Hygiene

Do Maine Coon Cats Shed? Here’s What Cat Owners Need To Know

Maine Coon cats are a large, gentle breed of cat. They are known for long, shaggy coats, and striking eyes. Our comprehensive guide answers the commonly asked question. "Do Maine Coon cats shed?"

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: July 20, 2022 | 13 min read

Professional groomer brushing Maine Coon cat hair

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Maine Coon cats are a popular breed of domestic feline native to New England. This magnificent creature is known for a large body size, extra-long tails, rugged coats, and strikingly colored eyes. Maine Coons are a popular breed known for hunting prowess and a unique look.

Maine Coon cats have heavy coats of thick hair. With a long thick coat comes the issue of shedding. This issue comes up for many looking for a low shed or hypoallergenic feline breed. Our comprehensive guide offers information to answer the question, “Do Maine Coon cats shed?”. Learn more about how much this breed sheds, how to manage feline shedding, and what cat owners need to know to keep their coats healthy.

The Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon is a large, shaggy feline with a long coat. They have been called the American Longhair, the American Coon, the American Forest cat, and the “gentle giant,” among other nicknames. The breed is native to Maine. However, there is a murky history of where the breed first originated. A common myth associated with these big cats is that they descended from domesticated cats breeding with raccoons. A variation of this story theorizes that they are the byproduct of feral house cats and Bobcats. Neither of these myths is true. It is not biologically possible for a house cat to breed with a raccoon or a bobcat.

Another story connects this breed with Marie Antoinette. It says that the doomed queen planned an escape from France. Though the queen never made it, the story says that her six cats did make the journey, ending up in Maine, and are the ancestors of the modern Maine Coon Cat. A more logical explanation is that these cats are descendants of pest control cats kept on ships from the early 1700s.

Maine Coon Cat Appearance

Maine Coon cats are noticeably big cats. This is not an exaggeration. Their average weight is between 9 and 18 pounds, though it is common to see these felines reach 20 or more pounds. This breed grows for a long time and does not fully mature until around two or three years old.

They have a remarkable appearance and come in various patterns and colors, including solid-colored cats. Black, white, red, cream, blue, tabby, multicolor, calico, and tortoiseshell are all colors and patterns found in the Coon Cat breed. This breed is known for its striking coat and wide-set, large eyes. Green and gold eyes are the most desirable in this breed, though they can also have blue or odd eye coloring, also called heterochromia.

Maine Coons are popular both due to their appearance and demeanor. They are quite clever, are natural hunters, and get along quite well with humans. The Maine Coon is a highly playful breed. They are known for acting kitten-like, even as older cats. This behavior has led to these cats being called puppy-like because they can be trained to play games like fetch and hide and seek.

Maine Coon cats have medium-length to long fur. They have a distinguishable ruff of hair along the chest and neck, prompting comparisons to a lion’s mate. These long coats are double-layered, with a softer undercoat and a more rugged outer coat. The Maine Coon cat has a much longer tail than the average house cat, covered with bushy fur.

A common concern among feline owners is shedding. The question gets asked often about The Maine Coon. We break down what cat owners need to know about Maine Coons and how much they shed.

Do Maine Coone Cats Shed A Lot?

Maine Coon Cats have a lot of hair, which means they shed. These felines have two undercoats and one guard coat. These thick, rugged coats are part of the breed’s appeal. However, that much hair means there will be significant shedding. Shedding is a cat’s natural way of getting rid of lifeless hair, dander, and skin. The amount each Maine Coon sheds will vary. However, it is good to expect at least a moderate amount of shedding from this cat breed. Maine Coon cats do not shed more than other cats. They just happen to have a lot more hair to shed.

Not every cat within a breed will shed the same amount of hair. Distinct factors like grooming habits, nutrition, health, and genetics will all play a role. Maine Coons have such thick fur because, historically, they needed to survive very chilly winter temperatures. This is why Coon cats have extra tufts of hair on their paws. This cat’s glorious coat is one of the reasons, along with its generous size, that they are such a popular breed for family pets. However, if you are looking for a low shed or hyper allergenic breed, a Maine Coon may not be the best choice.

How Much Do Maine Coon Cats Shed?

Maine Coone cats do not shed as much as one might think for having such long, dense coats. Of course, each cat will shed a different amount. This information is merely a guideline. Some Maine Coons will shed less than others. Unless you have access to your cat’s parents, it is hard to tell how much they will shed until they are fully grown.

Each feline has a shedding cycle. Monitoring this cycle can help owners determine how much hair a cat sheds. Some Maine Coon cats will shed more during certain times of the year. Others may shed more hair consistently throughout the year. This all depends on the cat’s health, length of hair, condition of the cat’s coat, diet, climate, and time of year.

Maine Coon Shedding Season

Maine Coon cat on white background

Maine Coons do not start shedding until about three months old. Some do not begin to shed until they are over a year old. Some Maine Coons will shed seasonally. This usually aligns with temperature changes. When temperatures warm up in the springtime, cats will shed their heavy winter coats. They can also experience another seasonal shed to clear out lifeless hair and skin in the fall when temperatures start to decrease. This is in preparation to grow in their thick winter coat.

Some Maine Coon cats experience a significant shed a few times a year. Others regularly shed year-round. All Maine Coons have some level of shedding throughout the year. There is no time in which they will not shed at all. Take note of the times of the year your Maine Coon tends to shed more. This will help you understand his shedding cycle and when to expect heavier shedding.

Factors That Affect Shedding

  • Indoor vs outdoor cat – How much a Maine Coon sheds can depend if the cat is kept inside or outside. Cats that live in the wild shed their full coats twice a year. Domesticated cats often live in climate-controlled homes, confusing their natural systems. Cats exposed to more natural sunlight shed less than cats who are not exposed to sunlight often.
  • Season – Cats will shed more during different seasons. Warmer weather in springtime triggers shedding. Cats also shed again in the autumn months in preparation to fill in their thicker winter coats.
  • Temperature and location – Warmer temperatures trigger shedding. Cats kept in warmer climates and areas will shed more. Keeping a cat’s living environment a little cooler will help him shed less, but it will not keep him from shedding.
  • Living environment – Cats shed as a natural response to stress and anxiety. Cats that do not feel safe, comfortable, or startled all the time may shed more. Maine Coons are hardy cats, but they can still suffer from stress and anxiety.
  • Excessive licking – Cats lick themselves as part of grooming. They can overdo it. An excessively licking cat may start to lose hair in that area. This can be behavior induced by an injury or disease. Excessive licking can lead to more hairballs or gastrointestinal distress.
  • Nutrition – Diet and nutrition are a huge factor in your cat’s overall health and will significantly impact his coat’s condition. Insufficient nutrition is reflected in poor coat health. Cats need high protein diets, much more than dogs. Low protein or hard-to-digest protein can cause hair to thin and even fall out.  A cat that is eating a less balanced diet will shed more. Felines that are fed a high nutrient diet with healthy fats shed less. Talk to your veterinarian about the best food for your cat’s coat. A hairball prevention formula may also be beneficial.
  • Health – Your cat’s overall health will affect the health of their coat, including shedding. Balanced nutrition, good hydration, brushing, and stress levels will impact how much your Coon Cat sheds.
  • Genetics – Shedding in cats is also influenced by genetics and breed. It can be hereditary to shed more. Some breeds are simply prone to more shedding. Long-haired kitties like the Maine Coon have more hair and, therefore, will shed more.
  • Grooming and care – Grooming, bathing, and regular care keep a cat’s coat healthy. Removing lifeless hair and skin keeps his coat in top condition and reduces the amount of hair left behind.

Managing Shedding

While it is impossible to prevent shedding completely, cat owners can take steps to help manage and control how much their cats will shed. Shedding is simply a natural part of a feline’s life, and cat owners must accept and learn to manage it. Management of your cat’s health, nutrition, and grooming are the best ways to help control shedding.

Grooming Needs

Maine Coons have high grooming needs. They require regular brushing and bathing. These cats get mats and tangles quickly. This is one of the highest-maintenance feline breeds when it comes to grooming. Expect to spend a good deal of time every week brushing your cat. For some very hairy cats, professional grooming may be a good option. This can be a pricey commitment. Learning the ins and outs of grooming your Maine Coon is something every owner should consider.

How Often Should You Brush A Maine Coon?

A maine coon cat looking around

A Maine Coon needs to be brushed often. Daily brushing is optimal. If this is not possible, it should at a minimum be done once a week. Because they have such long thick fur, these cats are prone to getting mats, debris, trash, and even bugs in their fur. Regular brushing with the proper tools prevents mats and tangles and helps control shedding.

A Maine Coon should be bathed once a month if possible. This does wonders to help keep their coats clean and manage shedding. If your kitty is hard to wash, consider professional grooming services once a month. This will save hours of frustration on your part and ensure that his coat is soft and clean. Management of a cat coat is the number one way to control shedding.

Always brush a Maine Coon in the direction their hair grows, not the opposite. Make sure to brush through all the layers of fur, not just the longer outer coat. Remember, Maine Coons have a double undercoat. They will need a lot of brushing.

Brushing should last 20 to 30 minutes. Longer than that may start to irritate your cat. Ensure to inspect the skin for cuts, rashes, or other concerns. Never yank on a mat or pull one out with force. This can injure your cat’s skin and scare him. Use a comb or wire brush to work the mat out slowly.

Grooming time should be a time for bonding with your Coon kitty. Make this a relaxing, enjoyable experience that he will look forward to. This is especially important with Maine Coon cats due to the elevated level of grooming they require.

Best Brush For Maine Coon Cats

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  • A poor-quality brush is not going to do any favors for your kitty. A bristle brush, slicker brush, combs, and a de-shedding tool will be necessary.
  • A slicker brush is a brush with tightly packed firm pins (often wire or plastic). These brushes help remove old hair.
  • A pin brush has wider, thicker bristles and is used after grooming to smooth out the hair at the end of the grooming process.
  • Bristle brushes are made of many soft bristles close together and may be less intrusive for your cat. These brushes help remove loose hair and smooth out feline coats.
  • A wide-toothed plastic or metal comb can help remove tangles and mats in your cat’s fur.
  • De-shedding tools/combs to remove extra and loose hair.
  • Cat massagers that help work out tangles and mats can help during bathing and after.
  • Feline shampoo, conditioner, and detangler will also be helpful. Never use human products, even baby shampoo, on cats. They can get sick or have an allergic reaction. Ask your veterinarian about safe grooming products for your kitties.

Other Reasons For Losing Hair

Cats can lose hair for reasons that go beyond the natural shedding cycle. If you notice that your kitty is excessively shedding, it is always best to seek out the guidance of a reputable veterinarian. Some medical conditions can trigger excess shedding, and it is vital to get your cat treatment as soon as possible.

Anxiety & Stress Shedding is a cat’s natural biological response to stress, fright, and anxiety. Cats that are stressed shed more. Your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety or be too stimulated and start to shed more.

Dehydration – Dehydrated cats have poor skin health and elasticity. This can lead to excess shedding. Cats can quickly get dehydrated, and they often do not drink enough water. It is extremely hard to make a cat drink. Offer them plenty of water in separate places to encourage drinking.

Allergies – Felines, just like humans, can suffer from allergies. They can be allergic to pollen, plants, foods, medications, and even dust. In some cases, allergies will cause excessive shedding.

Parasites – Cats, especially those that spend time outside, can pick up parasites. This often happens when they eat birds or rodents they catch or from fleas. Tapeworms are a common feline parasite, as is a

Toxoplasma infection – Parasites can cause itchy skin, rash, scabbing, and hair loss.

Flea bites – Fleas, along with ticks, mites, and lice, can infest a feline’s fur and cause discomfort and excess shedding. Keeping cats up to date on flea and tick prevention can help prevent these painful pests.

Ringworm – Ringworm is a fungal infection that feeds on the skin. It can affect cats of all ages. Symptoms are stronger in kittens, but they can affect felines of any age. Ringworm causes stiff, dry hair that breaks easily. Broken hair, scabs, red bumps, and hair loss also come with Ringworm.

Thyroid disease – Cats can have thyroid issues. Thyroid glands control many chemical reactions in the body. Hair loss is a common symptom of feline thyroid issues.

Obesity – An overweight cat will have trouble grooming himself. This can lead to excess shedding. Maine Coons are large felines, but this does not mean they should be overweight. Obesity in felines can be life-threatening and opens them up to many significant health issues.

Old age – Aging cats start to experience many different health issues. Shedding more can be due to a loss of skin elasticity. As cats age, it is vital to keep them as healthy as possible to prevent illness, discomfort, and losing hair. Talk to your veterinarian about supplements to help older cats maintain healthy coats.

Pregnancy – The demands of pregnancy can be a lot for a kitty. Much goes into supporting the litter and taking a significant toll on the cat’s body and system. This extra pressure can lead to excess shedding.

Poor Health & Disease – Many different diseases and health issues can cause excessive shedding or alopecia. Autoimmune disorders, cancers, hormonal imbalances, congenital disabilities, trauma, poisons, and more can cause hair loss.

Contact your veterinarian for a complete exam if your Maine Coon is shedding more than usual. There are several treatments for hair loss in cats. These include medications like antihistamines and antidepressants. Topical treatments, hormone treatments, and other ailment-specific medications and remedies may also help.

How To Control Shedding In Maine Coon Cats

Cats shed. This is simply part of how they stay healthy. No matter what methods are tried, cats are always going to shed. The Maine Coon has a lot of long hair. They shed no more than other breeds. They just happen to have more hair than most other domestic felines. There is no way to stop a cat from shedding, but there are ways to manage and control it.

  • Temperature plays a significant role in shedding. A warm house triggers shedding. Keep your home cooler, and this will help your kitty shed less. Keeping a cat cooler helps control shedding.
  • Warm baths about once a month, using a mild, feline-safe shampoo. Regular bathing will help your Coon cat’s coat clean and healthy. Consistent monthly bathing removes excess hair, keeps the skin healthy, and will help decrease shedding. Maine Coons love to play in the water. Bath time can be an enjoyable time for them to play and bond with you.
  • Keep fresh water out in multiple places. Also, offer your kitty wet food periodically to ensure he is getting enough moisture. Wet food is a terrific way to add in extra moisture. You can also add a little water, chicken broth, or tuna water to dry food.
  • Keep your cat’s litter box clean and fresh.
  • You can try vacuuming or blowing out your Maine Coon’s coat periodically. Be incredibly careful using either of these methods.
  • Be sure to keep lots of treats on hand when brushing and grooming. Associating the process with positive feedback like kitty treats or toys will help cats feel more comfortable and not fear being groomed.
  • Keep scraps and crumbs off the floor. Cats constantly eat crumbs and other things they find on the floor. This can be a source of bacteria, which leads to shedding. Keeping floors swept and vacuumed helps lower the risk of a bacterial infection.
  • Regular checkups with your vet are among the top ways to manage excessive feline shedding. Your vet can rule out underlying causes and help you manage your cat’s lifelong health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Maine Coon Cat Shedding So Much?

Maine Coon cats can shed more as the seasons change. This can happen once or twice a year or be a regular occurrence. Maine Coon cats do not shed more or faster than other feline breeds. They have more hair, so they have more to lose.

Do Maine Coons Shed More Than Other Feline Breeds?

Maine Coons shed a comparable amount to most other long-haired feline breeds. They may seem like they shed more only because they have long, triple coats of thick hair and far more of it than short hair cats. When these cats molt, large piles of hair are left behind, but the shedding rate is the same as most other domestic longhairs.

Is It Ok To Shave A Maine Coon?

Yes. It is ok to shave a Maine Coon or cut the coat short. However, there is some controversy around the practice. It is rarely done out of vanity. This is often done only when necessary due to matting or a medical need. This can be done in the case of heavy matting or a medical condition. Some people like to get their Maine coon a lion cut. This style leaves a cat with a mane that resembles a lion and a closely cut coat on the rest of their bodies.

Final Thoughts

Maine Coons are a popular feline breed that has been around for an exceptionally long time. These cats have long, tough coats with double undercoats. They have a wild appearance due to their generous size, heavy coats, and oval-shaped, brightly colored eyes. Their long coats require lots of care, which includes managing shedding.

Maine Coon cats are a long-haired feline breed and will require daily brushing. Grooming is a big commitment for this cat breed due to their bulky coats. Bathing is recommended about once a month. As cat owners, it is our responsibility to meet all their needs. Owning a cat is a great privilege and requires a commitment of time, money, and care from owners. Grooming and shedding are a considerable part of this breed’s life. Pet owners should be ready to become skilled at feline grooming when adopting one of these gorgeous Maine Coon kitties.

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