Brown tabby Maine Coon cat
The Maine Coon is massive, but this breed is gentle and kind.

In This Article

  • Characteristics of the Maine Coon Cat

  • History of the Maine Coon Cat

  • Maine Coon Cat Care

  • Common Health Problems

  • Appearance

  • Diet and Nutrition

  • Where to Adopt or Buy a Maine Coon Cat

  • Breed Overview

  • More Cat Breeds and Further Research

The Main Coon cat has existed in the U.S. since the 1800s, and in fact, it is considered the oldest native cat breed in the U.S. Rugged and solidly built, the Maine Coon cat is known for its massive size, shaggy coat, and large tufted ears reminiscent of a bobcat. The Maine Coon might appear intimidating to some, but this breed is a gentle giant with a sweet, laid-back personality. Brown tabby Maine Coons are perhaps the most recognizable, but the Maine Coon comes in almost any color and pattern, aside from chocolate, lavender, and the Himalayan (pointed) pattern. 

Breed Overview

OTHER NAMES: Gentle Giant.

PERSONALITY: Amiable, gentle and dog-like.

WEIGHT: Average of 9 to 18 pounds; males can weigh 20 pounds or more.

LENGTH: About 19 to 30 inches. 

COAT LENGTH: Heavy and shaggy. Silky with coat falling smoothly.

COAT COLOR: Solid (white, black, blue, red and cream), tabby (classic, mackerel and ticked), bi-color (black and white, blue and white, red and white, cream and white), parti-color (tortoiseshell and blue-cream), parti-color and white (calico, tortoiseshell and white, blue-cream and white), shaded and smoke, and shaded/smoke and white.

EYE COLOR: Varies according to coat color, but may be green, gold, green-gold, copper, blue or odd-eyed.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years.


ORIGIN: United States.

Characteristics of the Maine Coon Cat

Said to be dog-like in disposition, the Maine Coon cat is intelligent, friendly and gentle. Laid-back and self-assured, Maine Coons take everything in stride and are great playmates for gentle children. They coexist peacefully with other household pets, including other cats and cat-friendly dogs. Maine Coons are sociable and inquisitive, and can usually be found wherever the action is in the house, inserting themselves into every interesting situation. The Maine Coon is a talkative but not overly loud, expressing itself through a variety of soft and melodious meows, chirps, and trills. They are quite trainable cats and enjoy learning tricks, responding well to positive training methods and tasty food treats. Despite the old stereotype, Maine Coons actually love water, and will play in it, bathe in it, and dip their food in it and even swim. 

Affection Level   High Friendliness  High Kid-Friendly  High Pet-Friendly High Exercise Needs  Medium Playfulness  Medium Energy Level  Medium Intelligence  High Tendency to Vocalize High Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon developed naturally in the Northeastern United States. Though many legends persist about the Maine Coon having be bred from bobcats or raccoons, they are 100% housecat, descending from cats brought to American by settlers. The breed evolved to be quite large and hardy, with a thick, shaggy coat. These traits were necessarily for the cats to survive and thrive the harsh winters of the region. Although Maine Coon-type cats were likely known throughout New England, they were especially popular in the state of Maine. Beginning around the 1860s, some farmers began exhibiting their prized “coon cats” at the Skowhegan Fair, which is the nation’s oldest consecutively held agricultural fair, dating back to 1818. Here, the predecessors to today’s modern Maine Coon breed competed for the title of Maine State Champion Coon Cat.

A female brown tabby Maine Coon named Cosey won what is regarded as the first American cat show, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 8, 1895. The Cat Fanciers' Association’s first stud book and breed registry from 1908 lists the Maine Coon as a foundation breed (listed as “Maine Cats”). The breed is also recognized by the International Cat Association. The Maine Coon was designated as the state cat of Maine in 1985.

Orange and white Maine Coon cat

Orange and white Maine Coon cat

Some male Maine Coon cats can weigh 20 pounds or more.

Getty Images/Sergei Ginak

White Maine Coon cat and kittens

White Maine Coon cat and kittens

Maine Coon cats come in many different colors and patterns.

Getty Images/Nynke van Holten

Silver tabby Maine Coon cat

Silver tabby Maine Coon cat

Maine Coon cats have large ears and a square muzzle and chin.

Getty Images/Alexandra Jursova

Maine Coon Cat Care 

The Maine Coon cat’s long, shaggy coat is silky and slightly oily, a helpful feature that makes the coat water-resistant, allowing it to repel rain and snow, keeping the cat warmer and drier in inclement weather. Though long, the coat doesn’t shed excessively as long as you thoroughly brush and comb the cat regularly, at least once weekly. Bathe occasionally to help the coat look and feel clean. Your Maine Coon probably won’t mind getting scrubbed down since most enjoy playing in water. Trim your Maine Coon’s nails weekly to every other week, and look inside their ears once a week, cleaning them with a pet-safe ear cleanser if they seem dirty. Any redness or excessive dirt in the ears is an indication that it’s time to schedule a veterinary visit.

Maine Coons are active without being hyper. They enjoy playing (many Maine Coons are reported to love games of fetch just like a dog). To keep your Maine Coon physically and mentally stimulated, engage him with playful toys like feather teasers or other favorite toys. Scratching is a natural behavior that is also mentally and physically enriching.  To make sure your Maine Coon scratches in the right places (not the couch), set up approved scratching areas in your house with vertical scratchers (like tall posts or cat trees) as well as horizontal scratchers that lie flat on the ground (like cardboard or sisal scratchers).

Common Health Problems

Some purebred cats are more disposed to developing certain genetically linked health issues. Maine Coons are predisposed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart), hip dysplasia, and spinal muscular atrophy (a genetic disease that causes degeneration of the spinal cord and atrophy of the muscles in the hind limbs). A genetic test is available for spinal muscular atrophy so breeders can avoid breeding affected cats or carriers. Responsible Maine Coon breeders have their adult cats screened for these and other health concerns prior to breeding them.


The Maine Coon is a solid and rugged cat, as is fit for a working cat. Although the Maine Coon is massive, it is always well proportioned and balanced. The Maine Coon has a muscular, long, rectangular body with a broad chest. It has large, round paws with tufts of hair sticking up from the toes. The head is slightly longer in length than width, with high cheekbones, a distinctive square muzzle and large, well-tufted ears. The Maine Coon cat coat is heavy and shaggy with a ruff on the chest. The breed comes in many different colors and patterns expect for chocolate, lavender and the Himalayan (pointed) pattern. 

Diet and Nutrition

As with other heavily built breeds, it’s important to keep Maine Coon cats from becoming overweight, something that can easily happen if the cat is free fed (food kept in the bowl at all times) rather than fed measured meals twice a day. For all cats, staying lean is healthier. For Maine Coons, which are prone to hip dysplasia, staying lean can prevent the development or worsening of joint issues. For advice about what to feed or how much to feed daily, talk to your veterinarian or breeder.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon is one of the most popular pedigreed cat breed in the United States, and there are many excellent breeders from whom you can purchase a kitten. The Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association both publish lists of Maine Coon cat breeders on their websites. If you are rescue-minded, you might also be able to find adult Maine Coon cats or Maine Coon mixes in animal shelters and breed-specific cat rescue groups. 

Breed Overview

The Maine Coon cat is friendly, kind, and steady in temperament, which makes them wonderful companions. Maine Coons are also quite trainable and sociable, and many have been certified as therapy cats, visiting with people in hospitals and senior care facilities. Maine Coons are affectionate and want to be close to you, but they are not overly clingy and generally aren’t lap cats. Maine Coons can be entertaining to watch as they engage in silly antics, and they tend to get into everything. The Maine Coon is slow to mature, with most not reaching their full growth until about 4 years of age.


  • Gentle and laid-back

  • Affectionate and entertaining

  • Gets along well with kids and other pets, including dogs


  • Not big on cuddling/not a lap cat

  • Coat requires weekly brushing and combing

  • Doesn’t do well when left alone for long periods of time

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Maine Coon cat, you might also like these cat breeds: 

·      Norwegian Forest Cat

·      Siberian Cat

·      Turkish Van

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