The Maine Coon is the largest domestic cat breed and one of the oldest breeds in North America. It has a rather long and thick waterproof coat made of an undercoat overlayed with a glossy topcoat which does not require much grooming. The hair varies in length around the body, with shorter hair on the head, neck and shoulders and longer hair down the back, sides and tail. Their ears have a feathered appearance and their paws have tufts which extend backwards, giving them a snowshoe-like function.
Maine Coons come in a large variety of colours, including white, tortoiseshell, tabby (with or without silver) and smoke, all with or without white patches. Their eyes can range anywhere between green, gold and copper, although blue or odd-eye colour is not uncommon among white cats. As a result of all these variations, no two Maine Coons look the same.
Male Maine Coons weigh between 6 and 8 kg and females weigh around 4 – 6 kg. Height can reach 41cm and they can reach up to 100cm long. The lifespan of the Maine Coon is 13 years and over.
MAINE COON HISTORY
The Maine Coon is native to America and dates back to the 18th century, possibly earlier. Legend has it that the Maine Coon’s ancestors were semi-feral cats crossed with racoons, although this is impossible. Others believe its ancestors were cats sent by Marie Antoinette who tried to protect them as she plotted her escape during the French Revolution.
In reality, it is probable that the Maine Coon came to America from Asia or Europe or simply was a result of breeding domestic cats brought to America by the early Pilgrims.
Around the 1900s, the popularity of the Maine Coon began to wane as more fashionable and exotic breeds were imported into the US. However, the breed made somewhat of a comeback in the 1950s with the establishment of the Central Maine Coon Cat Club in 1953, and the breed was accepted into purebred cat registries from 1976. Today, the Maine coon is the third most popular pure breed of cat in the US.
The cat was first reported outside of America around 1975 in West Germany, where it was referred to as the American Forest Cat.
MAINE COON TEMPERAMENT
Maine Coons are known for being friendly, affectionate and goofy – they’re not only huge in size but also huge in personality. Much like a dog, the Maine Coon loves to be around its family and sometimes acts like a pack animal. They are obedient and will come when called. They also love to greet guests, who will be surprised at the sociable nature of the Maine Coon.
COMMON MAINE COON DISEASES & CONDITIONS
Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
This inherited disease is difficult to diagnose and often the first symptom is sudden death. It is caused by the thickening of the heart’s walls. It mostly affects older male cats, but can occur in younger cats too. Some cases may not be lethal and can be treated with medication if diagnosed via an echocardiogram. Signs of this disease include anorexia, lethargy, difficulty breathing, coughing, fainting and paralysis of the legs; however some cats may show no symptoms.
Spinal muscular atrophy
Spinal muscular atrophy is an inherited condition which causes the skeletal muscles in the lower body to die and surrounding muscles begin to atrophy. Affected kittens will show symptoms (including an abnormal gait or standing with toes out in front) by the age of 3 – 4 months. Although there is no treatment, affected cats do not experience pain and can live at least 8 – 9 years old.
Hip dysplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone does not fit correctly with the hip joint. It can cause pain, lameness and eventually arthritis; however some cats do not show any symptoms. Treatment is available in the form of weight loss, medication, diet, and surgery in serious cases.
Polycystic kidney disease
PKD is a condition that is inherited and symptoms can start to show at a young age. Polycystic Kidney Disease causes cysts of fluid to form in the kidneys, obstructing them from functioning properly. It can cause chronic renal failure if not detected. Look for symptoms like poor appetite, vomiting, drinking excessively, frequent urination, lethargy and depression. Ultrasounds are the best way to diagnose the disease, and some cats can be treated with diet, medication and hormone therapy.
INTERESTING MAINE COON FACTS
- The Maine Coon is known as the “Gentle Giant” of the feline world.
- Despite their large sizes, you may be surprised to learn that Maine Coons have quite high-pitched voices.
- A Maine Coon named Cosey was the winner of the very first cat show in the US.
Maine Coon Rescue Australia: http://mainecoon.rescueme.org/au
The Maine Coon Cat Club (UK): http://www.maine-coon-cat-club.com/
Maine Coon Pet Insurance Quote
Getting pet insurance for your Maine Coon will help ensure you can always afford the best vet care for them. Bow Wow Meow offers a range of flexible pet insurance options including cover for accidental injury, illness and routine care.
Wondering how much it would cost to insure your Maine Coon if you got one? It’s quick and easy to get a quote.
(Note: cats must be over 8 weeks old to take out insurance, so please enter a birth date to reflect this when getting an indicative quote.)