Maine Coon - the gentle giant
The Maine Coon is native to the state of Maine, North America and is one of their oldest breeds.
Many theories surround the Maine Coon's ancestral origins but it is generally thought that they were introduced to the short-haired domestic population by English seafarers or Vikings, via ships.
Maine Coon's are one of the largest breeds of domestic cat. They have a large bone structure with a rectangular, muscular body shape. They are tall and long, with males weighing between 6.8 and 11 kilograms and females between 4.5 and 6.8 kilograms. Due to their size, they mature slowly and their full potential is not normally reached until they are 3-4 years old.
The most common colour is brown tabby but (apart from some breed standards) they can generally be any colour that other cats are; their coat can be long or medium in length. They have adapted to living in harsh winter climates by developing dense water-resistant fur. However, the undercoat is light which makes it self-maintaining, requiring very little grooming. The coat is shorter on the head and shoulders and longer on the stomach and flank and, along with a long bushy tail, this is ideal protection from the cold snow. With this in mind, it is not surprising that many have a fascination with water.
They are generally a healthy and hardy breed but they do have a predisposition to the heart disease feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a progressive disease that can result in heart failure, paralysis of the hind legs due to a blood clot from the heart and sudden death. Hip dysplasia can also be a problem occurring more commonly in the larger big-boned males. However this is not seen to the same degree as it is in dogs.
Maine Coons are affectionate and loyal family members who get on well with children and dogs, but they are independent and cautious and not considered a "lap cat." They are an intelligent breed so can be trained and are known for "talking back" to their owners.