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A very short Chapter about Look and Character of the Maine Coon

The question of all questions: What should a Maine Coon actually look like? Apart from what you yourself imagine it to look like - and this can be very different - since there are standards of every big association of pedigree cat breeding which vary a bit from each other, it is of course useful to compare CFA, FIFe, TICA or WCF and to read what the respective Maine Coon standard requires. These standards apply, even if they are written for adult animals - I would say for the approximately two year old Maine Coons - to all animals of the breed, young, old, "show lines" and "foundations", without exception.

The basis, by the way, are the males, that's why it's often written in the standards, which sacrifices one has to make for the smaller females. Of course, a kitten or a juvenile cannot necessarily be perfect "in the standard", because it is in the development - the head is wrong, the body does not fit, the kitten looks inharmonious - and vice versa, older Maine Coons, especially then the males, are also no longer fitting this "ideal picture". A good breeder will include this in his considerations and a good judge will see this - and possibly also make corresponding considerations - but at a show for example for the "unfinished" kittens the current condition of the animal is valid and not what judges and breeders see and expect due to their experience in this kitten for the future. These standards are the guidelines by which you should measure every animal. One should be open and honest to oneself, because the personal preferences change of course the own view on the respective animal. A good help here is to simply imagine the cat in black and white and only - apart from any conspicuous effects - to look at the points addressed in the standards step by step. And one must always consider that the harmony of                                                                                                                                  the overall impression is the optimum.

But about the standards and their history of development we will find more at another place on this webpage. Much more. Rianna Vande Vusse (Lauda Maine Coons), our breeds most knowledgeable standard researcher has kindly provided me with her excellent research work about these, we revised and shortened it for you. You can find her work on this website. The breeds standards something are pretty important, something that will keep one busy all the time as a breeder: knowing about the different standards of our breed and the way they developed. This might be a lengthy and possibly a less then inspiring chapter. But the respective standards of the breeding association that a breeder has chosen, one has to consider and apply all the time in which one breed a Maine Coon. Standards are not only a guideline for judges at cat shows, but above all for the individual breeder. 

A Maine Coon is always a large-framed cat with a rather rectangular physique - but these mathematical terms only describe approximately what constitutes a living being of muscles, flesh and blood, as a cat is no mathematical equation or pure geometry. The "big" is also to be seen in a differentiated way: Size is relative and most standards prescribe "medium to large" for the Maine Coon. FIFe, however, has changed this to only "big" and promptly breeders have jumped the bandwagon and raised "big" cats to the breeding goal - which forced FIFe in 2019 to prescribe a mandatory hip-dyplasia test for breeding animals of our breed, because with increasing size - and thus weight - come increasing problems in the movement apparatus.

 Basic features of the Maine Coon are the tufts of hair on the ears and between the toes, the long bushy tail and the long all-weather fur. The ear tufts on the edge of the inner ear protect the ears from the cold, and between the toes there are tufts of fur, the "snow shoes", which prevent the animals from breaking into the snow. The head is slightly longer than broad. The muzzle is broad. The skull is flat rather than curved, curved - gentle - but is the profile towards the nose - a stop of the "break" would not be right here. The line from nose to chin is straight, the chin is strong. The eyes are wide apart. The ears are large and broad at the base but not exaggerated in any direction. Lynx brushes are desired, but not "must". They also don't necessarily have to look like brushes, "little brushes" used to be called - they are rather art than painting, so to speak.

The Maine Coon is not fully grown until it is about three to four years old. As a rule of thumb you can say that they will erect the building in the first two years, the "frame", and will fill it in the next few years. Maine Coons, along with the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Ragdoll (according to the "official" breed descriptions), are among the largest and heaviest domestic cats, but that is not the only reason why they are simply "big" in popular opinion. However, a smaller Maine Coon is also a "real" one. And in comparison to most other cats, even the rather "medium" representatives of our cats call out: "boah, ey, this one is huge": the males usually weigh between 5 and 9 kilos. There are of course exceptions - and they are, contrary to the assurances of the relevant breeders, still - which become much heavier, but some very heavy animals are just fat. These 10 kilo-plus-cats of which one hears again and again are quite rare accordingly in relation to all animals of the race. There are beautiful tomcats who bump into the seat of a chair with their backs when running. Queens are a bit lighter, between 4.5 and 7.5 kilos is perfectly in the frame. That should be big enough, heavy enough? I would simply like to refer you to something you can read below: the comments of the creators of the FIFe Standard on this very standard. The good thing about this comment is that it is not only applicable and valid for this one standard, but for all equally. It clearly explains what the Maine Coon was intended to be when it was created and what it should be like. It is not for nothing that the standards of most associations have remained relatively unchanged for a long time - what changes again and again, and often not to the advantage, is, as with all breeds, the reception by breeders and judges. The standard, as we know now, is the guideline and this comment is then the "execution regulation", so to speak. And breeders, who dismiss this as nonsense and, for example, advertise with absolute size, work against the standard that is binding for them. Since even a smaller Maine Coon is a "real" one, the size is not necessarily the most important main criterion, even if many breeders work towards it and advertise with it as well as with the size and length of the hair tufts on the ears. Because size causes, as you have read above, as with the big dog breeds also - although with other consequences - dangers in the hip area because the animal becomes too heavy for its locomotor system..

For example, the weight of small Maine Coons at birth is quite different - in general they are born with a weight between 100 and 130 grams. When you think about how big Maine Coons can get, it is of course tiny, but you have to consider that several small cats are born "at once" and that six small kittens in their mother's body are a good one to one and a half kilograms of additional weight that the cat has to carry around with it. However, there are also kittens with only just over 80 grams or just under 150 grams come into the world. With 12 weeks these small cats weigh then nevertheless in the average around 1,6 kilos, with four months then 2,5 kilos. For comparison, the kittens of Siamese at birth have approximate weights between 60 and 110 grams and even "normal" domestic kittens are not so far away from these in terms of weight.

Cats have a very short child and youth age, an adult span of several years and from 8 years approximately a cat becomes "old". Nevertheless, a Maine Coon can live to be 12, 15, 18 or 20 years old - just like humans, this is due to their genes and their care. Cats are getting older like us, thanks to good, progressive medical care and sufficient, age-appropriate nutrition - with all side effects up to dementia. So when you bring a Maine Coon into your home as a company, you should thank yourself that this is probably a responsibility and obligation for many years to come.

What's the character of the Maine Coon like? The Maine Coon is in its original form as a farm cat Maine Cat as "workingcat" a gifted hunter - it has kept that, they are also generally intelligent and playful animals. Maine Coons are also gifted "retrievers" who can maintain this and other games at least until young adulthood. Later, this is reduced to the famous "5 minutes" - and woe betide the one who then gets in the way. They like to use their paws with preference, which leads to the fact that some can open doors and water cocks problem-free or take up small objects. Especially the polydactile version is well equipped for this, but also the normal-footed Maine Coons are "masterclasses". Many Maine Coons also take up their food with their paws and do not always eat directly from the food bowl, but rather next to it. They are also very often very fond of water and like to play with it. So don't be surprised if your kitchen is flooded because your Maine Coon "played" with the water bowl. I don't think I know of any Maine Coon owner who doesn't have a large tray under his cat's water bowl and drinking fountains can also turn into fountains under the paws of a Maine Coon.

Of course every cat has its own individual character. However, one of the Maine Coon's breed characteristics is the "wanting to be there", living with their humans, "belonging" to them. A domestic cat lives its own life, a Maine Coon actively lives the life of its owner. Sometimes Maine Coons are called dog-like - this is of course not true. A Maine Coon is always a cat with all characteristics. But one that often lives up to the title "gentle giants". Some follow closely an owner, others love all equally and only rarely one finds the genetic backward step on the quasi half wild farm cat of the early days - because breeding cats means that one works with the dearest, most trusting and most serene animals - exactly those, which express the nature of the Ras-se perfectly. This is also the difference to the "common domestic cat". A "normal" domestic cat in men's hat is above all a relatively solitary, loosely living opportunist who cares for friendships: one feeds it and it accepts that, but often does not want to "bind" itself. Freilebende cat-groups are matrilinear organized, the children of high-ranking queens mostly have a higher status from the outset - what one can determine also with our breeding cats - but the coexistence in breed-groups, thus often not kinship organized "Zwangsgemeinschaften", is not to be compared to that of course. However, also the fewest domestic cats live as it would be natural, because they are often bound as castrated single animal to human households, which makes a natural social structure more difficult for them, if they have free run. Even if our world is no longer necessarily suitable for felids - many "house cats" do not let themselves take this free run, because they are used to it, of course, and many of us give it to them also, because they think, the cat needs this. A Maine Coon could certainly live well outdoors, but she likes people and their stray units, she is often happy with a companion or a small group of fellow cats and does not necessarily need a large territory. She lives with humans, is a feline companion and demands this. Accordingly, she is completely satisfied with life in an apartment. Often Maine Coon are very "social" cats. If they live together with other pets, not only cats, they are often tolerated and included in the game. Our dachshund is not necessarily seen by them as a "honorary cat", but at least as a practical play friend, to whom one likes to push something edible from the kitchen counter or who looks after the kittens for a short time. A particularly "loving" queen even moved into his dog sofa with her kittens without further ado. Granted: he wasn't really convinced

What is difficult, however, is the socialization of Maine Coons with the slim, "fast" breeds. Abbesinier, Rexe, Siamese, Sphynx - all of them are not necessarily good company for our breed and the Maine Coons see these "Aliens" as annoying, unpleasant contemporaries who disturb them - and the others have fun annoying the big fur monsters: too different are temperaments and characters. This can lead very quickly from stress and discord in the group up to constant aggression and uncleanliness. I don't think you want that. Admittedly, it can also go well. But the risk is quite high. So if you want to socialize your Maine Coon with a different breed, you better choose one that has a similar temperament..

The voice of the Maine Coon is rather quiet and high, actually not at all suitable for the size of the animals, but the Maine Coon is rather "talkative" with humans. They speak their own language, the "coonic" language. In spite of this quiet "cooing" - although sometimes penetrating voice (HUNGERRRRRRR!!!!) she is able to draw attention to her wishes in a targeted and very clear way. Cats "talk" also only with humans, because the in-nerartliche communication gets along with substantially fewer sounds like the contact with the "can opener". Sometimes you really wait for them to sit down like "Simons Cat" when they are attentive to you and to do the "Hunger-und-fressen-wollen-Geste" with their paws in front of their mouths as well as their screaming.Maine Coons are actually quite easy cats to care for thanks to their "all-weather-fell" and you can get used to combing and brushing them very well - if you start in time in your youth. Training is everything. The fact that Maine Coon has a coat that is easy to care for does not mean that dead hair cannot become matted - and that neither looks nice nor does the cat find it great. But you don't have to comb and brush your cat's coat every day - it's enough at regular intervals - and the cat thanks you for it. A groomed cat also feels more comfortable and you can turn these grooming actions into a "Quality Time" for both. The coat length of our cats varies depending on the line and animal - "half-long" can be surprisingly short or long. Admittedly, the somewhat shorter skins are easier to care for, because there is less matting. But more impressive are the animals with lots of fur, massive collars and a full tail. From the combed out hair you can, if you have enough together, felt a play ball for the cat, with soap it is very easy, it is an inexpensive method to make toys and the cats like to play with it. Show animals become natural, finally a cat show is a beauty competition, again differently, more thoroughly, maintained than their only at home living race egenos. Before the show "hair washing", i.e. bathing the cat, is a must, also the claws should be cut, because after all you don't want the cat to hurt someone with its claws. Also at home it lives with cats, the regularly cut claws have much more pleasant. Not everything that nature has provided for is still useful or practical in our human world. But don't confuse claw care with cruelty to animals and have claws removed..