Worried because your Maine Coon seems to be stunted in terms of growth, as evidenced by its small size? Find out the many reasons that could explain this phenomenon.
Maine Coons are famous for being among the largest cat breeds in the world, so it's natural when cat owners with small-bodied Maine Coons get concerned about its size.
Your Maine Coon could be small because it’s still growing and has yet to reach its full size. It could also be a hybrid rather than a purebred Maine Coon. Other factors that may cause your Maine Coon to be small would be a lack of nutrients, undereating, and illnesses.
Of course, you'll want to know if your Maine Coon is thriving and if there's possibly a problem that is stunting your cat's growth.
To pinpoint the exact cause of your cat’s petite size, it’s best to go through each probable reason and determine the right one. Note that in certain cases, a Maine Coon’s small size would require attention from the owner’s part.
How big do Maine Coons grow?
The massive Maine Coon breed has a mysterious origin; one of the plausible theories is that Maine Coons originated through matings between domestic American cats and huge, longhaired breeds which were introduced by seamen from New England.
Another theory is that they are related to the Norwegian Forest Cats, another enormous breed, and arrived in America with the Vikings.
No matter how exactly they came about, Maine Coons are known to be gentle giants with big bones and heavy muscle mass.
On average, male Maine Coons weigh between 15 and 25 lbs (6.8 to 11.3 kg) to while female Maine Coons weigh between 10 to 15 lbs (4.5 to 6.8 kg). A typical housecat, on the other hand, weighs between 8 lbs to 10 lbs (3.6 to 4.5 kg).
In terms of measurements, male Maine Coons grow to 10 to 16 inches (25.4 to 40.6 cm) in height and about 40 inches (101.6 cm) in length.
Female Maine Coons average at around 8 to 14 inches (20.3 to 35.6 cm) in height, and roughly the same in length as a male Maine Coon.
It’s a good idea to weigh and measure your feline so you can accurately compare it with the figures above.
As you can see, a Maine Coon in its smallest size would typically be larger than the average housecat. However, note that the ranges provided are averages – this means that your Maine Coon can be slightly bigger or smaller, but still perfectly normal.
In fact, there are Maine Coons that weigh a whopping 33 lbs (15 kg), with a length as long as 48 inches (121.9 cm).
Of course, you’re not here to know about super-sized Maine Coons at the right end of the spectrum.
Let’s go into the five reasons why your Maine Coon seems to be on the other side of the scale.
1. Your Maine Coon is still growing
How old is your Maine Coon?
A Maine Coon’s average life expectancy is between 10 to 13 years, though there are Maine Coons that have lived up to 15 years of age.
Of that, the cat typically matures in their physical development at around two years of age. However, some Maine Coons would continue to grow beyond this, up to the age of four!
Therefore, if your Maine Coon is under the age of four, you should hold your horses before jumping into a state of worry. Your Maine Coon might just have a growth spurt soon!
If you want to learn how long it takes for most Maine Coons to reach full size in detail, read this article.
2. Your Maine Coon is a hybrid
If your Maine Coon is already an adult in its full size but is still very small, there could be a cause for concern… unless your Maine Coon is not of pure breed!
It’s rare for a purebred Maine Coon to weigh under 8 lbs (3.6 kg), but hybrid Maine Coons could be much smaller.
Even if your cat has strong Maine Coon features, it may have one Maine Coon parent and another that is of a smaller breed, such as Cornish Rex, Siamese, Oriental or American Curl.
It is most unfortunate that some breeders sell Maine Coon hybrids without the buyer’s knowledge.
If you want to make sure that you get a purebred Maine Coon, you should always get it from a renowned breeder.
Those Maine Coons might be more expensive, but there are several reasons why you should be happy about those prices. More about that here.
How do you know that your Maine Coon is a mix?
The best way is to scrutinize your cat's appearance. Maine Coons usually have rectangular-shaped bodies, large paws that are covered with fur, and ears with hair at the edges.
They are also enveloped in silky, shaggy coats with medium to long hair.
The tails of Maine Coons tend to be long and generously covered with fur, while their eyes tend to be large, with a hint of intelligence.
However, most of these characteristics can also be attributed to hybrid Maine Coons, making it difficult to know with certainty that your Maine Coon is a purebred.
On top of that, the differences between a hybrid and a purebred Maine Coon can be very subtle.
Even the colors and patterns on your cat will not help; Maine Coons are not synonymous with raccoon-brown coats – it could also be cream, tortoiseshell, cameo, smoke, and more.
What you can look out for, however, is the distinct feature on purebred Coons: the ruffs of hair around the necks which provide extra warmth during winter.
And of course, the most tell-tale sign of a purebred is its large size, but we’ve already removed that from the list.
However, you can also note that Maine Coons are able to keep growing until four years of age, but most hybrids usually reach their full size at two to three years old.
3. Your Maine Coon is lacking nutrients
If you’ve determined that your adult Maine Coon is of pure breed that happens to be small in size, it’s time to look into the food that your cat has been consuming.
Like any other breeds, Maine Coons require a high-quality diet that is channeled into its healthy growth, taking into consideration its joints, bones, skin, coat, and cardiac functions.
The ideal cat food should be:
- low in carbohydrates (about 12.5%)
- moderate in fats (about 35%)
- high in proteins (about 52%)
A protein-rich diet is especially important as your Maine Coon is an obligate carnivore.
Steer away from fillers like corn, wheat, and starches, and ensure that the food is packed with real meat such as chicken, turkey or fish, including the organs.
Fats provide energy and assist in the breakdown of food to release the vitamins. Carbohydrates should be given in minimal quantities as a cat's digestive system isn't suited for starches.
You can feed your cat water-rich natural foods such as fruits and vegetables, but take note that certain foods like grapes, raisins, and avocado are toxic to cats.
A well-balanced diet would be chock-full of nutrients, but it’s worth highlighting that cats need a wide variety of amino acids, vitamins, and fatty acids.
Keep an eye out for cat food infused with vitamin A, vitamin D, taurine, arginine, and arachidonic acid, as cats require dietary supplements in these areas.
Taurine is needed for heart functions and bile formation, among others, while arginine is an essential amino acid for metabolism.
Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid needed for the well-functioning of a cat’s reproductive and gastrointestinal systems.
Don’t always go for the cheaper option at the pet store – pick the higher-quality ones. If you’re feeding your Maine Coon homemade cat food, know that what’s ideal for a human diet does not reflect a healthy diet for a cat.
Also, cats should never be given a vegetarian diet. Neither should they be fed dog food, as cats and dogs have different dietary needs stemming from differences in the liver and digestive enzymes.
Providing the right food for your Maine Coon is crucial for health and growth. We highly recommend reading our Maine Coon food guide here – especially if you are concerned about your Coon's growth.
4. Your Maine Coon is not eating enough
Apart from eating right, your cat should also be eating enough. A 10 lbs (4.5kg) indoor cat requires approximately 280 calories daily, as a guideline.
Of course, the caloric needs differ depending on your Maine Coon’s age, lifestyle, activity level, body type, genetics, and health issues.
Chances are, your small cat isn’t overeating. In this case, you may want to consider free-feeding your cat or dividing its meals into several times a day instead of feeding it just once or twice daily.
Free feeding refers to providing unlimited access to food, particularly dry ones (kibble) as these stay fresh in the open longer than wet food.
Wet food is a good nutritional supplement to your Maine Coon’s diet.
Your cat may also enjoy the moisture and change in food consistency provided by wet food. In fact, many veterinarians even recommend a diet comprising mostly (or exclusively) wet food, which you can consider especially if your cat has displayed a preference for wet food over dry food.
Whichever way you decide to feed your Maine Coon, ensure that its daily caloric needs are met.
What are other possible reasons that your Maine Coon isn’t eating enough?
For one, the location of the food bowl may cause your Maine Coon intimidation – for example, if it’s near the vacuum cleaner or within another cat’s usual territory.
It may also be too close to the litter, and your cat’s averse to eating where it poops.
Perhaps the food bowl is too deep, causing the cat’s sensitive whiskers to touch the edges of the bowl when it’s eating. This would be uncomfortable for your cat.
What you can do to solve these problems would be to move the food bowl somewhere else, and to swap the bowl for a plate.
For example, the Lorde Cat Bowls here look great, are not too deep, and can be used for cats that have sensitive whiskers.
If your cat is a picky eater, try switching to other brands of cat food until you find out what it likes. To make the food more appetizing, you could sprinkle meat chunks or food additives over it. (Here is the food we recommend for Maine Coons)
Also, ensure that the food served to your cat, especially wet food that was stored in the refrigerator, is not too cold. You could heat this up or pour a little bit of boiling water over it before serving.
Last of all, don’t forget to give your cat access to fresh water all the time.
5. Your Maine Coon needs medical attention
While this certainly isn’t what you want to read, it’s important to include anyway.
If your Maine Coon is small because of weight loss, your alarm bells should be ringing. The same goes when it is so skinny that its backbones and ribs are prominent.
Keep your eye out for the following symptoms:
- frequent urination
A Maine Coon that is underweight could be battling an illness such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Maine Coons are particularly prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle thickens, and polycystic kidney diseases, in which cysts form in the kidney.
In both cases, the afflicted cat’s appetite could be affected. While these are scary-sounding health problems, don’t worry needlessly before getting a professional diagnosis.
It’s also possible that your Maine Coon has dental issues that cause eating to be painful, or digestive troubles resulting from a foreign body lodged within its digestive tract. Your cat could also be stressed as a result of routine or environmental changes.
There are many, many health issues that may cause a cat to be underweight.
For example, it may even have lost its sense of smell, making it difficult to detect what it’s eating!
Even if you simply suspect that your Maine Coon is sick, it’s good to bring it to the vet.
After all, that’s the best place to get the answers about why your Maine Coon is so small. Your vet could also advise you regarding your Maine Coon’s nutritional needs.
May your Maine Coon grow into a giant
Once you’ve isolated the cause and worked towards a solution (if any), your Maine Coon will be on its way to growing into the “giant” part of the term “gentle giants”.