The mighty Maine Coon cat is one of the most popular cat breeds the world over. These long-haired giants have a lot going for them: they’re the state cat of Maine, the record-holder for longest domestic cat breed, often blessed with extra toes, and beloved for their excellent temperament.
As Maine Coons are known for being one of the largest domestic cat breeds, some pet parents may wonder if cat lifespans are similar to dogs’—that the larger the breed, the shorter the lifespan. We’ll explore the answer to this question and more.
When it comes to how long your cat will live, there are many factors that impact their lifespan, including nutrition, exercise needs, genetic conditions, and proper grooming. Taking the best care of your pet can help ensure they live a long and healthy life.
You should be prepared for all of a Maine Coon’s needs before you adopt one. Learning about their care requirements can prolong their time spent as your furry best friend.
The lifespan of a Maine Coon
A Maine Coon that is in good health (and stays indoors) can typically live for 12 to 15 years. When we consider that the average lifespan of an indoor house cat is 10 to 15 years, it’s a relief to see that Maine Coons are right on track!
Unlike dog breeds, larger cat breeds don’t necessarily have shorter average lifespans than smaller cat breeds. And this isn’t all that surprising, considering that the difference between small and large cat breeds is only 10-15 pounds—whereas the difference between small and large dog breeds can be upwards of 100 pounds!
Maine Coons are playful and friendly cats that love interacting with their humans, although they don’t require constant attention. They are typically good at entertaining themselves, but benefit from daily exercise with their family members.
Like many other cats, there are medical conditions that could impact their health, so it’s essential to take your cat to the vet regularly.
What is a Maine Coon?
The Maine Coon cat is one of the largest—if not THE largest—natural domestic cat breeds, weighing on average between 10 and 18 pounds. However, the largest Maine Coons can weigh up to 25 pounds.
This cat is more than just their impressive size, however. Keep reading to learn about the Maine Coon’s long history and amazing personality.
There have been many “theories” about the origin of the Maine Coon, some more fantastic than others: For example, you may have heard that Maine Coons are part raccoon. Other legends include the Maine Coon arriving in the U.S. when Vikings visited, or that they descended from Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Angora cats.
The truth is a little more mundane: It’s most likely that Maine Coons originated over the course of centuries (as early as the 1600s) from encounters between domesticated American Shorthair cats and long-haired cats from overseas. Their heavy, water-resistant coat and large, muscular body makes the Maine Coon cat suited for harsh New England winters.
These cats served as useful hunters for centuries, keeping vermin out of barns and homes. Eventually they were welcomed inside as loving, playful companions.
As mentioned earlier, Maine Coon cats are notable for their large size. Beyond impressively tipping the scales, this cat breed is the longest out there: They typically range between 30-40 inches, with the world record-holder Maine Coon cat recorded at 48.5 inches long.
These cats have thick, shaggy fur that can come in all colors and patterns. A fluffy ruff accents their chests, and they have large paws that are often polydactyl—meaning they have extra toes, the better to hunt and climb!
Although their history as hard-working hunting cats is well-documented, Maine Coons today are loved for their playful, adaptable, and friendly temperaments. They are easygoing enough to get along with just about anyone, and their dog-like playfulness means they can be trained to fetch and walk on a leash.
These cats provide an all-around balanced personality in their family’s household: they’re spirited, but aren’t always bouncing off the walls with hyperactivity; they’re affectionate, but not demanding of their human’s attention; they’re vocal (more likely to chirp or trill than cry), but not badgering.
Potential health-related concerns
There are certain medical conditions for which your Maine Coon cat might be more at risk, so knowing what to look out for can help improve your response rate to any abnormalities.
Hip dysplasia, which results from the abnormal development of the hip joint, can cause limping and lameness in Maine Coons. Hips may be poorly aligned, leading to discomfort and reduced physical activity. Hip dysplasia may even lead to early arthritis, which is chronically undertreated in cats.
Like many breeds, Maine Coons can also develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or when the heart muscles become too thickened. Over time, this condition can worsen heart function and lead to heart disease in cats. This breed may also be prone to polycystic kidney disease, an inherited condition that causes cysts to form on the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney disease.
Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disorder specific to Maine Coon kittens and cats. This condition causes a cat’s spinal muscles to slowly degenerate, and can be apparent by 3-4 months old with signs of muscle weakness and abnormal gait. Fortunately the condition is not painful—but it can be disabling, and requires lots of care.
Giving your Maine Coon the best life
While your Maine Coon probably won’t be overly needy, you’ll still want to ensure you’re providing them the means to live their longest, happiest life possible. Even though these cats are easygoing, they love attention from family members (or even strangers!), so don’t assume they’d prefer to be left alone all the time.
Providing daily physical stimulation in-person and the means for other forms of stimulation while you’re away is the best approach to caring for your Maine Coon.
Interactive toys and furniture
Your Maine Coon loves to play, and may need a little boost from their humans to burn enough calories to balance their hearty appetites. Use laser pointers, cat wands, ball toys, and catnip to spice up a zoomies session. While you’re not home, toys like puzzle feeders can be a fun and stimulating distraction. So can cat furniture, which allows your Maine Coon to climb new heights, survey the world from above (or the world outside if next to a window), and scratch furniture you actually want them to scratch.
Adventure and exploration
Although cats should ideally be kept indoors, Maine Coons often have the right temperament (not to mention protective coat) to brave the outdoors—with you, that is! Consider teaching your Maine Coon how to walk on a leash and go for short explorations outside. This will provide physical and mental stimulation that your Maine Coon can’t achieve indoors. Just be sure to keep them on a leash, and keep up on heartworm, flea, and tick medication!
Most Maine Coons are naturally large, but that doesn’t mean they should get much larger portions than the average cat. Your Maine Coon cat becoming obese only puts them at further risk for the health conditions listed earlier.
To combat obesity, try an automatic pet feeder that dispenses healthy portions several times a day.
Grooming needs met
The long, thick fur of the Maine Coon can become matted and tangled if not groomed on a regular basis. You may be able to get away with brushing or combing them once a week, but in the spring and summer you’ll be better off grooming them daily.
Make sure to trim your Maine Coon’s nails at least once a month and brush their teeth if they’ll let you. More likely, you’ll need to have your vet do dental cleanings on your Maine Coon.
Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining your Maine Coon’s health. Make sure to take your cat to the vet annually before 10 years of age (or more, if your cat has certain medical conditions), and at least twice a year after that.
Since Maine Coons are predisposed to certain medical conditions, being aware of any changes in physical health or behavior is paramount. With the help of app-connected, automatic pet appliances like a self-cleaning litter box or pet feeder, you can keep better track of your cat’s health habits and alert the vet as needed.
Welcoming a Maine Coon
When properly cared for, a Maine Coon cat can live a long and happy life by your side. Ample love, lots of playtime, and paying attention to your cat’s needs and habits (and any changes in those) will go a long way toward keeping your kitty healthy. The mighty special Maine Coon deserves a mighty special home—and you’re so lucky if you can be the one to give it to them!