Main Coon cats are very popular felines. They are common and are often mixed with other breeds. These cats are known for their generous size, and many people hope to raise one. Though they are popular, they also are the subject of many questions. For cat owners, one big question is about allergies. Many people suffer from cat allergies, so pet parents want to know if certain breeds are less likely to trigger allergies than others. It is often asked if Maine Coons are hypoallergenic.
People who have cat allergies can have varying symptoms, and some are more sensitive to allergens than others. Of course, there are ways to manage allergies, but knowing if a breed is hypoallergenic or not is information prospective feline owners need to know. Keep in mind that even a breed thought to be hypoallergenic does carry some allergens.
Maine Coon cats are known for their shaggy, bushy coats, so hair and dander are a big concern. Cat allergies can be worse with certain breeds, so this is something to find out before bringing home a feline friend. Let’s take a deeper look at the question of Maine Coon cats and if they are hypoallergenic.
Are Maine Coon Cats Hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, the Maine Coon is not a hypoallergenic breed. Though some mixes may be bred with less allergy-inducing cats, these big kitties are not hypoallergenic. They have a ton of hair and shed a moderate amount, sometimes more. Though this may make them a challenge for allergy sufferers, if you don’t require a hypoallergenic companion, you may enjoy owning a piece of American history in the form of a Maine Coon.
We also should point out that no feline breed exists that is fully hypoallergenic. All feline breeds produce some level of allergens, which are spread on their coats as they travel from place to place. Make sure to consider this before bringing a new Maine Coon kitty home; it is not their fault if an owner has allergies. Owners have a responsibility to take care of pets, allergies or not. It is not fair for a cat to be rehomed because an owner who knows they have allergies brings home a cat that triggers a bad reaction.
The Maine Coon Cat
As his name suggests, the Maine Coon is Maine’s official state cat. The breed is considered America’s first indigenous cat, highly regarded for its mousing abilities. Legends abound about their origins, but there are a few we can put to rest. The Maine Coon’s size, tufted ears, and snowshoe paws encouraged the notion that the cats were first brought to the New World by early settlers interbred with wild Bobcats to create the Maine Coon. Modern genetics shows us that this isn’t genetically possible, as the cross would be unlikely and any offspring sterile like the mule, a hybrid between mare and donkey.
Even more farfetched was the theory that the Maine Coon sprang from a cross of the domestic cat with wild raccoons in the area. While Maine Coons sometimes vocalize with a trill that sounds like a baby raccoon, and brown tabby Maine Coons may have resembled actual raccoons with their imposing body and ample tail, this cross is also biologically impossible.
The legends about the origin of the Maine Coon don’t all involve wildlife. One suggests that a scheme to shuttle Marie Antoinette to Maine for safety during the French Revolution went awry, and although she was captured, her cats were already on board the escape ship and made the trip without her and were part of the new breed. Other legends suggest Viking origin, but the most plausible is that long-haired cats came in with traders and travelers from overseas and interbred with the short-haired cats. The latter was already surviving with their families in Maine’s challenging climate. Survival of the fittest brought us this gentle giant.
Maine Coon Appearance
Maine Coons may present an imposing figure when they enter the room, but they get along well with children and canine family members. While most Maine Coons weigh under fifteen pounds, individual males can weigh as much as twenty. Maine Coons don’t fully mature until age three or four.
Maine Coons are rugged, hardy-looking cats. Their shaggy coats protect them from Maine winters, and their tufted paws protect them and keep them from sinking in the snow despite their heft. Tufts of fur trim their large ears, and they can even curl their long, abundant tail around themselves for warmth. Their coats helped them survive and thrive where other cats may have suffered.
How Much Do Maine Coon Cats Shed?
Maine Coons have hair that is long but isn’t as dense as some other long-haired breeds. Silky and with an oily texture, their coats need much less grooming than breeds like the Persian. His hair is shorter on his body than on his stomach and britches. Maine Coons shed this coat seasonally but lose some hair year-round. How heavily they shed as the seasons change depends on several factors.
Because gentle giants are large cats with long hair, they will leave more hair behind than smaller cats even though they shed their double coats no more than most cats. Because hair and dander are the most typical allergens, Maine Coons are not hypoallergenic cats. The good news is there are ways to mitigate and manage even heavy seasonal shedding.
Health Factors That Affect Shedding
Consider external parasites first if you notice bald spots or red, irritated skin patches. If pests are not the problem, consult your veterinarian to check on the following.
If you see evidence of fleas on your cat, this may be causing his skin irritation, especially if he is allergic to them. Eliminate fleas, and you may solve his itchiness. If you see no fleas, but your cat is chewing on and scratching his skin, he could be allergic to microscopic mites you can’t see. Your vet can perform a skin scrape to check and eliminate the possibility of external parasites.
Just like people can be allergic to cat hair, dander, and saliva, cats can have itchy, irritated skin that loses hair abnormally because of allergies. Food allergies are the third most common cause of allergies in cats, just behind flea bites and inhaled substances. Food allergies cause small, pale, fluid-filled lumps on your cat’s skin, and these cause him to scratch, further irritating sensitive skin. If you notice these around your cat’s head and neck, they’re probably from a food allergy.
If you suspect a food allergy, the next step is determining the ingredient(s) that bother him. Talk to your veterinarian about an elimination diet with a novel source of protein and carbohydrates. If your cat’s symptoms improve after ten weeks on this diet, you know food allergies are the problem. You may reintroduce each protein and carbohydrate one at a time to discern what triggers your cat’s hair loss. When you give him the one to which he’s sensitive, symptoms will come back in about a week.
Bacterial And Fungal Infection
Cats can develop bacterial infections from bites or irritation from allergic scratching. Cat bites or other injuries may cause abscesses under the skin, and subsequent scratching opens the skin to secondary bacterial infection. Broken skin is also susceptible to fungal infection. Ringworm is one common skin fungus that’s easy to recognize (circular patches of hair loss with itchy, scaly skin). When your vet performs a skin scrape, they’ll be able to determine the cause of the hair loss and treat it accordingly with antibacterial or antifungal medication.
Cat insurance may be a useful tool for this breed, as it can help cover emergency care and sometimes even regular care once your pet has an active policy. Maine Coons are long-lived and hefty-sized and need regular medical care. Insurance can help offset some of those medical costs.
Other Factors That Affect Shedding
Several factors can impact shedding. Season, environment, nutrition, health, and genetics all play a part. People do often ask if coat color affects allergens. Coat color does not play a role in allergies. No colors of Maine Coon are hypoallergenic, including gray, orange, or blue.
Cats shed more as the calendar moves through Spring and Fall. Your Maine Coon sheds his summer coat, grows a thicker winter coat as the days get shorter and cooler, and sheds his winter coat for a lighter summer coat as the days get longer and warmer. Cats that spend more time outdoors in the elements will do most of their shedding during these two times of the year. A cat that stays indoors only will shed year-round.
If your cat lives outdoors, his shedding will be more pronounced as his body reacts to the environmental changes around him. Indoor cats experience less temperature and daylight fluctuation than cats who live outdoors and experience more natural changes, so they shed more steadily. A stable temperature can lessen shedding, but it won’t stop it altogether. Extending the day through artificial lighting can trigger early shedding or keep animals from putting on a heavy winter coat.
Healthy skin sheds appropriately, but unhealthy skin sheds hair and skin cells more than they should. Your cat could have bald patches and dry, scaly skin from nutritional deficiencies. If he has a thin hair coat, slow hair regrowth, scaly spots, and faded color, you might need to check what you’re feeding him. Be sure your Maine Coon’s food conforms to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for nutritional adequacy. It will need enough protein, fat, essential fatty acids, and minerals to meet your cat’s needs.
Certain breeds of cats have alopecia (hair loss) because it is a genetic trait. An example would be thinning hair on the rear flaps of certain breeds’ ears and the preauricular region (the top of the cat’s head in front of his ears) of aging cats of all breeds. While Maine Coons are a relaxed, even-tempered breed, some individuals may develop psychogenic alopecia or hair loss from stress. If nothing else explains your Maine Coon’s hair loss and you’ve had a recent significant change, that could be the cause. You should always discuss hair loss or concerns about skin and coat health with your veterinarian at the first sign of trouble.
How Do I Groom My Maine Coon?
A Maine Coon must be de-matted several times weekly to minimize shedding. Daily grooming is best, but the goal is to ensure that tangles don’t form in your Maine Coon’s fur. The knots can pull his skin and make it very tender, and removing tangles can become particularly painful. Check his armpits and the backs of his hind legs daily to make sure no mats are starting.
A Maine Coon can be bathed as needed. Maine Coons generally like water more than many other breeds. Gently introduce your new kitten to the idea of a bath so it’s pleasant for all when he’s grown. When adopting a mature Maine Coon, you may need to exercise patience as you introduce him to the water. De-mat and brush out his coat before using a gentle shampoo, conditioner, and grooming spritz after his bath. Bathing is an excellent way to remove dead hair, dirt, and dander that can trigger allergies.
A Maine Coon might tire of grooming sessions longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Maine Coons are friendly and even-tempered, but even the most relaxed cat can run out of patience when asked to be still for long periods. Quickly inspect your cat’s skin for cuts, rashes, or other lumps and bumps. If you find a knot, work it loose with your fingers first. After you’ve loosened it, gently comb through it with a metal comb or pin brush small enough to maneuver tight areas like his armpits.
A Maine Coon loves attention, so grooming sessions can be a great bonding time. Be efficient when you de-mat and brush loose hairs from your Maine Coon. Be gentle when removing knots, and always brush in the direction his hair grows. Allow your cat to play with some interactive toys after grooming as a reward for good behavior. this also helps associate grooming with something they like, making kitties more agreeable to it.
Managing Cat Allergies
In addition to keeping your Maine Coon in optimal health and grooming his coat regularly, there are a few other ways to reduce the allergen load in your home. Vacuuming and air purification can help reduce hair and dander on surfaces and in the air in your home.
While vacuuming is nothing fun, it is one more tool in the arsenal against pet hair. If your air purifier eliminates the airborne particulates that trigger your allergies, a mechanical vacuum can take care of anything that lands on surfaces in your home or car. The best vacuum is lightweight, so you’ll use it frequently and versatile enough to tackle multiple surfaces in your home and elsewhere.
While it is a traditional handheld stick vacuum, the Bissell Featherweight Cordless XRT also includes specialized pet tools. It converts to a handheld vacuum with a crevice tool and upholstery brush to get pet hair wherever it settles. This lightweight vacuum handles hard surfaces and area rugs but may not have the power for a home with wall-to-wall carpets. Carpet is a significant factor in how much hair and dander stay trapped in a room. You may consider the more powerful Bissell ICONPet Edge for fully carpeted homes.
You can minimize how much your Maine Coon sheds with good nutrition and frequent grooming, but you can’t stop him from shedding. Adding air purification to your home has benefits beyond tackling cat hair, but it’s one more way to reduce the amount of hair in your home and the allergens in the air. The most significant allergen cats introduce is Fel d 1, which can spread via dander, the dead skin cells constantly sloughing and falling along with shed hairs.
Cat dander is roughly five to ten microns, although it can be smaller. An air purifier that effectively eliminates airborne particulates smaller than this can significantly reduce the amount of pet dander available to trigger allergic symptoms. The Filtrete Air PurifierFAP-C03BA-G2 claims to capture 99.97% of airborne particles (as small as 0.3 microns), including dust, lint, dust mite debris, and mold spores, pollen, pet dander, smoke, smog, bacteria, viruses, exhaust particles, and ultrafine particles.
For some cat owners, allergy symptoms can be managed through medication. Along with the use of vacuuming and air purifiers, allergy medication like antihistamines can help reduce bothersome symptoms. these can be used for allergy sufferers who are visiting home with felines or for those owners who want to bring a cat home but know they will have an allergic reaction.
Cat fans who know they have allergies should spend time with different kitties before they make a commitment to owning one. Try out different cats of different breeds to see what your reaction is. Not everyone reacts the same, and sometimes the same cat can trigger certain people in different ways. So, taking the time to see how one reacts can help owners make the best decisions for themselves and for the cat.
Maine Coons shed, and they are not hypoallergenic. Their long, silky coats shed more than many cat breeds. With attention to his health and nutrition and regular grooming, you can minimize how much hair and dander stay in your house. If you absolutely can’t be around cat hair or dander, a Maine Coon may not work for your situation.
If your heart is set on a Maine Coon, and you can manage his shedding, remember he’s one of the largest cat breeds around. He’s literally a whole lot of love. Robust and healthy, this friendly feline will keep you entertained with his antics, warm your lap with his luxuriant coat, and even keep the mice at bay.