Choosing the right food for your Maine Coon can be a daunting task because of the sheer number of options, but we have laid out everything you need to know to make the right decision.
In this article, we will walk you through choosing between kitten food, dry food, raw food, and wet food. This means not only looking at the texture of the food, but also the nutritional value of the food. Ideally, Maine Coons require food that is high in protein, low in carbohydrates, moderate in fats, filled with real nutrients, and lacking junk or “filler” ingredients.
First, we explain to you what to look out for and then we´ll show you a couple of examples of great food that you should get for your Maine Coon.
Choosing the Right Type: What Makes Them So Great?
When you are beginning to look for the right food for your Maine Coon, it is important to consider what makes a food great. To understand this, there are a few key ingredients that should be present, and in the correct amounts.
This is especially important for Maine Coons over other breeds due to their size and relatively high levels of energy. A properly balanced food will not only make your cat healthier today but also lower their risk of future health problems.
As with all cats, Maine Coons are carnivorous creatures. This means that their main source of nutrition is naturally meat, which is high in protein. But how do you know how much protein your kitty needs?
We can look at what cats eat in the wild as a good indicator of what your pet should eat as well. A study of stray cats found that when hunting for their own food, cats’ diets consisted of more than 60% protein.
Luckily, other studies have shown that while perfectly healthy for your cat, protein content does not need to be quite that high for optimum health.
As a general rule, growing kittens and young adult Maine Coons should receive a diet of between 30% and 45% protein. After they are full size and no longer growing, this can be lowered to between 26% and 40%.
Other factors to consider include:
- Regular activity level (indoor vs. outdoor cats)
- Specific health challenges
Always speak to your veterinarian about what a properly balanced diet means for your Maine Coons particular circumstances.
Cool It with The Carbs
As you may have guessed, people aren’t the only ones to struggle with problems related to excessive carb consumption. The same study we mentioned before found that wild cats consumed less than 5% of carbohydrates in their average diet.
This is not surprising considering that cats tend toward eating other animals, rather than some of the common higher carbohydrate ingredients in many foods (wheat, rice, corn, etc.).
While some level of carbohydrates is acceptable, it is best to find foods with lower levels of carbohydrates. In the wild, cats have evolved to have little to no dietary need for carbs.
Consuming too many carbohydrates over extended periods of time can lead to significant health struggles in the future, including obesity and trouble with proper digestion.
Some signs that your Maine Coon may be consuming too many carbs include:
- Excessive gassiness
Balance of Fats
As with humans, fat is not automatically a bad thing in your cat’s diet. In fact, the right amount and type of fat is an important building block to your cat’s healthy development.
In the mentioned study, cats in a natural habitat will consume between 20% and 25% fat in their diet.
Fat serves an important role in that it provides a source of energy to your Maine Coon’s body, aiding in the breaking down and absorption of important vitamins and nutrients.
It is also a source of important Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and provides a flavor that your cat often enjoys to eat.
Despite these benefits, we must take care that our cat’s diet is not too high in fat either. Just as with people, a diet that is too high in fat can very easily lead to being overweight or obese.
This can be detrimental to your Maine Coon’s health because overweight cats are much more likely to develop the following health conditions:
- Joint pain and inflammation
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Urinary tract diseases
What Should You Avoid?
We have taken a look at what you should make sure is included in your cat’s diet, but what about things that should not be in their diet?
This can be a tough question to tackle, especially in a world where ingredients on the back of too many packages are often tough to pronounce and virtually unknown to the average person.
Much of what is included in commercially sold cat food is not there for the benefit of your pet, but rather for the convenience and cost effectiveness of producers and pet owners.
While not all of these ingredients are guaranteed to harm your Maine Coon, there are a few that should be avoided to lower their risk to health concerns.
Chemical preservatives are common in many foods as a way to improve the shelf life of pet food. Other chemicals are used as a moistening agent to give treats and foods a softer texture.
Many of these chemical cocktails are illegal for use in human foods and known to cause cancer, kidney problems, and liver damage. Here is a list of some of the common culprits to look out for:
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Propylene Glycol (PG)
Another group of ingredients to beware of are the ones that often contribute to the higher carbohydrate counts that we spoke about earlier.
These items are referred to as “filler” ingredients because they are a cheaper option compared to protein and nutrients.
Using these types of added ingredients allows producers as well as owners to cut costs and save money on pet foods.
The trade-off is that pets who consume foods with high concentrations of fillers are often less healthy and have a lower life expectancy. Common fillers include:
- Wheat (gluten)
- Meat “by-products” (waste products from the rendering process, like bone meal and grease)
- Rendered fat
Different Kinds of Maine Coon Food
Let´s have a look at the different kinds of foods you can get for your Maine Coon!
For Kittens and Young Cats
When your Maine Coon is still a kitten, they will have different dietary needs than when they are an adult. During the initial stages of growth and development, your kitten should be fed foods that include the following extra benefits:
- Healthy growth support
- Immune system support
- Digestive health support
Contrary to what you might assume, your kitten’s food intake may be the highest when it is under four months old.
While they are still growing, most experts suggest a “free feeding” diet, where you continue to feed your kitten as much food as they will eat.
This ensures that their growth is not stunted due to a lack of nutrients. This may need to be curbed as they get older but is usually not a problem as a kitten due to higher energy levels and rapid development.
1. Product Spotlight: Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Dry Cat Food
Royal Canin Kitten Dry Cat Food accomplishes this through their special blend of vitamins and antioxidants that are specifically geared toward the health of kittens between the age of 4 months and 12 months.
It contains a super digestible combo of fiber, protein, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
These are critical for the healthy development of your Maine Coon’s immune system, particularly during the 4-12-week period when they are no longer receiving certain nutrients from their mother but are still not fully developed.
In addition, kitten kibble is small and has an easy to chew texture that is just right for the teething process your kitten will undergo.
As they transition from being weaned off of their mother’s milk and beginning to eat solid foods, this kibble will be gentle on both their digestive system and their mouth.
This is important, as some kittens may refuse to eat solid food if they don’t like the texture or if it hurts their teeth to chew.
- Designed specifically for growing kittens
- Easy on developing mouth and teeth
- Highly digestible
- Low moisture content (recommended to be part of a mixed diet with wet food)
2. Product Spotlight: Hill’s Science Diet Wet Kitten Food
The Hill’s Science Diet blend brings the high-quality ingredients that your kitten needs to support the healthy development of their immune and digestive systems, but with an added perk.
Wet cat foods bring more hydration to your Maine Coon’s diet in a way that feels most natural for them. In the wild, cats receive the majority of their liquids through the consumption of raw meat.
Many cats that only eat dry food don’t drink enough water and are lacking fluids in their daily diet.
Not only does Hill’s Science Wet Kitten Food meet this critical hydration need, but they do it with only the best ingredients.
This is because it is made from real salmon, chicken, and lamb protein. It also has clinically proven beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Unlike many other options that are out there, Hill’s Science Diet steers clear of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and chicken by-product meal.
This makes for a soft and smooth food that your kitten will love to eat, while at the same time providing the vital ingredients required for healthy development.
- High quality, all-natural ingredients (no fillers)
- Increased protein for growing kittens
- Supports immune and digestive health
- Provides high moisture content for increased hydration
- Dries out if not eaten right away or stored properly between feeding times
Wet Food & Raw Food
After your Maine Coon is at least one year old, you can transition from foods that are particularly designed for kittens to foods that are made for developed adult cats.
As a general rule, high-quality wet food contains the highest concentrations of natural and nutrient-packed ingredients.
It also lacks the fillers that are found in many dry food options (most dry foods contain some kind of filler to help achieve the dry and crunchy texture).
Like wet food, raw cat food options provide the much-needed moisture in your cat’s diet that is sometimes neglected when they eat only dry foods. Regarding natural ingredients, raw food tends to be the most natural.
This is because it is made from ingredients that are closest to a cat’s natural, wild diet. Most of these products are freeze-dried and stored frozen to help preserve them because they don’t contain some of the preservatives found in other cat foods.
3. Product Spotlight: Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe
Consisting of real meat, organs, and bone as the primary ingredient, your Maine Coon will love Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe. The delicious venison flavor is accompanied by great tasting and beneficial green mussels.
Together they comprise 93% of this recipe for a well-rounded formula. The chunky, loaf-style texture will grab the attention of even your pickiest eaters.
- 100% single-sourced, grass-fed, ethically raised venison from New Zealand
- No antibiotics, growth promoting agents, or added hormones
- No guar, agar, or carrageenan gums
- No wheat, rice, potatoes, corn, or soy fillers
- Green Mussels, a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
- Free of TSPP, BPA, sugars, glycerin, and preservatives
- Must be promptly and properly stored if not fully consumed
4. Product Spotlight: Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
If you opt for a raw product, Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Dinner morsels are a great option.
Made and packaged in the USA with cage-free poultry and 100% organic-certified fruits and vegetables, it’s as fresh and natural as a meal in a bag can get. The freeze-drying process makes it easy for long-term storage while maintaining the nutritional value of the ingredients.
Made from real chicken, these raw bites will satisfy the natural craving that your cat has for meat.
Chick Chick Morsels can be served just as they are right out of the package or rehydrated with water for a more natural experience and extra hydration for your cat. Serve them as a complete and balanced meal, or as a treat/snack from time to time.
Once opened, remove as much air from the package as possible and store sealed in a cool, dry place.
- Closest to your cat’s natural diet in the wild
- Filled with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
- No grain, gluten, or fillers
- No artificial preservatives or colors
- Great for digestive, oral, and immune system health
- Supports a thick and glossy coat
- More expensive compared to other feeding options
As most of us are aware, dry food is by and large the most commonly fed pet food product available on the market. This is largely due to its ease of storage and feeding as well as its relatively low price point.
While many dry foods are full of less than beneficial ingredients for your Maine Coon, there are healthier options available.
No matter which dry food you may choose to feed your feline, experts recommend some combination of both wet and dry food to better serve your pet’s needs.
5. Product Spotlight: Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Maine Coon Dry Cat Food
This breed specific cat food is specifically designed to meet the nutritional requirements of Maine Coons that are at least 15 months of age and older.
Specifically, it contains the right amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are vital to a healthy bone and joint structure. These are especially important for Maine Coons due to their large size and relatively high energy levels.
It also includes taurine, EPA, and DHA which are important for a healthy heart. The larger, cube-shaped kibble is easy for Maine Coons to eat and promotes oral health.
As with any dry food option, it is highly suggested that you supplement your cat’s diet with some combination of wet and dry food for an optimally balanced regimen.
- Engineered specifically for Maine Coons
- Helps promote a healthy weight
- Supports shiny and dense fur and healthy skin
- As with almost all dry food, it does contain some fillers in order to achieve the kibble-style texture
6. Product Spotlight: Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken Formula
While almost all dry cat food contains some amount of fillers, Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken raises the bar. With real chicken as the main ingredient and no grain-heavy fillers, it’s one of the healthiest dry food options on the market.
Developed based on the natural protein levels found in animals that cats would naturally prey upon, it uses simple and high-quality ingredients to achieve a well-rounded nutritional value.
This includes plenty of vitamins and minerals, low carbohydrates, and high levels of animal protein. The natural blend encourages your cat to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle by satisfying appetite cravings as well as nutritional requirements.
As great as it is, the cost of this food can be a barrier for some owners, and it is still best to mix in some wet food options to guard your Maine Coon against urinary issues due to lack of hydration.
- Contains no grain, gluten, or fillers
- More than 90% animal-based protein
- Only 4% energy from carbohydrates
- Full of healthy vitamins and minerals
- Extremely low oxalate levels to guard against urine crystals and bladder stones
- Much more expensive than most dry options
Why You Should Mix It Up
Based on everything we have learned so far, one might assume that the best thing you can do for your Maine Coon is a diet of all wet or raw cat food.
However, this is not necessarily the case. Feeding your cat some wet or raw food will help to avoid a lack of moisture in their diet because cats that are on a strictly dry food diet sometimes develop urinary tract problems stemming from too few liquids.
Also, in terms of the healthiest combination of ingredients, it is true that most wet and raw foods outperform dry foods. However, there is more to it than just that.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding the right combination of food types for your cat’s diet.
The first thing to consider is cost. For those living on a tight budget, an all wet and raw food diet can be a big undertaking. Naturally, healthier ingredients that are absent of fillers come at a higher price.
You’ll be happy to hear that there are also practical reasons to justify a diet that mixes wet, raw, and dry foods.
Believe it or not, experimental data has shown that most cats actually prefer to change it up. In addition, maintaining dry food in your Maine Coon’s diet is beneficial to their dental well-being.
The crunchy texture of dry food acts as a natural toothbrush to scrape off tartar and prevent plaque build-up.
While most cats will thrive on this sort of mixed diet, it is important to mention that some cats do struggle with this concept. Cats with a sensitive digestive tract, or who are finicky with changes to their diet, will need to be monitored more closely.
Sometimes you can help ease their struggle by gradually transitioning between types of foods by mixing them together in the dish your cat uses.
Maybe you would start with a mixture of 80/20, and then 50/50, and then 20/80 before making your complete switch.
With the unbelievable amount of products that are out there, the most important thing you can do for your Maine Coon is to remain educated about what you are purchasing.
Always look for healthiest and most well-balanced options that you can afford so that you and your Maine Coon can enjoy the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible.