February 21, 2017
Living with the giant cat breed
What springs to mind? Twelve years ago I had no idea. Now I am a mine of information on this breed and cats in general. I simply cannot imagine life without one.
Maine Coon is the biggest and the most dog-like cat breed
The Maine Coon is the largest breed of domestic cat in the world. Some adults weigh in between 10 - 12kilos, making the size of average Maine Coon larger than many small / toy dog breeds. In fact, many liken the breed traits to dogs. They can often be trained to walk on leads and play fetch, too.
Maine Coons are one of the most dog-like cat breed and it is not only because of the size! The most noticeable dog-like trait is the ability to simply crash out in the middle of a floor, tripping you up! Very dog-like indeed! Their love of water is also unusual and mine could often be found taking a paddle in our pond on a hot day, or pawing the waterfall. In fact they only drink their water from a running tap or water fountain.
So, what makes Maine Coons different and why did I fall in love?
Dogs were my first love. In my humble opinion cats were much more their own boss and a bit stand-offish. The stereotypical view from my then-limited cat knowledge! It was my former partner, not a dog fan, who suggested the breed.
I trawled the internet for information. The dog-like traits met with my approval and as John had a birthday approaching I looked for a cute Maine Coon kitten for him. Hey presto, ‘Basher’ arrived in 2004. He was everything the web said, plus so much more: from talking to us to being a clumsy lump when jumping down! In fact, when we had 4 adults racing around upstairs one afternoon, I swear I felt like I had kids, or at the bare minimum a herd of baby elephants... Maine Coons are indeed dog-like. Our fully-grown adults can swipe anything left in reach off a kitchen counter!
I suspected that the observation that the breed takes up to four years to mature was a myth, but how wrong I was. The development from two to four years is massive and until they reach that age you have to remind yourself that, unlike other breeds, they are still not the full package. Two Basher characteristics I remember well were his ability to chase a hose pipe with running water for as long as we would play, until he was panting, and breaking into our shower whilst someone was in there! You would turn around while washing your hair and, lo and behold, a great lump of damp fur was there at the end of the bath, pawing the soap bubbles! My sister’s husband nearly had a heart attack!
You forget how big the breed is when you live with them. But suddenly someone visits and they stop dead, sometimes in fear, looking at my boy Santos who has the nickname ‘Shetland pony.’ When you meet him, you understand why! Comments include: 'Oh my god, that's the biggest cat I have ever seen in my life!’
My life with a few giant Maine Coons
Maine Coons love to be part of family life. It’s very true that they are not lap cats but they will always be around, knowing exactly what’s going on. Mine will greet me at the front door, and they will sulk too, especially the girls. Showing you their bottom for an hour or two is par for the course if they’re not happy. One of their favourite tricks is to take on the office printer when I’m working. They either block it so that it jams, or take off with the copy, which then bears teeth marks and paw prints...
Maine Coons and children growing up together are fabulous. I hear so many stories of a special bond and it always makes me smile. More recently there was the story of an autistic child communicating with her Maine Coon and life. As a breeder you have to weed out time wasters and unsuitable homes.
This breed is not known for its intelligence, especially the boys! Girls are usually the ones learning to open cupboard doors and drawers. Especially if there’s something inside they want. To be completely safe, pedigree cats need safe outdoor access. If not, then they need room indoors and a good cat scratching tower to exercise and climb on. They just don't mix with cars and traffic like domestics, plus you have to consider the added theft factor.
If you’re rural and know they will be safe, then there’s nothing better for a cat than safe, unlimited outdoor time. However, even then, I would create the routine of coming home for dinner and being safe indoors at night. Sadly, you just never know in this day and age...
As a multi-cat household other issues can present themselves, even with a placid breed like the Maine Coon. They all have their spats. Learning that a Maine Coon will usually only play with you alone, was something of a surprise! The others wanted to play but would all sit around watchig until the toy was left, then someone would jump in and change the order.
The 'cat party' also became a novelty, coming home to a scene more reminiscent of a teenager’s overnight party. The worst I remember was coming home in the early hours and, in the dark, seeing four cat-like silhouettes sitting on the back of the sofa. John was sound asleep on said sofa and there was complete and utter chaos. They had somehow managed to overturn a bookcase, shatter the light and send books everywhere. The bookcase had caught a chair and knocked a cushion into the water fountain, which got blocked and overflowed. Of course they then played the water. John slept through the whole scenario!!!
On another level, a good friend came home to a flooded upstairs sink that ended up doing £10k worth of damage! Her girl had taken to turning the tap on in the upstairs basin – a lever tap, so not as difficult as it sounds! However being the lump she was, she’d then sat her backside on the plug, locking it into place. Of course, once she’d had her little drink, she sauntered off for her evening catnap.... Wow, what a mess. Try explaining that one to an insurance company!
Maine Coon Breed Information:
If you asked me for words to sum up the breed, here goes:
- Gentle Giant (Ok, that's two words!)
- Would I be without this breed - Never!
I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the Maine Coons in my life and look forward to fellow Coonie lovers and their comments / stories.
With love from
Sam & The Tigga Towers Team