Big in size and big on personality, Maine coons are striking and majestic felines. Their semi-long coat can make them look even bigger than they really are and their wonderful bushy tails always draw the eye. These cats are friendly and enjoy human company more than most breeds. They are playful and can live happily in households with multiple pets.
Maine coon breed history
Once seen, never forgotten, the Maine coon originated in New England. When seafarers took longhaired cats to America, the migrant felines mated with local shorthairs to produce large, semi-longhaired cats with bushy tails. Those tails looked like those of racoons, hence the breed name, and the cats boasted a variety of colours due to random breeding.
Natural hunters, incredible ratters and able to withstand the cold, the cats were often kept on farms. However, their striking looks and good natures ensured that they became popular pets. The Maine coon first arrived in the UK in the 1980s and was recognised by the GCCF in 1993.
Maine Coon breed characteristics
The most notable characteristic of the Maine coon is its size. These cats are huge! Record-breaking cats tend to be Maine coons. For instance, the longest cat in the world at the time of writing is Barivel, an Italian Maine coon who is 120cm in length!
Maine coons have large ears and enormous round eyes which can be gold, copper or green. They have prominent ruffs along with their chests and benefit from a robust bone structure. These giant cats mature slowly and so may not reach their full size until they are 5 years old. Their bushy tails are usually as long as their bodies which makes the cats appear even larger. Maine coons boast semi-long coats with an appealing glossy sheen. Coats can be a variety of colours. However, the GCCF does not allow chocolate, lilac or Siamese points in Maine coons.
Maine coons can exhibit polydactylism (extra toes). This trait is not permitted in the show ring, but some breeders have been keen to preserve the idiosyncrasy.
These impressive cats are truly gentle giants of exceptional intelligence. They can be taken for walks on leads and are prone to choosing strange places to sleep. They don’t meow but make a chirping noise instead and they tend to be fun-loving animals which enjoy rather than merely tolerate human company.
- Lifespan: 9-15 years
- Height: up to 40cm
- Weight: up to 8kg
- Bushy tails
- Robust bone structure
- Large eyes
- Variety of colours
- Like human company
- Good with children
Health issues with the Maine coon
Generally, a healthy breed, the Maine coon is a robust cat that can live up to 15 years and sometimes even longer. There are four health conditions to which this breed is prone:
- Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Hip dysplasia
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
What sort of owners does the Maine coon suit?
Maine coons are unusual cats in many ways but are suited to a variety of households. Friendly and gentle, they are great family pets who get on with children. Unlike most felines, they relish human company and love to play which means that they are happiest in homes where someone is around all day. They form bonds with their owners but are never overly clingy.
Surprisingly, Maine coons are quite happy to share their home with other cats and even enjoy the company of dogs. For those who love cats but find their independence or antisocial tendencies disappointing, the Mane coon is the obvious choice. It is important to remember that Maine coons require daily grooming and so may not be appropriate for owners with busy lives.