Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Maine Coon Cat Breed

What is a Maine Coon Cat?

The Maine Coon cat is a long-haired breed that is native to Maine, where it has been held in high regard for its mousing talents for centuries.

Physical Characteristics

This is a large cat, weighing anywhere between 12 to 18 pounds, though the females of the breed are smaller. The typical physical characteristics of the breed do not develop until the cat's third or fourth year.

The Maine Coon breed's distinguishing feature is its smooth, shaggy, and water-repellent coat, which can come in a variety of colors, though brown is currently the favorite. Its hair is long and silky and is shorter on the shoulders and longer on the stomach.

Personality and Temperament

The Maine Coon is often in the top 10 of the most popular cat breeds in the U.S. The reasons for its popularity are not hard to find. Besides possessing a distinctive coat, it has extremely hardy, undaunted by most circumstances, and fiercely loyal to its human owners. In fact, this playful breed will get along well with other pets and children.

Although the Maine Coon cat is wary of strangers initially, it will grow accustomed to them if given time. It is docile, obedient, and, curiously, attracted to water. So don't be surprised if you see your Maine Coon taking a little dip.


In addition to grooming the Maine Coon's coat twice a week with a steel comb, you will need to be sure to provide opportunities for regular daily exercise, often in the form of play.

History and Background

Maine Coons have inhabited America for centuries, even during the early colonial period. However, there is very little knowledge of how they first came to the continent. There are many tales related to trace their origin, though the authenticity of these tales is doubtful.

One far-fetched story claims that the Maine Coon's ancestor was a raccoon -- which is biologically impossible. Others say the breed was produced by the crossing of the indigenous Bobcat with a domestic cat. Yet another fanciful tale traces their ancestry to the long-haired cats belonging to the French queen, Marie Antoinette. According to this lore, an American captain named Clough rescued the queen's cats but was unable to save her life; the cats were then brought to America. Yet another narrative is that these cats were brought to the states in the 1700s by an American captain named Coon, who hailed from the Northeast coast of America.

This last tale may contain some grains of truth. Captains of ships often brought cats from foreign lands to counter the problems of mice, which thrived on the ships. On their arrival they may have made their home on the Northeast coast, in Maine. The climate was terrible and only the bravest and toughest cats could survive. The survivors were strong and hardy with a water-resistant coat.

The Maine Coon is one of the first breeds to be officially recognized in the early 19th century; since then it has gained rapid popularity. Mr. F. R. Pierce, who owned Maine Coons as early as 1861, mentioned in The Book of the Cat that a Maine Coon named Leo was awarded Best Cat in the New York City cat show of 1895 and was a consistent winner in Boston in 1897, 1898, and 1899.

The breed’s popularity plummeted in the early 1900s when more exotic cats arrived and became instant favorites. By 1950, the breed had dwindled alarmingly and very few members were left.

A few breeders, however, displayed an active interest in this cat and threw it a life line. They held Maine Coon-only shows and in 1968 founded the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association.

Thanks to the efforts of its staunch supporters, the Maine Coon regained much lost ground and was once again a candidate for Championship competitions. It remains one of the most popular breeds of cat today, with Championship status in all associations.

Comments  30

Leave Comment
  • Maine Coon
    06/26/2013 07:26pm

    I rescued a 6 - 9 mo. old kitten. His face has the markings of a Maine Coon but he has webbed feet & long curled back hair in his ears. Also he goes limp when you pick him up like a Ragdoll. Right now he's asleep in recliner 1/2 hanging off the seat. Any suggestions on his mix?

  • 07/29/2014 07:22pm

    My cat is a Mainecoon and has webbed feet too. But some cats who arent mainecoons have the markings too. so if you go to a vet. and ask their oponion they will anwser your q better because they have seen your cat. So i havent seen him or her i cant tell you if she/he is a mainecoon or not.

  • bumps on my cat
    10/11/2014 12:26pm

    I have a Maine Coon cat he is almost 2 yrs. old he has devolped bumps around his neck ,head , under his chin and they have started to come out in small clumps . I treated him with a flea collar about 6 mo ago and that is when i first noticed the bumps I removed the collar fight away thimking that this had caused them They did not clear up he scratches and pulls out little clumps I thought they werr fleas nests and treated with the once a month drops and home remedies of cider vineager mixed with water nothing seems to be working he eats and drinks well but lately he seems to only want to stay in a window where it is cool I am at my wits end I really can't afford vet as i am on a fixed income Do you have any idea what is causing this ? PLEASE I am desparte !! I LOVe my cat and don't want to see him like this PLEASE HELP!!! Deb Babb Machias Maine

  • 08/28/2015 02:12am

    Hi, Deb! Hopefully, you have resolved the issue of your cat having bumps, and hopefully, resolved the problem of affording veterinary care for your cat. Just in case either of these is still an issue, I would suggest a couple of things. First, Animal Welfare Society (AWS) is a "no kill shelter" in Maine, and they have a dedicated line for giving advice about pets behavior, etc. They may be able to help you to determine what is causing the bumps, and can most likely be able to find low cost/free pet care. On their website, they list Veterinary Financial Aid sources.
    AWS website: www.animalwelfaresociety.org

    Best of Luck!

  • 10/22/2015 02:24pm

    Hi Deb,

    As yours is an older post, this may no longer be relevant to you, but I had a similar issue with my cat that ended up being something rather rare, but easily treated if diagnosed correctly. It began as a quarter-sized crusty spot at the base of his fur in the center of his chest. He would scratch and pull his hair out in clumps, just as you describe. The vet had no idea what it was, and we took him for consultation multiple times. Gradually the spot spread to cover his entire chest, and he also had a couple of small spots on his hind leg, so we took him to an allergist. Right away he recognized the problem as Bowen's disease, a cancer of the skin. It is a virus that lives within the cat (as the wart virus in humans) and cannot be eliminated. It generally doesn't manifest itself as lesions until the cat gets older (mine was 12). The solution is laser ablation, which removes the lesions and makes the cat immediately more comfortable. The lesions may, and probably will return, but it could be a year or more before the laser surgery would be required again. We took our kitty to have it done, and his whole demeanor changed. It wasn't cheap, unfortunately, so it might not be an option for all. We paid just under $1000. for the procedure. I hope this helps someone in the future, because it's an awful thing for a cat to endure.

  • 06/30/2016 01:41pm

    We had the same issue with two of our cats. They had little bumps under their chins.
    It turned out to be feline acne. They too would clump and fall off.
    Our vet recommended dabbing the area with a cotton ball covered with hydrogen peroxide and they should go away.
    It worked for our cats.
    Hopefully you still have your little kitty and this will help

  • 08/14/2016 02:47pm

    I had the same problem with my Kitty, ( not a Maine) but I love her just the same. She had these bumps and then they started like breaking out in big spots of NO fur and like a big rash and it bugged me so I took her to the vet and they told me she was allergic to fleas? well they wanted to give me all this med and I did't want to give her the steroids (sorry ? not sure about the spelling of that) BUT I brought her home and got on line at " Chewy.com"
    Well they told me to get her some Flea-line caviar? Cat food. Well it was a mriacle. Her fur stopped falloign out, at first and then she started eating, a lot better, Sue had lost so much weight, but it worked . ONLY bad thing she would not eat it after about 2 weeks. and stopped totally, so I just called them back "Chewy" and they gave me some other foods she might like. that were Just as healthy and good for her. First I had to stop feeding her the stuff from the grocery store, and I had to go totally grain free.
    OH by the way Chewy's is fast when you order, I love it in the winter because Its hard for me to get out in the snow, so I just order my cat and dog food from them, and it is only 3.50 or so for shipping and if you order over $45.00 I think its free. they have everything for dogs and kittys and
    even other pets I think. but they can help you . At lest they sure did me and my babies, and Afghan and a Shih-Tzu that just tyurned 16 thanks to Chewy, I almost lost him almost a year ago, all the vets wanted to do was put him to sleep, I had his mom and It broke my heart when I lost her and I was not going to loose him the same way. AND a beautiful Kitty just a callico na,med Kally. they are MY life now all three . God bless and good luck with your baby.

  • 08/14/2016 02:50pm

    just a note I for got, My kitty now is 14 years old and doing just grate. good luck

  • My Cuddles
    01/04/2015 04:45pm

    I got a kitten last year from the humane society. His name is Mr. Cuddles. He changed and changed, he now weighs 14.8, when I took him in to the vet just to weigh him they stated he had to at least part Main Coon. After researching pictures and information I think he is more than just part Main Coon. He looks like a giant raccoon going up the stairs. He is great with the dogs loves to kill flies, I had him declawed as he was too dangerous to the furniture. He is vocal, loves ice in the water. However, he bites me only. He will just come up and bite then take off. I am the only person he does this with. I am thinking he considers me his mom and wants to play. Any ideas? Also my desk chair is all taped as he keeps tearing and chewing parts off the arms. HE sleeps in the chair. He has tons of toys, the dogs to play with. He also tried to chew on one of my xmas decorations. Why does he do this and how can I get him to quit chewing?

  • 06/17/2015 09:52pm

    You do understand the torture you put your cat through by declawing, right?
    Maybe not, many people don't understand how inhumane this procedure is to a cat.....maybe that's why he bites you! It's ot my place to judge, but I do have a strong opinion on this, NEVER Declaw your cat. Here is a link to a short article, with alternatives that won't hurt your cat.

  • 10/24/2015 02:54pm

    I've never declawed my pets. I am a Vet and I know what you are saying. But, I also know how many of these kind and nutrient pet owners struggle with the issue. Do you think it would better to take a cat, not declawed, to a shelter? Life entails many complex choices. Most declawed cats are happy. They should be "inside" cats.

  • 10/24/2015 11:16pm

    I'm a bit surprised by you're reply. My point is that many people look at this a convenience, and minor procedure. They don't understand that when declawing a cat it amounts to 10 amputations and can create life long health and behavioral issues, such as "biting". And yes, I would much have them bring their cat to a shelter and be adopted by someone who would never put their animal through that kind of unnecessary torture. Additionally, 50% of cats that are declawed have post op complications that can become life long issues.

    The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights is opposed to cosmetic surgeries and to those performed to correct 'vices.' Declawing generally is unacceptable because the suffering and disfigurement it causes is not offset by any benefits to the cat. Declawing is done strictly to provide convenience for people."
    The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR)

  • 08/19/2016 02:12pm

    Just want to say 'Thank you' for your comment. It's real easy to sit and judge when you're not in someone else's shoes. I agree that if de-clawing keeps an animal in a loving home - it is way preferable to disposing of them into over crowded centers. I've had both Manx and Maine Coon cats and they can be down right dangerous sometimes. For senior citizens & young children, it is especially dangerous. Sometimes a necessity (it's not like people do it because they like the way it 'looks' - i.e.; piercing babies ears).

  • 10/24/2015 02:45pm

    My 3 year old Kat rescued (from a parking garage) does the same thing.
    We have another super friendly kitty.
    But my older Coon cat is totally unique .. think about 'Garfield'.

  • 05/13/2016 10:00am

    hi lisa...
    just a thought on the biting issue... I've got a Maine Coon that I got from a feral rescue... and discovered that she was much younger than 8 weeks when I brought her home... and we've worked through a very similar issue... they learn biting inhibition from litter mates and especially mom... and shelters don't always provide that "instructional opportunity"... so you need to fill the gap... what I did was watch very carefully for what she did just before she bit... for her, it was usually a play invitation or a kitty nuzzle... so I could get in a position to be able to give a correction as she "initiated" the bite (a nose tap, scruff scrunch and a snarly "no") and the behavior ceased in a very short time...

  • 05/18/2016 05:19pm

    Hello Lisa,
    Thank you for the tips. Mr. Cuddles is like that. He nips me when he wants something like water, his bowel is empty of food. But sometimes it is an all out attack with no warning. When he is corrected he gets even madder. Luckily he is getting better and I think this is because he is learning he is not the one in charge. These episodes don't happen as often as they used too. I think he does see me as his mom. I am the only one who he will do this too. He also likes to chew. OMG, my shoes are not safe, my nursing shoes especially. I have bought him his own to chew up. He has chewed up several pairs of shoes, several pairs of my boots have teeth marks on the toes. My office chair armchairs have tons of duct tape and I have used more things that taste terrible and nothing phases him. The tape slows him down and he sleeps in this chair. He doesn't like to play with cat toys. He likes to play with shoes like children's crocs that I buy at the dollar store, he will carry them and chew. He likes crinkle toys or sheets he can sit on and make noise. He doesn't fit in a cat carrier, so he has a dog harness I have sewed so he cannot get out of. He loves to go to the vet. He is really good mannered in the car and out. He has gotten even bigger, he must weigh about 20 pounds and when he is spread out he takes up half of the love seat. His new thing is to lay on the back of the love seat but lean so he is my cat hat. He still loves to play and follows me everywhere up and down the stairs looking like a raccoon. He has gotten really terroritorial about what animals come in the house. The neighbors dog was barking through our door and he didn't back down he attacked through the door. We have two dogs. He is very social if we have company he is in the middle of everyone. Except my one granddaughter he won't let her pet him. She is three. He has never liked her for some reason he will just stay out of her reach. Right now he is at my feet under the desk and the dogs are behind me. He is where ever I am. He will rub his face on mine and give me kisses and loves to be loving. But then there are those momments. But I love him. He is something else. Thank you Lisa for the ideas!!!

  • 08/19/2016 02:06pm

    I adopted a Maine Coon male about 2 years ago. He had just been neutered and had one eye removed due to infection (probably from fighting for survival). He has his claws, but he bites! HARD! He has injured several dogs - we just keep dogs away from him. He resides in our shop office and son's apartment above. Great mouser event he is very well fed. He will go from purring to a very hard bite. I'd love some feedback on why??? Just got a new female kitten named 'Bijou' (now 12 wks old) that is 1/2 Maine Coon (father is 100% - registered) mom is a mutt. This kitten is seal point colored and will go from purring to hard biting. She is teething. She has her claws and I plan on keeping them. Point is...biting - adult or kitten clawed or declawed; seems to be a Maine Coon trait. Is there any way to train them out of it? She is responding to 'off the counter' with loud clapping and a child's dart gun - shoots small foam darts. But for biting...So far, I have used oral "NO!" , thumped her in the mouth and time out (put her in my office for about 5 min). Oral reprimand has no affect that I can see and thumping her on mouth only seems to challenge her (she gets worse). As for time out; She is settled down and sweet when I let her out but I doubt she is really learning not to bite as it is still a big problem. It's like a switch goes off in her. Her eyes look dilated and she is intent on killing something. Is this the wild Maine Coon gene? I have two mini-Aussies and one of them will play with her until she gets too violent and then she will either thump her or leave the area. My 16+ yr. old torti cat may kill her if she's provoked. Been keeping them separated. She does love the water. Will walk right into my dog wash when I'm washing a dog and seems to want in the shower as well although did not enter when given the opportunity. Bijou is quite a quite a pistol. Any help that anyone can provide would be most appreciated.

  • 08/20/2016 07:30pm

    I can totally understand with the "look" when you correct them. Mr. Cuddles can go from supper cuddly and then bite. He will also just attack and bite hard. I have a fly swatter. He has never been hit hard with it but he knows what it is and will take off when I have it. We have an Australian Shepherd and when he really gets out of hand and I just say his name Max will go after him, and Cuddles will take off. Max hasn't hurt him, but it seems to have made him not be so dominant. He loves to play and seems to be worse when he hasn't had time to play. I have really noticed with this type of cat you have to establish you are the dominant one. If not then they get worse. Cuddles has become more territorial of the house as the older he gets. He is very social though when family and friends are around. He loved attention.

  • 08/22/2016 11:49am

    the fly swatter is good idea - thanks.

  • Maine Coon mix?
    01/31/2015 01:37pm

    I also adopted/rescued a beautiful male Maine Coon who I believe is part Rag Doll. He has the face shape, long ringed tail, huge feet and hunting skills of a Maine Coon, as well as the shaggy long coat. However he is not a tabby; he has a white coat, brown saddle, and dark points with striking light blue eyes. I figured that he was part Siamese, but recently I looked up the Rag Doll breed and that seems like a better bet. I wonder how common it is for these two large breeds to mix? And can a vet determine a cats ancestry like they do with dog breeds?

  • 12/15/2015 02:26pm

    My Gizmo, has the siamese/rag doll... He has the tabby facial markings (M in the middle of his for head) strips on his legs, but weird carmel swirls on his body. He has striking blue eyes, slightly crossed. Thing is he HUGE for 8 months old.The fluffiest cat, curly fur on his stomach, full fluffy tail, and lion mane fur, I have had cats all my life. He is a bit of a mystery. Found at 3-4 wks old from a feral momma( killed with litter mates by dog) . He is scittish /scaredy cat around anything new. He's the ultimate shredder of anything paper

  • 08/19/2016 02:19pm

    I have 12 week old 1/2 Maine Coon - mom's breed is undetermined (mutt). Dad is typical Calico , and mom is jet black long haired. My kitten is seal point with gorgeous long hair and blue eyes (Siamese traits). She too is like a rag doll. See my earlier post...she can go from purring to biting hard in split second like a switch goes off. Looking for some advice on that. thx.

  • Help Popi Chulo
    09/04/2015 04:08pm

    My daughter adopted Popi Chulo , a beautiful black 12 pound Maine Coon cat last fall. He is eight years old. Recently, he urinated on our living room couch. We took him to the vet and we were told he had a UTI infection. He received an antibiotic and seemed better. Much to our horror, three weeks later he sprayed the couch. We are removing the couch!

    We love Popi! He is brings our family joy and is so lovable!

    What should we do? Is it his age?


  • Popi Chulo urinating!
    09/04/2015 04:14pm

    Popi Chulo is a beautiful eight year old Maine Coon cat. He recently urinated on our couch. The vet treated him for a UTI. He sprayed the couch. What can we do?


  • Main Coon
    01/26/2016 03:04pm

    A very beat up Coon found me last Spring. She scares my 2 cats by rushing/hissing at them, esp. my Tuxedo cat. Her breath is horrible, she sneezes a lot and sometimes the moisture from her nose has a tinge of blood in it. My Vet guesses her to be approx. 16 years old. He put her under sedation to give her a full testing and X-rays and found no issues. Upon my request while the cat was under, the Vet shaved all Ally's knots and tangles. A Lion Cut, which was comfortable for her last summer. Fur is grown out now, she hisses and scratches at me if I come anywhere near her with a brush. She's a tangled mess again! What can I do to help her be the beauty that she is?

  • 02/26/2016 04:49pm

    I too have a Maine Coon who would NEVER let me get near him with any time of grooming tool. He was about 1 1/2 years old when we adopted him and was fine for several years but now he's a matted mess. I feel really bad for him even though he doesn't act like it bothers him I would imagine it would have to though. I'm hoping the weather warms up soon and stays that way {I'm in Michigan} as I would be afraid to have him shaved this time of year, he is indoors all the time, but still that's a really thick coat to remove. As soon as it is warmer weather he will be going in and while "he is taking a rest" he too will get a lion cut and probably hate me for it.[b][i] Is there ANY advice on how to groom an animal that will surely bite HARD and continue until I were to stop and have blood running down my arm?[[/i][/b] I have never been able to figure out a way to introduce him to the art of being groomed - and he really does not hesitate to use his teeth. He is somewhat on the feral side when it comes to his attitude, unless HE decides otherwise. I think WE all know who's ALPHA in this house .. :(

  • 08/19/2016 02:23pm

    I have 2 Maine Coon mixes. One adopted at approx. 7 yrs. old in tough shape. Newly neutered and one eye removed. We have had him lion shaved 2 summers in a row. He seems to love it. I would just keep shaving him each summer if you can afford it. Other is a 12 wk. old female; seal point coloring - gorgeous. Won't shave her. Likes to be brushed thankfully.

  • Is Izzy a Maine Coon?HELP
    05/17/2016 03:05pm

    I have been trying to figure out if my 1.5 year old fluffy, outgoing kitty is in fact a Maine Coon. Form the minute we adopted her at four weeks old, we knew she was special because her personality was different than any other cat I have had in the past. Izzy will be 2 years old at the end of this October but continues to have an extremely playful, silly, outgoing and almost goofy personality that she has had since day one.

    - Very soft, almost silk like long hair which is long in length.
    - Coloring is blonde but has different shades of blonde throughout her body (throughout her tail especially.)
    - Very fluffy, "in your face", full tail
    - Gold colored eyes
    - Medium in size and on the lighter side when I pick her up, very long, full body

    The greatest thing about my baby Izzy is her one-of-a-kind unique personality. From the day we adopted her and brought her home, she was glued to our side. She would lay on our chest to take naps and would sleep alongside of us in bed at night. Even today, she always has to be near one of us; following us from room to room. Izzy just simply prefers to be near us than go off in the house and be alone. She also manages to get into EVERYTHING and can turn any object into a toy to push around or chase. Her favorite thing to do is to knock items off of the counter/dresser/shelf etc. then push and chase them around the house. Izzy also LOVES to play fetch with just about anything! She never runs out of energy and is always up to run around and be playful. Izzy is a social butterfly. She must be a part of any activity that you are involved in and she is not shy to place herself right in the middle of the action. For example, if I am at my desk on my laptop, she will walk right up as I am typing and lay down on the keyboard. She enjoys being around people 95% of the time and acts more like a dog than a cat in many ways. Her love for water is crazy! She jumps in the kitchen sink, shower, bathtub and will even stick her little head inside a glass of water to get a drink or just to play with the water with her paws. She can also just watch the water drip in the sink for literally hours. Cats can typically jump pretty high but Izzy can only jump up onto surfaces that are not very high. She prefers me to pick her up and place her on the surface she wants to be on rather than attempting to jump.Izzy is not a very vocal cat. I do not think I have heard her meow since we adopted her. However, when she wants something from you, like a helping hand to get onto the counter, she will look at me and make a purring/chirping type noise. When I get home, I will call for her and she will run to me, make this purring/chirping type of noise and give me a few kisses and a lot of head butts which I believe is her way of telling me she is happy to see me. Other than that, she is a pretty quiet cat.

    Please help me find out if she is in fact a Maine Coon cat, I would be forever grateful!


  • My Cat Adopted Me
    08/15/2016 11:43am

    When living in Texas for about a year and moving out of a rental house into an apartment, this kitten came in the front door that was open for moving. The then husband put him out the back door, he came back in the front door three times and he told me if I wanted the kitten I could keep him. The Vet knew immediately he was part Maine Coon and part Tabby. I ended up moving back to Arizona and brought him with me. He is the sweetest and most loving cat, including anyone who comes in my apartment, I have ever had. His markings are beautiful and he was a year old approximately in January - the Vet guesstimated and had a Maine Coon so knew their personalities, etc. He now "rules the roost and very spoiled" and I am so happy to have him for my "buddy". In response to other comments about the webbed feet with long hairs, I read this is how they kept their feet warm and act as snow shoes since they originated in Maine.

  • Two darlings please....
    09/14/2016 10:31am

    I would like to adopt two Maine Coon cats from the same liter - a boy and girl or two girls. Is there a breeder in Southeastern Michigan? Any help would be so appreciated!

    Rosse (Rosey)