Grooming your Maine Coon is not only a necessity, but it’s also a joyous moment that you can share with your feline friend. It promotes bonding, and when done right it can increase the trust that your cat has in you. But how exactly do you groom a Maine Coon cat?
There are many elements involved in grooming a Maine Coon. You have to consider brushing their coat, and whether or not trimming is necessary. You need to be prepared to bathe your cat and know what the right products are. You have to consider their nails, as well as many other elements.
Lucky for you, we’ve put together this ultimate guide on grooming your Maine Coon cat. Read on to find out everything you will ever need to know in order to be able to care for your furry companion to the best of your ability.
How to get your Maine Coon kitten used to grooming
It’s always better to prevent than to cure, right? Especially if you’ve ever seen those scenes where someone grabs the brush or shampoo bottle and their cat decides to take a sudden extended trip to Florida.
There’s no use in knowing exactly what to do if you don’t have a willing participant to do it on, so ideally, preventing these kinds of problems starts as soon as your new kitten gets home.
Your main goal is to get your cat to happily sit on your lap and get brushed, as well as allow you to touch her paws, ears, mouth, and any other sensitive area without fear or danger.
And while convincing a cat that bathing is fun may be a bit more challenging, don’t believe the myths that all cats hate water! It can absolutely be done with patience and care.
The best way is to take baby steps every single day and reward your cat for any progress you manage to make. Keep an eye out and try not to spook her, and back off if it looks like she’s not happy with you.
Start right away by frequently picking up your kitten just to give her a treat. Touch her paw, give it a light squeeze, and reward! Touch her ear and do the same. Repeat this process daily.
Whatever area of your cat you never touch, and whatever action you never do is very likely to become a problem for her.
This is what a step by step schedule would look like for any goal you wish to achieve, such as “I want to get my Maine Coon to sit still for 5 minutes while I brush her”.
Use the same general idea for any other grooming goals you have.
Example Brushing preparation plan:
Day 1. Just pick up your kitten and reward and pet. No need to rush into anything.
Day 2. Bring out the brush. If the kitten is relaxed, give one light brush. Reward, pet.
Day 3. One light brush and lots of rewards. Don’t jump the gun just because she seems fine.
Day 4. See if you can get a good few consecutive brushes in. Reward.
Day 5. The same amount of brushes, plus one in a more sensitive area such as under her belly. Reward heavily if she allows that one, take a step back if not.
Day 6. Aim for one minute of brushing. Reward every 20 seconds if necessary.
Day 7. Double the time, and remember to touch the more sensitive areas as well.
After that point, slowly work your way up to whatever goal you want.
For some cats, it may be as simple as holding the brush in your hand and letting them do all the work – they just love rubbing up against it! But you can’t assume that every Maine Coon kitten will just love to be brushed.
However, you can assume that they all HAVE TO, so it’s good to have a plan.
Brushing and caring for your Maine Coon’s coat
While we’re on the topic of brushing, let’s take a closer look! You probably already know by now that Maine Coon cats require regular brushing, and do shed a moderate amount.
However, if you have a happy cat which is well used to being groomed by you, brushing will become less of a “requirement” and more of a pleasant cuddle session for the two of you.
Your Maine Coon’s coat is a work of wonder, and the least you can do to maintain it is brushing it daily with a soft, rubber or nylon brush.
It might not look like it’s taking away loads of loose hairs, but a soft nylon brush really does two important things: it begins the grooming session, getting your cat to calm down and enter grooming mode, and it starts to untangle the long Maine Coon coat and get all the hairs to lay in the same direction.
Any normal soft brush from the pet store will do for this part.
Once that is done, what you need to get is a really good wire slicker brush.
This is the one that’s going to really get in there and lift all of the loose hairs from your Maine Coon’s coat, helping to prevent excessive shedding. In this case, you’re looking for something pretty stiff, that will reach through your cat’s spectacular coat.
Something like this cat slicker brush from Amazon will really get the job done.
As an added bonus, it’s retractable and really easy to clean!
Any nice, stainless steel comb will be a wonderful addition in your arsenal. Here are the 3 best brushes you can get for Maine Coon cats.
No matter how much you pay attention, your Maine Coon might still get the occasional tangle, and it’s a great idea to have a wide-toothed stainless steel comb handy to untangle her fur before it becomes truly matted.
If mats do happen, you want to take as gentle an approach to resolve them as possible.
It can take years for the luscious coat of a Maine coon to fully develop, and you don’t want to ruin it by cutting a hole into it with scissors.
It can also take years for your cat to completely trust you to groom even sensitive areas such as her belly, and you don’t want to ruin that trust by poking her with scissors either. Very serious mats and tangles might be a good opportunity to consider seeing a professional groomer.
If you do decide to DIY, a special tool called a Mat Splitter can help you separate large mats into smaller ones which you can then attack with your comb.
Always remember to introduce all new tools slowly. Don’t assume that a new brush will be accepted right away just because an old one was.
If anything startles or upsets your cat, go back to the introduction plan we discussed earlier and take it from there.
Should my Maine Coon cat get a haircut in the summer?
It can be tempting to just get rid of your Maine Coon’s fur for the summer season, and many people resort to what is commonly known as the “lion cut”.
This is actually a shave in which only the fur around your cat’s head and paws is left, making them kind of look like a little lion.
Cute it may be, but it also damages a beautiful coat that took years to grow, and that could have been the pride of your Maine Coon if cared for properly.
On top of that, if your cat is an outdoor cat, you may actually be increasing the risk of sunburn by doing this.
Many people also insist that such extreme haircuts actually bother the cat significantly, so at the very least you should consider the matter seriously before jumping in.
If you think your Maine Coon may be suffering from the heat, which can be the case if you live in a warmer area than the breed is designed for, there are several things you can do before resorting to the feline equivalent of a military buzz cut.
Providing cool and shaded areas to nap in as well as lots of fresh water is a great start. Frequent grooming in order to get rid of excess hair and promote the even distribution of oils across the coat is also important in warm months.
If you have any doubts, it may be wise to stop by your local veterinarian first and ask for their input.
They may point out that what you are imagining to be “suffering from the heat” is simply your cat napping more during the day and being more active at night, as would be normal in the summer months.
If both of you decide that a haircut is a good idea, he can also help you find a local professional to handle it.
This is definitely the kind of job you would hand over to a professional. While there are shaving kits available for purchase online, and it certainly can be done in theory, practice is a different matter entirely.
It’s not easy to do it quickly and without distressing the cat, and if you are forced to leave the job half-completed because you cat now hates you, the results may be more than a little ridiculous.
As a final consideration, however, do keep in mind that even extreme haircuts like the lion cut have a place and a purpose. They can be a good (and sometimes only) solution to extreme matting and tangling.
They can help you in case of skin conditions that require the regular application of medication and be useful for keeping an eye on healing injuries.
Most commonly, they can be a great tool for elderly cats which have problems grooming themselves and may be more prone to many of these problems.
Use your judgment, and always keep the best interest of your cat in mind above considerations such as looks or your amusement.
How and when to bathe a Maine Coon
The old myth that cats and water just don’t mix really needs to be left behind. Not only do Maine Coon cats need regular baths, but they can also learn to enjoy them!
Do yourself a favor right now and have a look at the short video below posted by proud owners of this fierce breed. You will see that, with enough care and attention, bath time will soon be something to look forward to.
One good way to get your Maine Coon to NEVER come anywhere near running water is to pick her up and dump her in a bubble bath on her first go.
All you will succeed in doing is scaring your cat and basically subscribing to making regular monthly payments to your local grooming center.
Bathing is definitely something you can do at home, however, if you follow these basic principles!
- Take it slowly. Imagine how slowly you should take it, and do it half as slowly as that.
- Reward any small progress. Even just getting into the tub happily with no water at first is cause for celebration.
- Do not, under any circumstances, hold your cat in water by force.
- If your cat is distressed, take a step back and try again later!
If you keep these principles in mind, and if you have the well being of your cat at heart above all, you will do fine.
As a Maine Coon owner, you might actually be luckier than the owners of any other breed, because they do tend to be much happier around water and might enjoy it much faster than you imagine.
Even so, always let the cat dictate the rhythm.
Here are the steps you should take when bathing your Maine Coon at home.
Step 1: Preparation.
Gather your tools together. Make sure that everything (brushes, shampoo, etc) is within reach and you won’t have to leave the cat alone in the tub even for one second. Make sure that the room is warm.
Set down a bath mat in the tub for comfort and safety, and get a few inches of warm water in the tub. Make sure you have towels and the dryer ready too.
Step 2: Getting Soaked
Get your Maine Coon into the tub (assuming you’ve already introduced her many times to the bathroom, the tub, a bit of water, the noise of the shower, etc, and she is fine with everything.)
Use your hands and the water in the tub to soak your cat as much as possible. It may be harder than it seems since a Maine Coon has pretty thick fur, but do your best to get right in there.
No need to spook her with running water yet at this point, just use what’s in the tub.
Use a soft brush to brush through the fur and distribute water everywhere, as well as get rid of any tangles and excess fur.
Be sure not to get water in your cat’s eyes and ears! Use a damp washcloth to gently wipe her face.
Step 3: Shampoo
Once you’ve got a nicely soaked coat, shampoo. Unless your Maine Coon has particular needs, a good all-round all-natural shampoo like this one will cover you. Follow the instructions on your shampoo bottle accurately. You can use the soft brush to lather up and distribute the shampoo evenly throughout the coat. This would also be a good time to start breaking out some treats and reward your cat for being good so far.
Step 4: Rinse
Set your shower head to a lukewarm temperature and a low setting. Let it run for a bit without bringing it close to your cat, just to be sure she’s not going to get spooked and lather up your whole bathroom.
When you do begin to rinse, use a brush or your fingers to get in deep and be extra careful to get all of the shampoo out. Don’t get any water on your cat’s face or in her ears. If you got any shampoo on her face, use a damp washcloth to gently wipe it off.
Be extremely thorough in getting all of the shampoo out.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 as many times as you need to. The shampoo instructions should give you a hint, but do keep in mind that Maine Coons usually need one extra round because of their thick fur.
Step 5: Dry
First, try to gently ease off the excess water by hand with a firm downward stroke. This will make it a lot easier to towel dry later.
Wrap your Maine Coon up in a towel while she’s still in the bathtub, and set her down gently onto another towel.
Take your time towel drying your cat. This should not look like a rough, backward and forwards motion such as you might see with dogs. Use gentle, long strokes in the direction of the hair and be prepared to change to a second towel pretty quickly.
Using good quality, highly absorbent towels such as microfiber can significantly shorten drying time. With a Maine Coon, you may have to use a third towel to get them all the way dry.
This part is actually the most time-consuming, however, it is also the easiest because it’s quite enjoyable for your cat and there isn’t much that could spook her.
If you want, you can try to get your Maine Coon used to blow-drying. It’s not necessary, and it can be quite tricky to accomplish, but it can be done. Be sure to use a low heat setting, and check the temperature constantly on your hands.
Bonus steps: Dry-cleaning
In between washes, or if you’re just having an extra busy weekend and don’t have time for a full bath, there are a few products you can use that will get you through another week.
Wet wipes designed especially for cats can help extend the time that you can spend in between baths, and often have added properties like dandruff control or extra shine. Another great helper is dry shampoo.
There are no-rinse water-less shampoos available which you can also consider using. This is a great solution for cats that are having trouble getting used to bathing, and in those early days when you’re just starting the process of acclimatizing your kitten to the bathtub.
None of these, however, should be considered a permanent replacement for a good, healthy bath!
Maine Coon nails trimming and maintenance
A cat’s nails are an important part of her body. They may seem like dangerous weapons to you, but to her, they are essential tools for comfort, balance, and protection.
For this reason, any modifications at all that you are considering doing to your Maine Coon’s nails should be done with the fullest respect and consideration.
Except in severe cases and for health reasons, declawing your cat is absolutely not an option.
This is a procedure that should only ever be chosen under advice from a veterinarian, and under no circumstances is it a “good way” for you to save your couch from harm.
A cat that has been declawed will feel the impact of her missing tools throughout her daily activities and may need extra care and supervision.
The great majority of your cat’s nail maintenance should come under the form of a good quality scratching post.
Think about it – you can get your cat to exercise and have fun, and at the same time naturally, wear down the tips of her nails at a rate which is healthy and organic.
You never risk injuring her or trimming too far in this way. A good quality cat climbing tree should be your go-to, as well as a few different textures of scratching surfaces to give your Maine Coon plenty of options.
Placing these in strategic locations under windows and by the couch ensures their use, and guarantees a happy cat and owner. You can find advice on amazing scratching posts in this article! We have compiled 5 of the best scratching posts for Maine Coons there.
There are situations in which a very light trim of the tips of your cat’s nails may be in order. This is especially true for elderly cats who are unable to get the required wear and tear on their own, and for kittens who should be accustomed to this type of action from a very early age.
In these cases, a good quality nail clipper might be useful, however, an even better and gentler option is a nail file.
Since your goal is not to cut the nails as you would for a human or a dog, but only to soften and wear down the very tip of them, a nail file really is the best way to go. It takes longer, yes, but is overall less stressful than clipping, and many cats actually end up loving having their nails filed.
Introduce the file slowly, as you would any other grooming tool. Be gentle, use circular motions, and don’t press down hard. Your cat may only let you get one nail at first.
Accept that, let her go and try again tomorrow.
If you decide you must use a clipper, again, remember that your goal is to simply round down the very tip, rather than clipping the actual nail. Give her extra time to get used to the clipper, as the snapping noise can be very unpleasant.
There are electric nail files, or grinders, which will make your life much easier. Take a look at this model which is USB-chargeable!
You’ll notice that, although it has great reviews, one of the main complaints reviewers have is that this electric file only works for rounding sharp corners, and not for taking actual length from the nail.
However, that happens to be exactly what we want for our Maine Coon! The electric nail files are no different from normal files except for saving you manual labor, and lots of cats love them.
Brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth
Before you ask, yes, sometimes you have to do it. If you don´t feed dry food regularly or if you feed the wrong food, your cat´s teeth will suffer.
While it’s true that cats have lived for many generations without the benefit of brushed teeth, it’s also true that they had shorter lifespans and better, natural food.
If you want to give your cat as much time as possible with her beautiful, pain-free teeth, brushing three times a week is a small sacrifice to make. Especially considering that it will only take one minute! It doesn’t have to be a grand event in front of the bathroom mirror.
Your best friend, in this case, are finger brushes. These are brushes specially designed for pets that go on your finger. Have a look at this one!
You can use them in combination with cat toothpaste.
Under no circumstances should you use human toothpaste which contains fluoride and can be extremely toxic to your cat! You can also simply use them with plain tap water, as toothpaste is optional for pets.
Put on the finger brush and gently brush your cat’s teeth in a circular motion. Don’t force the issue if she resists, but if you make no progress after trying to take it step by step, it might be a sign of pain.
Schedule a visit to the vet just to be sure, and in the meantime continue to try to make small steps towards your goal.
Other things to look for while grooming your Maine Coon
While you have your cat on your lap and are giving her a good brushing, there are several things you can check which fall under the general category of “grooming”.
Most of these aim to help prevent injury or disease and detect them early on when they occur, as well as being a good way to accustom your Maine Coon to being handled. This can prove invaluable later on during visits to the vet!
1. On the body
As you pet your Maine Coon, feel for lumps, bumps, and strange textures. Take note of anything unusual, and pay attention to any areas which seem to be sore. If you can, gently stretch and flex her legs to check for stiffness and pain. Check for fleas and lice.
Look closely at her coat and skin. Check for any scabs, dandruff, inflamed areas, allergic reactions or excessive biting or scratching.
Ensure that she is relaxed and allows you to touch her everywhere. Try to find her heart rate, and see how often and how deeply she breathes. Knowing these rhythms may help alert you to any problems later on.
2. On the head
Look at your Maine Coon’s ears. Accustom her to having them touched. Look inside them and check for dirtiness or excessive wax buildup, sores or bleeding, and swelling. Take note of any evidence of heavily scratched ears, which can be an indication of parasites.
A little bit of ear wax is normal, and if you like you can wrap a paper or cotton towel around your finger and gently clean the inside of the ear (the part which protrudes outside the head, not the ear canal.)
Never use anything to clean inside the ear canal. If you have any doubts about the discharge, or her ears smell bad, talk to your veterinarian right away.
Check that her eyes are clear, and not red or swollen. Check that they are free of discharge, and alert your veterinarian if you see any of these signs which could point to an allergy or infection.
Touch your cat’s nose. Make sure there are no unusual lumps or bumps. It should be moist, but not heavily snotty. Excessive discharge in this case too can point to an infection.
Take a look at your cat’s mouth. Get her used to being touched there from a very young age. You have to be able to check her teeth and gums without distressing her, and the only way to do that is to do it frequently from when she is a kitten.
Check that her teeth are clean, white and healthy. Immediately alert your vet of any visibly cracked or broken teeth. Smell your cat’s breath (Yes, really.). While a certain amount of fishiness is a given, it shouldn’t be terrible.
3. Feet and nails
Touch each paw individually. Touch each pad of each paw. They should not be sore or inflamed. Check for splinters and pebbles that can be embedded between the pads. Check that the toes are mobile.
When your Maine Coon is relaxed, her claws should be retracted and fully hidden in her pads. If they are poking out, it might be time to get her a rougher scratching surface, or even file down the tips a little bit. Check that none of the claws are broken or cracked.
As you see, when it comes to grooming a Maine Coon, there is a lot you can do.
However, that doesn´t mean that you have to do all of these things.
Some Maine Coons need baths pretty often, others (mostly the ones that are indoor cats) rarely need baths.
Take what you need from this guide, but always make sure to have an eye on your Maine Coon to see what she needs.