Maine Coon Frequently Asked Questions

I’m often asked what it’s like owning (or, more accurately, being owned by) a Maine coon, so I thought I’d put up some FAQs.

This is all in my experience, and from the stories of my friends, your experience may be completely different!

The first thing to say is that, in my opinion, with Maine coons it’s often a case of ‘the exception proves the rule’. For pretty much every generalisation I can make about them I’ve got one that does the opposite. Where possible I’ve tried to give an example ‘in our experience’.


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What’s their temperament like?
Maine coons boys are, basically, big babies. From their chirrupy meow to their ‘need’ to kiss you and cuddle you, they are just big kids. Albie sleeps in my arms, under the duvet, Monty insists on kisses on the lips (quite yucky after meal times…), Rufus chirrups and I’m sure he’s saying ‘mama’, Archie and Hodges meow like little girls, not the HUGE boys that they are, Bishty’s favourite thing is sitting on my knee snuggling. They are generally not the brightest sparks in the box. Hodges didn’t figure out jumping until he was about a year old. Monty and Albie still think they can catch the birds on the roof, purely by starting at them. Archie is the exception – he sits and thinks about complicated stuff like world peace, astro-physics and what’s for breakfast. All our boys like to hang out with you – be it in bed with you, sitting on the back of the sofa, sitting across the keyboard when you’re typing, or sitting on the edge of the bath whilst you’re in it.

The main difference in my experience between the boys and the girls is that the girls are smarter. The girls know that if they sit by the bathroom sink and shout at you, then you’ll turn the water on. They know that if the biscuit bowl is looking empty (ie, they can see the bottom of it through the remaining biscuits) and they sit by it and shout, then their human slaves will replenish it. Jo and Fina are currently competing for who is the biggest nag. Allie is actually winning, but no body notices as she does it in such a gentle way…. And is teaching the trick to Popo. The girls also like to hang out with you, but they will frequently hang out by sitting on you. Often three at a time.

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How do they get on with other animals?
In our experience, brilliantly. Our lot are used to dogs, living with Juliet, Dief and Woody (and formerly Tessa), and with friends’ dogs that come to visit. The dogs are often more bothered by the MCs than the other way round – most dogs are used to cats running away from them, the ones in our house tend to go up to the dog and, in Monty’s case, try patting it…. The kittens are often a bit spooked when they first encounter Juliet, but as she ignores the spitting and hissing, they soon follow the lead of the bigger cats and join in the cuddling and washing of her. Poor Juliet!

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Similarly, they’re OK with other cats. Cyrano and Spock still try to rule the roost over the MCs – mainly because they actually where bigger than the Maine coons when they arrived as kittens. Monty tries to chase Spock on a fairly regular basis, and Cyrano deals with all over attentive MCs by batting them.

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We’ve also had quite a lot of ‘foster cats’ when members of the Bhanacoyne tribe has been over for various reasons. The newbies are normally welcomed by Albie and Archie waving banners and giving the tour of where they can find the food and the toilet and Fina hissing at everyone.

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Do they need a lot of grooming?
This is a ‘depends on the cat’ one. Bish, Lilly, Allie and Monty have never had matts, even when Allie gets her beautiful long-haired coat. Jo and Archie get the occasional matt under the armpit, Hodges and Rufus spend their evenings making matts for me to remove, Albie gets the occasional one under his chin, and Fina gets them in her mane all the time.

I have cat combs stationed throughout the house at all points I’m likely to sit down at, and do a lot of gentle grooming when someone happens to wander up for a cuddle.


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Is it true they like water?
In a word – yes! They’re very unlike other cats in that they’ll often paddle in the water bowl, sink or bath. Hodges will actually try and get in the bath with me – fun when he was a kitten, not so fun now he’s over 6kg!

Their love of water is actually a bonus when it comes to bath time for shows – see more below. But, it can be a pain when you come home to find an empty water bowl surrounded in water with a MC and two Tamaskans (who also loves splashing…) saying ‘more water in the bowl for me to play with please’!

Do you really bath them? And don’t they mind?
Yes, they do get bathed for shows, but the ones that don’t go to show don’t really get bathed (at least not once they’re neutered). I start bathing them as kittens, so it becomes normal for them. Also, the MC love of water is a definite bonus. I’ve had the experience of arriving at a show with a car full of cats who’ve all decided to be car sick (it was very early on a summer morning and I hadn’t realised that the sun was on the back of the car for the whole journey, I have since learnt!) and who all needed to be bathed in the sink in the cloakroom of the sports hall – being MCs they thought it was a most excellent game!


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Indoors or outdoors?
This is an interesting question, and you’ll find breeders who’ll argue vehemently for one or the other.

I’m in the ‘cats should go outdoors’ camp, but with some provisos. Maine coons are often not very traffic aware (see the bit on MC boys and their lack of sparks…), and I know several people who left their MC out and lost it to a car even on the quietest of country lanes and we’ve had at least one kitten from every litter we’ve had hit on the road (some, fortunately have survived the experience). As you may have read in the ‘About us’ section, we lost our first MC when he fell out of a tree, so I am rather paranoid about them being outdoors and completely unsupervised. I also know many, many MCs who live very happily as indoor pets.

At least one cat from every litter we’ve bred has gone to their new home, been allowed to free roam and has subsequently been hit by a car.

My recommendation is a compromise – provide your MC with a cat run or cat safe garden. That way they get the joys of the great outdoors, but in as safe a way as possible.


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How big do they get?
Maine coons have the reputation of being amongst the largest breeds of domestic cat, but there is so much more to this breed than size!

In general, girls will be smaller than boys, in general, a Maine coon adult will be bigger than a cat the same age of a different breed (and a moggie is a breed in our house). Have a look at the ‘
Maine Coons Sizes’ photos for some ideas of how big our boys / Cyrano / Juliet are in comparison to a wine bottle.

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It is practically impossible to predict how big a kitten will grow – Jo, Hodges and Archie have the same parents (Jo is a year younger than the boys), Hodges is one of our biggest MCs, Archie is slightly smaller, and Jo is small for a Maine coon. They were all fed exactly the same, and the other kittens from Jo’s litter are nearer in size to Archie and Hodges, but for some unknown reason Jo is quite a small MC – although she is bigger than the moggies, and her kittens tend to be big MCs. Similarly, Rufus was the smallest in his litter – he’s now much bigger than one of his brothers and the same size as one of the others (they live with a friend so we get to see and compare). Albie and Fina are litter-siblings, Fina has always had a completely different build to Albie – Fina is big for a girl, Albie is on the skinny side, again they’ve both been fed the same thing from day one.

Popo and Lilly are similar ages, Lilly is getting bigger and bigger, Popo is still fairly small.


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So, in summary, your Maine coon will probably be the biggest cat you’ve owned, but their size is just a part of this amazing breed, there is so much more to them!

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How many cats is too many?
The answer to this is ‘it depends’. Some cats are just ‘one cat household’ cats, some are happy to live in a multi-cat household. It also depends on how much space they’ll have, if they’ll have access to out doors and what your lifestyle is like in terms of how much you’re home. I’d always recommend getting two kittens if they were going into a no-cat household where they were going to be home alone all day.

We’re lucky in that our cats are pretty relaxed and are not stressed by living together.


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How do I go about introducing a new kitten / cat to my existing cats?
There are various recommended strategies for this, and again, it depends on both the new kitten and your existing cats.

We tend to give the newbies their own room for a few days, get them used to the smell of each other, and slowly put their food bowls closer and closer until they’re all eating together – food is a great leveller!

Bish was introduced to the household when he was over a year old (he came in from Germany, so had to wait for his passport). He came to us as a very shy cat, so we built a screen door for our kitten room and he stayed in there for a fortnight. We then left the screen door open, the other cats wandered in (welcoming banners aloft) and he slowly made his way out into the rest of the house. Monty was a completely different story – he was a confident little man, so we opened his carrier and he walked straight into the living room as if he’d always been there!

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What do Maine coons need to keep them amused inside?
The short answer is a willing human with a feather stick. At all hours of the day and night.

The more realistic answer is toys, scratching posts and climbing trees. We have a huge cat-toy box that they help themselves to. It gets tidied up every morning before we leave for work, and every evening before we go to bed, but they’ll frequently get every single toy out in between times. They’re also pretty fantastic about putting their toys under the furniture, so we have a weekly ritual of retrieving toys.

We have quite an assortment of different things – balls with bells, balls without bells, balls with feathers, cat nip filled toys, mice, springs… you name it! We’ve also got quite an impressive collection of ‘tickling sticks’ – they live in a cupboard though for human/cat games as Monty has a habit of destroying them. Any that get left out by mistake are usually brought to us in the middle of the night by Mr Monty for a game!

We’ve also got cat tunnels, which are great for hide and seek, and several toys that involve batting and chasing things.

Other favourites in our house are cardboard boxes and paper bags. We’ve also got bird feeders in our front garden and the cats (and the dogs) spend a lot of time on the back of the sofa watching them out of the window.


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What do I need to do in terms of litter etc if they are indoor cats?
The normal rule of thumb is one litter tray per cat, plus one. This means that if you’ve got a cat that won’t use a wet litter tray, they’ve got options. It also means that if you’ve got a bully, they can’t monopolise all the trays at once.

We’ve found that our cats are much less fussy and most of them prefer to use the garden, so we have slightly less than the recommended amount most of the time.

There are many, many types of litter on the market, and I’m still trying to find the perfect one! We currently use a clumping one. We litter train the kittens with a wood based litter, and we use Ultimate Innovation Cat Litter at shows.


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Don’t cats scratch furniture?
All cats scratch. The only way to guarantee you won’t get your furniture scratched is to not get a cat. There’s an interesting article about cats scratching and declawing here
/www.moggies.co.uk/stories/declaw.html. Declawing is illegal in the UK for very good reasons.

So to protect your furniture you need scratching posts. Ideally you need several, and they need to be tall enough to allow the fully grown cat to scratch at full stretch. Have a look at the links page for some suppliers of cat furniture – Tigga Towers have some excellent cat trees with scratching posts.

Additionally there are products you can buy to put on furniture to deter scratching, these range from types of tape to spray. We’ve often put clear tape on our soft furnishings to protect them. We were also the (unfortunate) owners of a set of wicker dining chairs (they were pre-Maine coons…) which the cats completely destroyed…


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What do you feed them?
Our Maine coons are fed on a mix of dried and wet food. We use Royal Canin biscuits – a mix of Kitten 36, Maine Coon Kitten 36 (remember MCs aren’t fully grown until they are 4-5 years old), Maine Coon 31, Queen 34, Oral Sensitive 30 and Hair & Skin 33. They get Cosma, Porta 21 and Bonita. They also get cooked chicken and fish 3-4 times a week and the odd bit of ham and tuna.


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What can they be fed as a treat?
Ham is a favourite treat in our house, so is Logic animal toothpaste (Monty and Albie’s favourite, but Fina and Cyrano think I’m trying to poison them when I use it!). They also love Nurish Um paste and a wide variety of cat treats, especially Dreamies. Typically for cats, they all like / dislike different things!!!



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