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Feline Breed Spotlight: Maine Coon

Let’s look at the Maine Coon!

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History

The Maine Coon is a breed from Maine, where it is the official state cat. There are 2 folk-tales of where this breed of cat originated from and 2 stories about the origin of their name. One story states that when Marie Antoinette tried to escape France, she loaded her Turkish Angora cats among other belongings onto a ship. The cats ended up travelling to Maine without Marie Antoinette and began to breed with the domestic cats, eventually producing large long-haired cats that became the Maine Coon as we know it today.

The second story is about a captain named Charles Coon, this story is about the origin of both the breed and its name. He was said to always have cats on his ships, and anytime he anchored on the American East coast, some cats would stay behind. When long-hair kittens began appearing among the local feral cats, they were named “Coon’s cats”.

The final story about the origin of the name of this cat is from its resemblance of a raccoon because of their size, tabby coat and ringed tail.

Temperament

Maine Coons are a relaxed, but curious breed. They enjoy the company of their owners, but are not overly needy. They are curious and will follow you around, checking out what you are up to. They are not typically a lap cat, but won’t turn away from getting attention. They love play and usually continue to play well into their adult years. Chasing toys, playing fetch and puzzle toys are their favorite.

They love water! Their thick coats are partially water repellent, combined with their history of living on ships, this should come at no surprise. You may find your Maine Coon splashing in the water bowl or trying to join you in the shower.

cat-1723612_960_720Is This Breed Right For You?

  • They are born mousers. If you have other small pets like hamsters and gerbils this breed of cat probably isn’t the best addition to your household.
  • Their coat is easy to care for, only occasional grooming is required. Like other long-haired cats, they will shed.
  • They are a vocal breed. Their vocalizations range from yowling and howling to trilling and chirping.

Health Concerns

Both pure-bred and  mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and has shown slightly higher occurrence in larger breed cats. This disease causes a thickening of the heat muscle and can lead to congestive heart failure.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a genetically inherited disorder.  This disorder is caused by loss of motor neurons in the lower spinal cord, leading to atrophy of muscles in the hind limbs. Cats that are affected by SMA will usually show signs around 3-4 months of age. Thankfully this condition is not painful or fatal. Affected cats should be kept indoors as they will not be able to run or jump as well as non-affected cats. You will also notice loss of muscle tone in the hind end as the disorder progresses.

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