Why Are Maine Coons So Big?

Why are maine coons so big?

By Jennie @ Maine Coon Cats World

March 25, 2023

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Uncovering the Genetics and History Behind the Largest Domestic Cat Breed


Maine Coons are a beloved breed of cat known for their impressive size and friendly personalities. They are often referred to as the “gentle giants” of the feline world, and for good reason. These cats can weigh up to 25 pounds and stand up to 16 inches tall at the shoulder. But why are Maine Coons so big?

There are a few theories as to why Maine Coons are larger than your average house cat. One theory suggests that their size is due to their origins in the harsh climate of Maine. The cold winters and rugged terrain may have favored larger, hardier cats that could better survive in the wild. Another theory suggests that their size is simply a result of selective breeding. Breeders may have intentionally bred larger cats in order to create a distinct and impressive-looking breed.



Maine Coons are a breed of domestic cats that are known for their large size. While there is no single factor that determines the size of a Maine Coon, genetics play a significant role.

According to research, the size of a Maine Coon is influenced by several genes, including the Pkd1 gene, which is responsible for regulating the growth of the kidneys. Mutations in this gene can cause kidney disease in cats, but they can also lead to larger body size in Maine Coons.

Another gene that contributes to the size of Maine Coons is the Mc1r gene, which is responsible for regulating coat color. Variations in this gene can affect the amount of melanin produced in a cat’s coat, which can also impact their body size.

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In addition to these genes, other factors such as nutrition, environment, and breeding practices can also influence the size of a Maine Coon. Breeders often select cats with larger body sizes to breed, which can lead to the perpetuation of larger genes in the breed.

Overall, the genetics of Maine Coons are complex and multifactorial, but it is clear that genetics play a significant role in their large size. By understanding the genes that contribute to their size, breeders can make informed decisions to maintain the health and well-being of these beloved cats.

Large Maine Coon

Diet and Environment

Maine Coons are known for their large size, and their diet and environment play a significant role in their growth. These cats are natural hunters and have a high metabolism, which requires a diet rich in protein and fat. In the wild, Maine Coons would hunt small prey such as rodents and birds, which are high in protein and fat. Therefore, their diet needs to include a high proportion of animal-based protein and fat.

Additionally, Maine Coons are adapted to cold environments, and their large size helps them to conserve heat. They have a thick coat of fur that insulates them from the cold, and their large paws act as snowshoes, allowing them to walk on snow without sinking. In colder climates, Maine Coons require a higher calorie intake to maintain their body temperature, and their diet needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Diet Environment
  • High in animal-based protein and fat
  • Avoids fillers and grains
  • Includes essential vitamins and minerals
  • Cold climate
  • Access to outdoor space
  • Plenty of exercise and playtime

Maine Coons that are fed a diet that is high in animal-based protein and fat, and that avoids fillers and grains, are more likely to reach their full potential size. Additionally, providing them with a cold environment, access to outdoor space, and plenty of exercise and playtime can help them maintain a healthy weight and build strong muscles.

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Maine Coon

Evolutionary Advantage

While the reason for the Maine Coon’s large size is not fully understood, it is believed that their size is an evolutionary advantage that has helped them survive in their natural environment.

One theory is that the Maine Coon’s size helped them hunt larger prey, such as rodents and small game, which were abundant in their native New England environment. Their large size would have given them an advantage over smaller predators, allowing them to catch and kill prey more efficiently.

Another theory is that the Maine Coon’s size helped them survive harsh New England winters. Their thick, long fur and large size would have provided insulation from the cold, allowing them to stay warm and conserve energy during the winter months.

Whatever the reason, the Maine Coon’s large size has proven to be advantageous in their natural environment, and has contributed to their survival and success as a breed.

Large Maine Coon

Famous Large Maine Coons

There have been several famous Maine Coons throughout history that have gained recognition for their impressive size. Here are just a few:

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Stewie, a Maine Coon from Nevada, was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the longest domestic cat in the world in 2010. He measured 48.5 inches from nose to tail and weighed 33 pounds. Sadly, Stewie passed away in 2013 at the age of 8 due to cancer.


Barivel, a Maine Coon cat from Italy, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest domestic cat (living). He achieved this record on May 22, 2018, when he measured an impressive 120 cm (47.24 inches) from nose to tail. This length is longer than a baseball bat! Barivel’s owners describe him as a very quiet and shy cat despite his size. However, he has become quite the celebrity with his own Instagram profile and many comments from people asking about his size.

Barivel Maine Coon

Barivel Maine Coon

Verismo Leonetti Reserve Red

Verismo Leonetti Reserve Red, or Leo for short, is a Maine Coon from Washington who gained recognition for his impressive size and showmanship. He measures 36 inches from nose to tail and weighs 35 pounds. Leo has won several awards for his appearances in cat shows and has become a popular figure on social media.

These are just a few examples of the impressive size that Maine Coons can reach. While genetics play a large role in determining a cat’s size, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise can also contribute to their growth and overall health.



After conducting extensive research on the Maine Coon, it is clear that their large size is due to a combination of genetics and environment. The breed’s ancestors likely developed their size as a result of natural selection in the harsh climate of Maine, where larger cats were better equipped to survive. Over time, this trait was passed down through generations of breeding, resulting in the large and majestic cats we know today.

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While genetics play a significant role in the Maine Coon’s size, it is important to note that environment also plays a role. Proper nutrition and care during the kitten stage can help ensure healthy growth and development, while neglect or mistreatment can lead to stunted growth or health issues.

Despite their impressive size, Maine Coons are beloved for their affectionate and playful personalities. Their size may be intimidating to some, but it is important to remember that they are gentle giants at heart.

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Written by Jennie @ Maine Coon Cats World

I'm Jennie, the creator of Maine Coon Cats World and Ragdoll Cats World. I have been owned and loved by Ragdoll Cats for almost twenty years and have recently introduced a Maine Coon Cat into our family, Eddie, who we think it the best cat in the world but shhhhh ... don't tell our Ragdolls that! We love sharing our knowledge of all things related to Maine Coon Cats with you at Maine Coon Cats World!

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