If you’ve never owned a Maine Coon kitten before, it’s easy to wonder if there is anything special you need to know about caring for one.
Sixteen years ago we went kitten hunting and adopted two Maine Coon kittens aged 18 weeks. They’d been returned to their breeder and were looking for their forever home.
Then 10 months ago, we welcomed two more Maine Coon kittens into our home, Fred and Oscar.
It is important to learn how to raise a Maine Coon kitten correctly in order to for it to become a healthy adult. The free-feeding method is highly recommended until a Maine Coon kitten is one year old as this ensures they develop a strong musculoskeletal framework.
Like all kittens, Maine Coons need plenty of stimulation and socialization to help them grow into confident adult cats.
Be prepared for a lot of clumsiness as Maine Coon kittens grow to quite a size very quickly and their fine motor skills never quite seem to catch them up.
Even though Maine Coon kittens look bigger when compared to the average kitten, they still need lots of protection from their own silly antics. The basic rule of thumb is to think of kittens as you would toddlers and keep dangerous things out of their way.
Things we considered before buying our first Maine Coon kittens
- Will a kitten get lonely when we’re out? We both thought, “Yes,” so both decided we would have to get two kittens, not one.
- Could we afford two? We checked our bank balance and the answer was yes.
- Will we be able to afford insurance for two cats? We got some quotes and were unpleasantly surprised at the cost but, yes, it was doable and, we felt, was worthwhile having.
- Could we tolerate the damage kittens might cause to the soft furnishings? We had just moved and the carpets were old enough. Our couches were quite old too. We didn’t care much for the curtains and so could put up with them being clawed. So we came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t be worried about any damage they might inflict.
- The kittens would be in all day while we were at work. Would they have enough space to play? Yes, our new house ticked that box.
- We go away for a week every summer. Is there someone we can call on to look after two kittens? A cousin who was renting a house locally agreed he would stay over for a week each summer, and any other time we wanted to go away. So we were OK there.
- Maine Coons are generally a very healthy breed so they may live for a very long time. Could we imagine sharing the next 12 plus years with two? We instantly knew that this wouldn’t be a chore for us and hoped it would be for much longer.
- How much will their food and annual health checks cost? After a few calculations we realized this would mount up to a rather tidy sum but, again, we were happy to part with this money for the pleasure we knew we would get over the years.
- What will we call them? Err, not Starsky and Hutch! We decided we would pick names to suit the kittens when we got them home.
Why did we want Maine Coon kittens?
To be honest, we would have had any kitten. My family had always had cats from when I was young, and so had Matt’s.
Mine had all been cross-bred (moggies we called them) and had all been rescued one way or another.
After I left home, every time I visited my parents I noticed my eyes itched, I sneezed and became wheezy. The symptoms were far worse if I held one of the cats.
It soon became obvious that I had developed an allergy to cats. When I met my husband-to-be, I also met his Maine Coon, who lived with his dad.
His name was Oscar and he decided he was sleeping with us that night. I thought, “I’m going die,” but I didn’t suffer from an allergic reaction and was still alive and kicking in the morning.
When Matt and I bought a house together, being cat lovers, we wanted a cat or two. We knew we could get a Maine Coon and I wouldn’t spend my life itching, sneezing, and wheezing.
Why do you want a Maine Coon kitten?
Here are some of the reasons people give for wanting a Maine Coon kitten:
- They are so cute.
- They’re huge fluff-balls.
- They want a family-friendly pet and someone has recommended a Maine Coon.
- They want an independent pet that can be left home alone.
Sorry, but buying a Maine Coon kitten just because it is cute is not a good enough reason. Yes, they are gorgeous.
But you should consider the fact that this little ball of fluff will grow into a rather large pussycat. Are you ready for that? Is your home big enough?
Maine Coons are family-friendly but this can have a lot to do with the way a family treats a kitten as it is growing up.
If a Maine Coon is not treated gently and kindly, if it is constantly teased and pulled around, there is no guarantee that it will be gentle as an adult.
Having said that, Maine Coons do seem to have a lot more tolerance with children than other cats in my experience.
Yes, cats are independent compared to dogs but Maine Coons don’t like to be alone for long periods of time. Will you be at home much or will it be left alone for long periods of time?
When you get home after any period of absence will you have time to play with your Maine Coon and give it lots of attention? Could you possibly get 2 so they can keep each other company?
If someone has recommended you get a Maine Coon, have they explained fully what it’s really like and how much it costs to own one?
Once you have established you have a worthy reason for buying a Maine Coon, here’s the next thing to consider and it’s quite a big consideration.
The cost of purchasing and raising a Maine Coon kitten
If you buy a Maine Coon kitten from a breeder, it will cost you anything from $800 to $2000 dollars (and possibly more) depending on the area you purchase it from.
If you buy a kitten from a rescue center it will cost you less but you won’t know its history. This shouldn’t be a problem though, it will still be worthy of a loving home.
The purchase price pales into insignificance when you add up the cost of owning a Maine Coon over the years. You should look at the cost of food, health insurance, annual vaccinations, and health checks as well as the cost of someone looking after your cat every time you take a vacation.
And then there are all those accessories from beds to bowls to toys to pet carriers. It soon mounts up to a rather hefty price. You may be shocked at just how much you could end up spending over the years.
If you’re not put off by the cost then consider this next …
Where can you buy a Maine Coon kitten
There are three main choices:
From a registered breeder
If you intend to buy a Maine Coon kitten from a breeder do your research. Visit the breeder and ask lots of questions.
A decent breeder will happily show you proof that their kittens are from healthy parents who have been fully screened to ensure they have no diseases that can be genetically transmitted.
They will also have proof that their kittens have had their first vaccinations. There should be evidence that the kittens are being socialized with people so that they are used to being handled.
The environment should be friendly and calm and they will happily give you a full tour of the premises. Trust your instincts and keep searching until you find a breeder you feel comfortable with.
From an unregistered breeder
This type of breeder will usually have cheaper kittens and may not have proof of their kittens’ provenance. They may not be able to show evidence of genetic screening of the parent cats.
They may not let you have a good look around their premises. Be very careful about going down the cheaper route.
From a cat shelter
It’s very sad that so many cats have to be rescued from unsuitable homes or become abandoned. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can mistreat any cat, but it happens and Maine Coons are no exception.
If you buy a Maine Coon from a shelter you will never be sure of its history or provenance. If you have small children be wary of adopting a cat from a rescue home unless it is still a young kitten.
This is because if it has been mistreated it may not have the usual gentle nature. Try to spend quite a bit of time with a cat in this situation to get a feel for its personality before you make a decision to take it home.
You think you’ve found a reputable place to purchase a kitten from. Are you ready for the commitment? …
Kittenhood and beyond – what raising a Maine Coon involves
The kitten years
Maine Coon kittens have a lot of energy. They love to play, climb and explore. You will need to ensure that they can’t get themselves into danger in your home. Keep cupboard doors closed, especially those containing your best china.
Make sure drawers are kept shut. These kittens will squeeze into the smallest spaces. I used to find ours in small spaces behind drawers where they had somehow squeezed over the back. Don’t leave your washing machine lid open.
If you ever do check inside before adding washing! Make sure you keep Maine Coon kittens out of rooms where your furniture is precious as they can’t retract their claws very well and so will catch threads. In the same way, protect your favorite clothes – actually, don’t wear them in a kitten’s presence!
Get a scratching post right from the start and gently move your kitten onto it every time you catch it scratching anything you don’t want to be scratched.
Never admonish a kitten for scratching by raising your voice or smacking it. It will not understand but it may learn to fear you and it may retaliate eventually. As with little humans, distraction has the best chance of discouraging unwanted behavior.
Kittens need feeding little and often at first so don’t leave them alone for too long. Choose a good quality kitten food. I think it’s best to feed Maine Coons wet cat food plus a little dry food to keep their teeth healthy. Always provide fresh water every day.
My advice is to get your Maine coon kitten used to gentle grooming from the start, even if they are not matted. It’s much more difficult to suddenly try to brush an adult cat who’s never felt a brush before.
Put a nice large litter tray in a private, quiet corner. Change it regularly as this will ensure your kitten is always happy to use it and will help you avoid “accidents” elsewhere in the house. Cats hate to use a dirty, smelly tray.
Make sure your kitten can’t get out of the house. You may have an agreement with your breeder to always keep your Maine Coon indoors.
It can be difficult, especially in summer to ensure a kitten doesn’t escape. Some will stop at nothing to find a way out of the house so be careful about leaving windows open, even just a crack.
You could consider having a very high cat-proof fence around your garden or a flap that leads into a large catio.
Mature Maine Coons
Maine Coons often aren’t fully matured until they reach 3 or 4 years of age, even then they still revert to very kitten-like behavior when it comes to playing. Our two are almost 14 years old and they still run around like kittens at times.
You should play with your Maine Coon throughout its life as it’s a great way to keep them happy and prevent depression. It is also a fantastic way to bond with your cat.
Because Maine Coons can grow to quite a size, they need a fair amount of food. Just be careful not to overfeed one, especially if it is an indoor cat, as being overweight can lead to health issues.
Try to avoid giving a Maine Coon human food, especially if it is salty or processed. Milk is definitely not good for them.
Ensure you take your Maine Coon for annual health checks and booster vaccinations. Also, keep a check for fleas and use regular treatments to keep them at bay.
You may need to worm your Maine Coon occasionally and keep an eye on its ears to keep them clear of mites. Watch out for ticks too and remove them as soon as you notice them, ensuring you don’t leave any part behind.
Adult Maine Coons are very communicative. They will develop a variety of meows, chirps, and trill to communicate with you. Over time, you should be able to interpret the meanings of their various vocalizations.
The average lifespan of a Maine Coon is 12.5 years but can be much longer. You can help to keep a Maine Coon as healthy and happy as possible by ensuring it has a good diet, plenty of exercise, and attention, and by looking for signs of ill health and having them treated quickly.
Indoors or outdoors?
There are many arguments for keeping Maine Coons indoors and just as many for letting them outside. Obviously, they are safer inside and you’ll always know where they are.
But these cats were built for the great outdoors and instinctively that’s where they long to be. If you are going to keep your Maine Coon indoors make sure you allow it plenty of space to run around.
Also, provide it with a good scratching post and plenty of toys to keep it exercised and occupied. Indoors or outdoors?
The decision is yours. See Can Maine Coons Go Outside (opens in a new tab) for further information on this subject.
Raising Maine Coons with babies and children
Maine Coons are known for being gentle and patient with babies and children. We had our two for a couple of years before our son was born. We had no problems introducing him to the cats and they have always been well behaved around him.
You need to ensure that you keep an eye on young children around cats because most of the time problems arise when they provoke the cat, not the other way around.
Find out if Maine Coons are good with children here.
Please don’t assume you can leave a large bowl of dry food and a dish of water and then leave a Maine Coon cat alone for a few days. Always make proper provision for its care.
Preferably, you should find someone to stay at your house, otherwise, ask someone to visit twice a day and stay a little while each time to give your cat some company.
If you leave your cat alone, consider what might happen if it injures itself or becomes ill in your absence. Its health will go downhill rapidly and you could come home to a severely ill cat or far worse.
You can usually tell if a Maine Coon is ill. It will often hide away out of sight. You’ll notice it loses interest in its food and will let its tail droop to the floor or between its legs.
As cats can dehydrate really quickly, it’s always safer to visit a vet rather than take a chance to just see if it recovers after a few days.
The effect on your house
If you own a Maine Coon you can’t really be too house proud. We live amongst a fair quantity of cat fur, even though we have a cordless vacuum to hand and use it regularly.
New carpets soon develop fuzzy edges from cat attacks. Our leather sofa has a multitude of scratch marks.
They scratch at closed doors to rooms that they want to enter. We can’t shut our bedroom door as we’d get no peace. You’ll get used to muddy paw prints on your best bed linen.
You’ll get used to finding the odd cat hair in your dinner. I recommend keeping a good supply of lint rollers.
You’ll often leave the house with your bottom covered in fur (keep a lint roller in your car too). People will know you own a fluffy cat because you will always be wearing cat hair somewhere.
Also, Maine Coons love a buffet lunch…OK. it might not have been intended for their consumption but you left it within jumping distance.
How does all of this sound? Are you up for the job? I’m not trying to put anyone off buying a Maine Coon but I do hope it has helped you to decide whether you have the time, patience, and money to give a Maine Coon cat the caring and loving home it deserves.