Everything you need to know about Maine Coons
4th May, 2023
Intelligent. Large. Affectionate. These gentle giants of the cat world make wonderful pets. Learn about their origins, characteristics and possible health risks.
Looking for a gigantic, huggable feline friend who loves hanging out with its humans? You won’t find many mogs more affectionate and playful than a Maine Coon.
If you’re planning on adopting a senior feline in the near future, this breed makes the perfect companion. Discover the classic features of these gorgeous felines, what to expect from their lovable personalities and how to give them the life they deserve with our top care tips.
When you do decide to bring home your Maine Coon, don’t forget to cover them with pet insurance for older cats. Your silky smooth feline friend will need lots of care as it ages, and we’re here to help!
Maine Coon breed information
Before we dive into everything you need to know about the majestic Maine Coon, take a look at their vital statistics.
- Average height: 8-16 inches
- Average weight: 4-8 kg
- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Temperament: Affectionate, loving and sociable
- Activity level: High
- Coat type: Long and silky
- Colours: Black, white, ebony, orange, red, blue, grey, beige, cream, tan, brown, chocolate, and fawn – there are 75 colour and pattern combos!
- Ideal for: Seniors, families with children and other pets
Where did the Maine Coon originate?
As you can probably guess from its name, the Maine Coon comes from the US state of Maine. As to where its roots really lie, there are a few legends, but many breed enthusiasts believe it’s most likely related to the Siberian Cat and Norwegian Forest Cat.
So, how did it end up all the way over in America? Well, their ancestors were highly skilled hunters and were probably used for getting rid of mice and rats on ships from Europe to the US.
After this, the breed almost became extinct. But their popularity surged in the 1950s and these silky smooth cats continue to be just as loved today.
Maine residents are very proud of this precious pussycat, and many believe it to be the most intelligent, fastest and strongest feline around.
What does a Maine Coon look like?
Maine Coon cats are big, fluffy and oh so cuddly. Picture a long feline with a muscular build and broad chest, plus adorable pointed ears with little tufts on the end. They’re certainly unique compared to most cat breeds.
Their thick, puffy coat is water repellent – perhaps why they actually ‘like’ water – boasting dense, firm hair and a glorious bushy tail.
Did you know that their tail can be as long as their body? That’s why they’re often seen perched on a windowsill with their tail curled right around them like a snug scarf.
Their legs are muscular and strong to match their well-built body and end with big, round, tufted paws.
What is a Maine Coon cat’s character like?
This breed is often referred to as the dog of the feline world, and not just for its size. They’re sociable and affectionate (not the first thing you think of when cats come to mind) and very playful with their humans – who they adore, by the way.
Maine Coons are also some of the most intelligent cats around and are excellent at picking up new tricks and getting used to new surroundings.
If you’re hoping to adopt one of these gorgeous cats (find out how elsewhere on our blog), make sure you have enough time to groom and play with them. They need a fair bit of attention and plenty of opportunities to use up a bit of energy.
How do they thank you for being such a doting pet parent? Cute meows whenever they walk past.
Their love for people and need to be sociable makes them the perfect fit for families with children or other pets. Yes, they’ll even get along with your other cats and dogs, too. Just don’t forget your pet insurance for older cats in case your other animal isn’t so keen!
How to care for your Maine Coon
If you’ve decided that this breed is for you – and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want one of these cute clowns of the cat world? – you’ll need to know how to take care of them properly.
Of course, they’ll need you to comb their fur, feed them the right food and protect them with pet insurance for older cats, but just how much care do they really need? Are they high maintenance? Let’s find out.
That long, fluffy coat looks like it needs a lot of brushing to stay mat-free, don’t you think? Well, contrary to this belief, it doesn’t need to be combed every day. Once a week should be enough.
Maine Coons have very little fur in their undercoat and only half a length on top (yes, looks can be deceiving), which means it’s difficult for knots to form. If your cat is moulting, brush a little more regularly to remove excess fur.
Don’t forget to clean their teeth, either! Most mogs succumb to some form of dental decay in their life, and as they age, the likelihood they’ll need oral health treatment only increases.
Luckily, your pet insurance for older cats with Petwise comes with dental cover as *.
Worried about putting your fingers near those razor sharp gnashers? Don’t be. Here are some quick tips on brushing your cat’s teeth from the Blue Cross:
- Before you begin, you’ll need a special cat toothbrush and cat toothpaste. You can’t use the human kind because it has too much fluoride and could cause stomach issues.
- Next, get them used to the taste of toothpaste. Dab a little on your pet’s nose or lips and let them have a lick.
- Find a good position for brushing, which is usually with your cat on your knees or a surface facing away from you. Hold them in place with your non-brushing hand and your body.
- With your dominant hand, move their lips up and down to get them used to it. Don’t forget to reward them every time they do a good job!
- Now it’s time to brush – but with a cotton bud. Use a small blob of toothpaste, open their lips and get brushing like you would normally, starting at the back. Give them a treat again!
- Finally, introduce the toothbrush. Take things slowly and your Maine Coon will be used to a daily teeth clean before you know it.
Food and nutrition
Maine Coons are rather large compared to most cats and have a great deal of energy, so their diet has to match their needs. Find out more about meal sizes in our article on how to feed your older cat.
If you adopt an old feline, you’ll need a completely different food to what a kitten would eat, so make sure you speak to your vet about what’s best for your pet.
Your chosen food should be rich in nutrients and quality ingredients with a high protein content. The odd treat here and there will be greatly appreciated by your Maine Coon but don’t go overboard – older cats are more likely to become obese and experience related health issues.
Steer clear of cow’s milk. Cats are naturally lactose intolerant, so although your pet will likely lick it up in seconds, you could be doing a lot of damage.
As the likelihood of health issues rise with age, seniors may need to go on a special diet for medical reasons. Pet insurance for older cats with Petwise comes with a senior food contribution to help with the increasing cost of your pet’s meals.
Playtime and exercise
Now, don’t get us wrong, Maine Coons love an afternoon nap as much as the next cat, but they’re also full of energy and love to blow off steam.
Make sure your pet has enough opportunities to meet their mental and physical stimulation needs whether you’re at home or they’re left alone. Here are a few ideas:
- Invest in a cat tree. When you’re not at home, these cool cat climbing frames provide plenty of jumping, pouncing, hiding and sleeping opportunities to keep them busy.
- Stock up on cat toys and rotate them once a week to avoid boredom.
- Enjoy a game of fetch with your Maine Coon when you get home from work. This breed is highly intelligent, and they’ll learn the game quickly.
- If you really want to take on the idea that this breed is the dog of the feline world, why not get them a lead? A daily walk around the block could be exactly what your indoor cat needs.
- Get them a few puzzle feeders. Cats love the thrill of hunting, especially Maine Coons, so having to work for a snack is actually enjoyable for your mog.
There are plenty of other ways to keep your Maine Coon busy. Just make sure they’re never left alone for too long by themselves with nothing to do.
This breed is prone to depression as a result of boredom. If you’re worried about your cat’s behaviour, policyholders can use the Petwise vet video consultation service, at no additional cost..
Health and wellbeing
No matter how well you take care of your Maine Coon, all pedigree breeds like this are predisposed to a few health issues.
Even the healthiest of felines can succumb to a serious illness or get into an accident, so what can you do to add an extra layer of protection? Have pet insurance for older cats!
With a policy in place, you’ll be able to get your Maine Coon the health care they need to get back to its old self and enjoy its golden years the way it should.
To find out more about what you get with our pet insurance for older cats, take a look at our frequently asked questions.
What are the most common health conditions in Maine Coons?
These beautiful cats are susceptible to a few health issues – some as a result of their large stature and others are fairly common in all pedigree cats. Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.
Oh, and a quick reminder: if you have pet insurance for older cats with Petwise and need some quick advice regarding your Maine Coon’s health, contact our 24-hour vet video service, at no additional cost.
Your Maine Coon is adorable and cuddly, but that large build could mean they suffer from a range of joint issues, one being hip dysplasia.
The condition is generally thought to be hereditary, but obesity and poor nutrition might make your pet more vulnerable. Keep an eye on your Maine Coon for:
- Thin-looking or feeling hind legs due to lack of muscle
- Reluctance to get up and move about
- Limping or walking like they’re unbalanced
After a visit to the vet, your pet will either need medication and supplements or possibly surgery in more severe cases.
Patellar luxation occurs when your cat’s kneecap becomes dislocated and moves outside their groove.
Symptoms will appear similar to cat’s with hip dysplasia, such as a reluctance to move, jump up and down from objects and limping. It’s usually caused by genetics and gradually worsens over time, which is why it’s prevalent in senior mogs.
There are varying degrees of the issue, so treatment depends on the severity but can range from anti-inflammatory meds and rest to surgical correction.
Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation can eventually lead to arthritis if not treated in time, so never assume your cat’s lack of movement or limping is down to age alone – there could be something seriously wrong, so it’s always a good idea to get it checked by a vet.
Arthritis occurs as joints suffer wear and tear over the years, often as a result of the conditions mentioned above, but sometimes due to trauma.
Affected cats will experience a lot of pain and inflammation around their joints, but they’re also pretty good at hiding how they’re feeling. So, how can you spot the issue early on and get your Maine Coon help?
According to feline charity Cat’s Protection, you should look out for:
- Stiff appearance
- Being less active than normal
- Reluctance to jump or climb
- Difficulty grooming (you may notice changes to your cat’s coat)
- A change in behaviour (maybe grumpier and less intolerant of family members)
- Peeing outside the litter tray
- Swollen and painful joints
- Worsening of symptoms in cold or wet weather
It’s best to whisk your cat to the vet as soon as you spot the slightest sign that something’s up. The sooner you get help, the easier it will be to manage symptoms – there’s no cure for arthritis.
Your Maine Coon will need lifelong medication to reduce pain and inflammation and for you to make adjustments at home to help them live comfortably. Make sure they can reach their favourite spots in your home, has easy access to their food and water bowls and litter tray and has a comfortable orthopaedic bed.
Our vets can give you advice on how to make your home more comfortable if you have pet insurance for older cats with us.
If your cat suffers from this health concern, their heart walls will thicken and mean the heart has to work much harder to get blood around their body.
It is a serious condition but many cats live with it for years before diagnosis. Of course, early diagnosis comes with a better prognosis for your pet's life, so it’s important to know the tell-tale symptoms and get help fast. Look out for:
- More tired than usual
- Eating less
- Laboured, faster or open-mouthed breathing
- Paralysis or pain in hind legs
- Fainting and collapse
Sadly, some owners don’t realise anything’s wrong until their pet experiences sudden death. Frequent vet check-ups are essential to spot conditions like this and make sure your cat gets the care they deserve.
This health issue isn’t specific to Maine Coons – it’s common in all cats. In fact, around 85% of felines experience some form of oral problem once they’re three or older. Problems include plaque and tartar build up, gingivitis and periodontitis.
It’s fairly easy to tell that something’s wrong with your feline’s oral health:
- Bad breath
- Eating less than usual
- Weight loss
- Difficulty eating
- Red, sore and bleeding gums
- Wobbly or missing teeth
- Swelling around jaw and face
- Reduced grooming
It’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as you realise there’s a problem. Dental disease can cause a lot of other health issues, some very serious.
Remember, our pet insurance for older cats comes with dental cover as standard to keep your Maine Coon’s pearly whites in tip-top condition.
Fun facts about Maine Coons
Before we go, we’re sure you’d love to read a few bizarre and interesting facts about these gorgeous, fluffy giants! Here are 5 of our favourites:
- Some Maine Coons are known as polydactyl. No, that’s not a prehistoric creature (although it sounds like one) but actually means they have extra toes.
- Unlike some felines, Maine Coons love playing with water – some might even decide to take a quick dip!
- The Guinness World Record for the longest domestic cat (living) is Barivel from Italy, who measured 3 ft 11 inches back in 2018.
- The first commercially cloned kitty was Maine Coon Little Nicky – his owner wanted her previous cat cloned after he passed away and paid a hefty $50,000 for the privilege.
Protect your Maine Coon
Maine Coons are some of the most lovable cats around – it’s no wonder you want to make one a part of your family.
As a pedigree, this breed is predisposed to a few health issues. Add to that the higher risk of developing a condition with age, and your new pet really needs you to look out for their health.
At Petwise, we believe even the oldest mogs on the block deserve the best health care, which is why there’s no upper age limit to our policies.
Get dental cover as standard, a senior food contribution and 24-hour access to unlimited vet video consultations.
*Subject to annual health assessment with your vet