Cats

Maine coon vs regular cat: Health differences you need to know about

Maine coon cats are becoming increasingly popular and for good reasons. These gentle giants are beautiful, friendly, and highly intelligent. If you’ve ever seen one, you know that the biggest difference between a Maine coon and a regular cat is their size. They are the biggest cat breed you can find. However, because of their size, they are also prone to several diseases regular cats don’t get very often. 

Maine coons are gentle and sociable cats. It is believed they originated in the state of Maine. They’re often referred to as a “gentle giant” because of their size, intelligence, and friendly personality. 

If you google “Maine coon cat”, you will find a lot of information about their personalities and appearance and all that fluff.

But for me as a veterinarian, it’s important that you know a bit more than just how great Maine coons are. They have different health problems than other house cats. They also have different needs than a normal house cat. I want you to have all the information you need to care for these amazing cats properly.

About the Maine coon breed

The Maine Coon is one of the oldest cat breeds in North America, believed to have originated in the state of Maine. It’s thought that they were bred from domestic cats and long-haired cats brought over by European settlers. They quickly became popular for their intelligence and loving personalities, and their popularity continues to this day.

Overall, the Maine Coon is a unique breed of cat that makes an excellent companion. With their long, thick fur, large size, and affectionate personality, it’s easy to see why they remain one of the most popular breeds today!

Maine coon  cat - maine coon vs regular cat

Maine coon vs regular cat: Differences in physical features

The Maine coon breed is “designed” for cold snowy winters. Purebred Maine coon cats have thick coats with luxurious fur to keep them warm in cold weather and their large paws are adapted to walking in the snow.

The most obvious difference between a Maine Coon and a regular house cat is the size –  they are the largest domesticated cat breed. 

→ Size and Weight:

Average Maine coon cats typically weigh between 10-25 pounds (4.5 -12kg), while the average weight of regular cats is around 7-10 pounds (3 – 4.5kg).

A mature Maine coon cat can grow up to 16 inches in height and can be up to 40 inches long (100cm). 

Female Maine coons are usually smaller than males. However, some males can be smaller than other males and on the other hand, some females can be bigger. 

If you compare Maine coon kittens to other kittens, they are not much bigger. However, they have big ears and huge paws, which makes the absolutely adorable if you ask me 🥰

→ Body:

Maine coons have different body shapes than most domestic cat breeds. Because of their unique musculature, they have a large rectangular body shape

There are a few other breeds that can have this body shape (for example Norwegian forest cat). But Maine coons have a distinct square-ish elongated head, long bushy tail, huge paws, and typical ears. The European Maine coons have slightly longer faces than those bred in the United States.

They have beautiful, long bushy tails and large ears with tufts of fur at the ends.

Their oval-shaped large eyes are set at a slightly oblique angle. 

→ Coat:

Maine coons have long, luxurious coats with silky fine hair. It’s waxy and water-resistant to keep them warm in harsh winter conditions. 

These beautiful cats can have different colors and patterns – the most common is brown classic or mackerel tabby.

The fur is especially long around the neck, which can sometimes look like a lion’s mane.

→ Vocalization:

These cats are quite vocal. You might think that a big cat like that will have a roaring voice. On the contrary – these giants don’t meow very much, instead, they use tilting and chirping, which comes as a surprise to most people. 

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Maine coon vs regular cat: Personality Differences

These large cats are known for being particularly friendly and gentle

They are sometimes called the “dogs” of the cat world, because of their dog-like characteristics. They love playing “fetch” with their owners and are very relaxed and laid-back companions. 

​​Maine Coons are incredibly sociable animals who love spending time with other family members. They’re friendly and affectionate cats that usually get along well with other pets in the household, such as dogs or other cats. 

Maine Coons also stand out from regular cats with their intelligence. They are known for being highly trainable and usually form strong bonds with their owners. And they need a lot of playtime.

However, they are quite independent and calm and are not emotionally needy. They will play with you, lay next to you, follow you around (if they feel like it), investigate, and help with whatever you are doing (yep, that feline curiosity and nosiness are all in there). But will also be content to be alone when you are at work.

I’ve read somewhere that a Maine coon will be your buddy but he will not be your baby ☺️

All in all, Maine Coons are a loving and affectionate breed of cat that makes an excellent companion. 

Maine coon vs regular cat: Differences in development

The average life expectancy of a Maine Coon is usually 10-15 years, while other domestic cats can live up to 20 years. 

And just like giant dog breeds, it takes them much longer to mature. 

Maine coons have a much slower growth rate than other cats.

It can take up to 3-4 years for them to reach full size. 

You need to be aware that your cat can be still small when 2 years old. Some owners think there is something wrong with their pets and even seek veterinary help. Believe me, it’s ok if your feline friend is still small at this age. She will grow to her full potential in a year or two 🙂

However, you need to take slow growth into consideration if you plan on breeding your cat. A female Maine coon cat needs those first 3-4 years to mature and to be able to carry the pregnancy to term safely. Don’t rush it, please!

White maine coon cat

Breed-specific health problems of Maine coon cats

Now, the important part. Maine coons are generally healthy cats, however, they are prone to some breed-specific diseases. 

Here are the most important ones you need to know about. Most of them are hereditary and can be screened out by genetic testing. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): 

It’s a heart condition when the heart walls become so thick they can’t contract normally. The disease causes enlargement of the heart and can lead to heart failure or sudden death. 

Studies have shown that in most Maine coons the disease is hereditary, caused by a genetic mutation. Nowadays there are genetic tests for breeders to detect HCM, and positive animals should be removed from the breeding program.

However, even a negative HCM genetic test can’t guarantee 100% that future animals will not develop the disease. Some studies suggest that 1/3 of cats that undergo genetic testing will still contract the disease.

Hip dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip joint, a condition that occurs in ca 20% of Main coon cats. It can range from mild to severe painful lameness.

The early signs are often hard to spot since cats are very good at masking pain.

The treatment depends on the severity of the condition – from medication, acupuncture, laser therapy, or physiotherapy to surgical intervention.

A good breeder will have his cats evaluated by a veterinary orthopedist. If you want to buy a Maine coon kitten, let the breeder show you proof that the parents have their hips rated as fair, good, or excellent.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA):

Another hereditary disease of Maine coon cats is spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). It affects the neurons in the spine that activate the skeletal muscles of limbs and the trunk. It leads to muscle weakness and degeneration.

Cats suffering from SMA will get wobbly, have problems jumping, and have abnormal postures.

The only positive is that the disease is not painful and usually not fatal. However, currently, there is no way to stop the progression.

For a kitten to develop SMA it has to receive the genes from both parents. If it receives the gene only from 1 parent, it will not develop SMA. Genetic tests are being developed for the breeders to identify potential carriers. 

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD):

It’s a hereditary condition where cats are born with cysts (pockets of fluid) on their kidneys that will grow with time.

They usually grow very slowly (over years). But at some point they have an impact on kidney function, resulting in kidney failure.

Kittens need the defective gene only from one parent to be born with PKD. 

maine coon cat

How to properly care for a Maine coon cat

Grooming Requirements:

Their shaggy coat requires proper care and regular grooming to keep it from becoming matted or tangled. Brushing them weekly helps remove dead hair and reduce shedding. 

Additionally, trimming their nails every few weeks and brushing their teeth regularly can help maintain their overall health. Taking the time for regular grooming sessions is important for keeping your Maine Coon healthy and looking its best! 

Nutrition:

Main coon cats are big and grow much longer than other cat breeds.

If you look at the recommendations from all super premium dog food brands, you can see that they recommend switching from kitten to mature diet when after ca 1 year. However, this is not enough for main coon kittens, because they have a much larger growth phase.

You can find adapted diets for Main coons where the growth phase is extended to 15 months. 

Regular veterinary check-ups:

If you want to buy a Maine coon, you can put a “pre-purchase” veterinary check-up as a requirement in the Kitten contract. 

I would highly recommend making an appointment at your vet clinic for the next day after you bring your new kitten home. 

Don’t forget that cats are masters at hiding any signs of pain. Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary to ensure your cat is happy and healthy. 

Insurance:

Find a good Pet insurance company for your pet. Some pet insurances offer full coverage for breed-specific conditions, google which one is best for you.

How to prevent hereditary diseases in your Maine coon cat

→ Find a reputable breeder

First of all, if you want to buy a healthy kitten, you need to find a responsible breeder. Ask if his cats went through genetic screening. Ask if his cats have any previous and current illnesses. 

Sign a Kitten contract with an agreed-upon pre-purchase check-up and defined probation period when buying your kitten.

→ Genetic testing

Genetic testing helps breeders screen out the most common hereditary diseases. However, a negative DNA test doesn’t mean your cat is 100% disease free. There is no such guarantee and beware of breeders who will tell you that their cats are 100% disease free.

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Maine Coons are a unique cat breed that is known for its beautiful long hair, large ears, and big paws adapted for walking on snow, bushy tail, and triangular face shape. They typically reach up to 40 inches in length from head to tail and have a variety of color variations including tabby, tortoiseshell, and more. Not only are they beautiful cats, but their friendly and affectionate personalities make them stand out from other breeds.

Maine Coons are generally healthy cats, but they can be prone to certain health issues that regular cats don’t have. Some of these include hip dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease), and polycystic kidney disease. To keep your Maine Coon as healthy as possible, make sure to take them for regular check-ups to the vet and provide them with a nutritious diet.

Overall, both Maine Coons and regular cats make wonderful companions, however, they do have distinct differences that should be taken into consideration when choosing a pet. With their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature, the Maine Coon is an excellent choice for any cat owner looking for a devoted feline friend!

And if you love these magnificent animals, check out this guy’s youtube channel! 😻

Happy cat parenting! ❣️☺️

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am and want to get more pet health tips, subscribe to my newsletter! Today you will get a free pet planner as a bonus 🤗

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