alita on ledge

Grooming Your Maine Coon (Keep Them Looking Amazing)

Right from the start of your Maine Coon ownership journey, it should be acknowledged that this breed is a magnificent looking animal. It has an easy majestic quality to it. So what does it take to keep them in a royal condition?

So how do you keep them looking amazing? In short, it’s about setting up a regular routine of health checks, bathing, brushing and grooming. Your Maine Coon takes care of itself, left to its own devices, but trimming the long fur, clipping the nails and constantly being on the lookout for ticks and fleas will keep up their health. Coupled with a good diet, plenty of exercise and nutritional supplements as well as regular health checks at the veterinarians will also keep them looking regal.

Whilst it is sometimes referred to as the “American Longhair”, this breed is much more commonly known as the Maine Coon. Being the largest domestic cat breed, and holding some records for this as well, it can be quite a sight. Sometimes, it’s like having a small lion in the house.

Everyone knows that your cat owns you, but Maine Coon owners, more often than not have a companion not just a pet or an owner. As such, I feel quite blessed to to be able keep Alita looking as good as possible.

Any breed of cat, seems to have a vain quality and only when they are ill will they not show a preference for keeping themselves looking supreme. Personally, I like to add my own efforts.

When Should You Start Grooming?

Grooming is a natural instinct for any cat. Every breed does it as a healthy coat keeps the cat well regulated in hot and cold weather. It stops matting and is considered a requisite for any cat to remain healthy.

Help with grooming is not a natural activity. It has to be induced. A fully grown adult Maine Coon will already have its own ideas on personal space and help it will accept. During the kitten phase, these safeguards are lower.

The easy answer to this question is as soon possible. The sooner you get a Maine Coon completely accustomed to the tools and activities that you will implement later on the better. Why not make some brushes and combs play items for your kitten?

Essentially, the faster it becomes a part of a daily or weekly routing the better. This makes the grooming process when they are much larger and with a greater confidence in using claws for things they don’t like much easier.

Another advantage is that if you play with your kitten using grooming tools, occasionally combing their back for example, your Maine Coon associates the activity with play and fun. Over time it may even look forward to it for this reason.

It will be seen as a positive experience for your cat, and that is more than half the battle. It will reduce tensions and stress levels all around.

If your Maine Coon is a little nervous of clippers, combs and brushes then try introducing them a little at a time, leaving them lying around where your kitten will see them, and watch them slowly become accustomed to instruments. Gradually they will accept that they are not as scary as they think.

Additionally, it’s not just being accustomed to the tools, but being touched all around the body. Occasional using of a brush on the coat, everywhere, keeps them accepting that this is normal behaviour and nothing to be afraid of.

If you occasionally grab a paw and do a very quick brush, almost fast enough that it is over before it begins just reinforces this believe.

Starting young with a short and often approach teaches a cat not to be afraid of the whole procedure. Brushing an adult Maine Coon takes much longer, as well as going through the fur for ticks and fleas, so it is much easier if it enjoys or accepts your efforts.

Maine Coon being brushed

Bathing

Maine Coons are a breed that benefit from regular bathing. The reason is that it has long fur and a thick coat. As such, they have a higher degree of matting fur. Clean and well shampooed fur greatly reduces the tangle risk. This in turns reduces the pain your Maine Coon may go through if it gets one.

Cats in general are usually pretty good at keeping themselves clean and well groomed. Cat saliva and their rough tongue produces much the same effect as a bath and a brush.

Nevertheless, a cat’s tongue is only so strong and there are areas that your cat cannot reach on its own. Thus your help with a bath can have a great beneficial effect.

Luckily, Maine Coons as a breed seem to love water. At least most of them do. Individual cats aside, you couldn’t have picked a better breed to assist you in making it easy to groom them.

Firstly, though, bathing a can or could be a tricky little affair, so having a friend or another person handy can be helpful.

How often should you bathe a Maine Coon? Well, too often is bad for their skin, but for long haired cats like a Maine Coon every two or three months is considered fine. Five  times a year seems OK. Perhaps less for indoor cats, and slightly more for outdoor cats.

It’s always best to prepare beforehand, and getting things in advance would be helpful. As a rough guide, here’s a brief run down of the procedure.

 

  1. Always bathe your cat when it is mellow and accepting. Trying it when it is tired not in the mood just annoys them.
  2. If you can, you should trim the nails beforehand.
  3. Thoroughly brush through the hair to remove loose hair and debris.
  4. A very light bit of cotton in the ears can keep the water out, which cats usually hate.
  5. A rubber mat in the bath will prevent your cat feeling uneasy because of unsure footing
  6. Don’t drench them. Fill the bath, or vessel up slowly and not so they have to swim. Wet them first if necessary.
  7. Rub and wash the shampoo and in but stay away from the face, ears, nose and eyes. 1 part shampoo to 5 parts water is normal.
  8. Rinse thoroughly with tolerable water. Lukewarm not like your bath. Get rid of all the shampoo residue.
  9. A washcloth can be used for the face.
  10. Have a large towel handy that is soft. Wrap them in it and don’t rub too vigorously. Get them dry and use a wide toothed comb to make sure the fur doesn’t tangle as it dries.
  11. Make sure your cat is well praised and given treats for undergoing the procedure.

 

I have another short article on Bathing Your Maine Coon, that goes into great depth.

Brush Regularly

Maine Coons are not short haired cats. Quite the reverse, they can have remarkably long hair. Further, they have both an undercoat and an overcoat. Thus it is recommended you get both an overcoat and an undercoat brush.

Using both properly will keep your Maine Coons fur in the finest condition imaginable. It will look well maintained, sleek and soft, as well as practical, because it will keep away the dreaded matted hair problem.

A long pronged metal brush should be used first to go through the fur and a soft bristled brush later. Make sure the metal brush is used gently, almost like a soft massage so no skin is jabbed or damaged.

With keeping a daily, or at least regular routine ongoing, you should use a soft bristle brush if there are no underlying issues, like matting. Soft bristle brushes are everywhere. Every pet shop should have a vast array of choices and online it seems like they are almost unlimited.

I spent some time writing a post on brushes, if you need any further information.

The soft bristle brushes are good at keeping the long fur tangle free and sleek. They are part of a good preventative routine to stop unneeded damage further down the line.

Another brush for making your Maine Coon looking sleek is a shedding comb. When you run this comb over the fur, it effortlessly takes away loose fur. This drastically reduces the risk of matting and during shedding season, your house will not look like you shear sheep in there.

Sometimes you are starting with an extremely matted cat so here’s a great video on the subject that I found;

Hair Clipping

As the Maine Coon can have very long hair, matted hair can become an issue, even for the more attentive amongst us. Thankfully it’s not too difficult a problem to solve, all it really needs is a small trim.

If there is an area that becomes matted with some frequency, then consider making the hair a little shorter with regular trimming. This hopefully will earn you some affection points with your Maine Coon.

Any serious matting problems should be tackled reasonably quickly, as having matted for can be quite painful for your cat. Cut out the offending parts of hair, and if you feel uneasy about that, professional groomers should be able to do it with ease.

Follow up with a simple brush and make sure the fur is as sleek as you can make it.

A seriously matted Maine Coon may require a more serious solution. A solution might be to give the poor cat a ‘lion cut’. This pretty much shaves short hair to the whole body, but leaves longer fur on the chest, tail, head and feet. This produces a mane like look, thus making it a ‘lion cut’.

Usually though, just a simple trim of the hair is a good solution to hair that keeps matting. Although not a hairdresser or a professional groomer, I’d recommend long scissor blades to give an even cut. Use a comb to lift the hair well away from the body before trimming the affected region, much like a professional hairdresser does.

Oral Hygiene (Mouth, Teeth and Gums)

This is often quite an overlooked area of caring for your cat in my opinion. Good dental hygiene is a pretty simple affair, again if trained from young and like all health related issues, eventually keep vets bills to a minimum.

It can also aid in reducing bad breath and stops the build of plaque on your cats teeth which can lead to a painful experience and even missing teeth is left untreated.

I realise brushing every day is a little impractical, nonetheless if you are able it’s a good idea. Even every other day is more than most. Regular brushing will soon get your Maine Coon accustomed to the procedure.

Nearly always best if you are prepared for this procedure, as it can be tricky depending upon the cooperation of your Maine Coon. I tend to do it quite quickly and as such Alita doesn’t get much of a chance to resist. She doesn’t appear to mind to be fair.

Feline toothbrushes and toothpaste are available at nearly all good pet shops.

I have a post on Dental Care for your Maine Coon if you would like to know more.

cat toothbrush

Nail Clipping

In indoor Maine Coon especially, but a domestic cat in general does not really need long sharp claws in today’s world. Sure, they may go out and hunt, to keep the instinct alive but overly long claws are a real issue for a cat.

That why table furniture was invented. So cats have somewhere to keep their claws sharp and short.

I think every cat owner is aware of the look in a cat’s eye when it spots somewhere it can scratch or finding clothes with ‘picks’ and ‘punctures’ in where it has kneaded.

To be honest, this isn’t a procedure that is easy to pull off on your own. You also need a somewhat compliant cat. A cat that resists can quickly become a nightmare to perform this procedure on so go slowly and carefully.

Practice is definitely the order of the day, and there’s no requirement to do all the paws, or even all the claws at the same time. I’d take it as easy as your Maine Coon feels comfortable with.

There are a couple of different styles of nail clippers. The regular scissor looking style and the guillotine style. Use whatever style you feel comfortable with. Make sure you do not clip too near the paw, just trim the nail, as cutting to near can cause bleeding and this causes some pain to your feline friend.

Why Not Provide Good Exercise And Diet

Another underrated method for keeping any cat in a healthy condition and thus keeping them looking at their best. Feeding your Maine Coon quality food is not only good for their health, but their coats are shinier, the eyes brighter and more glistening and their teeth have less plaque.

As well as good quality meats and proteins in the wet food you can also add supplements to your cats meal. It will give your Maine Coon minerals and nutrients, that might be lacking in their diet.

Make sure they get a variety of food, chicken, rabbit duck and fish all produce different nutritional needs. The fatty acids and omega-3 will be good for their coat and the fish oils are known to be good for joints. Especially important in a cat that does a lot of jumping. A pet shop should have a good selection of various nutritional supplements, but you should always consult a veterinarian if you are in doubt.

It’s a good idea not to bathe your cat too often. Like any animal with fur, it can produce natural oils but repeated bathing, paradoxically dries out the skin too much. Additionally, fleas and ticks can also cause dry skin. Most illnesses are the cause of a bad diet and lack of exercise, so it’s always a good idea to look at these things first.

Another overlooked area is that of a good source of clean and fresh drinking water.  As such placing the water source away from litter trays and messy areas is a good idea. Personally I use the Petkit water fountain, as it has a bubbling brook look to it that provides filtered clean water all day, every day. Good clean water is excellent for the kidneys.

Altta the Maine Coon with petkit water fountain

Their food bowl is also prone to scratches and roughing up, particularly if you have a dog that carries it around. A rough food bowl, like the cheap plastic ones can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and bugs. A very smooth service with regular washing helps a lot. Glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowls all have very smooth and easily cleanable services.

Cats are naturally active creatures if left alone, they will go out on nightly patrols of the area. With good quality cat this should be sufficient to keep a healthy and well toned Maine Coon. An indoor cat may require a smaller diet, with less of the bad foods, and more active indoor exercises and playing with them more. You might need to burn off a few more of the calories they eat. Personally I take Alita out for walks and take her with me when I go out on short trips.

Physical Health Problems

If you are trying to keep your Maine Coon in good health to keep them looking as good as possible, as well as a good diet and exercise you need to keep up with the regular vaccination schedules, keep an eye out for worms and on a routine basis comb through the fur for fleas and ticks.

If your Maine Coon looks to be having issues or problems, then a cursory examination may be necessary to try and identify the problem. Excessive itching and scratching can be fleas, ticks but can also be allergies to something, causing rashes. Parasites can also cause physical problems. In more elderly Maine Coons, lumps and bumps on the body can also be cancer setting in.

Like a lot of things there are things you can do, and there are some that you will need professional help. Flea treatment, change of diet can all help with some issues.

If in doubt though, it is incumbent on me to recommend a vet trip to find the cause of the problem. It’s always worth a regular check up of your Maine Coon to a vet so they can check their general health. As owners, we sometimes worry we might miss something, so a vet’s opinion can be great peace of mind.

They can also provide confirmation that your concerns and plans for their health are working. They will recommend alterations to a diet plan, exercise and give you an indication whether they are overweight or not. Often a vet’s opinion can catch problems you may miss before they become bigger problems.

I discovered Alita, my Maine Coon had ear mites on one such trip, which suddenly made a lot of sense. Suddenly that odd shake of the head, that I had not paid enough attention to made a lot of sense.

ear mites maine coon

Chatting with a vet you can often come to an agreement about what is in the best interests of your Maine Coon. I have no hard data on this, but i would suspect that Maine Coons that have frequent vet trips have a longer life expectancy and a healthier and happier life.

Mental Health Problems

A very underrated problem is that of mental health issues in cats. While sometimes thinking that they have an easy life, being fed and housed it’s easy to convey how you’d feel with that guarantee on to your Maine Coon.

There appears to be a growing awareness that mental health issues are not confined to the human species. It is entirely possible that your Maine Coon could be vulnerable to anxiety, stress and depression.

As you cannot read minds, especially of cat (unless it is sitting next to the food bowl while meowing) you will have to be aware that physical manifestations will be your only guide to the fact that something is wrong.

According to petmd, in an article on mental health, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has the following symptoms;

 

  • Repeated meowing
  • Excessive grooming
  • Compulsive pacing
  • Sucking
  • Fabric chewing

 

It also has the following causes;

 

  • Owners behaviour
  • Can become entrenched if rewards are offered, such as treats
  • Stress from a sudden change in surroundings
  • Stress from confinement (indoor Maine Coons)
  • Actual mental disorder

 

It’s the fact that stress can be a result of confinement of surroundings that caught my eye. This makes sense to me and I repeatedly try to make things mentally as stimulating as possible.

To help with keeping anxiety and stress at a minimum, it’s always best to implement any change slowly, and plan well in advance if there are any changes coming that may stress your Maine Coon. Constant reassurance is always a plus, so stroking and playing with your Maine Coon goes a long way to allaying any fears.

Regarding the issue of mental health, this is something I am hugely aware of. Alita is an indoor Maine Coon and I am constantly wondering if this is damaging her mental health. I wrote a post on the way I try and tackle the problem, and this seems to work.

Alita on me

Your Maine Coon and Cat Fights

Maine Coons are known to be one of the friendliest breeds out there. They are also known as ‘gentle giants’ for a reason. It’s fair to say, it’s not an intrinsically aggressive breed. Individual cat aside.

If your Maine Coon is coming home with scratches and injuries though then there is a good chance it is getting into cat fights. Or they are picking very big rodents to hunt. The fact is that cats are territorial and will naturally be combative to other felines that are encroaching on their land, so it will be up to you to as to whether to keep them indoors more.

Fighting for territory is natural in cats as they are protecting their hunting zones. If you feed your cats outside or have a cat flap where another cat could access food in your house, then ironically your cat may be protecting you as a food source.

According to catster, there are several prime reasons for catfights;

 

  • Hormonal
  • The new cat smell
  • Jealousy
  • Territoriality

 

You could shoo away the cat yourself and perhaps talk to their owner, but in reality there’s very little you can do. It’s very rare for cats to seriously damage another cat.Your Maine Coon is likely to be quite big relative to other breeds so other cats should be naturally wary of them.

Conclusion

Wanting to keep your Maine Coon in top condition is only natural. Keeping them healthy and safe is at the forefront of this battle. Whilst they have their own natural grooming schedules and an inclination to do so. Nevertheless, following the recommendations in this article you can add that little something to there already regal appeal.

Many owners go a little further, and ‘pep up’ their cats look with fancy hair cuts, dazzling collars. You really can go overboard and there is seemingly no end to how to treat and glamorize your cat.

Personally I think Alita looks pretty amazing in this little number…

Whilst not considered a particularly high maintenance breed, it is worth putting in the effort to make your Maine Coon sparkle a little more as it struts around the neighborhood. When your Maine Coon is happy, healthy and looking amazing it will likely be the most confident cat in the area.

I have a few really good video for you to watch if you’d like to get more ideas.

 

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