When seeking to acquire a Maine Coon, there are some important considerations to bear in mind. These include how to choose the right kitten or cat, where to buy the cat, the best age for getting a kitten, and how best to go about buying a cat. When choosing any particular Maine Coon, there are really two initial important considerations. First, how old should the cat be? Second, can allergies or diseases be minimized by choosing a specific cat?
Unless acquiring a rescue kitten, it is standard practice not to separate a kitten from its mother and siblings until seven to 12 weeks of age. Kittens will normally begin the weaning off process at around seven weeks, but some kittens will wean for several weeks longer. It is crucial that the kitten is properly socialized during this time, not only with humans but also with other cats. Once the weaning process is finished, the earlier a kitten is brought into its final home the better. Early socialization to a specific living situation is always ideal, especially if there are small children, dogs, or other cats in the home.
When rescuing a Maine Coon, it is important to remember that many older cats can make perfectly wonderful pets even if they exhibit some unusual behavior at the shelter. Most issues can be resolved by a loving and stable home environment. There are only a few problems that should be considered “red flags,” and Maine Coons who exhibit these behaviors should only be adopted by those with the experience, patience, and time to work through the issues.
One such serious issue is cats and kittens who have been become feral. A feral Maine Coon may or may not adapt to domesticated living, and the presence of other cats in the home may certainly help the process; or harm they may harm it depending on the situation. Declawed cats can also be an issue, as cats scratch to cope and deal with boredom. When it can no longer scratch, a declawed cat may turn to far worse behaviors in compensation. Additionally, the declawing process can cause a cat great pain, and this may have caused stress in the past, or may even be continuing to cause a cat great stress.
As for allergies, while many people think that cat allergies are a reaction to fur and dander, in reality, most people with cat allergies are allergic to a particular protein found in the cat’s saliva and sebaceous glands. This protein is spread throughout the fur by the cat’s own natural grooming process. The particular protein in question is known as Fel d 1, and, unfortunately, the Maine Coon is not considered hypoallergenic because it does not produce particularly low levels of this protein. Long-haired cats sometimes trigger less of an allergic reaction than short-haired cats because they hold the offending protein closer to their skin; however, this advantage will not work in the favor of allergy sufferers unless the cat is regularly and faithfully brushed, ideally outside the living space.
In addition, it has been shown that female cats, in general, produce less Fel d 1 than do males. Cats with lighter colored hair generally make less Fel d 1 than darker haired felines, as well. While there is no guarantee that any Maine Coon will be hypoallergenic, if an allergy is minor or if the allergic person in question is able to manage with air filters or allergy remedies, a female Maine Coon with a lighter coat would be the best choice for producing the least allergen.
Some people believe that the only way to be certain of acquiring a pure-bred Maine Coon is to buy from a licensed breeder. While this is certainly an option, and will likely be the best option for anyone interested in showing or breeding a Maine Coon, it is not impossible to acquire an excellent specimen from other sources. It is important, however, when buying from someone other than a breeder to follow certain best practices to be sure of getting the a good result.
1. Always ask to see both parents, or at least a picture. If a kitten is advertised as a Maine Coon, it should be possible for you to see at least a photo of both the mother and father. If a seller is unwilling to show one or both of the parents, it is unlikely the cat in question is a pure-bred Maine Coon. If the seller acquired the cat without seeing the parents or getting any assurance of the breed, while the cat may be a wonderful specimen of a longhair and an excellent and loving companion, there is no guarantee it is a purebred Maine Coon.
2. When buying an adult, be familiar with the unique characteristics of the Maine Coon. If it is not necessary to have 100% assurance that a particular individual is a pure-bred Maine Coon (which is impossible without papers), it is possible to look for individuals with the following characteristics:
• Distinctive long, shaggy hair
• Neck ruff, foot ruffs, and ear tufts
• A long, fluffy tail (Maine Coon tails average 16 inches, and anything less than 13 inches is unlikely to be a pure Maine Coon unless it is still a juvenile)
• A rectangular, muscular, and evenly-proportioned body
• A long, straight nose
If even one of the above traits is missing, the specimen is not a purebred Maine Coon, though it may have quite a lot of Maine Coon in its ancestry.
3. If acquiring a pure-bred Maine Coon is important, do not buy any cat without pedigree papers and registration as well as medical history. When buying an adult cat, it may be impossible to determine for certain whether a particular cat is a true Maine Coon unless the seller has papers to back it up.
1. Rescue sites and shelters. While it is less common than with some other breeds, Maine Coons, like any cat or dog, can be abandoned by irresponsible owners. There are several Maine Coon rescue sites where it is possible to find excellent individuals who have been abandoned for a variety of reasons. Reputable sites include mainecoonrescue.net, mainecoonadoptions.com, and omcrescue.org, though other sites are available. Most of these sites will also rescue cats of other breeds, especially other long-haired cats, so it is important to check carefully if a purebred Maine Coon is desired.
At least one site, www.eastcoastmainecoonrescue.org, will make a concerted effort to specifically find Maine Coons at other general shelters and separate them to the adopted by those with a particular interest in the breed or experience with Maine Coons in particular. Rescue sites and shelters will generally also go to some effort to screen potential owners to ensure the safety of their rescue cats, so be prepared to give personal information. Cats acquired from rescue situations can make wonderful and loving pets, however, previous bad experiences in the cat’s life can require extra patience and love from the new owner as the cat adapts.
2. Facebook. Many of the cats available from Facebook are from breeders, and Facebook can be a reliable way to find a safe and recommended breeder to buy from. There are also Facebook pages dedicated to Maine Coon lovers in general where someone may be forced to sell or give away a beloved pet for legitimate reasons, such as a catastrophic illness or the death of a loved one. Additionally, others on these pages may have information on the best places to find a Maine Coon in any particular geographic area. Dedicated Maine Coon Facebook pages include Maine Coon Cat Nation and Maine Coon ID.
3. Craigslist and similar websites. While it is possible to acquire excellent pets via Craigslist and other websites that feature classified ads, it is important to exercise extreme caution when doing so. There is often no monitoring of these sites or their offers, and it is quite common for unscrupulous breeders and other bad actors to advertise pets of all kinds via classifieds and websites. That being said, such sites are also used occasionally by legitimate, usually new or small operation breeders, and by individuals who need to sell or give away an animal or kittens but who are not official breeders. To safely look for a Maine Coon via such a site, be sure to do the following:
• Ask for multiple pictures of any animal. Unscrupulous sellers will frequently post only one, fuzzy picture or will post pictures of other animals grabbed from the Internet. If a seller cannot show you multiple pictures, it is unlikely they have the animal they claim to have.
• Do research to ascertain a fair price for the age and condition of Maine Coon being sought. Some sellers on Craigslist, in particular, are from outside the U.S. and are simply hoping to make as much money as possible. They may have no idea of the market in a particular area.
• Be suspicious of broken English and very poor grammar, or of any request to send money outside the United States. These are often signs that the seller is actually located outside the United States and there is likely no cat at all to be bought.
• If the seller claims to be a breeder, ask for registration information. This should be simple for any genuine breeder to provide.
• Ask for the phone number of the veterinary clinic where the animal has been treated in the past. Get the name of the owner and the animal’s name, then verify with the veterinarian in question. Be aware that veterinary standards outside the developed world can be sub-standard and even non-existent, so if a phone number is not located in the United States, both the ad and the seller are suspect.
• Always meet a seller in a public place. Never invite a seller to a private home.
• Beware of a bait and switch situation. Unscrupulous sellers on such sites are aware that buyers can get their hearts set on having a pet. They take advantage of this to lure in a buyer with the promise of an animal they do not have, only to switch it out for a different animal at the last moment, hoping the buyer will be so committed they will agree to buy the second animal.
The Maine Coon is a popular and sought-after animal, and, as such, it is not easy to find free kittens from this breed. That being said, it is not impossible that a pure Maine Coon will turn up and there are many mixed-lineage cats with Maine Coon characteristics that can be easily acquired. While few of these last will actually be purebred Maine Coons, many do have significant Maine Coon blood in their lineage.
The first step to finding a free Maine Coon kitten is patience. It may be worthwhile to check in with local shelters on a regular basis and even communicate with shelters located in the far Northeast, where the largest concentrations of Maine Coons are located. Shelters will contact reliable and conscientious potential adopters if a specifically requested animal comes in.
It is also possible to check with organizations that are dedicated to the Maine Coon breed. Occasionally a breeder or responsible owner will have to give up a Maine Coon. When this happens, a responsible person typically use one of these organizations to make sure the cat goes to a home where it will be understood and appreciated.
There are also certain organizations that specialize in the rescue of purebred cats. One example is Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue. For a small adoption fee that covers the cost of medical care and board for the rescued animal, it is possible to acquire a purebred animal; or at least as close to purebred as possible without papers and independent verification. To start the process, a potential adopter will need to fill out an application form that includes personal information as well experience with the particular breed that is desired.
For those who wish to buy a Maine Coon from a source other than one of the big breeders, there are many options available. It just takes time and careful consideration in order to find the right one.