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Buying a pet

Maine Coon: Breed info & health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

If you’re looking for a big cat with an even bigger personality, the Maine Coon could be pretty much the purr-fect pet. Those pointy ears and long bushy tail are guaranteed to turn heads - and that impressive range of yowls and chirps is definitely memorable. Affectionate, sociable and eager to please, the Maine Coon was born to make friends. 

Stats
Average lifespan: Around 12 years - but some live up to 15 years and older!

Weight: Males: 6.8 to 11.34.kg, Females: 5.0 to 9.0 kg

Colouring: Usually classic brown or tabby

Grooming requirements: moderate (the semi-long fur needs regular brushing).

Average purchase cost: Around £450.

via GIPHY

Bet you didn’t know…

  • The Maine Coon has a murky origins story. Some have claimed it has an element of raccoon ancestry (which is unlikely), while one legend has it that the breed descends from six pet cats shipped over to America by Marie Antoinette in anticipation of a planned escape to France. More likely, they came about as a result of crossbreeding between North American cats and long-haired cats brought over by very early European visitors.
  • These guys can get seriously big. If there’s a record-breaking cat trending on Instagram, chances are it’s a Maine Coone. Take Omar , for instance; weighing in at 14 kilos, this guy is 120 cm in length, making him the longest cat on the planet!
  • That bushy tail acts as an purr-fect winter coat. A silver Maine Coon named Cygnus currently boasts the longest cat tail in the world, measuring 44.66cm. A Maine’s tail actually serves a very useful purpose: if he’s out hunting in the snow, he can wrap it around his body for an extra layer of insulation.
  • They’re big kids. A Maine Coon grows up very slowly, and can take up to five years to reach full maturity. 
  • Did you spot the Maine Coon in Harry Potter? Caretaker Argus Filch’s feline friend “Mrs Norris” was played by a Maine Coon named Pebbles.

Great for…
These guys are super affectionate; they’re smart and are genuinely interested in everything you’re doing. They also have a strong independent streak - so while they’re happy to come over for an occasional cuddle, a Maine Coon isn’t really a lap cat.

That being said, they usually get on really well with kids - which makes them great family pets. With the right socialisation and intros, they can also settle in with other dogs and cats. Bear in mind that your buddy will get lonely (and take it out on the furniture) if left alone for long periods, so other pets might be a good idea if you’re away at work all day. 

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Behaviour and temperament...
The earliest Maine Coons were mostly farm cats, where they earned their stay catching rats and keeping birds away from the crops. To do this they needed to be smart, alert and super keen to explore: all traits that form the modern breed’s character.

While today’s Maine Coon would still love to spend all their time outdoors hunting and playing, it might be best to keep your buddy inside (depending on where you live) to keep the risk of traffic, theft and disease to a minimum.

When they’re not napping, Maine Coon’s like to stay busy. It doesn’t matter what game you go for - puzzles, cuddly toys, or even just taking the time to teach “high five”, sit and fetch. When it’s time for litter training, a Maine Coon kitten will generally ‘get’ what’s expected of them, so there’s not much work needed.

One of the most loveable things about a Maine Coon is that ‘special’ vocabulary. Instead of “Miaows” you’ll probably get a sweet chirping sound, and unmistakeable yowling when it’s time for dinner!

TLC...
These big, muscular cats can burn up a lot of energy. They’re not known for being greedy and are not usually fussy eaters - but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be fussy when it comes to what to feed them. Consult with your vet on the most appropriate feeding regime, bearing in mind that this will alter gradually as your Maine gets older.

To avoid matting, irritation and fur balls, that bushy, semi-long coat should be combed and brushed around twice a week. Shedding tends to increase in Autumn and Spring, so it’s probably worth brushing daily during these months to keep on top of it. Your buddy’s ears should be cleaned once a week - but be really careful not to probe into the ear canals, as this can cause a lot of problems. Use a damp cloth rather than a cotton bud, and check for any redness or discharge (i.e. signs of infection) while you’re there.

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Common health issues to watch out for...

  • Hip dysplasia. Maine Coon’s are pretty big for a cat, meaning the breed is prone to this developmental defect of the hip socket. Symptoms can include slow movement, an unwillingness to jump or a gradually worsening dragging of the rear legs. Veterinary guidance, medication and sometimes, surgery could be part of the treatment plan to address it.
  • Heart disease can also occur - especially hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM); a thickening of the heart wall muscles that can lead to breathlessness and lethargy. It’s possible for your buddy to live with the symptoms - but this usually requires medical intervention, consultations and close management.
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is also quite common in Maine Coons. A young cat with SMA will usually sway from side to side and find it tough to jump. A happy life with SMA is possible, with the right guidance.
  • Ear and skin infections. Sometimes these are unavoidable, even if you’re on top of cleaning and grooming. The quicker it’s caught and dealt with (usually with antibiotics), the easier it is for your cat to get over it. 
  • Traumatic injury. Always a risk with a smart, active cat. From setting broken bones to cleaning and patching up scrap wounds, it’s a matter of doing whatever it takes to get your cat back in shape as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
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