The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat.
No records of the Maine Coon’s exact origins and date of introduction to the United States exist, so several competing hypotheses have been suggested, the most credible suggestion is that it is closely related to the Norwegian Forest cat and the Siberian. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the most popular cat breeds in the United States. traits health and history
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, “the gentle giant”. It is characterized by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, an uneven two layered coat with longer guard hairs over a silky satin undercoat, and a long, bushy tail. The breed’s colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality, the Maine Coon is often cited as having “dog-like” characteristics. Professionals notice certain health problems recurring in the breed, including feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hip dysplasia, but reputable breeders use modern screening methods to minimize the frequency of these problems.
A Maine Coon Polydactyl is a Maine Coon cat with polydactyly. This variation is acceptable within general judging standards for the breed, and is even separately certified by some organizations like TICA.
The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are unknown — there are only speculation and folk tales. One such folk tale involves Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that before her death, Antoinette attempted to escape France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. She loaded Clough’s ship with her most prized possessions, including six of her favorite Turkish Angora (or possibly Siberian) cats. Although she did not make it to the United States, her pets safely reached the shores of Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with other short-haired breeds and developed into the modern breed of the Maine Coon.
Cat shows and popularity
Cosey, winner of the first cat show in the United States, 1895
A two-year-old Maine Coon (American Longhair) cat
The first mention of Maine Coon cats in a literary work was in 1861, in Frances Simpson’s The Book of the Cat (1903). F.R. Pierce, who owned several Maine Coons, wrote a chapter about the breed. During the late 1860s, farmers located in Maine told stories about their cats and held the “Maine State Champion Coon Cat” contest at the local Skowhegan Fair.
In 1895, a dozen Maine Coons were entered into a show in Boston. On 8 May 1895, the first North American cat show was hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A female Maine Coon brown tabby, named Cosey, was entered into the show. Owned by Mrs. Fred Brown, Cosey won the silver collar and medal and was named Best in Show. The silver collar was purchased by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) Foundation with the help of a donation from the National Capital Cat Show. The collar is housed at the CFA Central Office in the Jean Baker Rose Memorial Library.
In the early 20th century, the Maine Coon’s popularity began to decline with the introduction of other long-haired breeds, such as the Persian, which originated in the Middle East. The last recorded win by a Maine Coon in a national cat show for over 40 years was in 1911 at a show in Portland, Oregon. The breed was rarely seen after that. The decline was so severe that the breed was declared extinct in the 1950s, although this declaration was considered to be exaggerated and reported prematurely at the time. The Central Maine Cat Club (CMCC) was created in the early 1950s by Ethylin Whittemore, Alta Smith and Ruby Dyer in attempts to increase the popularity of the Maine Coon. For 11 years, the CMCC held cat shows and hosted exhibitions of photographs of the breed and is noted for creating the first written breed standards for the Maine Coon.
The Maine Coon was denied provisional breed status — one of the three steps required for a breed not yet recognized by the CFA to be able to compete in championship competitions — by the CFA three times, which led to the formation of the Maine Coon Cat Club in 1973. The breed was finally accepted by the CFA under provisional status on 1 May 1975, and was approved for championship status on 1 May 1976. The next couple of decades saw a rise in popularity of the Maine Coon, with championship victories and an increase in national rankings. In 1985, the state of Maine announced that the breed would be named the official state cat. Today the Maine Coon is the third most popular cat breed, according to the number of kittens registered with the CFA.
Kittens are so wonderful! But they do take some special care.
Mothers usually begin to wean their kittens at about 4 weeks of age. By 8 weeks of age, the kittens are eating solid food. Older kittens who are still with their mothers may occasionally nurse, but this is more for comfort and reassurance than for nutrition.
In general, kittens should not be removed from their mothers until they are at least 8 weeks of age. Kittens seperated from their mothers at too young an age require special care. Exceptions to this are feral kittens who need to be removed from the mother no later than 4 weeks of age so that they can be socialized.
Do not give your kitten cow’s milk – it can make them sick and give them diarrhea. You can obtain mother’s milk replacer for young kittens at many of the pet stores in the area. We recomment KMR. When the kittens are 8 weeks or older, they no longer need the milk but may enjoy it anyway. Milk that has been specially processed for cats to consume safely is available from many local groceries.
Keep clean, fresh water available to your kitten at all times. The bowl should be low enough for the kitten to able to drink from it easily. Some kittens enjoy playing in the water and even tipping over the bowl, so you may need a heavy bowl. Place the bowl when it won’t get dirtied by litter etc.
You can offer your kitten either dry food, canned food, or both. Be sure to choose food which is designed for kittens. They require a diet which is especially rich in protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Cat food that is for adults is not sufficient. Your young cat will need the enhanced kitten food until he or she is a year old. Young kittens need to eat every few hours, because their tummies are so small. I like to feed them canned food several times a day but also have a bowl of dry food available for them to munch on whenever they wish. kitten care tips
Young kittens need to stay warm, but their bodies are too small to retain body heat well. That is why they like to cuddle up together, or curl up under your chin or in your lap to sleep. Kittens younger than about 10 weeks need a warm place to be, such as under an incadescent lamp or in a warm, lined box or kitty bed. This is especially important if you have only one kitten.
Kittens will instinctively use the litter box as they get older, but their mother also helps to teach them. Make sure that a litter box with sides low enough for the kittens to get in and out is easily accessible. Use regular litter, not the clumping kind! Small kittens can lick themselves, swallow the clumping litter, and suffer dangerous blockages in their digestive track! Once the kitten is 3 months old, they can safely use the clumping litter. Keep the litter box clean – this encourages the kitten to develop good litter box habits.
Kittens will instinctively clean themselves, but the mother helps to develop this behavior too. You can help keep your little kitten by cleaning him or her gently with a damp washrag. Often they need to have their little rear-ends cleaned! This also helps to bond your kitten to you, since you are acting in the role of “mommy”. They generally do not need real baths unless they have gotten especially dirty or if they need flea baths. kitten care tips
You can help your kitten become a friendly, well socialized cat by spending plenty of quality time with him or her. He will like be stroked gently around the ears and under the chin. Be sure to pet her all over her body, so she gets used to be touched even on her paws and tummy. They enjoy being touched gently by you and will grow to enjoy your smell and your voice. Speak in a low voice – they are afraid of loud noises! Oh, another thing – don’t say, “shhhhhhh” to your kitten – it sounds like a cat hissing to them!
Play time is very important to a kitten. They learn to socialize, develop physical skills, get exercise, and have fun! Kittens have a great time playing with each other – rough housing, stalking, pouncing, chasing, and grooming each other. Young kittens don’t know they are hurting you when they grab at or bite your hand, or run up your pant leg, so be patient and forgiving. If you have just one kitten, you will the focus of all of his playmaking attention! You can “train” your kitten not to bite or scratch by giving a high-pitched yelp whenever she gets too enthusiastic. This is how kittens let each other know that the play has gotten too rough. An idea which can help save your arms from scratches is provide what I call a “wrestle buddy” for your kitten – a stuffed toy or old sock filled with soft cloth or socks – that they can be free to sink their little teeth and claws into. Use it to rough house with your kitten and she won’t become accustomed to using you as her scratching toy!
Your kitten will start to scratch at things at an early age. This is the time to start training her! Provide a small scratching post or flat scratching pad and keep it wherever she usually plays. Encourage her to use it by enticing her with a toy or with catnip. Gives her praise when she uses it, and give a loud yell (“CLAWS!) when she scratches the wrong thing. A loud voice is generally all it takes to communicate the error – don’t hit her or squirt her with water. You can also start trimming her claws. Wait until she is sleepy and relaxed. Start by trimiming just a few of her claws, and don’t force it if she starts to resist. Pet her and tell her good she is! She will soon get used to it, and it will become a lifelong good habit.
Kittens will need to be dewormed at least once and probably twice. The “worms” are typically roundworms or pin worms. They are passed to the kitten through the mother’s milk. Your vet can give your kitten a dose of medication such as Strongit to kill these parasites when the kitten is 6 weeks old or so. This should be followed 2 weeks later either by a second dose of medication or a fecal test to insure that all the worms have been killed.
If after deworming, your kitten’s stools are mushy, have mucus or blood in them, be sure to see your vet. There are other kinds of intestinal parasites, such as coccidia, that can infect kittens. These require different treatments depending on the parasites. kitten care tips
Tests for Feline Leukemia and FIV.
If you have not had a cat in recent years, you may have never heard of these new, dangerous cat diseases. Feline Leukemia (FeLeuk) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are diseases that attack the immune system, much as HIV does in humans. (Neither of these diseases can be caught by humans.) You should, if possible, have the kitten’s mother tested for these two diseases. Typically the kitten will not get one of these diseases unless the mother has it. If the mother is not available, you can have your kitten tested for FeLeuk, which is the most communicable of the two diseases. You may want to wait for about 6 weeks after receiving your kitty to test for FIV. This is because the test may give a false positive result if the kitten has been exposed to FIV through the mother, but has not caught the disease. kitten care tips
Your kitty will need shots to prevent diseases, just as children do. The distemper vaccine typically includes protection not only for feline distemper but also some upper respiratory viruses. Feline distemper (panleukopenia) is a serious, often fatal disease that is easily transmitted, so don’t delay getting this important vaccination. Your kitten should receive his first distemper shot when he is about 8 weeks old. A booster shot is then needed 3 to 4 weeks later. After this, your kitty will need annual boosters.
Rabies is a serious, fatal disease that can attack any mammal, including humans. In many locales (including Maryland), you are required by law to have your pet vaccinated for rabies. Your kitty should get her first rabies vaccination when she is 4 months old. After this, she will need a booster one year later. After that, she will need boosters every 3 years.
If your kitten seems sick.
You must be attentive to your kitten’s behavior, because small kittens can fade very quickly if not treated right away. If your kitten becomes sluggish, quits playing, and sleeps more than usual, then he is probably sick. He may also quit eating, and this is very dangerous since his liver may then shut down. If you notice that your kitten has quit eating, you may need to force feed him (see next item). Of course you should take the kitten to see your veterinarian as soon as possible!
To do this, you will need an eye dropper or syringe. Mix some canned kitten food with mother’s milk replacer, stirring to make a slurry (a blender works great). Fill the eye dropper or syringe, and place it into the kitten’s mouth. Squirt a small amount very gently – he should swallow it with no problem. Continue to feed him small amounts. The amount varies on the size of the kitten, but underfeeding is better than overfeeding.
Recipes for Emergency Kitten Formula
The pet store is closed, and you have hungry kittens that need formula! Never fear!
In a pinch, the Cornell Book of Cats says that human baby formula can be used if made up to double the normal strength (human baby formula is normally not nutritious enough for kittens). As with the below formulas, please remember that any emergency formula should only be used until regular Feline Replacement Formula (such as KMR or Just Born) can be purchased at the pet store. None of these are nutritionally complete for the long term health of a kitten.
Put goat’s milk in saucepan, add gelatin in the amount above depending on the kitten’s age. Heat goat’s milk/gelatin mixture just until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Mix in remaining ingredients and refrigerate. It will keep up to one week. Heat to skin test temperature and feed kittens.
Mix well and warm before using. Keep refrigerated.
1 part boiled water to 5 parts evaporated milk 1/2 teaspoon bone meal per 16 oz fluid
Mix well, refrigerate, warm before using.
1 can Evaporated Milk 1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons Karo syrup
Mix all 3 ingredients well and kept in tightly sealed jar in fridge. At feeding time mix 1/2 of the estimated feeding amount with: Equal amount of boiling water (once a day mix 1 drop of human infant liquid vitamins in each kitties formula)
If constipation occurs: add 1 drop of vegetable oil to each kitties formula no more than once daily till problem is eased. Test temperature before feeding (the combination of boiling water and chilled formula should be just about right).
So you’re considering adopting, purchasing or otherwise owning a beautiful Maine Coon for your home. You’ve done a lot of research and you are dedicated to the decision. You’ve read the proper way to get your new cat used to its new home and made sure this is the breed for you. Now there’s just one question left, male or female? Read on as I explore the key differences between the two genders and hopefully it will make your decision easy.
As you well know the Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domesticated cats, however, their size can vary greatly depending on whether you have a male or a female Maine Coon. The male, for instance, will (on average), be larger than the female, tending to reach between 12 and 18 lb while the females tend to be smaller at only 8 to 12 lb.
Not only are their weights different but so is the amount of space each will need to live and grow in. The males being naturally larger will need more room inside your home, so keep in mind just how much space you have when considering. Also, keep in mind they do not usually reach full size until they are 3 to 5 years old, so what may be a manageably sized cat now could be unmanageable later. A 20lb cat is a big cat.
The personality of the Maine Coon can also vary wildly between genders, and it’s also impacted by the number of others sharing the home and times of activity. Let me explain. The male Maine Coon tends to have a more outgoing personality than the female, requiring more attention than the more calm female.
Males also have a hard time becoming close to more than 1 person, whereas the female has little problem being close to everyone. So consider the number of people in your home who will be interacting with your Maine Coon when getting your new little (and soon not so little) friend. Another factor to consider is the Maine Coon is active at different times of the day, the males tend to be during daylight hours while the females are mostly active at night.
Problems to Look Out For
Now let’s talk about something that needs to be talked about. Spraying. No one likes it but your male Maine Coon is more likely to do it than your female, even when neutered at the appropriate age. No more than any other cat breed but it’s worth mentioning. Since the female tends to have a much more reserved attitude that this problem is much less of a problem, just keep an eye out on them and they should be fine.
Now let’s talk about being stubborn. The male Maine Coon is a much more stubborn and set in its ways cat than the female, after all as they mature they become harder and harder to teach. So with that in mind imprint those good habits early, since once they reach full maturity it will take much more time to teach them. On the other side of that coin though are the females, generally more easygoing and far easier to train into maturity.
Longevity and Life Span
On average the lifespan of a Maine Coon is around 12 to 15 years old, and there is very little difference between the sexes. Since the Maine Coon is a sturdier cat meant to last through the New England climate they tend to be heartier than other cats, however, that doesn’t mean you should not take care of them. main coon gender differences
The most severe threat to your Maine Coon will probably be feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), but that can be said for all cats since it is the most common heart disease in cats. If you have a male, however, be careful since they are thought to be more disposed to the illness than their female counterparts.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is also another health problem to be on the lookout for. It causes spinal-cord neurons to be lost, which is bad for not only mobility but for muscle and even bone health. Also if your Maine Coon is a mix with a Persian then be mindful of Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is basically the systems related to the kidneys. Just be sure to take your furry little friend to the vet on a regular schedule to make sure that anything that can be caught is caught.
Hip dysplasia tends to affect cats of the larger breeds, especially the males who are more susceptible . This is an abnormality of the nip that can cause arthritis among other things. Between 1974 and 2011 for instance out of all the Maine Coons whose x-rays are submitted roughly 24% were dysplastic. So keep this in mind should you notice anything funny about your Maine Coons walk or any limping. These could be signs of an underlying problem.
The Maine Coon is a large cat, even the females are thickly built and require plenty of protein and nutrients to ensure healthy growth. They have pretty high energy levels so best leave the generic foods alone and go for higher quality pet food. You want to make sure their food is natural if at all possible and make doubly sure they are eating meat, so check the labels and even speak with your vet about any other food-related suggestions.
So as we’ve seen the male and female Maine Coon are very close in needs, however there are some key differences. From temperament to health risks make sure to talk to your vet and assess your living situation to determine the best for you. The Male would be better for a solitary owner who is OK with a high energy cat in the home with a few more latent health risks, and the female is better suited to a life with a calm family and needs less room. Don’t be afraid of letting either of them outside to explore just remember both tend to be indoor cats now, but do schedule vet checks especially if you have a male to catch problems and potential problems early.
So there you have it, several comparisons between the male and females of the beautiful Maine Coons. So no matter your choice, know that your hearty new friend is sure to turn heads and impress when your friends come over. So keep your cats safe and enjoy life with your new Maine Coon, no matter, whether it’s male or female.