Maine Coon: The Dogs of the Cat World

Maine Coon lying down and looking up
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Though you may be a lover of dogs, if you live in an apartment or are busy most of the day, perhaps a dog isn’t the best choice considering your lifestyle. Though, at the same time, you also want a companion to keep you company when you’re at home. So, what are you going to do? Sure, you can get a bird or a fish, but you want a pet that’s a little more interactive. Well then, why not get yourself a cat? If you’re looking for a dog-like cat, no better place to start than with the Maine Coon.

The Maine Coon certainly does not look like a dog—this plus-sized beauty is distinctive for their neck ruff, tufted feet, and bushy tail—but by dog-like, we mean that their personalities are just as full as their appearance. If you’re looking for a spunky cat that’s a good balance between energetic and affectionate, then the Maine Coon is a great choice. They’re extremely friendly and love socializing with anyone who’s up for it.

A maine coon male cat in a studio lying down

Many have fallen in love with this breed, but are hesitant about adopting one because of their size and extra-thick coat. They are not the easiest cat to groom, but not the hardest either. In this article, you’re going to find out everything you need to know about the cat, not just their grooming needs. From their personality to health, history to feeding needs, you’ll be given a rundown on Maine Coon characteristics. Keep on reading if you want to learn more about this intelligent and playful breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: High Maintenance

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; not lap cats but quite social

  • Exercise Needs: Medium

Cat Breed GroupLong-Haired, Natural Breed
Weight9 to 18 lbs
Lifespan9 to 15 years

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you already know what Maine Coon cats look like. You remember Mrs. Norris? Well, that’s a Maine Coon. These cats are world famous—not just because of Harry Potter but also because they’re one of the biggest cats in the world. They weigh as much as 18 pounds. Though their origins are still mysterious and unknown, they’re here to stay as they’re highly loved around the world.

The official state cat of Maine, the Maine Coon is native to New England where they are well-known as mousers and farm cats. Their thick bushy fur allows them to endure cold and harsh climates and their tails can act as a barrier which wraps around their entire body.

Close-up of a Maine-Coon cat lying down

Don’t let their size fool you. They’re extremely lovable and friendly—known to act almost dog-like. Give them a ball, they’ll fetch it. Put them on a leash, and they’ll walk. See what we mean by dog-like? That said, they do not require as much work or attention as actual dogs.

Though they love receiving attention, they don’t demand it and can enjoy simply sitting by you, watching you go about your day. They tend to follow their owners around not because they’re needy, but rather because they’re curious by nature. They’re one of those cats that can get along amazingly with everyone—including children and cat-friendly dogs.

Main Highlights

  • They’re the third biggest cat breed right after the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Ragdolls.

  • They’re native to the state of Maine.

  • Not all Maine Coons are brown, though that’s the color they are best known for. They come in a variety of colors and patterns.

  • The average Maine Coon lifespan is between 9 and 15 years.

  • The longest cat in the world is a Maine Coon—measuring 48.5 inches long.

  • They won America’s first popular juried cat exhibit in 1895.

  • They’re evolved to survive harsh winter climates.

  • They’re huge fans of water.

  • A Maine Coon was cloned commercially in 2004.

  • How long do Maine Coons live? Long! One of the world’s oldest cats is a half Maine Coon who has lived for 26 years.

  • In 1976, Maine Coons were accepted for championship status by the CFA.

  • Maine Coons have built-in “snowshoes” and a bushy tail which can wrap around their body when they’re cold.

  • A Maine Coon starred in the Harry Potter series as Mrs. Norris.

  • One theory for their size claims that they came about because a domesticated cat mated with a raccoon.

  • Some Maine Coon cats have six toes.

Breed History

The Maine Coon is a native New Englander breed from Maine. They were used as a mouser for farms and ships since the 19th century. The Maine Coon is a natural breed with little known about its origins. There are some theories, though, about how the Maine Coon came into existence.

Some theories believe that the Maine Coon is a result of a domestic cat mating with a raccoon; another says that Vikings brought the Maine Coon to North America before Columbus while others believe that this breed is descended from the longhaired cats owned by Marie Antoinette which were sent to America prior to Antoinette’s death.

Though we don’t know the true story, we do know one thing: they are not the result of a cat breeding with a raccoon. However, this was how they received their name—the Maine Coon. Ones that did not have a brown tabby coat were actually named Maine Shags instead.

Maine Coon Cat lying on side on in bed

The first reference to the Maine Coon was in 1861. The one mentioned was a black and white Maine Coon named Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines. Then, in 1895, a cat show held in Madison Square Garden named a Maine Coon the winner.

Over the years, the breed grew in popularity as they continued to be shown in cat shows across America. However, their popularity was challenged once Persian and Siamese cats made an appearance in the 1960s. Though, to this day, the Maine Coon is still an extremely popular cat; they are even the official state cat of Maine.


The Maine Coon is a medium to plus-sized cat. Most Maine Coon cats weigh between 9 and 18 pounds, with the males usually weighing more than females. They don’t reach their full size until they’re around three to five years of age. Maine Coon height certainly matches their weight. They can reach up to 10 to 16 inches tall and approximately 40 inches long.

nice orange -maine-coon cat lying on the couch

Their medium-width head is quite wide and square. Their big tufted ears are large at the base, tapering off to a point. Their big green eyes are highly expressive and may have gold flakes in them. Everything about this cat is big and bold.

Personality and Character

Maine Coon temperament is extremely laid back, which is why they’re so adaptable to new households. They love to be around people and tend to follow them around. However, don’t take it as needy. Though they love attention, they also enjoy simply watching you run around the house, supervising your every move.

They love learning new tricks, traveling, and will even walk on a leash. However, don’t expect them to snuggle with you on the couch. These are not lap cats. They’re not physically affectionate; they love to be around you, not on you.

Studio image of a Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon was bred as a mouser. Even though they are kept mostly as indoor cats today, their instincts are alive and well. If you have a rodent issue, no need to worry; they’re already well aware of your problem and are on their way to solving it. Keep their mind fresh with puzzle toys and games. They’re not vocal cats, however, from time to time you’ll hear a chirp from them.

Health and Potential Problems

Every breed has their own set of health issues, regardless of whether they’re pedigree or mixed-breed cats. The Maine Coon does have some genetic health issues that you should look out for:

  • Hip Dysplasia: To see if your cat has hip dysplasia, it’s best to get their hips x-rayed. Typically, if your cat has hip dysplasia, they’ll refrain from jumping and will move slowly.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This is one of the most common heart diseases in cats. What happens is that the heart muscle thickens. However, you can prevent this by making sure that your breeder has tested their cats by screening for HCM.

  • Polycystic Kidney Disease: This is a slowly-progressing heritable kidney disease which can result in renal failure. Maine Coon eye problems are usually an indication of kidney issues.

  • Obesity: Because these cats are medium to plus-sized, weight is always an issue. Maine Coon weight must be monitored especially if they’re indoor cats. Keep to their feeding schedule strictly and limit the number of treats you give them.

Care Features

Maine Coon personality is one that loves affection and attention. Thus, you’ll want to make sure that you give them a minimum of 15 minutes per day of bonding time. Bonding with a Maine Coon doesn’t entail cuddle time. As mentioned previously, these are not lap cats. They don’t like to be picked up; they prefer some good old toy-chasing, hair-brushing fun. They also enjoy a good massage. They’re highly intelligent, playful, and social. So, if you have other pets, they’ll love the company while you’re at work.

close-up image of a maine-coon-cat

If your Maine Coon is an indoor cat, make sure that you provide them with enough room to jump and run around. The Maine Coon is particularly fussy about their litter box as they require a spotless one. They take bathroom hygiene as a serious matter, so make sure their box is always clean.

You’ll need to trim their nails once every two weeks. In addition, the cat is prone to periodontal disease; thus, make sure that you brush their teeth and have regular vet dental cleanings.

Feeding Schedule

Maine Coon food has to be rich in proteins and fats. Stay away from carbohydrates as they’re unable to digest them properly. Maine Coon cats tend to mature later than other breeds; thus, you may want to keep your cat on kitten food for quite some time; you can switch it to adult food when your cat is around 9 months of age.

image of a maine-coon-cat lying down

The feeding schedule of Maine Coon cats will depend on a couple of factors. You’ll need to look at whether they’re an indoor or outdoor cat, if they’re neutered or spayed, and any health conditions. Especially if your cat has underlying health conditions, you’ll want to ensure that your food is high-quality.

For a proper feeding schedule, we highly recommend that you consult your vet. They’ll be able to recommend you food which may be specific to your cat. Though, typically, healthy Maine Coon cats love eating small meals and snacks throughout the day.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Typically, the Maine Coon is a brown tabby; however, they also come in a variety of other colors and patterns. This may be surprising to you, but they can also be found in solid colors such as black, red, or white. They can also be found in bi-color such as blue/white or white/red.

close-up of a Maine Coon cat lying on a wooden floor

The Maine Coon is a breed that was bred to survive the harsh Maine climate. You can see that in their smooth, yet shaggy coats. They were meant to be running around the farm and barn all day, and that’s why they have a plus-sized body; their muscular, broad chest shows that they are the perfect hunter.

Their coats are shorter on the shoulders and longer around the stomach and britches. They have a ruff in the front and a long, furry tail. Though you may think a heavy coat like this will get matted easily, you’re mistaken. Contrary to their appearance, their coat simply needs a thrice-weekly combing. This will remove dead hairs which would otherwise be turned into a hairball.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Maine Coon is well-known for being extremely social. They absolutely love attention, especially from children. They don’t mind being dressed up and being played with as long as they are still shown the appropriate respect. They’re great around cat-friendly dogs as well due to their laidback personalities. Of course, we recommend that you introduce your Maine Coon to your other pets slowly so that they learn how to get along.

Wrap Up

The Maine Coon breed has been around for quite some time. A native New Englander, the Maine Coon was extremely popular in the 19th century as a mouser. Their fame in New England resulted in them being the official state cat of Maine. Historically speaking, they’re one of the oldest breeds in America. So, if you’re an American patriot, why not pay homage to one of the oldest American cats?

The Maine Coon is a lovable and curious breed that gets along with everyone. They love to spend time with their owners, however, don’t require constant snuggling and petting. Rather, they like to just be around people—making them a great, independent companion. Plus, their giant bodies will make for a great leg warmer. They’re a perfect addition to your household if your children and other pets are cat-friendly.

Close-up of two maine coon cats

If you require a pet which is low-maintenance, then the Maine Coon isn’t exactly the best choice. However, they aren’t as high maintenance as you might expect either. Their bushy fur, though looks intimidating, only needs a thrice-weekly combing.

Do you think the lovable giant Maine Coon is the breed for you? If despite everything, you’re still intimidated by their size and thick mane of hair because you’ve never cared for a cat before, perhaps you should consider another breed that’s better suited for beginners. Let us know what you think in the comment section below! If you already have a Maine Coon, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about this breed!

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.