Maine Coons are the most popular cat to own today. It’s their sociable nature, friendliness, and size that make them the perfect family pet.
Owning a Maine Coon cat is like adding a small child to your family. It’s like living with a toddler. A Maine Coon cat likes human company and will spend as much time with you as it can – even in the bathroom. It will follow you around and settle nearby, whatever you’re doing.
A Maine Coon likes to be involved in everything you do. I currently live with four Maine Coons and prior to this had two brothers. They really integrate themselves into your life.
Being a Maine Coon owner requires a fair amount of commitment. If you raise a Maine Coon with the care it deserves, you will be rewarded with a loyal and loving cat who will provide you with years of companionship and enjoyment.
There is so much to think about before you commit and you will always have to consider your new furry friend when making any future plans. Read on to find out how to make the experience the best for both of you.
Before you get a Maine Coon
Before you make the decision to own a Maine Coon there are many things you should consider:
- Health – If you buy from a breeder ask them to show you evidence that the parents of their kittens have negative screening results for genetically transmitted diseases to ensure your kitten can’t develop one
- Cost – Can you afford to care for it properly? Consider the cost of medical insurance, annual vaccinations,
andhealth checks, food, toys, scratching posts, pet carriers, litter boxes, and litter.
- Your home – Is it suitable for an indoor cat or is your neighborhood safe for an outdoor cat?
- Vacations – Who will care for it if you go on holiday?
- Company- Is someone often at home or will your cat be left alone for long spells? Could you get two so they can keep each other company?
- Other pets – If you have other pets will they accept a new cat?
- Time to interact – Will you have time to give it lots of attention on a daily basis?
- The long term – a Maine Coon could potentially become part of your life for the next decade or even two!
I can’t stress enough how important pet insurance is and you’ll see why we’re glad we’ve always taken it out further on. Expect this to cost around $30 per month (for a 1-year-old Maine Coon).
What is it like having a Maine Coon kitten in the house?
All I can say is don’t be too house-proud. You may have to learn to live with a scratch to your furniture here, a snag to your carpet there … and your clothes come to think of it … plus a little “accident” now and then. All of these go with the territory of owning kittens.
For the first half an hour at our house, our kittens chose to sit in the dishwasher. After that, I can’t recall the next time they sat still.
We had an open-style staircase and they used to travel up it on the underside, clinging to the carpet like spiderman, weaving in and out of the openings. They reached the dizzy heights of curtain pelmets to the detriment of the curtains.
We were just so glad that everything was second-hand as we hadn’t long moved in, and looked forward to the end of the crazy kitten behavior when we could get nice new stuff.
Yeah, that day never came. We gave up in the end and got nice new stuff anyway, which they proceeded to ruin with pleasure. Maine Coons do like to scratch things! Find out how to stop them here.
They were enthusiastic eaters from the start and meowed a real cat’s chorus for every meal. They literally climbed up us with impatience on many occasions, needle-like claws penetrating through layers of clothes to the flesh – oh the memory of the pain.
It’s hard to peel two kittens from your legs when you’re holding a dish of food in each hand. I thought about getting an automatic feeder (follow the link to read reviews on Amazon) to spare my legs.
Bathing and grooming
During the first couple of months, we discovered our Maine Coon kittens did not like being bathed. The breeder had told us they loved being bathed. Well, she lied.
I once tried to bathe Harry (our ginger boy) after he got a bit messy in the litter box. I got wet, he didn’t.
We have never tried to bathe either since. Because as kittens their fur didn’t get matted we decided not to enforce the brushing which they also hated with a passion.
Not getting them used to being groomed is one of the biggest mistakes we ever made and I would really recommend persevering with it from the day you get a Maine Coon. We now pay dearly for this error as our two have to go to the vet for expensive grooming sessions.
Is it hard to own a Maine Coon?
Owning a Maine Coon is no different from owning any other cat except you do have to keep on top of grooming. They really don’t eat that much more than other cats and don’t need any special care.
Don’t be put off by claims that they are an unhealthy breed. As long as you do your homework and buy from a truly decent breeder who screens their breeding cats, you’ll get a Maine Coon kitten with no more risk of developing a health condition than any other cat.
Do Maine Coon cats make good house pets?
Maine Coons are fine as house cats. They are intelligent cats and are easy to litter train. They need enough space to exert energy so should not be confined to one room.
I’ve written a useful article on how much space a Maine Coon needs which you can read by clicking this link.
What is the downside of Maine Coons?
There isn’t a downside as long as you understand the commitment necessary when owning any cat before you get one.
When you own a Maine Coon you’ll need to develop a good routine for feeding times, playtime, cleaning litter boxes, grooming and cleaning up shed fur,
When you want to go away you’ll need to arrange for someone you trust to come in and care for your cat or find a trusted cat boarding place.
You need to budget for insurance before you commit to ensure you can afford veterinary care in case of injury or illness.
You do need to be sure you can commit to caring for a Maine Coon for the whole of its life which could be as long as 20 years.
Letting Maine Coons outside
Whether or not you let your Maine Coon out is ultimately your decision.
We decided to let our two Harry and Charlie out to explore the garden after they had lived with us for a month. They had been staring out of windows and we wanted them to have the pleasure of exploring the outside world.
We also liked to have doors open because our house was hot in the summer and we knew it was going to be impossible to stop the cats from getting out at some point.
One day we opened the door and stepped out. The cats eventually followed us. They sniffed the air, the grass, the plants. They mainly sat and stared around.
We played with them and then sat and watched them explore. They didn’t try to run away which was our main concern.
When they decide not to come in
We built up their outdoor time until we felt OK letting them out and not watching their every move. We always managed to get them in before dark.
One evening, when they were about 9 months old, they didn’t come in when we called them. We banged their food dishes – no response.
By the time it was totally dark we were frantic. We had a downstairs bedroom so we decided we would sleep there with all the doors open. But we couldn’t sleep. We kept getting up and looking out for them.
Finally, I thought I saw Harry in the garden of our neighbor – their grass was knee-high. I walked over to the fence and he was there with Charlie too. They were happily mousing.
I called them and they totally ignored me! I couldn’t get into the garden as the neighbor was away and the gate was locked. Finally, they wandered in at dawn meowing for food.
We did put trackers on their collars but as the collars were the safety style we had to keep a supply of the fobs for the odd occasion when they came home collarless.
Harry and Charlie have now passed away from old age and we miss them desperately. But we have four new Maine Coons and have put up special fencing to keep them safely in our garden.
When they go missing
When Charlie was about two-and-a-half years old he didn’t come home one night. We thought he would come in for breakfast and banged his dish until our ears were ringing and most of the neighborhood was wondering what on Earth was going on.
During that morning, we knocked on every door nearby, we stood in front of garages calling his name and posted hastily made posters through doors and up on trees and lampposts.
We went to bed that night with broken hearts as there was still no sign of him. The next day my husband trawled the streets again and heard a meow from a garage we had visited the day before. He phoned me and I drove over.
I had to crawl commando-style under a gate to look through a window and there he was. When the owners arrived home to let him out they said they had opened the garage the night before after seeing our poster.
There are two messages I am trying to get across here.
The first: often when a cat goes missing it is trapped somewhere so don’t be shy to ask your neighbors to help look for it.
The second: a cat can be too shy to come out if it is trapped. Ask people to open a garage and walk away for a few minutes.
The next time Charlie went missing he was in the same garage. The message here: cats don’t learn! The neighbor gave me her number and said to call her any time we lost him.
Cats can sustain many injuries whilst fighting. One day I noticed Harry was dragging his tail on the ground. When I stroked him he didn’t raise it in the usual way and seemed quite miserable. I stroked him again and he swore (in a cat way) when I touched a particular spot.
I took Harry straight to the vet and he had an abscess which the vet thought was an infected bite from another cat. He was treated with antibiotics and was soon back to his usual “tail up” posture.
A couple of months later Charlie came in late one night dragging his tail. The next morning I took him to the vet expecting a course of antibiotics. To my horror, I was told his tail was broken and there was no way to mend it.
The vet suggested it was amputated as he had no feeling left in it and he could get trapped by his tail without knowing it. A second vet at the practice said we could give it a couple of months before making the decision to see if he regained any sensation.
We took this route and it was tough as he wasn’t allowed out during this time. Eventually, movement returned to half of his tail. The vet removed the lower half and Charlie is now fine.
He doesn’t seem impeded in any way. His tail is so fluffy that it hardly notices. We are just glad we waited and saved some of his tail. We are also glad we had pet insurance as the cost ran into thousands.
Charlie also has a split ear which we suspect is the result of an altercation with another cat. This happened on a Sunday morning so we had to visit an emergency vet an hour’s drive from home.
They attempted to glue the split but this failed miserably. He didn’t appear in the least bit bothered by the injury and it healed quickly.
There are several health problems that can affect Maine Coons. These include:
- Hip dysplasia, which in severe cases can cause lameness.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited heart disease.
- Polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disease that can cause renal.
We have been very lucky as our two are 13 and have no signs of any of the above conditions. But both of them have had illnesses which they fully recovered from because we noticed the signs early.
Harry was hunched up one day, and wouldn’t eat, go out or let us pick him up. He was clearly in pain so we set off to the vet.
They kept him in for a scan and a while later called to say he needed an emergency operation as his bowel was twisted and causing an obstruction. If I hadn’t taken him to the vet so quickly this could have been fatal.
Charlie has had two bouts of Feline Cholangiohepatitis which is an acquired inflammatory liver disease. The symptoms he displayed were:
- vomiting up fluorescent yellow bile
- hunched in a corner, not laying down
- not eating or drinking
He had medication for the first bout of this illness and was better a week later. The second time he had to stay at the vet’s overnight on a drip.
We were worried as we were told it might recur and be worse each time. Fortunately, he has not had another bout in 7 years and we’re hoping he’ll not get this again.
So pay careful attention to your Maine Coon’s health and if in doubt always visit a vet.
Over the years our experience has been that Maine Coon cats are fickle when it comes to food. We have tried every brand going.
They usually wait until we have made a bulk purchase of a particular variety and then they decide they don’t like that one anymore.
We sometimes give them plain white fish such as cod, haddock or coly. They prefer wet food to dry but we do give them some dry food every day as vets say it is good for their teeth.
We always make sure they eat enough balance cat food so that they get their required vitamins.
The message here is to persevere with fussy eaters and keep trying different good quality cat food. Don’t make the mistake of buying in bulk unless you know your Maine Coon is not fussy.
Maine Coon cats are prone to suffering from gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. It’s easy to spot as the gums look red and sore. It is reversible with proper care so always keep an eye out for it. If it isn’t treated, it can lead to dental disease and tooth loss.
Look for signs of discomfort when eating. Some people clean their cat’s teeth which is something you should start when they are kittens.
Because Maine Coons are prone to teeth problems, I covered this subject in its own article and you can find it by clicking here.
Our two were never cooperative where a toothbrush was concerned so we have had to take care of their teeth in other ways. There are dry foods that are specifically developed for dental care.
Harry, our ginger Maine Coon, suffers more than Charlie so it’s hard to know what really causes the problem as they both have the same diet.
I have owned all sorts of cats throughout my life and Maine Coons have definitely proved to be the most vocal. Our two make a whole range of meows, purrs and chirruping sounds.
Over the years we have learned to translate these. In the mornings, Harry emits a very pronounced “meow” which means wake up and feed me now. At night, when we are in bed, Charlie will call us from downstairs with a strange, deep, one-syllable “mow” sound.
He is wondering where we are or announcing that he has just come in. When Harry catches a mouse he announces it with the mouse still in his mouth, so we get a very muffled meow – try meowing yourself with something in your mouth and you’ll get the gist of the noise.
They both purr often and sometimes this can sound quite manic, other times gentle. Harry will walk into a room and chirrup to get attention. If you speak to him he meows back at you, like he’s holding a conversation.
Be prepared to hear some weird and wonderful noises from your Maine Coon. Talk back to it and see what happens.
Planning a holiday
Our biggest concern when we got our two Maine Coons was who would look after them when we went away. Luckily one of our friends was single and cat mad. He stayed at our house and did a great job.
We then moved house and another couple of friends have taken over cat-sitting duties. We are lucky to have people we trust to look after our two.
Think about who will care for your cat when you go on vacation. Cat sitters and cat boarding houses can add a considerable amount to your holiday cost.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful in giving you an insight into what it can be like to live with a Maine Coon. I have shared all the things I can think of that might help you to see what to expect and what can occur unexpectedly.
If you get a Maine Coon after reading this (or already have one) I hope you have as much fun as we have had … and are still having.
And if you need some ideas for names our article 20 Awesome Maine Coon Cat Names will help.