The Maine Coon is a very popular cat in recent years, and it must be said that he has many assets for him! Extremely sociable, very intelligent, and playful. He is an ideal companion for families. Named the “Gentle Giant” or “Peaceful Colossus” because of his large size, he is a very affectionate and calm cat. Its keen hunting instinct makes it a formidable predator for rodents, outdoors or in an attic.
The origins of the Maine Coon cat are as its name suggests, from North America, more precisely from Maine on the east coast of the United States. He has also become the official mascot of the State of Maine.
Many legends about its origins
There are a number of legends about the origins of the Maine Coon: one of the most famous of them says that it came from the crossing of a Maine wildcat with a raccoon (“coon” being an abbreviation familiar from “racoon”, the raccoon in English). Obviously, this is impossible from a physiological point of view.
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The name “Maine Coon” comes from its resemblance to the “racoon”, in particular for its well-provided tail in long hair and its thick coat, especially if the latter is of brown tabby color.
Another legend says that it came from the crossing of cats from Maine with other long-haired cats imported on ships to America by Vikings.
History and Development of the Breed
Its most likely origin would come from the mating of local farm cats with a cat brought back by Europeans; probably an Angora cat brought back from Asia by English colonists. It would have adapted to the harsh climate of this state in the northeast of the United States.
It is also the oldest breed of cats in North America. It was very popular there in the 19th century, then declined thereafter the arrival of Persian cats on the American continent.
The Maine Coon arrived in Europe in the 70s, but it was in the 90s that the Maine Coon took off, so much so that in 2018 this breed of cats accounted for nearly a third of the registrations of births at LOOF (Official Book of Feline Origins). In absolute terms, 10 times more than 15 years ago if only one sign of the popularity of these cats was needed!
This is a large breed of cat with powerful muscles in fact it is the largest domestic cat in the world. Its body is long and rectangular from the muzzle to the end of its tail, it can measure a meter. In addition, the males are larger than the females.
This breed is one of the most impressive among our domestic feline friends: it is often given the name of “Gentle Giant”.
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Its weight is on average around 7 to 12 kg for males, and 4 to 8 kg for females. Very young castrated males can, however, weigh up to 14 kg, as male hormones slow their growth. The Maine Coon weighs about twice the weight of an alley cat, that’s to say!
A large Maine Coon is not necessarily very heavy, it will depend on its musculature among others.
The average life expectancy of the Maine Coon cat is typically between 11 and 13 years. But some can exceed 15 years, and even live up to 20 years!
The character of the Breed
Some qualifiers describe the character of the Maine Coon better than long sentences. Among them, we will retain patient, very sociable, intelligent, good understanding with children and other domestic animals in general, faithful, affectionate.
Some people call him the “Gentle Giant”, and others have given him the name of “dog-cat”, in connection with some of his characteristics which are similar to those of the dog. For example, he brings back the toys that are thrown at him and has nothing against being walked on a leash!
It does not tolerate solitude well, which makes it a pet of choice for families. Unlike many cats, the Maine Coon loves water: don’t be surprised to see it splashing around in its bowl, picking up its objects, or even seeing it join you in your bath!
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Color and Coat
There are many possible colors, either the Maine Coons have a solid color without marking called “solid color”, or a marking can adorn their coat which will present patterns. The six authorized solid colors are Black or “Black”, Crème or “Cream”, Brun or “Brown”, Roux or “Red”, White or “White” and finally Blue or “Blue”.
The main types of marking, Tabby as it is called in English, are the Blotched Tabby which represents circles or circles, the Spotted Tabby where we perceive dots, the Mackerel Tabby which is reminiscent of the mackerel fish with lines, and the Ticked Tabby characterized by different colors on the entirety of its fur but with a uniform appearance of the color as a whole.
The colors “Silver” – coat of the hair of silvery color – and “Smoke” – dress of darker color similar to smoke -, rarer, are particularly sought after and appreciated. The most popular and in-demand are the Brown Blotched Tabby and the Brown Mackerel Tabby. Let us not forget either the particolored – two-colored or three-colored cats – which have their fans! In short, there’s something for everyone.
Note: the coat of the Maine Coon is usually described as “mid-length”, but it is, in fact, uneven over the whole of its body: shorter on the shoulders, it lengthens on the sides, and is even frankly long on the lower part of his body.
Adopt a Maine Coon Cat
Because of its origins, it will have no difficulty acclimating to harsh environments and harsh temperatures. Considering his hunting instinct, the ideal is to offer him a house with a garden to let him move and hunt as he pleases if you have an attic, he will be happy to keep rodents away.
However, despite its large size, it can also adapt well to apartment living. In this case, do not forget to provide him with a cat tree, as well as perches. He likes to be cuddled and it is important to play with him to stimulate him and contribute to his happiness, especially if he lives between four walls without access to the outside. And sometimes the sounds it makes the sound more like cooing than meowing, don’t be surprised!
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Reproduction of this Breed
The numbers of kittens per litter are on average 3 to 4 kittens per litter. However, keep in mind that the litter can range from one to eleven kittens!
The Maine Coon and the Dog
Of course, cats are afraid of dogs. So the socialization of the Maine Coon with the dog will depend greatly on how the animals were approached to each other, if it was done gradually, without forcing the encounter, gradually. In such circumstances of contact, cohabitation can be quite harmonious and happy.
We recommend that you have high platforms in the living room or another room where the cat can take refuge if it does not wish to be in contact with the dog. So the cat can escape when he wants to or is not confident. And he can even monitor his canine companion and his surroundings from his observation post.
Due to the strong inbreeding associated with the creation of the Maine Coon breed, this cat is prone to certain specific diseases. We can cite for example:
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
degeneration of the neurons that direct the muscles of the body and limbs, causing muscle weakness and difficulty moving and jumping.
The Maine Coons are also the only breed of cats to be affected by this pathology! In this disease, your cat’s hip joint will not be formed properly, resulting in degenerative joint disease.
polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD
An inherited disease in which cysts appear in the kidneys and will prevent their proper functioning.
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
A heart disease in which the heart muscle thickens, which causes the poor ejection of blood.
Male or Female?
This is the famous recurring question when adopting a cat, whatever the breed “ should I take a male or female cat”?
From a physical point of view, the male Maine Coon is much larger than the female 8 to 10 kilos for males, against 5 to 7 kilos for females.
Regarding sex differences, the uncastrated male cat will tend to mark its territory with jets of very fragrant urine and run away to join a beautiful cat during the heat season, thus taking risks for its life. As for the unsterilized female, she will have a tendency to meow at night when she is in heat, and will then become a magnet attracting all the horny cats in the neighborhood.
But sterilization simplifies the problem: once neutered or sterilized, male and female cats will no longer show very marked differences in character. Follow your intuition in front of the kitten or the cat you want to adopt, this is the easiest method!
Best Food for Maine Coon
You can give your Maine Coon both dry food and wet food. Both work well. Be careful that your cat moves well so that he does not gain too much weight. We also recommend that you check that the cat food selected does not contain any addition of artificial flavors or preservatives, nor the addition of sugar or soy protein.
Despite its large size, be careful not to overfeed it. Respect the portions recommended by your veterinarian, otherwise, you run the risk of seeing it grow. Indeed, this breed has a predisposition to gain weight. So be careful!