Moosecoons Maine Coon Cats & Kittens in Maryland
Your Maine Coon kitten
Things you'll need and things you'll need to do
Whether this is your first kitten, or perhaps the first young one in quite a while you've invited to live in your home, you'll need instructions or reminders! If you've had other cats, and this is your first Maine Coon, there are some differences about this breed that will be helpful to know.
THE FIRST DAYS
Changing homes is a big deal for your new baby, so you don't want to overwhelm him with too much all at once. It is best to bring him into the house and keep him in a smaller space with some food, water and a litter pan and some toys for a few days while he adjusts to new smells and to you. Let other household members or friends come meet him one or two at a time over the next couple of weeks. Play with him and pet him and make him feel secure. DO NOT pull him out and show him off to a whole lot of strangers right away or you may end up with an insecure skittish kitty! If he wants to hide under furniture for a day or two, you must let him. Take a teaser toy or piece of string and cajole him into playing with you to get him to come out. Spend time in his room alone with him, read or watch TV or just hang out and talk or sing - he'll soon come to see you as his companion and, if he is not forced, he will come to depend on you and trust you.
The worst thing you can do is take a kitten out of his accustomed environment, put him in a new place with all new smells and stuff and people and within a day or two expose him to a whole slew of strangers - a combination sure to bring on great stress and compromise his immune system, virtually guaranteeing he'd get sick.
Frankly, I've never had anyone report that my kittens had a very difficult time adjusting - new owners more often call with great surprise that the kitty ended up on their lap within 15 minutes of opening the carrier door! This of course only after they've sniffed every corner of the room, as cats are great explorers by nature. Some may hide for a day or two but quickly their curiosity and their need for companionship overcomes their shyness. They seem to bond pretty quickly with their new family, even when adopted at 6, 8, 10 months or older.
Some kittens are more shy than others. I've had kittens who were skittish and shy in the same litter with kittens who would walk right on a stranger's head the minute that person comes through the door - who knows where this aspect of temperament comes from?
Your new baby just needs to learn that this is a safe place. Don't put too much pressure on the kitten. They usually will come out from under the furniture within a day or two because being social cats by nature, a Maine Coon wants your companionship. Let the kitten learn that it is safe and you'll be rewarded with maybe more attention than you expected ;-)
THE MAINE COON
The Maine Coon is the largest domestic purebred cat. It is a natural breed, meaning it evolved from cats found naturally, rather than being a cross between two established breeds. They were "designed" to endure the rigors of the northeastern winter, with thick shaggy coats for warmth, tufted paws that act like snowshoes, and hair that grows in long wisps over the ear opening to act like a baffle to winter winds.
This does not mean however that you should ever let your cat out of doors! Many people are under the misimpression that a Maine Coon cannot be happy living strictly inside, and that is utterly untrue. The purebred pampered kitty you're taking home may share all the physical attributes of their wild cousins, but he was bred and raised in the house, not the barn! Our modern world is not friendly to cats that wander freely out of doors; there are vehicles, wild and sometimes rabid or vicious animals, human neighbors that can be hateful and abusive. You may say, "where I live, there isn't much traffic", but it only takes one vehicle - and these cats have no experience with protecting themselves. Whether you've adopted a stray from a shelter or are laying out the money for a pedigreed animal, the only safe and humane life for them is strictly inside the safety of your home!
To give your Maine Coon kitten plenty of exercise as well as a place to scratch and stretch you'll want to buy them a cat tree. (see Notes on Declawing on how to train) I recommend getting one from a local cat show, as the ones you find in the pet retail stores are of a lesser quality, and a Maine Coon can destroy one of those in a short time! Private dealers are also happy to custom make your tree to match your decor, at no extra charge.
When you bring the tree into the house, the cat will automatically know it belongs to them. You'll want to find one with sisal or tight carpet or a rough natural bark for scratching that extends 3-4' from the ground, so when your Maine Coon reaches adult size he can stretch full length and flex his claws.
Another important element in exercising your kitten is playtime with you, the adopted "parent". Maine Coons are very playful and remain kitten-like in this aspect for many years. My kits personal favorite is a wand with a mouse, a fuzzy toy or pretty much anything on the end that I'll carry around and wave for them to chase and jump at. Heck, they're happy to chase just the string, so don't throw out those wand toys after the toy gets chewed off! (Mind you, any toys with string are for supervised play only.) Try to reserve some time each day for playing with your kitten; it will be relaxing and enjoyable for both of you, and it will strengthen the bond between you as well.
They will also appreciate some toys to bat around while you're busy working to support them. Look for toys that have no string-like pieces that can be pulled or chewed off - long thin strips of ANYTHING can get wrapped in a cat's intestine and cause severe illness or death. I recommend little rabbit fur mice (the natural suede tail will get eaten, but the cat's system is designed to digest this material!) plastic bat balls, sturdily sewn toys or tightly woven yarn toys. Of course bottle caps are always a favorite and readily available, or a length of tin foil or sheet of paper smooshed into a ball..
The Biting Stage
All kittens go through this to some degree! It's up to us humans to teach them not to use their teeth so hard when playing to showing affection with us -- as kittens, they use their teeth all the time and they think it's normal. They don't mean to hurt, but sometimes they'll get a little too rambunctious. Since this behavior is normal among kittens, I make the sound of a squealing kitten to let them know "that's too hard" when they chomp on my toes under the covers or use too much tooth pressure playing with fingers. If they don't get the message after the first squeal, remove yourself gently from their access. Sudden pulling away or pushing the kitten away can just be seen (by the kitten) as furthering the game, so move away from them slowly and when they go to tackle you again, gently but firmly pick them up and put them down away from you.
Some kittens/cats use teeth to show affection - "love bites" can still hurt! If they're purring and loving on you and reach out and bite your face or your hand, that's meant to convey affection - if they do it too hard use the squealing kitten noise again to let them know. Over time they will learn to either not use so much pressure when giving love-bites or to just use their tongue and give kisses without teeth!
You will of course also need a litter box. While the kitten is younger an average size is acceptable, but the big boys need an extra large pan! Some MC people use the large under-bed storage boxes you buy at Wal-Mart. I personally prefer a hooded box, to contain the mad scratching of some of my kitties.
As for litter, I prefer using wood
pellets or the newer "crystals" or "pearls" . The white
crystalline stuff is
fantastic at containing odors, but it is costly when you have a lot of cats. I like using
pine pellets for the boxes throughout the house, and in summer I might add a
dash of the crystals to keep the moisture down. The wood type does tend to track
pretty badly, but the price is great and the natural antiseptic properties in
pine help keep the odor down. I can't tolerate the dust of clay and
silicate litters, and as for the scoopable stuff, I have never found one that
kept the odor from permeating the house, no matter how often I scooped!
Plus that stuff can turn to cement on the surface of the boxes and be very
difficult to clean -- I'll stick with my pine pellets! Avoid clay based litters, as the dust
from these can cause respiratory problems for your cats and for you.
When changing households, if you have a brand new box (that no cat has ever used before) you'll want to mix some pine pellets in with whatever litter you plan to use long-term so the kitten will be able to recognize the purpose of that box! All they've ever used in my house is pine pellets :-)
FOOD AND WATER
Your kitty requires fresh water available at all times. I highly recommend a decorative fountain with a pump that constantly circulates - I bought one for myself and it quickly became the cats' favorite drinking spot! In fact I had to stop using it because they drank it dry so quickly -- but this shouldn't be a problem with one or two cats in the house :-) If you want to stick with a bowl, get one in metal or ceramic, which is easier to clean, and wash it and change the water once or twice a day. The Drinkwell Fountain is also a nice option and comes with a reservoir for less refill frequency. If you use any type of fountain with a motor, be sure you monitor the water level so the fountain doesn't burn out, and clean them regularly with a mild bleach solution to keep bacteria at bay.
A word of warning about Maine Coons and water - they like to play with it! You may find a "dead" toy floating in their bowl one day, or if you forget to keep your toilet lid DOWN, you will sit on the toilet seat to find it covered with water from kitties fishing in there! They may also like to roll around in the tub or sink after you used them and they'll be fascinated with any process involving the faucets in your house.
To keep them in tip-top condition
you'll want to feed your cat a premium dry cat food. My cats are all on
Life's Abundance Premium Cat Food. The difference between a premium food and your basic
grocery store brand is the ingredients: If you read the package and the first
ingredient listed is Corn, don't buy it! Another ingredient to beware of
is Chicken By-Product or Chicken By-Product Meal -- "by-products" are the stuff
that would otherwise get thrown out after all the meat is removed from the
carcass, so Chicken By-Products is basically beaks and feet! Another thing
to note when looking at an ingredients chart of pet-food -- on the LA site it
explains that any kind of meat as first ingredient is misleading... plain old
MEAT (whether Chicken, Venison, whatever..) contains a great deal of moisture
which makes it much heavier so the percentage factor looks significantly higher
than it really is - once the meat is dehydrated (which it has to be to make a
dry food), it may actually fall percentage-wise somewhere in the middle of the
ingredients listing... Chicken Meal is the meat of the chicken already processed
into a dry form of concentrated protein, so that being the first ingredient in
LA indicates a realistic percentage.
Cats are naturally carnivores and their diet should include primarily protein and a large amount of natural fat, and a minimum of carbohydrates. The extra money you'll pay for the food will make itself up in healthier cats (meaning less vet bills), and smaller litter box deposits, meaning less litter to buy! Another bonus I've found with Life's Abundance is the cats actually eat less -- the highly digestible formula gives them the nutrition they require in smaller quantities, so even though it looks more expensive, pound for pound it will save you money.
Also to keep your cats health at its peak, feed them canned food or pet-specific raw meat at least three times weekly. There are nutrients found in wet foods that help the cats digestive and elimination systems, that cannot be produced in a dry food. I strongly recommend Life's Abundance Instinctive Choice canned food and the cats love it.
I free feed dry in my household, but if you see your cats getting chubby you may have to limit the amount of dry they consume AND spend extra time playing with them to make sure they are getting enough exercise and not eating out of boredom.
KITTEN PROOFING THE HOUSE!
First rule: keep nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, on any surface that is breakable and valued. There is no surface they can't reach! As your Maine Coon grows it will get too big to jump terribly high, but they remain agile and playful for many years.
Watch your trashcans. The bathroom trashcan is a particular favorite, but any can that is low and tippable will get their attention. Dangerous items that will be mistaken as "toys" should be disposed of in a covered or contained trash receptacle. There are other items you may not think of that must be kept out of reach, in a drawer or cabinet.
The following items are absolute No-No's!
String, threads, ribbon, etc
Food scraps, particularly bones
Any bag with a handle (cat may get caught in the handle and run around blind, resulting in dangerous accidents)
Small metal or hard plastic objects, particularly those with
All Sewing supplies (I have one cat who is fascinated with pins and needles - even tacks on a bulletin board - she'll pull them out with her teeth and carry them around! Very Scary)
Any and all chemicals
Other things to be aware of around the
Fringe on rugs, furniture or lamps - may be irresistible to kitties, and if they swallow one, it can wrap up in their intestine. I have fringed rugs, which they don't seem to bother, but anything hanging will be toooo tempting!
Electrical outlets (don't place litter boxes or water bowls too closely to them)
For a full list of No-No's, see the NoNo list
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Moosecoons Maine Coon Cats & Kittens