When people hear the words Maine Coon, the image of a large fluffy cat springs to mind. These cats are certainly well known for their size. It’s no surprise that many owners expect their cat to reach the gargantuan proportions of those specimens that occasionally hit the headlines.
Today, many Maine Coons are actually overweight because it is presumed that they are meant to be large. It is important for owners to keep a check on a Maine Coon’s growth to ensure it stays within a healthy weight range for its overall size. How can this be achieved?
The best way to keep a check on a Maine Coons weight is to keep a growth chart. What is a Maine Coon growth chart and how do you keep one? A growth chart shows a cat’s weight plotted against its age. The easiest way to create one is to weigh your Maine Coon at regular intervals and keep a record of the data.
Keeping a Maine Coon growth chart
Your Maine Coon breeder may be able to provide you with the data from your kitten’s date of birth to the date it came to live with you, otherwise, don’t worry, just start a chart in the first week that you get your kitten.
You will need:
- A hardback notebook that will last for your cats lifetime
- Graph paper or graphing software
The best scales
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use a standard set of bathroom scales as these won’t be accurate enough to respond to a light-weight kitten.
Producing a graph
It’s not as difficult as you may think. There are two ways you can go about this:
- Draw a graph by hand – This is fairly straight forward to do. You need a sheet of graph or squared paper, a pencil and a ruler. Draw your x and y-axis. Allow for 26 weeks, evenly spaced apart on your x-axis (horizontal axis) and allow for 140 ounces evenly spaced on your y-axis (vertical axis). Hopefully, the example above will help you do this. Plot your kitten’s weight week by week, joining the dots as you go, and you should get a fairly straight graph line by 26 weeks.
- Use some graphing software – If you are technically minded you could attempt to produce a graph via a pc or laptop. Excel has a graphing facility or you might find some graphing software by googling. I used www.chartgo.com for the example above.
One thing to note about Maine Coons is that, unlike most domestic cats, they can keep growing until they are about 4 years old. So during this time, you should continue to keep a close eye on its size and weight to ensure it stays in tip-top health.
Another thing to bear in mind is that every Maine Coon is different. They will all grow at different rates and can vary vastly in weight. It is difficult for anyone to say how much a Maine Coon should weigh at any given point in its life.
The best way to check a Maine Coon’s size
How much should mature Maine Coons weigh? Female Maine Coons generally weigh between 8 and 12 pounds, and males range from 11 to 22 pounds.
What you must remember is that it is extremely rare for a Maine Coon to weigh more than 22 pounds. Those who do are few and far between. If you ever meet a 30 pound Maine Coon it is extremely likely to be overweight unless it happens to have a very tall and long frame.
As far as height is concerned, females tend to stand between 10 and 14 inches tall and males between 10 and 16 inches. When it comes to length males and females can measure about 40 inches from the tip of their noses to the end of their tails.
Maine Coons take a lot longer to reach full size than other breeds of cat. At birth, they are typically the same size as other breeds (about 4 ounces) but they do generally grow more quickly.
The average domestic cat weighs 8 pounds and reaches this weight by the time it is 2 years old. Some Maine Coons achieve this weight by 6 months then keep growing at a slower rate until reaching their full size between 3 and 4 years of age.
Keep monthly records from 6 months onwards
Up until 6 months of age, you can weigh your Maine Coon weekly. Then, make a plan to record your Maine Coon’s measurements on a monthly basis from the age of 6 months until it reaches full size.
You may prefer to create a spreadsheet of your results but make sure you back it up so that you don’t lose your data.
In addition to your scales, you will need a tailors tape measure (the soft, flexible type). Don’t attempt to use a steel tape as these can have sharp edges. And a solid ruler is far
If possible engage a helper to distract your cat with tasty treats while you get to work taking down its vital statistics.
If your cat finds the experience frightening or distressing it won’t be easy to repeat the process every month and it may even protest with its teeth and claws.
Don’t use force when taking measurements
If you want to successfully measure your cat on a monthly basis, start when it is young and try to make it feel like play. This will give you the best chance of succeeding.
All cats are different and even a cat that is easy to measure and weigh one month may not be so compliant the next. Make sure everything is ready and use your cat’s favorite treat as a reward after each session.
Measuring a kitten
Everything is a game to a kitten. As long as yours has been well socialized and handled lots from birth it should be easy to handle.
Weighing a kitten is fairly straight forward if you make sure the scales are ready and set to zero. Getting a height measurement should be fairly straight forward.
Measuring its length may be a little trickier and it may be easier if you hold the measure out on the floor and have a helper quickly and gently stretch the kitten out for you.
Don’t worry too much about this measurement for the first few months, just go through the motions so your kitten becomes used to the sensation.
It’s usually easier to measure and weigh a tired kitten so have a good play session first. Then get your measurements when it’s exhausted. And of course, treats are a great way to reward a cat.
Get to know what its favorites are and it will soon associate being put on the scales and having the strange tape draped over it with getting something good to eat.
Ensure you only use that particular treat at monthly measurement time or it will lose its effect.
When and what to measure
It’s easier to see results in weight and size changes if you record them once a month. Hopefully, you will then see a pattern emerging.
The three measurements to make are:
- Length from nose to tail tip
- Height from shoulder to floor
As mentioned before a platform scale is best. Place it on a firm level surface and zero the scale. Place your cat gently on the scales and, hopefully, you will get a weight measurement before it leaps off.
Do this in the morning before your cat eats. Holding a treat just above its nose might help. If your cat allows you to, take another measurement to check it comes out the same.
To measure your Maine Coon’s length you will need it stretched out as long as possible. This is where a helper comes in handy especially, as your cat becomes larger.
You can measure it in one go from nose to end of tail, if it is content to stretch out on the floor, or you can take three measurements and add them together – that is tail, then the nape of the neck to base of tail, and finally, nose to the nape of the neck.
Don’t stress your cat out in the name of getting this measurement – it just isn’t worth it. If you just get the body length (from the nape of the neck to the base of the tail) each time you can still compare this from month to month.
To measure your cat’s height, it needs to be standing up on all fours. Again a treat can be used to encourage it to hold its head straight out. Measure from the top of one shoulder to the floor.
Do Maine Coons have growth spurts?
They do but, its impossible to give a specific age for these. I have two Maine Coon boys from the same litter. They were the same size when we got them (about 4 pounds each) and grew at about the same rate until they were a year old.
Then after they reached one year, one suddenly became a pound heavier, so one was 9 pounds and the other was 10. Then they both continued to grow until they were 3 years when one weighed 11 pounds and the other weighed 13. They still weigh this at 14 years of age.
Every cat will develop differently. Some people say Maine Coons put on an average of 2 pounds per month from the age of three months until they reach 8 months. Neither of ours did. They seemed to steadily gain about 0.75 pounds per month from the age of 4 months.
So, expect the odd growth spurt but only for short periods between the ages of 4 and 12 months. If your Maine Coon seems to be consistently gaining weight but not a relative amount of height and length then keep feeling its and looking closely at its shape to make sure it is not piling on excess fat.
Other things that contribute to good health
In addition to weighing and measuring your cat, you should also ensure that it gets plenty of
Ensure it has sturdy scratching posts that allow it to work and flex its shoulder muscles and ligaments, and keep its claws healthy. Room to run is also important for using up pent up energy.
Make sure you engage it in play on a daily basis for at least 15 minutes. Not only does exercise keep a cat’s body healthy it keeps its mind healthy too.
Every so often, give your Maine Coon a hug and feel its muscle tone. By 6 months of age, it should have lost its cuddly kitten softness and be lean and muscley, particularly in the thigh and hip area. If its ribs and spine are protruding too much it may need a little more food each day.
When is a Maine Coon too big?
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to influence your Maine Coons size with food. Overfeeding does not increase its actual size but it does increase the amount of unhealthy fat it has to carry on its frame.
Allowing a Maine Coon to become overweight is nothing to be proud of and will not impress anyone who cares about animals. Don’t try to break records; do your best to keep your cat healthy.
If you hear someone bragging about a 30 pound Maine Coon you can be almost certain that they have an overweight cat in desperate need of a healthy diet.
The Guinness Book of World records no longer records the weight of Maine Coons, only their lengths. The length a cat can reach is in its genes and you can’t do anything to change this.
A very good way to tell if your Maine Coon is at a healthy weight is to use your eyes and hands.
Run your hands down its back you should just be able to feel its spine. Place your hands on your cat’s shoulders and run them firmly along its sides. Its ribs should be distinguishable but not protruding.
Its abdomen should not bulge out wider than its rib cage. Finally, stroke your cat’s chest while it is standing and run your hand along its belly. This should be level and not hang down.
When you stand over a Maine Coon and gently smooth the fur on its sides you should see it visibly dip in between its lower ribs and hips.
If your cat passes all of these tests then it is not overweight. If you can’t feel its skeleton and it has a bulging tummy it may be time to visit your vet for a second opinion on its weight.
A cat can suffer from numerous health problems if it is allowed to be overweight, or even worse, becomes obese. For further information, please see my post that gives more detail about weight issues in Maine Coons, aptly named Is My Maine Coon Overweight.
Other things a Maine Coon develops with age
All kittens are born with blue eyes. These will change as they grow into one of the standard Maine Coon colors. They can stay blue in solid white cats and any that have white in their coats. Occasionally this white/part white group will develop odd eyes.
As kittens, Maine Coons have fairly short fur. Their tails look like most other cats. Their fur begins to lengthen at about 2 months of age and by 4 months is medium in length and their tails start to lengthen.
Most Maine Coons develop a long neck ruff by 18 months of age and on
If you take the time to keep a check on your Maine Coon’s growth and ensure it maintains a healthy weight for its body size, you will have a happy and healthy cat.
Prevention is better than cure and putting an overweight cat on a diet is not an easy task. Remember, Maine Coon sizes can vary vastly. Whatever proportions yours grows to, big or small, it will definitely be a beautiful, loving and sociable cat.
Finally – if you want to find out absolutely everything about the Maine Coon – then check out our Maine Coon Complete Guide.