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ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: Breed Guide

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Maine Coon
I Love You Anna! Meow!
Maine Coon
Photo: Scott and Anna, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Weight: 14-18 lbs.

Overview
The Maine Coon's easygoing nature makes it a fine companion for children and other pets. Maine Coons are gentle, affectionate, and playful. They are also good mousers and like to retrieve objects. They communicate with quiet, chirplike trills.

Appearance
The Maine Coon is a large cat, broad-chested and muscular, with a long, rectangular body and a long, plumed tail. The feet are round and tufted, well suited to snowy climates. Large, tufted ears; large, wide-set eyes; and a regal neck ruff contribute to the impressive aspect of this American beauty.

The Maine Coon is traditionally a longhaired brown tabby with a silky coat. The coat is heavy and water-resistant, with hair longest on the tail, ruff, stomach, and hindquarters. Maine Coons come in all patterns and colors except chocolate, lilac, and Siamese point patterns.

Special Grooming Needs
The Maine Coon's coat will mat unless it is groomed two or three times a week. Special attention should be devoted to keeping the tail, ruff, stomach, and hindquarters free of snarls and debris.

Origins
The Maine Coon's exact origins are not known. Contrary to popular myth and the implications of the breed name, the distinctively bushy, often ringed tail does not come from crossing a cat with a raccoon (which is genetically impossible).

It is likely that the breed resulted from intermixing between indigenous American shorthaired tabbies and imported longhaired cats. Several historical accounts link the origin of the Maine Coon with Angora cats that were dispatched to North America by Marie Antoinette.

Another theory proposes that the Maine Coon's progenitors were Norwegian Forest Cats brought to the Americas by the Vikings. The breed's shaggy, water-resistant coat is well suited to the long, harsh winters of Maine, where farmers have long valued this cat's mousing ability.

Special Alerts
Breed-related health problems include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


Information and images from the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, by James R. Richards, D.V.M. 1999 by Chanticleer Press, Inc. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Used with permission.
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