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If you’re looking for a cat that is large, fluffy, and friendly, you might want to consider a European Maine Coon. These cats are one of the most impressive and popular variations of the Maine Coon breed, with their massive size, heavy bones, long coats, and laid-back temperament. But what makes them different from their American cousins and how did they come to be? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about European Maine Coons, from their history and appearance to their personality and health. We’ll also give you some tips on how to care for them and where to find them.
Table of Contents
What is a European Maine Coon?
A European Maine Coon is a cat that belongs to the Maine Coon breed, which is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. They originated in Maine, where they were valued for their hunting skills and adaptability to harsh winters. They are also known as gentle giants, because they are large, muscular, and fluffy cats with sweet and friendly personalities.
However, not all Maine Coons are the same. There are two varieties of the breed: European and American. The differences between them are slight and mostly physical, but they may mean that one is more suitable for you than the other.
European Maine Coons are generally larger, heavier, and more muscular than American Maine Coons. They have bigger heads, longer muzzles, higher cheekbones, larger ears, and more prominent lynx tips. They also have thicker coats that come in more colors and patterns than American Maine Coons.
American Maine Coons are generally smaller, lighter, and more slender than European Maine Coons. They have smaller heads, shorter muzzles, lower cheekbones, smaller ears, and less noticeable lynx tips. They also have thinner coats that come in fewer colors and patterns than European Maine Coons.
How did European Maine Coons Originate and Develop?
The exact origin of European Maine Coons is unknown, but there are several theories and legends about how they came to be. Some believe that they are descendants of Norwegian or Siberian forest cats that were brought to America by the first settlers or by Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. Others think that they are a cross between domestic cats and raccoons or bobcats, which would explain their bushy tails and large size.
Regardless of their origin, European Maine Coons have always been admired for their beauty and uniqueness. They were popular in cat shows in the 19th century, but lost some of their fame when other long-haired breeds arrived in America in the 20th century. However, they eventually regained their status and became one of the most beloved cat breeds ever since.
As for how European Maine Coons developed into a distinct variety from American Maine Coons, there are two main factors that contributed to this: breeding standards and genetic diversity.
Breeding standards are the rules and guidelines that define what a certain breed should look like and act like. Different cat associations have different breeding standards for the same breed, depending on their preferences and goals. For example, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) has stricter standards for American Maine Coons than the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) has for European Maine Coons. The CFA limits the colors and patterns of American Maine Coons to only 15 combinations, while the FIFe allows all colors and patterns except chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, and pointed for European Maine Coons. The CFA also emphasizes the slender and elegant appearance of American Maine Coons, while the FIFe emphasizes the robust and powerful appearance of European Maine Coons.
Genetic diversity is the variation of genes within a population or a breed. Different populations or breeds have different levels of genetic diversity, depending on their history and breeding practices. For example, European Maine Coons have more genetic diversity than American Maine Coons, because they have a larger and more diverse gene pool. This means that they have more potential for variation and adaptation, which can result in different physical and behavioral traits. For example, European Maine Coons may have more resistance to certain diseases or more tolerance to different climates than American Maine Coons.
What are the Physical Characteristics of European Maine Coons?
European Maine Coons are impressive cats that can weigh anywhere from 13 to 18 pounds and measure up to 40 inches in length. They have large and muscular bodies, with broad chests, strong legs, and big paws. Their tails are long and bushy, often reaching their shoulders when curled. Their coats are thick and dense, with a soft undercoat and a water-resistant topcoat. They have a ruff around their necks that resembles a lion’s mane.
The most distinctive features of European Maine Coons are their heads and ears. They have large and square heads, with high cheekbones and long muzzles. Their ears are large and pointed, with prominent tufts of hair at the tips. Their eyes are almond-shaped and can be green, gold, copper, or blue.
European Maine Coons come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including solid, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, smoke, shaded, and bicolor. They can have any color except chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, and pointed. Some of the most common colors are black, white, gray, red, cream, blue, and silver.
What are the Common Traits and Behaviors of European Maine Coons?
European Maine Coons are intelligent and playful cats that love to interact with their human companions. They enjoy being petted, cuddled, and talked to. They also like to follow you around the house and join you in whatever you’re doing. They are loyal and affectionate cats that form strong bonds with their owners.
European Maine Coons are also curious and adventurous cats that need mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and behavioral problems. They like to explore their surroundings and hunt for prey. They can also learn tricks and commands easily, as well as fetch toys or objects. They are known for being vocal cats that make various sounds to communicate their needs and feelings.
European Maine Coons are generally friendly and sociable cats that get along well with other pets and children. They are not aggressive or territorial, but rather tolerant and adaptable. They can also cope well with different environments and situations, as long as they have enough space and attention.
What are the Potential Health Issues and Care Tips for European Maine Coons?
European Maine Coons are generally healthy cats that can live up to 14 years or more. However, they are prone to some genetic health conditions that affect their heart, kidneys, joints, and spine. Some of these conditions are:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a heart disease that causes the walls of the heart to thicken and reduce its function. It can lead to heart failure or sudden death. It can be diagnosed by an echocardiogram or a DNA test.
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD): This is a kidney disease that causes cysts to form in the kidneys and impair their function. It can lead to kidney failure or death. It can be diagnosed by an ultrasound or a DNA test.
- Hip dysplasia: This is a joint disease that causes the hip joint to be malformed or loose. It can lead to pain, lameness, or arthritis. It can be diagnosed by an X-ray or a physical exam.
- Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA): This is a nerve disease that causes muscle weakness and wasting in the lower back and hind legs. It can lead to difficulty walking or jumping. It can be diagnosed by a DNA test.
To prevent or manage these health issues, it is important to:
- Choose a reputable breeder that tests their cats for genetic diseases and provides health certificates for their kittens.
- Provide regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and deworming for your cat.
- Feed your cat a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs and avoid overfeeding or underfeeding them.
- Provide fresh water every day and monitor your cat’s urine output and litter box habits.
Another important aspect of caring for your European Maine Coon is grooming their coat regularly. Their coat needs to be brushed at least once a week to prevent mats and tangles. You should also trim their nails every few weeks and clean their ears and eyes with a damp cloth or cotton ball. You should avoid bathing your cat unless they are very dirty or have fleas, as this can dry out their skin and coat.
How Much Does a European Maine Coon Cost and Where Can You Find One?
European Maine Coons are not cheap cats to buy or maintain. The price of a European Maine Coon kitten can range from $500 to $3500 or more, depending on the breeder, the location, the pedigree, and the quality of the cat. The price of an adult European Maine Coon can vary depending on the age, the health, and the personality of the cat.
If you want to buy a European Maine Coon kitten from a reputable breeder, you should do some research and find one that is registered with a cat association such as TICA or FIFe. You should also ask for health certificates, vaccination records, and genetic tests of the parents and the kitten. You should also visit the breeder’s premises and meet the kitten in person before making a decision.
If you want to adopt a European Maine Coon cat from a rescue or a shelter, you should be prepared to pay an adoption fee that covers the cost of spaying/neutering, microchipping, vaccinating, and deworming the cat. You should also fill out an application form and go through an interview process to make sure you are a suitable match for the cat. You should also be patient and flexible, as it may take some time to find a European Maine Coon that is available for adoption.
You can find European Maine Coon breeders and rescues online by searching on websites such as:
Conclusion: Why You Should Get a European Maine Coon
European Maine Coons are amazing cats that have many qualities that make them great pets for families, singles, or couples. They are beautiful, rare, intelligent, playful, affectionate, loyal, gentle, independent, confident, vocal, expressive – in short, they have “coontitude”.
If you’re looking for a cat that will keep you entertained, challenged, and loved, you should consider getting a European Maine Coon. They will make your life more colorful and fun, and they will be your faithful companion for many years to come.
Are European Maine Coons aggressive?
No, European Maine Coons are not aggressive by nature. They may be more assertive, territorial, or dominant than other cats, but they are not violent or malicious. They may also have mood swings or act out if they are bored, stressed, or unhappy. However, with proper socialization, training, and care, they can be well-behaved and friendly cats.
Do European Maine Coons shed a lot?
Yes, European Maine Coons shed a lot, especially during the spring and fall seasons when they change their coats. Their long and thick fur can create a lot of hairballs and mess around the house. To reduce shedding, you should brush your cat regularly and provide them with a healthy diet and enough water.
How big do European Maine Coons get?
European Maine Coons can get very big, as they are one of the largest domestic cat breeds. They can weigh anywhere from 13 to 18 pounds and measure up to 40 inches in length. They can also take up to 4 years to reach their full size and maturity.
How can you tell if a cat is a European Maine Coon?
You can tell if a cat is a European Maine Coon by observing:
Coat color, pattern
Body size, shape
A European Maine Coon will have:
Coat with any color except chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, and pointed
Closely mingled or grouped patches
Large, muscular body
Large head with high cheekbones, long muzzles
Prominent lynx-tipped ears
Strong, affectionate, loyal, intelligent, playful, vocal, expressive personality – “coontitude”.
Can European Maine Coons be male?
Yes, but very rarely. Almost all European Maine Coons are female because of their coat genetics that depend on the X chromosome. Male cats can only have tortoiseshell or calico coats if they have an extra X chromosome (XXY), which is a genetic abnormality called Klinefelter syndrome. These cats are usually sterile or have chronic health issues.