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Maine Coon Characteristics: What Makes These Majestically Fluffy Cats So Special, According to a Vet

They're the gentle giants of the cat world

If a stuffed animal came to life, it would probably look a lot like a Maine Coon cat. These cats are known for being fabulously fluffy, which has made them into social media superstars. Because Maine Coons are purebred cats, they’re often not found at your typical animal shelter, but many feline fans covet them due to their legendary cuddliness. They possess many fascinating aesthetic and behavioral quirks, so we asked a vet what you need to know about Maine Coon characteristics, in all their fuzzy glory.

Maine Coon characteristics: Physical

Maine Coon cats stand out for their size. “They’re one of the largest cat breeds,” says Nicole Savageau, VMD, veterinarian with The Vets. “They have longer bodies than most cats, and much larger heads and paws.” On average, males can weigh anywhere from 18 to 25 pounds, while females can weigh between 10 and 14 pounds.

Long orange Maine Coon cat laying on curtains

Wondering why this breed is such a big boy? Unsurprisingly, these cats originated in Maine, and their furry coats and oversized paws kept them warm during those freezing winters. Dr. Savageau describes their paws as being like nature’s snow shoes.

Maine coon cat, sitting in front of a brown background

Everything about Maine Coons is larger than life — even their whiskers! “They’re known for having incredibly long whiskers,” says Dr. Savageau. “Supposedly, their whiskers are the longest of any cat on record.” These impressive whiskers further aided the breed in navigating difficult climates. They also have distinctive tufts on their ears, which help them hear better in such environments.

Close-up of gray Maine Coon cat

Maine Coon characteristics: Personality

You might think that Maine Coons would be aggressive due to their size, but this is decidedly not the case. Maine Coons are actually “gentle giants,” Dr. Savageau says. “They’re known to be very mellow and affectionate. They’re the perfect family cat because they get along well with kids and other animals.” Unlike some of the more athletic breeds out there, Maine Coons “tend to be more laid back,” she adds.

Woman holding a gray Maine Coon cat

Taking care of Maine Coons

If you have a Maine Coon or are thinking about getting one, there are certain considerations to take into account. “Maine Coons have a double-layer coat that helps them survive the Maine winters,” notes Dr. Savageau. “Given the fact that most of these cats live indoors and in other states now, their coat needs to be brushed at least two to three times a week to help prevent their fur from matting.”

Maine Coon cat being brushed

Maine Coons also need a play space that can stand up to their weight. “Make sure to buy them a very large cat tree that’s at least 6 feet tall,” says Dr. Savageau. A cat tree is a must for any cat, but with Maine Coons, it’s vital the tree to be sturdy enough to support them. “A normal scratching post will not be tall enough or big enough for a Maine Coon and will fall over,” she explains. Dr. Savageau says this breed also often enjoys playing fetch like a dog, and tends to like water more than your typical cat.

Maine Coon kitten

On a more serious note, It’s crucial to be aware of health issues impacting Maine Coons. This breed is known to be at higher risk for the heart condition Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy than other cats. “Maine Coons can have a mutation in two genes that can cause this disease,” Dr. Savageau explains, adding that “The gold standard test is to have an echocardiogram done on the heart every year to check,” because the disease does not always present with obvious symptoms like heart murmurs.

Maine Coons also have a life span around 13 years. “In general, they do not tend to live as long as other cats, particularly the typical stray cats like domestic shorthair or domestic longhair cats,” says Dr. Savageau, so it’s especially important to keep them happy and healthy, and treasure every moment together.

Maine Coon cat

With their sweet, chill personalities, sumptuous coats and oversized bodies, it’s hard to resist the charm of Maine Coons, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. All of these unique Maine Coon characteristics make them one of the cutest and cuddliest breeds around.

Read on for more about cats!

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