It looks like a Maine Coon. It has the personality, the appearance, almost everything that makes a Maine Coon, well, a Maine Coon. Almost everything, except for the long and thick fur the breed is known for. Are you looking at a short hair Maine Coon?
Most likely not. The short hair Maine Coon does not exist.
Reasons why a Maine Coon has short hair
Maine Coons are famous for a lot of things, from their size and heft to their affable personality to their gorgeous medium to long coats. It is impossible to see a short hair Maine Coon because it does not exist.
Most probably, you are looking at a Maine Coon mix. It has the characteristic look and personality of the Coon because one of its parents is purebred while its short hair can be attributed to its other parent, most likely a shorthair breed.
Another possible reason why you might think that a cat is a short hair Maine Coon is that you are looking at an undeveloped purebred kitten.
A Maine Coon kitten develops the characteristic fluffy fur upon reaching the age of eight weeks old. The coat continues to grow and develop until the cat reaches the age of four.
The cat’s ear tufts appear within a few months while the breed’s distinct ruff becomes prominent upon reaching the age of nine months.
Finally, a purebred Maine Coon might have short hair because its fur has been shaved. Although unnecessary, some owners get their pets’ fur shaved for a variety of reasons, ranging from medical reasons to aesthetics.
Maine Coon fur characteristics
The Maine Coon’s fur is classified as medium to long. This means that some body parts have longer fur, while some have shorter hair. The uneven growth of the fur gives the breed its distinct shaggy appearance.
The fur on the ears, top of the head, and paws are noticeably shorter. The rest of the head has medium-length fur while the rest of the cat’s body has long fur. The longest fur can be found around the cat’s neck, hind legs, stomach, and tail.
Long tufts of fur can also be found on the ears and between the toes.
The fur may look shaggy but after touching it, you will notice that it is thick and has a smooth, silky texture.
The purposes of a Maine Coon’s fur
It should not come as a surprise why Maine Coon’s have thick, medium to long fur, considering where this breed originates – the State of Maine.
Winters in Maine can get as cold as -11.1 degrees Celsius with plenty of snowfall. And the Maine Coon’s thick fur helps the cat remain warm and comfy during the cooler seasons.
But apart from this vital function, the feline’s characteristic fur serves multiple other functions.
As mentioned earlier, fur is crucial for keeping the Maine Coon warm during winter.
But although it may seem counterintuitive, the Coon’s thick fur can also help keep the cat cool during summer.
The Maine Coon’s acts as a barrier between the environment and the cat’s body, absorbing ambient temperature and helping keep overheating at bay.
This is why shaving the cat’s fur is completely unnecessary. In fact, shaving the fur is detrimental to the cat’s wellbeing during summer because the barrier between the feline’s body and his immediate environment is lost.
The Maine Coon’s long and thick fur is also vital for the cat’s protection against different things.
First, the fur serves as a barrier against the sun’s harmful rays. Exposed to the sun without his fur, your Maine Coon can get sunburned easily. And to some degree, a Coon’s fur can provide a good measure of protection from water.
Like most domestic cats, Maine Coons are naturally inquisitive. But this curious nature can sometimes lead to tight spots that can harm these cats.
Fortunately, a Maine Coon’s fur is thick enough to protect him from a wide range of things, from insect bites to twigs that can inadvertently scratch his skin.
The Maine Coon’s fur is also thick enough to give it ample protection from bites and scratches if it ever gets into a fight with another cat.
Sensory input and communication
Apart from meowing, trilling, and chirruping, Maine Coons also use their body, especially their fur, when communicating.
This is particularly true when they encounter other cats. Cats raise their fur to ward off potential attackers.
Like whiskers, cat fur is also sensitive and can be used by felines to decipher the world around them. This is why cats are capable of maneuvering and escaping tight spaces without harming themselves. Shave the fur off and cats will have a difficult time in terms of spatial awareness.
Caring for your Maine Coon’s fur
Although cats, including Maine Coons, spend most of their time grooming themselves, this is not enough to keep your pet’s coat healthy, shiny, and lustrous. Part of your responsibility as a Maine Coon owner is taking care of his fur.
Here are a few tricks that will help you keep your feline’s fur in tiptop shape.
1. Make coat brushing a habit
Set aside two to three days a week to brush your cat’s fur. This will help keep your pet’s coat healthy, prevent matting and tangles, and reinforce the bond between you and your pet.
If this schedule is not possible, strive to brush your cat’s coat at least once a week.
You should also consider investing in a few tools like brushes, gloves, and rakes to make this task easier for you and your Maine Coon.
Take note that not all brushes work the same. There are some designed to loosen and remove dead cat hair while others are used for brushing the undercoat.
2. Keep a routine
Cats are creatures of habit. That applies to pretty much everything that you do for them, including grooming.
Start grooming your cat as soon as you get him. This will allow him to become accustomed to getting touched and groomed.
Set aside specific days of the week when you can groom him. And as much as possible, make sure that you and your cat are relaxed while you are grooming him. For example, you can brush your cat’s fur right after you have settled down after coming home from work.
Over time, this level of consistency and comfort can be leveraged to the point that your cat can trust you when things get uncomfortable for him, like when his fur gets matted.
3. Bathe your Coon monthly
Unlike other cats, Maine Coons have a special affinity for water. Take advantage of this by giving your cat monthly baths.
Regular bathing offers a few advantages. For one, it can help loosen tangled hair. At the same time, it helps eliminate accumulated dirt and dander on a cat’s skin. It can also help control the rate of a cat’s shedding. Bathing can also help keep your cat cool during summer.
Start the habit while your cat is still young. Over time, he will offer less resistance to going on a bath.
When bathing your cat, start by brushing his fur. This will help loosen his fur and remove dead hair and dirt.
After that, allow your cat to stand on a few inches of water while you slowly wet his fur. As much as possible, avoid getting your cat’s eyes and ears wet.
Once your cat is wet, you can now apply shampoo on his coat. Some cat owners swear by the effectiveness of rubber gloves that have bristles in removing dirt and dead hair.
Finish bathing your cat by rinsing away the soap. Wrap him in a towel to remove excess water before air-drying him.
On the other end of the spectrum, avoid giving your cat frequent baths. Frequent bathing can strip away the oil on your cat’s skin, leaving it dry.
4. Shave off matted fur
It should not come as a surprise that Maine Coons can easily adjust to the seasons. As such, it is not necessary to shave your cat’s fur, especially during summer. He is well-adapted to seasonal changes.
However, you can shave off some parts of his fur when these become matted. Otherwise, shaving off fur is a matter of choice.
If you are keen on having your pet’s fur shaved, be aware of the downsides and not just the benefits. Remember, his coat performs multiple roles and cats abhor getting shaved.
Your Maine Coon’s fur and his health
Your Coon’s fur offers a glimpse of his current state of health.
For example, if your cat is not meeting his nutritional needs, you will notice that his fur will lose its luster and can look patchy.
A greasy and matted coat, on the other hand, signals that your cat may be dealing with thyroid issues, diabetes, or bladder infection.
Cats shed heavily twice a year, coinciding with the changing of the seasons. If your cat sheds heavily beyond the traditional timeline, this can be a sign that he has a health problem.
Short hair Maine Coon
If someone approaches you and sells you a short hair Maine Coon, be wary. Purebred Coons have medium to long hair. If someone tells you otherwise, he might not be honest or he must not know much about the breed.
If you are planning on adopting a Maine Coon, buy from reputable breeders. Or if you want a short hair Maine Coon, you should consider other breeds with shorter fur.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nastia11