Maine coons are large, affectionate cats who love to play and hang out with their humans. This cat breed is typically known for its massive size—up to 40 inches in length—but Maine coon owners know and prize these cats for being loving family pets.
Maine coons are surprisingly popular, especially considering at one point this breed almost faced extinction. In 2019, the Cat Fanciers’ Association listed the Maine coon as the fifth-most popular cat breed. The average Maine coon kitten costs between $400 and $1,500, depending on pedigree.
The Maine coon is the largest domestic cat breed, and largeness is certainly one of its defining physical characteristics. The size of a typical Maine coon comes in at 10–16 inches tall and up to an impressive 40 inches in length. These sturdily built felines usually weigh 8–18 pounds and have muscular bodies with wide chests and solid legs.
As if their big-boned build wasn’t enough, the ample fur in the Main coone’s coat makes these majestic animals look even bigger. Their long coat is silky and smooth and grows shorter near the shoulders. Maine coons come in a variety of colors and patterns. You can find solid white, cream, red, blue, and black Maine coons, as well as tabby, bi-color, particolor, tortoiseshell, shaded, and calico Maine coons.
Other defining physical features are large pointed ears often topped with wisps of hair, expressive oval-shaped eyes, and a long, bushy tail.
Don’t let their imposing size fool you—deep down, Maine coons are soft, gentle giants who love to spend time with their humans. They very much expect to be part of the family and aren’t big on personal space or privacy. These cats are delighted at the thought of following you from room to room as you go about your day.
Though Maine coon’s are definitely affectionate and social, they’re not usually lap cats. This breed typically prefers to hang out beside you rather than on top of you—which can be a good thing, considering their size.
Maine coons are incredibly intelligent and fun-loving and will keep their kittenish playfulness well into old age. The Maine Coon Cat Club calls them the "clowns of the cat world." The Maine coon is not an aggressive breed, and will tolerate being picked up, held, and cuddled. These animals are friendly, kind, and patient with children.
The Maine coon’s first and foremost need is an affectionate and loving family with the time to play and patience to include this cat in all aspects of day-to-day life. These patient pets are good with kids, dogs, and other cats.
Maine coons can be left alone for periods of time, but they won’t be happy about it. Regularly being left alone can make these cats sad and anxious, so they’re best matched with a family that often has at least one or two people home during the day for some company.
Most Maine coons love to play in water. This is great news for bath time, but it also means they’ll follow you into the shower or interfere while you do the dishes.
These big cats are surprisingly quiet—they do love to communicate and vocalize to their humans, but their soft voice may take you by surprise.
Maine coons are amazing family pets. Those with the time, patience, and attention to give to a member of this cat breed will be hard-pressed to find a more loving, adoring feline friend.
“Maine coons have a heavy, shaggy coat which requires maintenance brushing to ensure it doesn’t get tangled or matted,” says Catherine Lenox, DVM, DACVN, a board certified veterinary nutritionist with Royal Canin.
Your Maine coon will need regular, dedicated grooming and will require anywhere from weekly to monthly bathing. Their long coats are usually silky smooth, but when they start to look greasy or stringy, it’s time for a bath. They also require weekly brushing to keep their long hair and undercoat from getting tangled and matted. These cats do shed quite a bit, and brushing will also help get rid of loose hairs. Don’t worry—the Maine coon loves any sort of attention it can get, so grooming is usually a pleasant task.
Maine coons don’t have any special exercise needs—they’ll keep the same activity schedule of most cats, with long hours of sleep and playful bouts of jumping and running through the house. Cat toys and cat trees can help them work out some of that energy.
These super-intelligent cats are easily trainable. Some owners have described the Maine coon as “dog-like” for their ability to be trained—they can learn to walk on a leash outdoors or even play a round of fetch. They take quickly to basic housetraining and litter box use, but keep in mind these large cats will require a large litter box to help them comfortably do their business.
Maine coons should be socialized early on. If you’re bringing home a Maine coon kitten as a family pet be sure to let the various members of the household—small kids included—gently handle the kitten daily. They should also be introduced to other pets if possible. These early introductions will keep your cat from becoming shy and reserved.
Maine coons have a lifespan of 10–13 years and are typically healthy pets.
“Because of their large stature, Maine coons can develop joint disease such as arthritis or hip dysplasia,” Lenox says. “Maine coons are also predisposed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), and dental disease can be quite common in this breed.”
Reputable breeders will screen for health issues in your kitten, but it’s important to have them screened regularly into adulthood. HCM and other health problems can go undetected until later in your cat’s life.
Most experts speculate that the Maine coon is descended from foreign long-haired cats brought ashore by early American explorers in—where else?—Maine. Those ship cats then mated with the native short-haired breeds, creating America’s only native long-haired cat. There are multiple theories as to how the Maine coon got its name, including one that traces the breed’s ancestors to a sailor named Charles Coon and another that links the name to the cat’s bushy tail, which resembles that of a raccoon.
The New England native breed enjoyed some popularity in 19th century cat shows but was later overshadowed by more exotic breeds until a resurgence in popularity in the 1950s. Because the Maine coon breed was left to develop naturally from the 1800s to the middle of the 20th century, it’s typically a strong and healthy breed. The modern Maine coon retains many of the characteristics of the breed’s earliest form—from the cold-weather tolerant coats that helped them survive harsh New England winters to the high prey drive that makes these sweet house cats excellent mousers.
The first North American cat show was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 8, 1895, and a female Maine coon named Cosey was named Best in Show. The silver collar Cosey won was later purchased by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) Foundation and is now displayed in their headquarters as an important piece of cat history.