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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All About the Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon cat, though gaining in popularity, is still relatively unknown to most people in America.  They are the largest domestic cats with males growing to an average of 21 pounds and females to an average of 16 pounds.  They are longhaired cats coming in every color combination in solids, mixed, tabbies, etc. The "Maine" features they are known for are very LARGE, well tufted ears with tips of long hair at the top like a bobcat, squared off, well pronounced snouts, large, round eyes, very large feet and muscular, boxy shaped, and long bodies. My Maine Coon male, Raziel, can stand up on his hind legs and peer into the kitchen sink! The longest hair on their bodies is found on their gorgeous plumed tails as well as big, fluffy chests and long fur around their britches.

I only need to comb my two Maine Coons once a week to keep up with their grooming.  And they are rarely sick, even with a cold.  They can also easily be harness-trained.  My two love to go outside and check out the yard with me for an occasional treat in the sunshine.  I would highly recommend they are indoor cats though.  Why spend between $400-$600 for a good, well-bred MC, and then let them get sick, injured or stolen? 
I also wholeheartedly believe that scratching can be curtailed without the need to declaw.  Declawing is a heinous act of amputation, pure and simple.  It is absolutely unnecessary and heartless.  Cats can never reclaim their true catness after such an extreme and painful surgery.  All any cat needs is a good scratching post made with twine (not carpeting, duh!) and a cat is perfectly happy.  You may even want to provide him with a few others throughout the house. They take up little room and give them a place to rub on and feel at home.
When I adopted my first Maine Coon cat a decade ago, all my preconceived notions about cats were tossed out the window.  Many have described the Maine Coon as the cat that is more like a dog (apologies to all the Maine Coon lovers out there, but you KNOW this is true!).  Why are they "more like a dog?"  Well, while they possess all the fascinating characteristics that make the cat so special, they are more amiable that most cats.  They will follow you around from room to room.  They will roll around and ask for their bellies to be pet.  They love to have their backs scratched. 
And they LOVE to play in and drink water.  MCs often use their water dishes for a bathtub on a day-to-day basis.  You'll find that if you own one, that is makes more sense to provide one dish for drinking and one for bathing!  And use a heavy ceramic bowl with straight sides that cannot tip over easily because their boisterous bathing often involves spillage!
Their personalities are sweet and ever so gentle, playful and loving.  Some are lap cats and some prefer to sit next to you, but they all love to be near you.  My younger, 11 lb. silver female, Cami, will invite herself up onto my lap several times a day, while Raziel, my big 21-pound curmudgeon, only graces me with that honor about once or twice a month.  He is a dear, but like some MCs, just prefers to watch me and be sitting near me, vs. ON me.  Raziel doesn't like a lot of attention and tends toward nervousness, but I do not think this is breed-specific.  I made the mistake of adopting him without a companion and leaving him alone at home while I worked full-time. He just became accustomed to being an independent kitty.  I have met many, many Maine Coons who are serious cuddle-muffins, so again, I believe their behavior really depends on how they are raised and socialized, especially early on.
With their big, well tufted mitts, they are also extremely dexterous.  It's amazing to see a cat reach into its dish and pick out food morsels, one by one, eating them off their paw like a little fuzzy person!  They also catch balls in mid-air and open cabinets, so be ready to rubber band or tape up the cabinets that you do not want them to get into!  My silver princess is either prancing about the house, tall plume tail high in the air, or is opening and then closing cabinet doors with a big bang!  She's earned the nickname, "Miss Thumbs."
Maine Coons also have one more very unique trait -- their voices sound more like a Mexican rrrrrr with that roll of the tongue, than a cat.  It's very unusual and I can't recall ever hearing the same sort of sound from any other cat.  Cami will often end her meow with an ooooo sound.  So it's often more of a Meowwww-oooooooo!  And Razz has more of a Brrrrrowwwww!  They are very vocal, often talking and chattering to get your attention.
However, if you love the Maine Coon look and do want a lap cat, do not give up.  They do exist.  As I said, my Camielle does a lot of lap sitting, but it is only on her terms and after SHE has chosen to do so.  If I pick her up, she will certainly jump right back down again the minute I let my grasp go.  She just doesn't like to be forced into anything.  She has a morning ritual of joining me in bed where she kneads my chest or head (I call this "giving me biscuits").  Lucky for me I keep her talons well trimmed. Then, I will open the covers and she will duck in close to my chest.  There she'll cozy up to me, purr louder than a bumblebee on speed and fall asleep with her paws entwined around my arm so I can't sneak away. 
My Raziel will often show affection but for brief moments.  It's as if he doesn't want me to know he really does have a heart.  Whenever I catch a glimpse of it, he darts away from me, his male cat pride still intact.  Those moments are fabulous and terribly fulfilling though.  I call them Razz blankets.  Whenever I come home from work, I will pick up my big boy and lay down on the floor.  He will spread out above me and stretch his head up to rub against my chin, or rest of my face.  He will not purr, but he will makes soothing noises deep in his throat, almost like a low squeak.  And he will completely relax while I slowly, loosely embrace him.  He will not try and leave.  And for those 30 seconds to a minute of that Razz blanket I feel the most absolute joy and relaxation.  Nothing else can come close to feeling a living, breathing 23-pound fur blanket, heart beating against yours.  

And at night, under cover of darkness, he will jump up onto the bed and grumble until I reach down to pet him. Then he will purr like there is no tomorrow!  I love my Raziel more than raspberries!

So I vouch for the breed 100%.  Whichever you get, big curmudgeon boy or sweet, princess of a girl, I know you will love the Maine Coon cat.  They are unique and lovely cats.