Breed Group - Semi Longhair
The Maine Coon cat is a large semi-longhaired cat, distinguished by bone structure, rectangular shape and flowing coat. The breed evolved as a working domesticated cat in a rural environment and this role is reflected in a rugged appearance with a characteristic 'weather-proof' coat and the demeanour of an alert, capable hunter. The Maine Coon cat is a gentle giant and cannot help but make his presence known in your home. Maine Coon cats are affectionate and tactile pets - always up for a cuddle; they are said to be very intelligent and can be taught to fetch, walk on leads and open doors.
The Maine Coon originates from the state of Maine in the USA. In the 1850s seafarers brought longhaired cats back from foreign parts and these cats mated with the local shorthair cats. The offspring were big, strongly-built cats with semi-long coats and brush-like tails that resembled the tail of the racoon, hence the name Maine Coon. The random matings produced many colours and coat patterns. The cats developed thick dense coats to withstand the extreme Maine winters. The Maine Coon became very popular as pets but most were neutered and this did little to increase the numbers. The Maine Coon is now known throughout America and was imported into the UK in the 1980s and gained full GCCF recognition in 1993.
Appearance and Colours
The Maine Coon is massive in size, with a powerful muscular body and substantial legs. The head is slightly longer than it is wide and the nasal bridge is halfway between the ear line and the tip of the nose. The muzzle is square with a firm chin. The profile shows a concave curve at the nasal bridge with no distinct break. The ears are large and tall, wide at the base and tapering to a pointed tip. They are set high on the head but well apart. The eyes are spaced well apart and are full and round with a slightly oblique set. The colour of the eyes may be green, gold or copper and eye colour bears no relation to coat colour. In white cats it is possible to have blue or odd eyes. The rectangular body is solid and muscular which is necessary for supporting their own weight and the chest is broad. Maine Coons are slow to physically mature; their full potential size is normally not reached until they are three to five years old. The Maine Coon's pride and joy is his tail. In fact, he is often referred to as "the tail with the cat on the end". The tail must be at least as long as the body and is especially long so that the cat can wrap it around its body rather like a blanket for extra insulation. Maine Coons are seen in nearly all traditional colours and patterns (64 in all). However, chocolate, lilac or Siamese points are definitely not permissible. The most common colour and pattern is the brown classic or mackerel tabby with or without white.
Maine Coons have a sweet nature and are very playful and friendly. They enjoy human company. Possibly because of their humble origins, they are used to sleeping rough and are often found curled up in the strangest of places. Maine Coons are noted for the delightful quiet chirping sound they make. Often referred to as the gentle giants of the cat world, they possess above-average intelligence and this makes them relatively easy to train. They are known for being loyal to their family but they are independent and not clingy. The Maine Coon is generally not known for being a lap cat but their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats and children. They are playful throughout their lives, with males tending to be more clownish and females generally possessing more dignity, yet both are equally affectionate. Maine Coon cats do not cope very well as an only pet or with owners who are out at work all day. Maine Coons are also well known for being very vocal cats. They are known for their frequent yowling, chattering and chirping and will often talk back to their owners.
When it comes to keeping your Maine Coon in tip-top condition, his coat will need a weekly groom and he will need plenty of space to roam and exercise. Males average 10 to 18 lbs (although some males do reach the 20 lb mark!), while females average between 7 to 12 lbs. The average lifespan for a Maine Coon cat is 9 to 15 years.
Professionals notice certain health problems in the breed including feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) which is a hereditary heart defect and hip dysplasia but screening methods can help minimise the frequency of these problems.