The Maine Coon is one of the most popular cat breeds in America, but because the breed is famous for its large size (being the largest domestic cat breed) this can sometimes cause confusion for the new owner. What should an owner be measuring to determine how healthy an individual specimen is or whether or not a particular kitten even is a genuine Maine Coon?
How do you factor in the fact that Maine Coons do not attain to their full adult size until much later in life than the typical domestic cat breed? Weighing your Maine Coon, for example can be one of the most important ways of keeping track of your cat’s health and development.
Before you start, know what you should be looking for. The average female Maine Coon will be between 10 and 15 pounds as an adult, but some females will be larger than this. A three-month female kitten, for example, will typically weigh around three pounds, but it is not unheard of for a perfectly healthy kitten to weigh five or six pounds at this age. For the males, the average runs between 15 and 25 pounds. There are reports of Maine Coons who attain to 30 pounds and sometimes even more, but it is important not to mistake an overweight cat for a large, healthy specimen.
As for height, the Maine Coon can be expected to grow to a final height of 10 to 16 inches. Some Maine Coons are only about 25 inches long, while others can reach as long as 40 inches. The longest Maine Coon on record was Stewie, who died in 2013. At his full length, he measured 48.5 inches from tip of the nose to base of the tail.
The rate of growth for the Maine Coon is also unique in the domestic cat world. Maine Coons are typically known for developing more slowly than other breeds, but they do grow faster in terms of size and weight. Most kitten breeds will gain approximately one pound every month. A Maine Coon may put on only a pound in a month, but it is not uncommon at all for a Maine Coon kitten to grow as much as two to two and a half pounds every month. While other breeds will attain their full height and weight by age two, most Maine Coons will not reach their full physical size until the age of three to five years old.
To keep an effective growth chart for your kitten, there are some items you will need to have on hand. You will want to make sure you have an appropriate weight scale and that you always weigh your cat on the same scale to ensure consistency. A large postage scale or baby scale will work well. Do not use a human scale. Weighing the cat directly on the scale will not work because the cat is not heavy enough to produce accurate results. Standing on the scale and then picking up your Maine Coon and subtracting the difference will not provide an accurate weight and is not recommended.
You will also want to make sure that you have notebooks to record the changes that you see every month in weight as well as height, and length of the tail. You can use any notebook, but there are special pet books that can make it easier to keep track of all the changes in your cat’s life. Alternatively, keep your records digitally. A digital record will also be easy to search in case the vet needs to know something, or simply for your own information. Some people prefer to keep the information in an Excel chart so that it is easy to track trends in your cat’s development. This may be especially useful if you have multiple kittens to keep track of. There are also apps available specifically to allow you to track the rate of your Maine Coon’s growth so you can see at a glance how weight and size have changed.
Be sure to have a measuring tape on hand. Use the kind of measuring tape that you would use to measure yourself when fitting clothes, and not the less flexible type of measuring tape you keep in your toolbox. While some people do use a ruler or yardstick for measuring their Maine Coon, this is not recommended. It is too easy to get the wrong reading as your cat wriggles around and it is hard to lay a yardstick along a body that is not perfectly straight.
Finally, it is a good idea to have some of your cat’s favorite treats on hand to make the process easier. It is important that the weighing and measuring process be a pleasant one for your cat, because the larger the cat grows, the more difficult it will become to do these measurements if the cat is not accustomed to it.
You want the measuring process to be as easy for your cat as possible. While individual cats will react in unique ways to any sort of stressful situation, there are some things you can do right from the beginning to help accustom your kitten to the weighing and measuring process:
1. Take your time with a new kitten – You want your kitten to be used to being picked up and handled, but you also want her to have her space so she does not panic whenever you come near. Give your kitten attention, but also let her leave and come to you when she wants to be played with. This helps the kitten learn that you are the source of fun. When the kitten is happy to be with you, slowly practice manipulating the tail, moving the cat around, and stretching out her legs so that when the time comes to measure her, it is not a completely new experience.
2. Make sure your kitten has gotten all her wiggles out – If your kitten is full of energy, she is going to be very hard to weigh and measure. Before you start the process, make sure you have some playtime so your Maine Coon is ready to be calm.
3. Make the measuring time a time for treats – Whenever you do any sort of measurement, be sure to begin the process and follow it up with your cat’s favorite treat. The treat you choose should be something that the cat does not get often. This will ensure your cat looks forward to measuring time.
Maine Coons can grow very fast in one week and very slowly in the next. It is best not to measure your cat weekly, as this can be confusing and yield results that may be hard for you to analyze. A monthly weigh and measure is usually the best way to make sure you know exactly what is going on in your cat’s life and are getting an appropriate overall picture. Those changes that are too small to be seen week-to-week can be easily noticed over the course of a month.
The three key measurements you will want to take are;
Measuring for weight is typically the easiest measurement to take and can be done by making sure your cat is on the scale long enough for the weight to register. Be sure that there is nothing else on the scale, that you do not accidentally put a finger on the scale as you hold your cat, and that all four of your cat’s feet are on the scale when you take the final reading. As with people, the most accurate results come when you take three separate measurements in a row. At least two of the three measurements should be the same, and this is most likely to be the accurate one.
To measure your Maine Coon’s length, you will almost certainly need another person’s help, and as your cat grows you may need a third person to help. The best way to do it is to stretch the cat out on the floor and measure from the nose to the base of the tail. You might also want a separate measurement of tail length. Either way, be sure to record your cat’s measurement from nose to base of the tail and also from nose to tip of the tail. For the sake of continuity, try to keep and remember the cats head position for every measurement going forward.
To measure height, make sure that your Maine Coon is standing on all four feet. The head should be erect, not lowered or pushed up high. Measure from the top of the shoulder to the floor along the front leg.
Your Maine Coon is an individual, and it is impossible to say for certain how any particular individual will grow. From the ages of three months to seven months, expect your kitten to grow an average of around two pounds a month, but growth may not necessarily be consistent from month to month during this period however.
Somewhere between nine months and one year, the first growth spurt will be over and your Maine Coon will start to grow more subtly. Many Maine Coons will experience a growth spurt at around 32 weeks and another large growth spurt beginning at the 50-week mark.
In addition to weighing your cat, it is a good idea to judge their general health and condition. After all, weight is a simple number that does not tell you how fit the cat is growing. Simple weight cannot tell you if muscle development is appropriate for the age, and individual development can be so varied that an owner may rightly wonder whether the cat is malnourished or overweight.
To help check the general condition of your cat, you need to feel them and hug them. Between three months and four months of age, the kitten should go from being all softness to having a firm muscle layer on the legs and hips. You should always be able to feel your cat’s ribs, but you should never be able to see them when looking at the cat. As a general rule of thumb, you should generally be guessing your cat’s weight is greater than it actually turns out to be once they are on the scale. This is because of their beautiful, scruffy coat. If your Maine Coon is healthy, it will appear larger due to that luxurious coat of fur.
Among Maine Coon owners it can be a point of pride to brag about the weight of the cat. It seems everyone is interested in getting to that mythical number of 30 pounds. In reality, it is very rare to meet a healthy 30 pound Maine Coon. Most cats who attain this weight are actually overweight and need to go on a diet!
When your cat is standing naturally, you should be able to stand over them, look down, and see their body going in slightly between the haunches and the ribs. This is your cat’s waist. Again, if you can see your cat’s ribs or feel them too easily, the cat is likely malnourished. But if you see no indentation between ribs and hips, your cat is slightly overweight. If this area of your cat is sticking out, the cat is seriously overweight and should go on a diet immediately. Carrying excess weight is very hard on your cat’s body. Just be sure to get the advice of a vet before implementing any kind of diet.
In addition to measuring your cat’s weight, height, and length, you may also be interested in when your cat will truly begin to “look like” a Maine Coon. Most cats of the breed will start to look fluffy at around eight weeks. The ruff that Maine Coons are so famous for usually begins to come in between nine months and 18 months, but again this is an individual thing.
It is also not unusual for the Maine Coon’s eyes to change color over time. This is especially true for kittens in the very first week or two of life, and for most of them, their adult eye color will come in at around six weeks. However, some will not get their adult color until later.
The Maine Coon is a unique breed and treasured breed. One of the best things you can do for your cat is to perform regular measurements to make sure your Maine Coon attains to their greatest potential.