Maine Coon

  • The Maine Coon cat is the official state cat of Maine, native to the state and surrounding area.
  • They were reported to have gone extinct in the 1950s, but this was a bit exaggerated. Numbers were extremely low, but thanks to the dedication of breeders, the Maine Coon Cat has rebounded to become one of the top three most popular cat breeds in the United States.
  • This breed is prone to polydactylism, meaning they are born with 6 or more toes — an estimated 40% of early Maine Coons had an extra toe.
  • Maine Coons have a water-resistant coat and generally enjoy the water more than other cats.
  • They are big cats and the largest domestic breed.

Breed Summary



9 to 15 years



Maine Coons are the largest domestic cat breed and take up to 4 years to mature to their full size. They range between 19 to as much as 30 lbs. and can grow as long as 3 feet 11 inches!

Energy level

Energy level

Mellow fellow

About the Maine Coon cat

Front view of a brown and tan Maine coon cat face.


Physical features of a Maine coon

  • A tail resembling a raccoon tail with its thick fur
  • Broad chest and rectangular body shape
  • Long, shaggy coat
  • Lion-like mane or ruff around the neck and chest
  • Pointed ears with tufts of fur at the tips
  • Feet with fur tufts growing up between toes

Colors and coat patterns

The Maine Coon is seen in many different colors and patterns, but the most common are the brown classic and the mackerel tabby.

Unique personality

Affectionate but not needy, a Maine Coon shows curiosity in what you’re doing but is also talented at entertaining themselves. With low to medium energy, this breed is content to cuddle up next to their people or practice their mousing skills with toys.

Their easygoing personality makes them a great choice for families with other kittens, adult cats, dogs, or children. They are known as the gentle giants of the feline world.

Maine Coon cats are relaxed and easy-going. They are devoted and loyal to their humans and prefer to be where the family is, but they don’t constantly demand attention. It’s the best of both worlds. They can be independent and sociable at the same time.

Maine Coons will happily follow their guardians around the home and sit next to them on the couch while binge-watching Animal Planet. While they’re only moderately active at best, they are very athletic and maintain a kitten-like enthusiasm for play and antics well into their older years.

Similar cat breeds to a Maine Coon

  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Siberian
  • Turkish Angora

History of the Maine Coon

The origin of the Maine Coon is steeped in some mystery, as there was no official breeding program that created the breed. In the late 1800s, some said the cats were a result of mating between raccoons and domestic cats, which is physically impossible. But their tail does resemble that of a raccoon, hence the inclusion of “Coon” in the breed name. Another prevalent story is that Marie Antoinette sent the predecessors of the breed to Maine in anticipation of her escape to America. There’s even mention of the Vikings having brought over these long-haired cats, and the Maine Coon does resemble the Norwegian Forest Cat.

The answer lies in the natural mating between the short-haired domestic cats that originally came to America with the first settlers from Europe and the longhaired cats imported by seafaring merchants. The climate of the Northeastern United States favored the longer double-coats for warmth, and the need to walk over snow made the large snowshoe-like paws incredibly useful.

The first registered Maine Coon was in 1861 with a black and white male cat named ‘Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines’. The breed was a popular show cat during the late 1800s, with a brown tabby female Maine Coon named ‘Cosey’ winning Best in Show and the Silver Collar at the first North American Cat Show held at Madison Square Garden, New York in 1895.

The breed’s popularity declined in the early 20th century due to the rise of more exotic breeds such as the Persian. In the 1950s it was believed the breed was extinct, as none had been registered in cat shows since 1911.

However, committed cat breeders and fanciers of the breed founded the Central Maine Cat Club to keep the breed around, and in 1973 the Maine Coon Cat Club was formed, which led to the Cat Fanciers’ Association granting championship recognition to the breed in 1976.

The Maine Coon is now the third most popular cat breed based on kitten registrations with the CFA and is a common sight in show rings.

Behavior and training

Do Maine Coons get along with others?

Maine Coons are known as the gentle giants of the cat world. They have a very easy-going nature and are quite patient with even young children. They are also tolerant with other pets. They have a kittenish attitude and do enjoy playing, exploring, and simply snuggling with their people.

Exercise needs

The Maine Coon is not the most active breed but still must get physical exercise to maintain health. Playing with wand toys daily is a good way for these cats to stay fit, especially since they tend to put on weight in middle-age.

Diet, exercise and regular vet visits are particularly important for Maine Coons because this breed is at higher risk of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a serious heart condition that cats can often hide or compensate for well.

Mental Enrichment needs

Today’s Maine Coons came from cats who spent most of their time outdoors, many of whom were given jobs as mousers in barns and out-buildings. As a result, Maine Coons are particularly fond of chasing ground-prey, so providing them with toys that resemble mice, rats, snakes, lizards, and beetles may be particularly engaging.

Maine Coons also seem to be entranced by water and enjoy playing with faucets or dunking their paws in bathwater.

Because Maine Coons are highly intelligent, they can be trained to perform tricks and walk on a harness/leash. Even though Maine Coon kittens and cats are relaxed and easy-going, they still need daily opportunities to experience novel activities and new objects.

Activities the Maine Coon Enjoys

  • Exercise using a wand toy with lures resembling ground prey may be preferred; look for lures that mimic mice, rats, snakes or lizards, or even bugs.
  • Clicker-train Maine Coons to play fetch, perform tricks (e.g., sit, fist-bump, roll over, etc.), or even follow their guardians through an agility/obstacle course.
  • Teach your Maine Coon to go for walks on a harness and leash! This breed loves spending time outdoors exploring various environments.
  • Maine Coons are fascinated with water. Let them play with a running faucet, or small toys or ice cubes in a bucket/tub of water. Some Maine Coons are known to dunk their food in water!
  • Food puzzles can give this breed a mental challenge. Make sure to give them food puzzles that can be manipulated by their somewhat larger paws; even food puzzles made for dogs might work well for Maine Coons.
  • While Maine Coons like snuggling up next to their people on the couch, they will surely also appreciate a place of their own. Try a window bed so that they can watch birds and squirrels outside.


Grooming and care

A medium to long double-coat with a lightweight undercoat and overall silky texture. The coat is designed to insulate against the cold weather and be water-resistant.

The Maine Coon’s coat is less prone to matting than other longhaired breeds, however, it does require regular brushing to keep clean and distribute natural oils throughout the fur.

As with all cat breeds, Maine Coons also need regular nail trimming and teeth brushing. If your Maine Coon is polydactyl, nail trims are especially necessary to prevent ingrown toenails.


Maine Coons in pop culture

Famous Owners of the Maine Coon

  • Nathan Fillion (Actor)
  • Bobby Flay (Chef)
  • Joe Perry (Musician)
  • John Cleese (Actor)

Famous Maine Coons

  • The gorgeous specimens documented by photographer Robert Sijka. If you are a Maine Coon enthusiast, his Instagram account is a must-follow.
  • A Maine Coon named Barivel holds the Guinness World Record for the longest cat alive — measuring in at 3 feet 11.2 inches long. He lives in Italy, where his name means “clown” or “jolly.”

Maine Coons in media

  • Mr. Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, in the Harry Potter films
  • Church in the remake of Pet Semetary
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