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About Maine Coon Cats: Awesome “Gentle Giants”

“Wow, would you look at the size of that cat!”

This is a common reaction among people seeing a full-grown Maine coon cat for the first time.

Coon cats cut an extraordinarily large profile in the world of domesticated felines — holding the record for the largest domesticated cat breed and also ranking among the most popular.

Of course, there is much more to these so-called “gentle giants” than their size (and not all of them are behemoths). Coon cats are revered for their temperament, their noble presence, and their often majestic appearance.

By all accounts, they make excellent household pets and are often described as dog-like in their friendliness, trainability, and loyalty. Petfinder describes them as “kittens in big catsuits” and jumbo-sized packages of loving devotion” who are playful well into old age.

While they are not considered to be lap cats, they are “sociable and inquisitive,” according to The Spruce Pets, “and can usually be found wherever the action is in the house.” They are “talkative but not overly loud,” speaking not so much by meowing but through “a variety of soft and melodious meows, chirps and trills.”

Maine coon cats are self-assured and, even if they could, probably would not brag about their above-average intelligence, their status as the official state cat of Maine, or the fact that they’ve moved up to second place on Cat Fanciers’ Association’s list of the world’s most popular breeds. (Ragdoll was #1 for the third straight year.)

They are certainly formidable, eye-catching specimens. Purina describes them as “a massive cat with a powerful muscular athletic body … large, pointed ears held wide and tall and an intelligent expression.”


It is theorized that their ancestors came to New England aboard sailing ships in the mid-19th century, earning their keep as rodent control specialists. And today, coon cats are considered to be far more comfortable around, or even in, water than most of their fellow felines.

According to Purina, the long-haired travelers “mated with the local shorthair cats to produce offspring who were big, strongly built cats [that] … developed thick dense coats to withstand the extreme Maine winters and were much prized for their excellent hunting skills.”

Spruce Pets credits it with being “the oldest native cat breed in the U.S.” and notes that beginning around the 1860s, some farmers began exhibiting their prized coon cats at the Skowhegan Fair.

However, with the introduction of other breeds, the coon cat’s population declined so dramatically that it was nearly declared extinct in the 1950s. “Luckily, rumors of their death were greatly exaggerated and thanks to the dedication and perseverance of breeders, the Maine Coon Cat breed was accepted for CFA championship status in 1976,” according to the CFA, and soon began claiming prizes and winning hearts.


Let’s take a quick look at a couple of Maine coon cat superstars:

First up, Cosey: This 2-year-old Maine coon cat won Best of Show honors at the first North American cat show, held in 1895 at Madison Square Garden, earning an engraved silver collar that is now on display at the Feline Historical Museum at CFA headquarters on Ohio.

Next up is Stewie: A former Guinness World record holder as the largest domesticated cat, he measured a whopping 48.5 inches when fully stretched out. Stewie, who died of cancer in 2013, was so chill that he served as a certified therapy animal, regularly visiting a nearby senior center. (Here he is in a Guinness World Records video.)

Today one of the biggest coon cat celebrities is Samson, who clocks in at nearly 4 feet long and weighs about 28 pounds. Samson not only lays claim to being the biggest cat in New York City, but he also has 223,000+ followers on Instagram. The big fellow wolfs down 6 cans of food a day, has an extra-large litter box, and rolls around the city in a baby stroller astonishing and delighting passers-by. (See him in action in this short video.)


Coon cats come in an incredible variety of over 75 different colors. “You can find solid white, cream, red, blue, and black Maine coons, as well as tabby, bi-color, particolored, tortoiseshell, shaded and calico Maine coons,” according to Daily Paws, which notes that their appearance is characterized by large pointed ears topped with wisps of hair, expressive oval-shaped eyes, and a long, bushy tail.

  • Life Span: 10 to 15 years
  • Height: 10 to 16 inches
  • Length: 19 to 40+ inches
  • Weight: 10 to 25+ pounds
  • Temperament: Sweet-tempered, loyal, gentle
  • Intelligence: High
  • Playfulness: High
  • Origin: Maine

All in all, Maine coon cats make outstanding pets. Intelligent, fun-loving, and kind as well as patient with children, they can be picked up, held, and cuddled, according to Daily Paws, which notes that they “keep their kittenish playfulness well into old age” and “love to spend time with their humans.”

To learn more about how to care for your new cat, click here.