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What to expect when you adopt a Maine Coon

If you've decided to adopt a Maine Coon, you'll need to know what to expect, depending where you find your cat.

Shelter Kitties

You may have decided to rescue a shelter cat - a noble decision. Even shelters have purebred (or lookalike) cats. Be sure to have the kitty checked out carefully by your personal veterinarian, and keep it isolated from any other cats in your family until it receives a clean bill of health! Unlike a cat from a breeder, you have few health guarantees with a shelter cat; you don't know its pegigree. You won't have papers, but, you will know you may have saved a life.

Rescue Kitties

There are several organizations that specialize in rescuing Maine Coons. Often, these are cats whos owners have died or, for some reason, can no longer care for them. Even if you don't want to adopt a rescue cat, consider making a donation to a rescue organization. For more information, visit MCARN (Maine Coon Alliance Rescue Network) or United Maine Coon Cat Rescue League

"Back yard" Breeders

You may have found a cat through a newspaper ad or a neighbor. Be aware that many "back yard breeders" don't really understand how to breed and raise cats. Did the cat or kitten come with a written health guarantee? Does the breeder show cats? (Most reputable breeders do). How many litters has the breeder raised? Again, be sure to have the kitty checked out carefully by your own veterinarian. Interview the breeder and make sure you are very comfortable with him or her and with the way the cats have been raised.

Registered Breeders

Are you wondering if you should adopt a "real" Maine Coon? Read Why I Should Buy a Purebred Cat to help you decide.

The best breeders are reputable, ethical people, registered with CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) or TICA (The International Cat Association) or a similar association. They show cats as well as breed them; their primary interest is in improving and strengthening the breed. Their primary interest is not "selling kittens".

Nevertheless, you should expect to pay between $400 and $700 to adopt a "pet" quality Maine Coon kitten, perhaps more (especially for show quality), possibly less for an older cat. Before you say "Wow, that's a lot", consider the costs of breeding and raising cats - medical examinations, the cost of a healthy pair of parents, food, toys, etc. Consider the cost of raising a cat. If you cannot justify $500 to adopt a kitten now, will you be able to justify the costs of providing the cat the food, toys, attention, and medical care it needs for the next 15-20 years? The initial cost of adopting a kitten is a small fraction of the cost of caring for a cat over its lifetime.

If you still want to adopt a purebred, interview the breeder; ask questions. Visit their home, if possible, to see how the cats are raised and treated. Are the kittens "raised underfoot"? Do they keep the tiny kittens separated from the more rambunctious adults? At what age are the kittens weaned? Separated from their mother? How does the breeder interact with their cats and kittens? Do they handle the cats a lot? A Maine Coon kitten should be well socialized by the time it leaves its mother and original home to join your family.

A good breeder will also interview you. They may ask if you have other pets or children; they may ask if you work at home or are gone all day. They may ask if you've ever had a cat before. They will most likely require that you give your new Maine Coon regular medical checkups, spay or neuter (unless the breeder does this before you adopt), never declaw, and be sure to keep the cat indoors. They may require that the cat not be shown, or they may permit showing.

A good breeder will know (and care) about the health of their cats. They will check for any abnormalities in the heart and hips of breeding cats. They will discuss health with you. They will ensure that kittens have been vaccinated before they are adopted. They put health before anything else.

Expect to adopt a kitten that is 12 weeks old or perhaps a little older. A good breeder won't let a kitten leave its mother much younger (occasionally a breeder will let a kitten go to a local home at 11 weeks). Some breeders will spay or neuter a kitten before adoption; others require this operation by 6 months of age. You can usually expect to get a form to register the cat (i.e. "papers") when you show proof of altering the cat.

Read How to Find a Maine Coon Kitten for a different (but similar) perspective.