Maine Coon cats are an extremely popular feline breed. These big kitties have long shaggy fur, wild-looking eyes, huge ears, and impressively long tails. Owners often look for information on how to care for and what to expect with this proud breed. One big area of concern is the Maine Coon lifespan.
Cat owners want their feline companions to live as long and healthy lives as possible. Knowing the average lifespan of a breed and what impacts their lifespan can help owners provide the best care possible. While all kitties are individuals and will have different circumstances, it is a great benefit to understand guidelines and expectations for any new pet.
When it comes to this breed, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How long will my cat live?” Owners also want to know what they can do to keep their cats around as long as possible. We answer those questions and offer some guidelines, as well as tips regarding the life expectancy of this breed and the factors that impact feline lifespan.
Maine Coone Cats
Maine Coon cats are a delightful feline breed. They are known for their kitten-like personalities, generous size, and shaggy, rugged coats of fur. These big beauties look wild, often with a ringed marking on their tails. Also called the “gentle giant,” these big kitties are quite affectionate and highly intelligent. They can be trained to walk on leashes and are one of the few felines that like to swim. This big beauty is the largest domestic feline breed and is native to New England.
The gentle giant has several legends and stories about the breed’s origin. One popular tale is that these kitties are a hybrid animal, a cross between a feral domestic house cat and a raccoon. This story attributes the breed’s large bodies and long, ringed tails to this urban legend. There is absolutely no scientific proof or biological plausibility behind this wild story. A hybrid between a domestic house cat and a wild raccoon is impossible. These big kitties developed through natural breeding and selection.
How Long Do Maine Coons Live?
These big kitties live relatively long lives for felines. Overall, they are a healthy breed and can live long, happy lives with proper care and nutrition. Many owners report having a gentle giant that lived for 18 or even 20 years. Due to their generous size, these cats may be predisposed to health conditions that may impact their life expectancy. With proper care, good genes, and no major health conditions, these gentle giants often live 17 to 18 years.
Average Maine Coon Cat Lifespan
The Maine Coon has an expected lifespan of 10 to 15 years. On average, they live 12.5 years, though many have been reported to live much longer. Most domestic felines live about 10 to 15 years, according to research. So, this kitty is expected to live as long as just about any other feline breed. Keep in mind this is an estimated range. Some kitties will live much longer. Others will have shorter lives. All felines are different, even among the same breeds. We can make estimates and set guidelines, but there is no way to know how long any one animal will live. Several factors like lifestyle, health conditions, weight, activity level, and breed mix all impact how long a kitty lives.
Maine Coon Lifespan Compared To Other Feline breeds
Smaller-sized felines tend to have longer lifespans than larger-sized kitties like the Maine Coon. Several other large breeds of cats have similar lifespans, like the Ragdoll and Norwegian Forest Cat. Others like the Siberian (11 to 18 years) and British Shorthair (12 to 17 years) are longer. Some, like the Ragamuffin, have shorter lifespans. The breed does impact size, more so in purebred animals than mixed. Mixed breeds do tend to be larger than parent cats.
Factors That Impact Lifespan
Every cat will have a unique set of circumstances. Health, nutrition, genetic makeup, lifestyle, and more impact how long a cat will live. As a reminder, there is no way to know exactly how long an individual cat will live. Some may live years longer than the average, and others may live shorter lives. The following factors play a role in the feline lifespan.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Indoor cats have longer expected lifespans than those kept outside. The average indoor house cat will live 10 to 17 years. Kitties kept exclusively outside have a much shorter expected lifespan, only two to five years. Gentle giants are sturdy, strong cats who have been bred to tolerate harsh conditions and chilly weather. While they are much heartier than many other feline breeds, these giant kitties are no exception. They will live longer lives if they are kept indoors. This does not mean your cat cannot go outside for a walk or play in the grass. Outdoor cats are those cats that spend the majority of their lives outdoors.
Outdoor cats are exposed to a much higher level of danger than indoor cats. Roads, wild animals, vehicles, parasites, toxic plants and substances, poisons, dogs, other cats, and even people pose risks to outdoor cats that are significantly reduced for indoor cats. Cats kept outside all the time are also at risk of being stolen or picked up by animal control. This higher risk level and exposure to more danger greatly reduce the expected life span of any cat that lives most of its life outside.
Fixed vs. Intact
The expected lifespan is much longer for felines that have been spayed or neutered than those left intact. For both males and females, there is a difference of several years. According to researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the average life expectancy for a spayed female is 13 years, while an intact female cat is expected only to live about nine years. For neutered male cats, life expectancy is 11 to 12 years. For intact kitties, the expected lifespan drops to about 7 1/2 years.
Sterilizing not only helps extend the life expectancy of the individual kitty but also dramatically reduces the number of unwanted cats and kittens left on the street or found in shelters and rescues. Talk to your veterinarian when your cat is a kitten and discuss the specifics of this procedure. It can be done on older cats. However, older kitties are always at greater risk when having surgery, which will not extend their lifespan.
Felines that come from mixed bloodlines live longer than purebred cats. Some breeds do have longer lifespans than others. Mixed breeds have been shown to live longer than purebreds. This is likely due to an expanded gene pool in mixed-breed cats. Purebred felines are at a greater risk of genetic disorders. These gentle giants are a naturally mixed breed. They developed from natural breeding among different domestic felines. So, these kitties may live longer lives due to mixed genetics in their bloodlines.
A cat’s overall health is another critical factor in the expected feline lifespan. Nutrition, physical activity, and regular veterinary care all play a role in a cat’s health throughout their lives. While Maine Coon cats are known to be a generally healthy breed, they are at risk for some predisposed medical conditions. These include:
- Heart disease, congenital and acquired.
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
- Skin infections and allergies
- Hip dysplasia
- Orthopedic and joint issues due to large size
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SPM)
- Feline asthma
- Periodontal disease
You should consider cat insurance for your Maine Coon to help offset possible medical costs. Cats can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to veterinary care. Because they have a reputation for being independent, and many are indoors only, it might seem like they do not need yearly checkups, etc. This is a big misconception. Felines need routine and regular veterinary care at every stage of their lives, especially a larger breed like the Maine Coon. Flea and deworming treatments, vaccinations, dental care, and checking ears are all part of this routine care. On top of that, veterinarians will need to do screenings for things like kidney disease, liver disease, infections, and other diseases that can start to develop as cats age.
Nutrition is an essential element of a feline’s overall health and has an enormous impact on their life expectancy. Kitties that are not getting the right nutrition as kittens, adults, or seniors will be less healthy. Proper feline nutrition ensures healthy development and growth. Kittens who are not fed appropriately are set up to be less healthy and do not live as long as those that have their dietary needs met. An overweight or underweight kitty will also have a shorter expected lifespan.
The gentle giant is a breed that needs a diet with high levels of protein, healthy fats, fatty acids like Omega three and Omega 6, carbohydrates, and must include animal proteins. Cats are obligate carnivores and must have animal protein in their diet. They can get some from plants. However, they will not get enough from those sources. This breed is also predisposed to obesity, and because they are known as a large breed, it is easy for owners to overlook this. Keeping a close eye on the amount of food a kitty eats and always feeding them high-quality kibble or wet food is essential to how long this breed will live. A puzzle feeder can be an incredibly worthwhile investment for this kitty, as it will force them to slow down when eating and prevent overeating.
Because this breed is prone to overeating and obesity, exercise is a vital element in keeping them healthy and ensuring a long lifespan. This breed likes to be walked on leashes, loves to swim, and is highly trainable to play games. Despite their large size, these cats are agile and love physical activity. Make sure that this kitty is getting regular periods of physical activity every day. Laser pointers, balls, tunnels, and other cat toys that encourage movement are great for this breed.
Mental exercise is another area that this breed needs to have to keep them healthy and living long lives. Maine Coon cats are exceptionally smart, and if not given enough mental stimulation, they become bored, anxious, and depressed. This impacts physical health and can shorten lifespan.
Grooming does more than just make a Manie Coon look great and feel soft and fluffy. Regular brushing and bathing will keep felines clean and can give owners a sign of skin or other health issues. Poor coat health can indicate a more serious medical condition. This grooming time is a chance to monitor your cat. These kitties should be brushed at least once a week to every day or two.
Tips To Expand Feline Lifespan
- Keep your gentle giant cat indoors as much as possible and supervise him when he is outside. Teach him to walk on a leash so he can enjoy the outdoors and not get into trouble or danger. Indoor kitties kept in a cool, clean environment will live longer than those exposed to the great big world’s elements, traffic, wildlife, and other hazards.
- Create a home environment that is as low-stress as possible for your cat. This can prevent stress and anxiety in felines. A clean, safe home free of choking hazards is also a significant factor in how long a cat will live.
- Always keep litter boxes clean and changed often. Litter boxes are essentially playgrounds for diseases and germs to spread. A dirty litter box can cause many problems, behavioral concerns, and diseases. Urinary and digestive health is significantly impacted by litter box cleanliness. Additionally, monitoring the litter box can keep owners aware of any digestive issues a cat may have, including watery stools, frequent diarrhea, blood in stool or urine, etc. can all be signs of an underlying medical concern. Consider an air purifier to keep the area cleaner, smelling better, and more sanitary for everyone.
- Top-quality nutrition and a well-balanced diet throughout your kitty’s lifespan are among the most significant impacts on his overall health and lifespan. Avoid human foods and excess treats. These can lead to allergies, stomach upset, and obesity.
- Regularly check your cat’s teeth, ears, and eyes. These are often overlooked areas of health that can indicate whether a kitty is healthy. Good dental care is a wide area that can help extend a feline’s lifespan.
Oldest Maine Coon Cat
Some of these large kitties have lived to extraordinary ages. The oldest on record is a gentle giant by the name of Rubble. Rubble lived in Exeter, England, and lived to the jolly old age of 31. That is about 150 years old if converted to people years. Rubble lived with one owner his entire life, who treated the kitty as if he were her own son.
Another long-lived Maine Coon cat was Corduroy, a male cat from Sister, Oregon. At one time, Corduroy held the Guinness Book of World Records title for the World’s Oldest Cat, who lived to be 27. The current title is held by a cat named Crème Puff, who lived to be 38 years and 2 days old. She was a Tabby mix.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do male or female Maine Coons live longer?
Both males and females are expected to live 10 to 15 years. There is no research or data available to support the idea that males or females live longer.
What is old for a Maine Coon?
Maine Coon cats often live to be well over 15 years old, and many live to 18 or even over 20 years. Felines go through six phases of life:
- Kitten 0 to 6 months
- Junior 6 months to 2 years
- Prime 3 to 6 years
- Mature 7 to 10 years
- Senior 10 to 14 years
- Geriatric over 15 years
How old is my Maine Coon cat in human years?
Humans and felines do not age equally. Cats age much more quickly when they are young. In fact, by the time a cat is a year old, they age to the human equivalent of 15 years. By the end of the year, two kitties are about 24 in human years. From there, they age about four human years every year. So, a feline that is four years old is roughly 32 human years.
Maine Coon cats are truly gentle giants. These big cats developed through natural breeding and are popular as pets worldwide. These big, smart furballs have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years, and most live to at least 12. They can live much longer, with plenty of owners reporting their gentle giant living over 20 years.
A Maine Coon’s exact lifespan will depend on a few different factors. Genetics, health, nutrition, physical activity, and home environment are significant elements in the feline lifespan. Every cat is different. However, owners can expect this breed to live for at least 10 or 12 years, likely longer. Mixed breeds may live longer than purebreds, something to keep in mind when looking for or adopting a new cat or kitten.