The American Maine Coon Cat
©2009 Kimberly Hartfield
The Maine coon, commonly known as the “gentle giant,” has a soft, thick shaggy coat and a long fluffy tail. The Maine coon cat is the only long-haired breed native to North America, originating in the cold New England area. Many Maine coon cats have a coon-like habit, using their paws to eat and drink. Along with the fact that the large brown tabby Maine coon looks a little like a raccoon, may have led to its proper name. The Maine coon’s gentle, easygoing temperament and loving nature make it a perfect family companion. It is known for its acceptance of other pets and usually does better with a companion pet. It has a quiet soft voice, so noise isn’t usually a problem if you live close to neighbors. Though the Maine coon has a fairly long top coat, it has very little undercoat to mat up, so they are quite easy to maintain.
The Maine coon cat is a fairly large breed with a muscular body, heavy stature, and large rounded paws. They have a long, fluffy tail, large ears, and a squared, but fairly pointed muzzle. Maine coons take several years to mature, with full-grown Main coons males weighing in at about 12-18 lbs, and the females, being considerably smaller, weighing in at about 8-12 lbs. The Maine coon breed comes in many colors, with the most common color being the brown tabby (brown with black stripes). Though the most popular is the traditional brownish colored tabby, Maine coons have many recognized colors. Many have white markings on the chin and chest, but this isn’t allowed in solid colors of show quality. Pet quality may have more white on them, but would be disqualified if shown. Color points, as in the Siamese, are not acceptable in this breed. The Main coons’ eyes are large and widely set, with colors being green, gold, copper, blue, and odd-eyed. White cats usually have blue or odd colored eyes. The ears are quite large, wide-based, fairly pointed, and nicely tufted, with lynx-like tipping being desirable in the breed. The body is long and rectangular in appearance, with a squared look to the rump. The legs should be fairly think, medium in length, with wide, rounded, and well-tufted paws.
The Maine coon is generally a healthy breed, with no more susceptibility to disease than any other domestic breed, though hip dysplasia and some heart problems have been rarely noted in the breed. An indoor Maine coon can live as long as 15 years with good health care. Vaccinations are necessary if your cat goes outside or is exposed to other cats in a communal environment, even a vet’s office. Maine coons are normally a solid, rugged breed, being the oldest and only native long-haired breed to American soil. Maine coons are good hunters, being accustomed to the out doors. This breed has historically survived the harshest of North American winters on its own.
Good pet quality Maine coons can be bought for around $200 or so, with show quality ranging from around $600 – $2000 depending on the individual characteristics of the kitten. They can be purchased from catteries, pet stores, and home breeders, with show quality papered animals usually coming from an experienced breeder with a good cattery. You may find wonderful pet quality kittens in pet stores and from home breeders, but home breeders are usually more cost efficient. Adult cats and sometimes kittens can often be obtained at animal shelters for a minimal cost, though these are usually spayed and neutered.