There are conflicting arguments as to whether Maine Coons have a double coat or a triple coat, and there’s a very good reason for the confusion: misunderstanding of cat hair types and cat coat layers!
Maine Coons have a double coat comprising an undercoat and a topcoat. However, their coats also consist of three hair types which is why you might hear them referred to as cats with triple coats.
What is a Maine Coon double coat and what are the three hair types they possess?
Maine Coon coat layers
A Maine Coon’s double coat has five purposes:
- to keep it warm in cold weather
- to keep it cool in hot weather
- to keep it dry in wet weather
- to protect it from the sun
- to repel dirt
Two layers ensure the above criteria are met: an undercoat and a topcoat. together these are known as a double coat.
The Maine Coon undercoat
A Maine Coon’s undercoat consists of short, soft, down hairs. These provide insulation by trapping body warmth and keeping it close to the skin.
As Maine Coons originated in a cold climate, they have a particularly thick undercoat. In warmer seasons, this is the layer that sheds.
In warm weather, a Maine Coon’s undercoat becomes thinner and aids with temperature regulation by trapping cool air and preventing warmth from penetrating its skin.
When you groom a Maine Coon, it is its downy undercoat that is removed in copious amounts!
Because its coat is designed to help with temperature control in hot weather, it is not recommended to shave a Maine Coon to help keep it cool.
The Maine Coon topcoat
A Maine Coons glorious topcoat has two hair types: guard hairs and awn hairs.
Guard hairs are long and coarse when compared to undercoat hairs. A Maine Coon’s guard hairs are longer than those of many other cat breeds.
Guard hairs are not present in Maine Coon kittens but develop with age.
The main purpose of guard hairs is to provide a Maine Coon with protection from rain, sun, and dirt. They are slightly oily to repel water and also provide a barrier between a cat’s skin and UV rays from the sun.
The oily content of guard hairs gives a Maine Coon its shiny coat, and their pigment is responsible for the cat’s coat color.
The majority of a Maine Coon’s topcoat is made up of awn hairs. Some people do refer to awn hairs as a separate coat but in reality, they are just a part of the topcoat.
A Maine Coon’s awn hairs serve a dual purpose: they perform the same functions as down hairs and guard hairs.
A Maine Coon kitten will begin to grow awn hairs at the same time as guard hairs.
Awn hairs are longer than down hairs and shorter than guard hairs – at about 5 to 6 months of age.
Caring for a Maine Coon’s double coat
Although all Maine Coon’s have the same double coat, the thickness and texture vary wildly.
You may be lucky and find your Maine Coon keeps its coat in good order on its own, but the chances are you’ll find your cat needs regular grooming to remain free of mats.
The undercoat of a Maine Coon does have a tendency to get knotted and if left unattended these knots link up and pull at the cat’s skin, creating sore, uncomfortable patches.
Once mats develop, they are difficult to remove and may have to be shaved off – and this is not an easy task either!
Regular grooming with a brush stiff enough to penetrate the undercoat is recommended – but ensure it does not scratch the skin. I use a slicker brush similar to this one on Amazon for all four of my Maine Coons.
What to do if a Maine Coon’s coat develops mats
There are three ways to deal with mats in a Maine Coons fur:
- Attempt to remove them yourself but be extremely careful if using scissors as a cat’s skin is loose and paper-thin, and can be drawn up within the mat and get snipped
- Book a professional cat groomer
- Book a groom at the vets – the best idea if sedation is necessary
Does a double coat mean bathing is necessary?
I have owned Maine Coons for 25 years and have never bathed one yet.
Many people do bathe Maine Coons but I would only recommend it if your cat needs it for a reason such as cleaning up after a toileting accident.
Before bathing a Maine Coon, it is a good idea to groom out mats as these can be made worse by the rubbing action of shampooing.
There are several shampoos suitable for Maine Coons – it is not recommended to use human products as these are not developed with cat fur in mind.
Do Maine Coons grow a winter coat?
In the summer, Maine Coons sheds a lot of their undercoat, reducing the overall density of their double coats.
In the winter, a Maine Coon’s undercoat thickens up again to provide warmth as the temperature drops. So it’s true to say a Maine Coon can have a winter coat.
Centrally heated homes can play havoc with a cat’s shedding cycle, especially if it is an indoor cat. So don’t be surprised if a Maine Coon tends to shed all year round for this reason.
Do Maine Coons have a double coat? Conclusion
Main Coons have a double coat consisting of three hair types: down, awn, and guard.
Their coat serves to keep them warm, dry, and protected from the sun so it’s important to help keep it in tip-top condition with regular grooming.