The Maine Coon breed is known for being rugged and hardy. They can withstand cold climates thanks to their long fur, especially on their belly, which was originally for protection in harsh environments. Here's how to select a Maine coon:
- Understand the breed's temperament. The Maine coon loves to be around people, but is fairly laid-back. They like to be in the same room as you, but won't necessarily be lap cats. Maine coons are intelligent creatures; many can be trained to use a leash. They like toys and generally get along well with others pets, including dogs.
- Commit to the breed's requirements. The Maine coon has long hair, which will need to be brushed at least once a week. You may also need to clip some of their long hair, such as the hairs on their belly, or give your Maine coon a bath, especially if your cat is allowed outdoors.
- Know your options. If you're set on a purebred Maine Coon with papers, you'll need to go through a breeder. If not, you can find many Maine Coons and similar crosses in shelters and rescues. A purebred Maine Coon from a breeder will cost about $200 to $400; a similar cat will cost less when selected from a shelter or cat rescue. If you want a show-quality kitten rather than one that will be kept solely as a pet, you can expect higher prices. Do you want an adult cat or a kitten? If you select a kitten, make sure it is over 12 weeks old. Some breeders will separate kittens from their mothers at a much younger age, but this is not good for the cat, and can cause long-term health or behavioral issues.
- Choose a breeder. Do not buy a Maine coon from a pet store. Instead, look for a reputable breeder, not one who's just in it for the money. Good places to start are local feline clubs or shows. The breeder you choose should have references from buyers; they may even have shown some of their own cats in competitions. Always get a written contract; most reputable breeders will require one.
- Ask about health conditions. The Maine coon, like all cat breeds, is susceptible to feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Get a health guarantee before you select a Maine coon. The Maine coon may also inherit hip dysplasia, which can cause mobility issues, and cardiomyopathy, which is a heart problem. Ask your breeder about their experience with these conditions. Ideally, none of the cats in their Maine coon lineage have shown signs of these issues.
- Inspect the cat. Always hold the cat you're considering before you select a Maine coon. Check for overall health, watching for signs of illness like sneezing or runny eyes. A Maine coon's fur should be smooth, but a little shaggy. Avoid a cat with matted or tangled fur, or signs of dry or flaky skin.
- Bring your Maine coon to the veterinarian. If you have other cats at home, try to do this step before introducing your new Maine coon to them. This way, potential health issues can be caught early, and you'll avoid having your new pet spread anything to your existing pets.
The Maine coon makes an excellent pet because of its friendly and laid-back disposition. These cats can be found in shelters or rescues, or from breeders. Before you select a Maine coon cat, decide whether you want a pedigreed cat or just like the Maine coon look, because this can narrow down your choices. Always inspect any cat you're considering before making your final decision.