Maine Coon cats can drink milk but they can’t digest it properly because they don’t produce enough of the enzyme required to break down its lactose content. Undigested milk ferments in their stomachs causing cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Maine Coons are lactose intolerant rather than allergic to dairy products.
Maine Coon kittens can drink milk until they are weaned because up to this point they produce enough of the enzyme lactase to break down the lactose (sugar content) in milk. Once they are weaned, their digestive systems gradually reduce the amount of lactase secreted and then they can no longer tolerate milk.
What Should Maine Coons Eat?
Maine Coons should be fed a balanced diet consisting of good quality protein from meat, supplemented with essential nutrients. A mix of prepared wet and dry food is ideal. Homemade food is fine as long as it contains everything that they need for good health. Before we examine the intricacies of a Maine Coon’s dietary requirements let’s answer a few popular diet related questions.
Do Maine Coons Need Special Food?
Maine Coons do not need special food. However, they should be fed a high quality, nutritionally balanced diet specifically developed for cats. Provide a combination of wet and dry food to ensure they consume the moisture they require and give their teeth a workout at the same time.
Can Maine Coons Eat Raw Meat?
Maine Coons are perfectly capable of eating raw meat. Their short, acidic digestive tracts cope with it quite effectively and many pathogens pass through to their bowels without causing any problems. But, raw meat can contain disease-causing parasites and bacteria so only use meat declared fit for human consumption.
Do Maine Coons Eat a Lot?
Maine Coons do not need a lot to eat, just the right amount for their size and activity level. Cats usually stop eating when they are full and return for more when they feel hungry. Some cats develop bad eating habits and become obese so it’s best to provide measured portions. Indoor cats need less food than outdoor cats.
What do Maine Coon Cats Eat?
Maine Coon cats like to eat a variety of food. Offer them good quality cat food from cans or sachets with a high moisture content to counteract the fact that they don’t always drink enough. Alternate this with a dry food made of reasonably large pieces so they can crunch on them to help exercise and clean their teeth.
How to Feed a Maine Coon Cat
First of all, a Maine Coon’s diet should be tailored to its life stage. Where food is concerned, cats are divided into three groups:
- Kitten/junior – 1 to months
- Adults – 12 months to 6 years
- Senior – 7 plus years
Whatever life stage your cat is at, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for serving sizes and the number of servings per day. These can vary according to the size of your cat. As an example, our 14-year-old Maine Coons weigh 11 lbs and 13 lbs and each eats about 5 3-ounce sachets per day and they share a small bowl of dry food each day. They are allowed outside, are still quite active cats and neither is over or underweight.
If you ever need to use automatic feeders, here are three different types I happily recommend.
unior Maine Coons
Give your kitten food specifically developed for kittens as it has the correct proportions of fat and protein for their growing bodies. Also look for food that has undergone Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) feeding trials. This guarantees that the food is nutritionally balanced for kittens. Many pet food companies create their food from recipes that are never trialed on kittens before supplying it to stores. The best companies invest in scientific research and consult with cat nutritionists to produce a food that is suited to a kitten’s development.
Wet food is ideal earlier in this stage because it is gentler on their little teeth. Dry food can gradually be introduced if you prefer it but most people prefer to offer a mix of wet and dry.
Adult Maine Coons
From about 12 months you can switch your Maine Coon onto adult food and continue with this until they reach 7 years. This food is less calorie dense but still contains all the nutrients necessary for good health. If you continue with kitten food for longer there is no danger to your cat’s health other than it could gain too much weight. Again look out for AAFCO approved food.
Again a mix of wet and dry food is recommended to ensure your cat gets moisture and gets to use its teeth.
Senior Maine Coons
Once they reach 7 years of age, Maine Coons are considered senior cats. Most of them probably don’t act senior in any way at this age, so it might seem strange to start feeding them senior food. Senior food is lower calorie, contains high-quality protein and is often fortified with extra vitamin E to boost a cat’s natural defenses. If your cat is still extremely active at 7, you can continue with adult food and just see how it goes. If you notice it gaining weight then it’s probably time for senior food. And of course look for AAFCO approval.
Wet vs Dry Food
People often query which type is best and as long as both types are good quality they should be nutritionally equivalent.
There are various reasons owners give for choosing one or the other. I’ve listed some of these with a response where applicable:
- Their cat prefers wet
- Their cat prefers dry
- They find dry more convenient
- Dry is less smelly
- Dry stays fresher for longer once served – This is definitely true. Flies don’t lay eggs on dry food but they do target wet. And after a couple of hours on a hot day, wet food does dry out and start to smell more.
- Their cat’s poo is more solid when they eat dry food
- They think dry food is better for oral hygiene – This is not always the case. Many dry food pieces are so small that cats swallow them whole so they have no effect on their teeth at all. If the pieces are large enough to crunch a crumbly residue sticks to their moist teeth which helps to build up plaque rather then to remove it. So it seems dry food isn’t really that great for keeping a cats teeth clean after all.
- They think wet food is an indulgence – It may be more expensive but many cats prefer it to dry and it contains more protein.
- Dry food is cheaper – This is true but it also contains less protein
- They think wet is better because of its moisture content – This is true and is an important factor as many cats don’t drink enough and so need the water they absorb from wet food.
- They think wet is less processed than dry – If you look at the ingredients list on either it is quite shocking. Dry foods are heavily processed but so are many wet foods. Try to find a wet food with high unprocessed meat content. It isn’t easy to come by.
- They believe wet food helps prevent urinary tract infections – This is true as urinary tract infections are amplified by a lack of water in a cat’s diet.
A mix of wet and dry is the ideal diet for Maine Coons. We have always offered our Maine Coons dry and wet food and at 14 years of age, they are extremely healthy.
On a hot day, it’s best to offer wet food and then dispose of the leftovers soon after, leaving dry food available for snacks throughout the day.
Raw vs Cooked
A cooked diet from cans or sachets is a safe choice, but many people are drawn to the idea of giving cats a raw diet as they believe it is what nature intended. Do bear in mind that cats in the wild live considerably shorter lives than domesticated cats.
Owners do report that their Maine Coons thrive well on raw food. Here are some points you should bear in mind:
- Make sure your cat is fit and healthy before giving it a raw food diet. If any food happens to be contaminated you want to be sure your cat has a strong enough constitution to cope with any side effects.
- Ensure you only use meat classified fit for human consumption. If you use defrosted frozen meat then parasites should be killed off by the freezing process but this can’t be guaranteed. Freezing does not kill pathogens. There is a good chance of raw meat containing extremely dangerous bacteria such as E-coli, salmonella and listeria, and parasites such as Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma
gondii(a bacteria that is extremely dangerous to human babies).
- Many cats on a raw diet may need a specific dietary supplement to ensure their diet is nutritionally balanced.
- If you come in to contact with contaminated meat you could transfer bacteria or parasites to yourself and other family members. Good food hygiene and careful storage is essential.
- There is no scientific evidence that confirms a raw food diet relieves dietary related allergy problems in cats.
- The best way to remove the risk of contracting a bacterial infection from meat is to cook it thoroughly.
I have read various articles on the pros and cons of raw food cat diets and the risks outweigh the benefits as far as I’m concerned. If it’s something you are considering do your research thoroughly for your sake as well as your cat’s.
Can a Maine Coon Have a Vegetarian Diet?
The straight forward answer is no, not really.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means the nutrients they require for survival are derived from a meat only diet. However, there are vegetarian cat food brands on the market and if you are determined to go down this route make sure you choose one that is well-supplemented with all the necessary nutrients. It will be probably stand out because it will be expensive.
What you might find is that your cat just doesn’t like vegetarian food as the lack of meat means it holds no allure for it. We all know how picky cats can be at the best of times.
Do Maine Coons Need Fruit and Vegetables?
Unlike us humans, cats don’t need fruit and vegetables to give them a balanced
The following are thought to be toxic to cats:
Here are a few vegetables and fruits a cat can safely snack on (if it likes them):
You can give a Maine Coon homemade food if you want to go to the trouble. There is a whole raft of recipes available – just ensure they contain everything your cat needs for good health. You might eventually make up your own, once you know the basics.
What Constitutes a Balanced Diet for a Maine Coon?
A cat requires about 5 ounces of a good quality protein per day and this should account for 28% of its food intake. Chicken and fish are good examples.
Fat and Essential Fatty Acids
Cats need fats including essential fatty acids omega 3 and Omega 6.
At least 10% and as much as 50% of a cats diet should be made up from fat. This can come from poultry, beef, pork and fish but can also be added using corn, soybeans, and safflower oil.
When cats groom and swallow their fur, fiber in their diet helps it pass through their digestive system. A lack of fiber can lead to hairballs.
Fiber need only make up about 2 to 4 % of a cats diet and can be incorporated by adding a few whole grains or a little amount of a vegetable such as broccoli. Too much carbohydrate can lead to weight gain, so be careful.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of a cats diet. The best way to incorporate these is through a correct balance of protein, fat, fatty acids and a supplement designed specifically for cats.
Here’s what they need:
- Vitamins A, D, E, K
Maine Coons and Food Allergies
These are the common food substances that cats can develop allergies to:
- Meat byproducts – These are often used as fillers in cheap cat food and include ground up organs, tissues, bones, feathers and fat. Swap to better quality food.
- Artificial Coloring – These are used to make certain foods look more appealing to us, not our cats! They are unnecessary so avoid foods that use them.
- Preservatives – Occasionally cats can have an allergy to certain preservatives. If there is no other obvious allergen in the food it could be the preservative it contains that is causing the problem. Look for an alternative brand that does not contain the preservatives in the problem food.
- Corn Products – Cornmeal is another cheap food filler and can be avoided by selecting a better quality food.
- Dairy products – Cats aren’t allergic to dairy products. They lack the enzyme lactase that breaks down the lactose that dairy products contain. So any large quantities of foods such as milk will cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. This is known as lactose intolerance.
- Seafood – If seafood seems to disagree with your cat, remove it from its diet
Have you noticed how cats seem to love a particular food and then turn their noses up at it for no obvious reason – and often after you’ve just purchased a 6 month supply! W
It’s hard to say what makes a cat suddenly picky but we find changing the brand for a while helps. Our Maine Coons usually get through a couple of boxes of new food and then go off that. After this, they tend to eat the previous brand again. We experiment with different textures such as jelly, gravy, and sauce.
Another thing we do is offer plain white fish such as cod, haddock or coli as an evening meal. They really love it and its particularly bland so is good after any sickness.
Another thing to try is a different bowl. Apparently, some cats get whisker fatigue where they hate their whiskers touching the sides of their bowl. Try changing to a shallower dish – this is a popular design – and see if it makes a difference.
It is important that a cat eats regularly, especially if this is how it gets most of its moisture intake. If yours doesn’t eat for more than a day take it to your vet for a check-up.
Clearly, there is more than one way to feed a Maine Coon. Only you can decide which to choose, though I’m sure your cat will guide you in one way or another by its reactions to the food you serve!