#Cat #Breed of the #Month: #Maine #Coon - Feb.2013

Photo by Nicholas Erwin Foter.com CC BY-NC-ND

This month's featured feline is larger than life

The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat with some recorded as weighing up to 19 pounds. With its Lynx like ears and lion-like mane this feline looks more like an animal of the wild than a house pet but its temperament couldn’t be tamer - this gentle giant possesses above average intelligence and is very calm and mellow. The breed has been gaining popularity since it was first entered in a cat show in May of 1895.

The Maine Coon is considered one of the oldest natural breeds in North America and is generally regarded to be native to the state of Maine- it is even the official state cat. Many myths and stories surround the origins of the Maine Coon including the theory that a wild cat mated with a racoon. Although that would explain the racoon like tail that the feline has it’s just a story with no truth to support it. It has even been said that the breed sprang from cats that Marie Antoinette sent to Maine when she was planning on fleeing France to North America during the French Revolution.

Stories aside most breeders today believe the Maine Coon originated by mating pre-existing North American shorthaired cats and overseas longhairs, possibly brought over by New England seamen or Vikings. The result is a beautiful cat with a long, bushy tail, a soft mane and a large, rectangular bone structure.

Maine Coon cat breed information
The Maine Coon comes in almost every colour combination- the only colours you won’t find it in are Siamese cat colourings. Its coats allow the cat to survive in harsh climates- it is thick, glossy and water-resistant. This heavy coat is longer on the cat’s stomach and britches to protect it from the snow and wet while it’s walking. It does require a lot of grooming. Its fur is thicker on its ears to protect from frostbite and Maine Coons even have fur between their toes.

Speaking of toes Main Coons can sometimes have one or more extra toes on their big, padded paws. They call this polydactyl. This trait has been reduced over time since it does not meet breed standard but it is not uncommon to find a Maine Coon with a little something extra on its paws. This does not affect the way they move- they are quite agile. But the most common health issue in Maine Coon is hip dysplasia as a result of carrying such a large frame.

The average weight of a female Maine Coon is 9 to 12 pounds. Males usually weigh in at 13 to 18 pounds. Add the fur and that’s one big cat! But the breed develops slower than average and they usually don’t grow to their full size until they are four years of age. They are very quiet and rarely meow. They will have the urge to go outside and many Maine Coon owners walk their felines on a harness.

Maine Coon cat breed information
This breed is very people-oriented although not usually considered a lap cat. The Maine Coon prefers to spend time with its owners and has been known to play fetch and show other canine-like personality traits. These cats often stay very playful or kitten-like throughout their lives and are great around kids, dogs and other cats.

A Maine Coon would make a wonderful pet for any dedicated cat lover but remember that they are pets that require a lot of special care. Grooming and walks must be frequent. But all work aside the Maine Coon is a sweet and loyal cat with a big personality- and paws!

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