Big, sociable, and has a muscular well-proportioned body — it might be the hunk next door, but it’s also the Maine Coon.

Maine Coons are famous for being “gentle giants”. They measure an average of one meter long and pack serious weight: according to MaineCoon.org, males can weigh 6.8 to 11.34 kilograms, while females about 5 to 9. To put things in perspective, the website Spruce Pets averages a domestic cat’s weight at 3.6 to 4.5 kilograms.

Despite their size, Maine Coons are a common recommended breed to first-time cat guardians and families with kids. They’re known as gentle, well-mannered, sociable cats. Gentle giants, indeed!

Did you know?

The longest domestic living cat in the world is Ludo, a Maine Coon! Ludo is 1.18 meters (40.6 inches) long. That’s taller than an average four-year-old!

And the longest domestic cat ever? Still a Maine Coon! Mymains Stewart Gilligan, aka “Stewie”, was an amazing 1.23 meters (48.5 inches) long.

Caring for a Maine Coon: An Interview

Animal Scene was able to sit down with Michelle Pellicer, pet guardian to a Maine Coon lovingly called Gandalf. Some people would say Gandalf was born a star. At less than a year old, Gandalf already won a cat show in Russia. This first win by Gandalf was before he became a part of Michelle’s family, who didn’t intend for Gandalf to join shows in the Philippines. By unexpected circumstances, they eventually found themselves embarking on cat shows with Gandalf, and winning!

Michelle shared with us about the breed, Gandalf, and how it’s like to have a Maine Coon in the Philippines.

“Gandalf is ten months old. Oh, it was love at first sight when I picked him up. Gandalf was brought in from the airport because he [was] from Russia, in Siberia,” shares Michelle.

Why so big?

The lineage of the Maine Coon remains a mystery to this day. Because of this, it is difficult to determine why they’re so big. Rumor has it that they are either part-racoon or bobcat. While it is fun to speculate, no scientific evidence has shown yet that cross-breeding a raccoon (or bobcat) with a cat is biologically possible.

Cats and Commitment

 “The [Manila Cat Fanciers Society 1st Cat Show] was our first ever as a family. We didn’t have professional grooming and all of that. It was just us and the internet. We brought our stuff. So when we won the cat show, we were in shock. We’re not pros for shows,” says Michelle.

“My advocacy actually is to tell the kids: Whatever cat you decide to have one day, whether they’re local or foreign, just remember it’s a lifetime commitment. They are family. If you take them in as family, they’re going to be the best show cats in the world, even if they lose every show. It’s not about winning. It’s about having a companion for life and they’re a part of the family.

“I’ve been honest to the organizer. I’ve been to dog shows, I participated 10 or 15 years ago. Never again. It was so stressful for the dogs to run around the ring and stuff and I felt sorry — my dogs are like my kids also. So, if he feels like it, we’ll go, but if he doesn’t, we’ll just sit. Nagkataon lang na (it just so happens that) Gandalf is lakwatsero (wanderer).”

Grooming

“Every night is like a production night. I’m sitting and I’m watching TV and a different cat goes on my lap. I already have a brush there. Our cats are just jumping around and when they do, all we do is brush them down so they’re used to it. It’s not like they’re being groomed; it’s more like petting them and showing them affection. He’s used to it. I think that’s the trick.

“And then the first time I took them to a groomer in the mall, I cried. I’ve seen how they blow-dry the cats. Because if I’m honest, pinapaliguan namin sila (we bathe them) with [warm] shower water, [which is] what we use. So, I bathe them and when they’re done, I let them dry off. When they’re completely dry, I’ll give them catnip so they’re a little happy, and then I’ll blow-dry them slowly. I don’t need them completely dry; I just need the wet out for his sake and then I’ll let him naturally dry. The next day, if we’re going out, I’ll go dry them out a bit.

“We have a small pond in our home so our cats are getting used to playing in the water. I think it’s a matter of giving them a pail and then you let them play, so that bathing is not stressful and the cat doesn’t fight, and you do it when the cat is small and manageable. By the time they become huge like Gandalf, you don’t see scratches on me even though I haven’t trimmed his nails, and he’s fine with it because he’s just used to it.”

Staying Hip and Healthy

Maine Coons are relatively easy to care for and are generally healthy. They can live long lives. A well-exercised, well-cared-for Ma¬¬ine Coon can live beyond 20 years old.

For such a big, heavy-boned breed, hip dysplasia can be common. Hip dysplasia is described by Mayo Clinic as “a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. This allows the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated” Hip dysplasia can be genetic, but can also be caused by rapid weight gain and inadequate nutrition intake. Maine Coons are relatively easy to care for and are generally healthy. They can live long lives. A well-exercised, well-cared-for Ma¬¬ine Coon can live beyond 20 years old.

For such a big, heavy-boned breed, hip dysplasia can be common. Hip dysplasia is described by Mayo Clinic as “a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. This allows the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated” Hip dysplasia can be genetic, but can also be caused by rapid weight gain and inadequate nutrition intake.

Goofball of Fur

 “They have a matapang (bold) face that looks like a lion. Very noble-looking, but they’re goofballs. When you look at the photos, he looks so noble and regal, but actually, he’s a goofball. He likes poking fun at Rottweilers and makes habol (chases) the at our porch.

“He’s very playful, but not overly. He likes to get on our laps and then when he wants food, he’ll put his face into yours. Talagang nanlalambing (really showing affection). I think it’s because he’s used to being all over us. But . . . look at the size of him. I mean, when you see him, they’re beautiful cats. They’re gorgeous. He’s just such a goofball and he’s not mayabang (proud) and does not place himself above the other cats.”

Maintenance

 “They have a matapang (bold) face that looks like a lion. Very noble-looking, but they’re goofballs. When you look at the photos, he looks so noble and regal, but actually, he’s a goofball.

He likes poking fun at Rottweilers and makes habol (chases) the [lizards] at our porch.

“He’s very playful, but not overly. He likes to get on our laps and then when he wants food, he’ll put his face into yours. Talagang nanlalambing (really showing affection). I think it’s because he’s used to being all over us. But . . . look at the size of him. I mean, when you see him, they’re beautiful cats. They’re gorgeous. He’s just such a goofball and he’s not mayabang (proud) and does not place himself above the other cats.”

Great personality

“Gandalf is okay. He’s curious because he’s still young. It’s hard for me to be certain, because it’s also my first time to own a Maine Coon, but I don’t see any territorial issues. One thing I’ve noticed about coons, which I’ve loved since I have other cats, they don’t mark the house. You know how like other cats mark the house? Coons don’t.”

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s December 2018 issue.