Breed experts generally agree that the popular Maine coon cat is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. Named after the state of its origin, the coon cat remains the official cat of the state of Maine. If you are considering adopting a cat, what follows is everything you need to know about Maine coon cats.
Shrouded in mystery, the origin of Maine coon cats has been the source of legends. Many breeders today hold that Maine coon cats are the product of mating between preexisting shorthaired domestic cats and longhairs introduced from overseas by seamen or brought to America by the Vikings.
Their popularity as show cats began to diminish at the turn of the century as more exotic breeds, such as the Persian, arrived in North America. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Maine coon cats began to again receive attention and popularity outside New England.
The most important features of Maine coon cats are the head, body shape and texture of their coat. With a head slightly longer than wide, these cats present a gently concave profile with high cheekbones. Ears are large and wide at the base, moderately pointed, with lynx-like tufting inside. Large, round and expressive eyes are their most distinctive feature. Well-bred Maine coon cats have a well-balanced, rectangular appearance.
Many colors and patterns are allowed in the Maine coon cat breed. Even eye colors can vary from green to gold to blue, with some white Maine coons presenting two different-colored eyes. Their voices -- a distinctive chirping trill -- also set them apart from other breeds. Although they rarely “meow,” when they do, it sounds like a soft, high-pitched voice that directly contradicts their size.
Everything you need to know about Maine coon cats includes their appealing personality traits. They have a loving, sometimes clown-like nature and often funny habits. They try to be helpful to their human family by jumping into the center of activities. Maine coons love to chase objects and can be taught to catch and fetch. This skill can prove very helpful for rural homes in need of pest control. Because they are strong, hardy cats, novice breeders will find them a good choice for healthy kitten litters.
Unlike some other people-oriented cat breeds, Maine coon cats are not overly dependent on their human family. Instead of pestering you for attention, they will remain close by for companionship. Not usually “lap cats,” they prefer to sit beside you instead of on top of you. Maine coon cats make great buddies for kids and generally socialize well with other pets.
Part of understanding everything you need to know about Maine coon cats is the fact that this relaxed and laid-back breed develops slowly until maturity between ages three and four. Aging does not eliminate their playful, kitten-like temperament and reputation as “gentle giants” of the feline world. Unlike many cat breeds, they prefer to remain low to the ground rather than jumping up to higher surfaces.
Care and training of your Maine coon cat
Everything you need to know about Maine coon cats includes a warning about their weight. Because of their naturally large size, many breeders recommend high-quality food to control weight gain. Between ages five and 10, switching to a low-calorie diet is recommended, especially for indoor cats. Because Maine coon cats naturally drink a lot of water, always keep a clean, fresh source available at all times.
Their coats are relatively easy to maintain. A weekly combing with a wide-toothed comb, followed by a narrow-toothed comb, will keep a Maine coon cat’s fur shedding and mats under control.
Maine coons can be creatures of habit. This trait makes them easy to train when they associate an activity to something they like. By using positive reinforcement training that rewards good behavior, Maine coon cats can be trained to accept a harness and leash.
Breed medical issues
Every breed of cat has genetic strengths and weaknesses, and Maine coon cats are no different. Usually genetic weaknesses affect only a small minority of any breed. Part of learning everything you need to know about Maine coon cats includes understanding that their most common inherited health problems are hip dysplasia and cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.
Reputable breeders will attempt to track problems in their breeding stock. Before adopting from a Maine coon breeder, be sure to ask the breeder if he or she has had any disease problems with past litters and how much screening the breeder performs with all new litters. Most reputable breeders will offer health guarantees for a certain period of time when selling their pedigreed Maine coon kittens.