The Furry Critter Network

Coon Cat Breed Description

Back to Feline Breed Menu

Breed Organization

TICA Executive Office

The Cat Fanciers' Association

Native Country
United States Of America

Other Names
Maine Coon, Maine Shag, Maine Cat, Snowshoe Cat, American Longhair, Gentle Giant

Coat Length

Life Expectancy
Approximately 12.5+ Years

General Description

The Maine Coon, also known as American Longhair, is a breed of domestic cat with a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat. The Maine Coon is a longhaired, or medium-haired, cat. The coat is soft and silky, although texture may vary with coat color. The length is shorter on the head and shoulders, and longer on the stomach and flanks with some cats having a lion-like ruff around their neck. Minimal grooming is required for the breed, compared to other long-haired breeds, as their coat is mostly self-maintaining due to a light-density undercoat. The coat is subject to seasonal variation, with the fur being thicker in the winter and thinner during the summer.

Maine Coons are one of the largest breeds of domestic cat. Males weigh from 15 to 25 lb with females weighing from 10 to 15 lb. The height of adults can vary between 10 and 16 in and they can reach a length of up to 48 in, including the tail, which can reach a length of 14 in and is long, tapering, and heavily furred, almost resembling a raccoon's tail. The body is solid and muscular, which is necessary for supporting their own weight, and the chest is broad. Maine Coons possess a rectangular body shape and are slow to physically mature; their full potential size is normally not reached until they are three to five years old, while other cats take about only one year.

Breed Standard

Head: Medium-sized, typically wedge-shaped. Slightly domed forehead. Slight concave curve in profile. High, prominent cheek bones. Angular muzzle. Broad nose, sometimes slightly domed at the tip. Firm chin. Powerful, fairly long jaws.
Eyes: Large, well-spaced, slightly oval but appearing round when wide open. Set at a slight slant. All colors are allowed.
Neck: Moderately long, powerful, slightly arched.
Body: Long, rectangular, large in size. Heavy-boned. Powerful muscles.
Paw: Moderately long, strong. Heavy-boned and muscular. Large, round paws. Well-furnished interdigital regions.
Tail: Long, broad at the base, tapering toward the tip with long, abundant, fluttering hair.
Coat: Coat adapted to all seasons. Dense, silky, short on the head, shoulders, and legs, longer on the back and flanks, with considerable, well-furnished britches. Long hair on the belly. A ruff is desirable. The undercoat is soft, fine, and covered with smooth, waterproof, slightly oily hair.
Fault: Small size, frail appearance. Round head. Straight or convex profile. Nose with a break. Round, pointed muzzle. Prominent flews. Receding chin. Ears too widely spaced, too flared. Eyes almond-shaped, too slanted. Body short, stocky. Fine, light bone structure. Short tail. Coat of equal length over entire body.


An American giant and a gentle wild cat according to legend, the Maine Coon is the result of the mating of a wild cat and a raccoon, a genetic impossibility imagined because the coat and tail of the breed resemble those of the raccoon. The Maine Coon originated in the United States, in Maine. It is thought to have arisen from crosses between Angoras brought from the Middle East by sailors, English cats brought by the first colonists, Russian and Nordic cats, and shorthaired American farm cats. The harsh climate of this region of the United States produced this large, hardy cat which may be considered the first American feline breed. Captain Jenks, a black and white cat, was the first Maine Coon successfully shown at cat shows in Boston and New York in 1861. The breed also caused a stir in 1895 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Persians and Siamese stole the stage from the Maine Coon for half a century. Interest in the breed was renewed around 1950 and has been growing rapidly since 1980. A standard was published in 1960. The C.F.A. and the F.I.Fe. recognized the breed in 1976 and 1980, respectively. Although the Maine Coon is one of the world's most significant breeds, it is fairly uncommon in Europe and rare in France, where it was introduced in 1981.The Maine Coon Feline Association breed club was created in 1987. The breed has changed greatly in recent years. It is larger, taller, and more wild.


Maine Coons are known as the "gentle giants" and possess above-average intelligence, making them relatively easy to train. They are known for being loyal to their family and cautious—but not mean—around strangers, but are independent and not clingy. The Maine Coon is generally not known for being a "lap cat," but their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats, and children. Many Maine Coons have a fascination with water and some speculate that this personality trait comes from their ancestors, who were aboard ships for much of their lives. Maine Coons are also well known for being very vocal cats. They are known for their frequent yowling or howling, trilling, chirping, and making other loud vocalizations.


Maine Coons are generally a healthy and hardy breed that is adapted to survive the challenging climate of New England. The most severe threat is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common heart disease seen in cats, whether purebred or not. In Maine Coons, it is thought to be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Middle-aged to older cats and males are thought to be predisposed to the disease. HCM is a progressive disease and can result in heart failure, paralysis of the hind legs due to clot embolization originating in the heart, and sudden death.

A specific mutation that causes HCM, for which testing services are offered, is seen in Maine Coons. Of all the Maine Coons tested for the MyBPC mutation at the Veterinary Cardiac Genetics Lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, approximately one-third tested positive. Not all cats that test positive will have clinical signs of the disease, and some Maine Coon cats with clinical evidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy test negative for this mutation, strongly suggesting that a second mutation exists in the breed. The HCM prevalence was found to be 10.1% (95% CI 5.8 -14.3% ) in this study. Early growth and nutrition, larger body size, and obesity may be environmental modifiers of genetic predisposition to HCM.

Another potential health problem is spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), another genetically inherited disease that causes the loss of the spinal-cord neurons which activate the skeletal muscles of the trunk and limbs. Symptoms are normally seen within 3–4 months of age and result in muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, and a shortened lifespan. A test is offered to detect the genes responsible for SMA.

Maine Coons also seem to be predisposed to develop entropion, mainly on the lateral aspect of the eyelids, which can lead to corneal irritation and ulceration, and may require surgery.

Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joint which can cause crippling lameness and arthritis. The cats most commonly affected with hip dysplasia tend to be males of the larger, big-boned breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons. The relatively smaller size and weight of cats frequently results in symptoms that are less pronounced. X-rays submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) between 1974 and 2011 indicates that 24.3% of Maine Coons in the database were dysplastic. The Maine Coon is the only cat breed listed in the database. The hip dysplasia registry (public and private) collected by OFA through April 2015 also showed that there were 2,732 cats that suffered from hip dysplasia, of which 2,708 (99.1%) were Maine Coons.[42] Dysplasia was more severe in bilateral than unilateral cases and with increasing age.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited condition in cats that causes multiple cysts (pockets of fluid) to form in the kidneys. These cysts are present from birth. Initially, they are very small, but they grow larger over time and may eventually disrupt kidney function, resulting in kidney failure. While renal cysts are observed with a low incidence in Maine Coons, PKD appears to be a misnomer in this particular breed. In a recent study[43] spanning 8 years, renal cysts were documented by ultrasound in 7 of 187 healthy Maine Coons enrolled in a pre-breeding screening programme. The cysts were mostly single and unilateral (6/7, 85.7%) small (mean 3.6 mm in diameter) and located at the corticomedullary junction (4/6, 66.7%), thus different in size, number, and location from those observed in Persian-related breeds. In the same study, not only did all six Maine Coon cats with renal cysts test negative for the PKD1 mutation, proving the disease in these cats to be unrelated to the PKD observed in Persians and related breeds, but gene sequencing of these cats failed to demonstrate any common genetic sequences. 'Maine Coon PKD' thus appears to represent a form of juvenile nephropathy other than AD-PKD.

Many of the original Maine Coon cats that inhabited the New England area possessed a trait known as polydactylism (having one or more extra toes on a paw). Polydactylism is rarely, if ever, seen in Maine Coons in the show ring, since it is not allowed by competition standards. The gene for polydactylism is a simple autosomal dominant gene, which has shown to pose no threat to the cat's health. Polydactyly in Maine Coon cats is characterised by broad phenotypic diversity. Polydactyly not only affects digit number and conformation, but also carpus and tarsus conformation. The trait was almost eradicated from the breed due to the fact that it was an automatic disqualifier in show rings. Private organizations and breeders were created in order to preserve polydactylism in Maine Coon cats.

Back to Feline Breed Menu

Featured Rescues

"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"

laptop pro


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

laptop pro


If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)

laptop pro

Rescue Me

Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network

Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.