentage cannot be guaranteed to grow into large Maine Coon cats, since their genetics are mixed. It will ultimately depend up which of these cats genes are dominant, and which are recessive.
By comparison, it is highly unlikely that a purebred Maine Coon would never achieve the average sizing expected for this breed.
3. Health Issues
Underlying health issues might affect the size that a Maine Coon cat reaches during their adult life. If you have any concerns regarding your Maine Coons health, seek veterinary advice asap.
4. Diet Deficiency
The Maine Coons diet should be high in protein, low in carbohydrates, with a medium level of fats and fatty acids e.g. omega 3 and 6. Failure to provide a nutritionally well-balanced diet to your Maine Coon places your cat at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies, which are thought to impact its ultimate size.
If you’re not too sure what your Maine Coon should be eating, remove all doubt by ordering my favorite Maine Coon dry food brands.
Largest Maine Coon On Record
Although it is not known why some Maine Coons have exceeded the average Maine Coon sizes shown in my table above. One such example of this is a Maine Coon named ‘Stewie’ who was awarded the title for the ‘longest cat of his breed’, by the Guinness World Records.
If you think your Maine Coon is extremely long too, why not measure them and see if your cat beats Stewie’s gigantic 48.5 inches length measurement!
Large Maine Coon Cat Videos
Here are two Maine Coon cats, named ‘Stewie’ and ‘Samson’, which really exceed the average Maine Coon size charts!
If you are interested in finding out how big ‘Stewie’, the ‘longest Maine Coon cat’ on record is, here is a video of him being officially measured for the Guinness World Records.
Stewie won the title, by measuring in at a staggering 48.5 inches in length!
The next video is of a Maine Coon cat named Samson, who is an immense 4ft long. Samson was awarded the title of biggest cat in New York.
For those of you that have never seen a Maine Coon before, this video really shows the breed at its best, and visually puts into perspective just how big some of these Maine Coon cats grow.
Many people ask why are Maine Coon cats so big, yet ultimately no one knows the truth. What we do know, however, is that the Maine Coon is a seriously large cat that is only rivaled in size by the handsome Norwegian Forest Cat.
Folklore myth surrounds the Maine Coon cat’s heritage, making them one of the most mysterious cat breeds in existence.
Popularity leans towards one myth in particular though, which claims the Maine Coon is a descendent of the Norwegian Forest Cat, after being carried via ship across the seas by the Vikings.