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Cat

Spotlight – Maine Coon Cats

Val Cairney November 26, 2021 20


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Hello everyone and welcome to this spotlight episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  In this spotlight episode I thought I would have a look at the gentle giant of the cat world.  Who would this be?  Any guesses?  How about the Maine Coon.

So if you are not familiar with a Maine Coon, one distinct feature is they are big.  They can easily be 30 to 40 inches long and weigh 9 – 18 pounds and they do originally hail from Maine USA.  Male Maine Coons are larger than the females, and both have lovely coats that are silky, smooth and shaggy.  They have great tufted feet that really helped them with the winters in Maine.  Their fur is longer on their stomachs and upper hind legs.  They have a long furry tail and their ears are tufted.  The brown tabby colour is the most common, but they can be any colour as well as a solid colour.

Because the actual origin of the Maine Coon is not really known, there have been some great stories and speculations about their history.  Some say the Vikings brought the cats to North America and some say Marie Antoinette sent cats to North America ahead of what was her hope of escaping to North America and the Maine Coons we know now are descendants of these cats.  And the funniest history speculation is that a cat mated with a raccoon.  Well this is one that can be definitely disregarded.  But, their resemblance to racoons with their bountiful ringed tails and size is where the “coon” part came from.  According to catime.com, “The first published reference to a Maine Coon comes from 1861 and was about a black-and-white cat named Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines. A female Maine Coon was named Best Cat in 1895 at a cat show held in Madison Square Garden. In Boston and New York, the home-grown felines were popular exhibits at cat shows, and when the Cat Fanciers Association was formed in 1908, the fifth cat registered was a Maine Coon named Molly Bond. But the invasion of glamourous Persian and exotic Siamese cats from England around the turn of the century spelled the end of the Maine Coon’s popularity for about five decades. Things took a turn for the better in the 1960s, and the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association was formed in 1968. Today these big, beautiful cats are among the world’s most popular breeds. But what really counts, of course, is that they are the official state cat of Maine.

So, what type of personality do Maine Coons exhibit? Well apparently Maine Coons are very friendly and love to be with their humans but they also deal well with some alone time and don’t become needy.  They love to play and will climb but they also like to stay close to the ground as they are excellent mousers. They also like to vocalize and chirp and howl which can make them super fun to have around.  

In terms of grooming, Maine Coons have this lovely silky hair so combing and using an undercoat rake will help with tangles that may develop but overall their coat is not high maintenance.  If they get into something a bath may be in order, but bathing is not something that needs to be done all the time.  Normal checking for ear dirt and nail trimming is in order and because they have long silky hair check their bum regularly for poop hangers on, Don’t forget they have these luxurious tails that can be curled around to keep them warm so, such a grand tail should be checked for debris.  

As for health concerns with Maine Coons, according to cattime.com, some of the things to be aware of are:

  • “Hip dysplasia, which in severe cases can cause lameness.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a form of heart disease that is inherited in Maine Coons. A DNA-based test is available to identify cats that carry one of the mutations that causes the disease.
  • Polycystic kidney disease, is a slowly progressive heritable kidney disease that can result in renal failure.
  • Spinal muscular atrophy, this is a genetic disorder that affects skeletal muscles of the trunk and limbs. A test is available to identify carriers and affected kittens.

So having a Maine Coon can be very rewarding as they are very good with children and other animals.  They are hardy and built for colder climes.  They are very intelligent and learn quickly.  As for purebred Maine Coons, the breed was finally accepted by the CFA (Cat Fancier Association) 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. Today the Maine Coon is the third most popular cat breed, according to the number of kittens registered with the CFA.[14]

Personally I have only seen a Maine Coon at a large pet expo in the cat fancier area.  They truly are lovely and yes, very big.  A friend of mine who pet-sits for a living had a client with a Maine Coon and he said it was just the most lovely cat, and yes, very big.  When he would come in to look after him, the kitty was always on the dining room table lying inside this enormous glass bowl.  And he did say that kitty was playful and affectionate and yes, would chirp when he came in.  Now, that’s fun.

So, if having a big gentle giant of a cat is something that intrigues you, as always do your research and look into rescues and if you go the breeder route make sure the kitten has been DNA tested for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and been tested for spinal muscular atrophy.  There are lots of great attributes that Maine Coons possess, so I think this would be a great family cat. Look into them because as always, knowing is caring

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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