The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat, known for its intelligence, playfulness as well as distinctive physical appearance. The breed is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America and originated from New England, making it America’s first indigenous show cat.
Maine Coon Cat Origin
In the 16th and 17th centuries, domestic cats brought over from Europe faced very severe winters in New England where only the strongest and most adaptable cats survived. Through natural selection (as opposed to selective breeding), the Maine Coon developed into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant, thick coat and a hardy constitution. The origin of the breed (and its name) has several (often fantastic) stories surrounding it. One comes from a legend that a domestic cat released in the wilds of Maine interbred with a raccoon, resulting in offspring with the Maine Coon’s characteristics.
Though this is biologically impossible, this myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a raccoon-like brown tabby) probably led to the adoption of the name ‘Maine Coon.’ Another popular story is that the breed sprang from the six pet cats which Marie Antoinette sent to Wiscasset, Maine when she was planning to escape from France during the French Revolution. However, most breeders today believe that the breed originated in matings between pre-existing short haired domestic cats and overseas longhairs (perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen, or longhairs brought to America by the Vikings). Maine Coons’ long coats resemble their European counterparts, the Norwegian Forest Cats.
Maine coons are known as the gentle giant.
Maine Coons are very large (but energetic) cats, sometimes weighing 11.3 kilograms (25 pounds); the average weight is 6 to 9 kilograms (13-20 pounds) for adult males and less (7-11 pounds) for females. Growth to full size often takes longer than for most cats, with Maine Coons usually reaching full size at age three or four.
The most common color/pattern in the breed is brown with tabby markings. Maine Coons are recognized in all colors except for chocolate, lavender, ticked tabby, and the point-restricted (“Siamese”) pattern. Eye color also varies widely. All patterns may have green, green-gold, or gold. Blue eyes, or one blue eye with one gold eye, are possible in white coat cats.
Maine Coons have medium-long, dense fur, with longer hair, or a ruff, on their chests similar to the mane of a lion (which is why the breed is sometimes humorously called the “Mane Coon”). Their fur consists of two layers – an undercoat and an additional layer of longer guard hairs, which gives the breed their key physical feature. The fur is generally very soft. Maine Coons have long hair on the backs of their legs (called pantaloons or britches) and between their toes which helps to keep warm in the cold. They also have bushy plumed tails and broad, angular heads, squared-off muzzles and wide-set ears topped with tufts of fur. Most Maine Coons keep their fur in good order without the need for additional human grooming, but due to the length and quantity of hair, most will also benefit from a simple brushing once a week. While the Coon may be polydactyl, having one or more extra toes on their paws, this trait is generally bred out, as it has been rejected by the standard.
Maine Coons are a breed distinguished by intelligence, dexterity and playfulness. They have a tendency to use their front paws extensively (often curling the paw round to pick objects up) and as a consequence will easily learn to open cabinet doors, turn on water faucets, or pick up small objects. Some Maine Coons will eat with their paws, rather than eating from the bowl itself.
Due to their above-average intelligence, Maine Coons are known to be one of the easiest cat breeds to train. Maine Coons are generally very quiet and do not meow much. However, they are noted for their ability to trill their meows, which sounds like a combination of a purr and a meow, and they tend to make this sound when happy or startled. Maine Coons are a very independent breed, and they do not often “beg” for attention. They are noted for rarely eating alone, preferring to eat in the company of other cats or humans. Maine Coons are usually not “lap” cats, and many Maine Coons, probably because of their size, are not comfortable with sitting on a person’s lap or chest, though this may depend on the personality of the individual cat.
Some Maine Coons enjoy playing with, but not usually in, water. They may dip toys in their water bowls before playing with them, or just tip the water bowl over. They may also skim their paws across the surface of their water bowl. Maine Coons occasionally engage in mischievous behavior when bored, such as deliberately pushing things off tables and the tops of fridges with their paws.
Maine Coons can be very dog-like in their behavior. Playing fetch is a favorite game. As with dogs, they will bring their ball, drop it at the feet of their intended playmate and wait patiently for the ball to be thrown.
Maine Coon Cats are wonderful family cats as they enjoy “just hanging out”.
A genetic predisposition towards hypertrophic cardiomyopathy appears in some genetic lines of the Maine Coon population. In extreme cases, this condition can result in the sudden death of what appears to be an otherwise healthy animal. It can be detected by regular cardiac ultrasounds of pets between the ages of 3 and 6, the age at which the disease becomes detectable. Responsible breeders, in an effort to reduce the occurrence of HCM, now screen their animals long-term and make this information available to potential pet buyers.
In the past, Taurine deficiency was a common cause of dilated cardiomyopathy in all cats, including Maine Coons. Since the pet food industry started adding Taurine to cat food, this kind of cardiomyopathy is increasingly rare. Taurine-related cardiomyopathy can be cured with the addition of the nutrient to the diet, but genetic HCM causes a permanent enlargement of the left ventricle and is rarely treatable.
Other potential health problems include hip dysplasia and Polycystic Kidney Disease. However, Maine Coons are generally quite healthy and resilient animals.
How Much does a Maine Coon Cat Cost?
There’s no denying it – Maine Coon Cats can cost a lot of money. But why is that? What makes these cats so special that they’re worth more than their non-pure breed counterparts?
Maine Coon Cat Price
If you have your heart set on a Maine Coon Cat you can expect to pay in the region of $1000 to $1500.
Why are Maine Coon Cats so Expensive?
If you are planning to buy a purebred Maine Coon Cat then you will need to find a specialist cat breeder who specializes in Maine Coon cats.
High-quality kittens with impeccable health records, a full and completed vaccination history, and all-important official purebred pedigree certifications will be charged at a higher rate.
This means that your new cat comes with a detailed family history and papers that verify their purity.
Pedigreed status is something that’s highly prized among cat fanciers, and it comes with a hefty price tag.
Before buying a Maine Coon kitten, make sure that:
- A veterinary professional has given the kitten a clean bill of health. (Buyers should expect to pay more for kittens with a proven health record).
- Request evidence that breeding cats were scanned for genetic diseases, before being allowed to produce offspring. This is particularly important since buyers need to ensure that their kitten is not a carrier of a genetic defect that may cause health issues in the future.
Other Factors that can mean higher prices:
- Rare colors
- Good Temperament/behavior
- Award Winning Parents