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Maine Coon cats are one of the oldest and largest breeds in North America. With stories and myths about its origins and other characteristics, you may have read things about this breed that are untrue. Here are five questions frequently asked about this domestic cat.

1. How big can they get? Maine Coons generally weigh between 9 to 18 pounds. The adult female weighs between 9 and 12 pounds, while the male typically weighs between 13 to 18 pounds. They are not fully mature until 3 to 5 years of age. When you consider another 2 to 3 inches of their long coats, it's not a surprise they look even bigger.

2. How much grooming do they need? With their bushy tail and long hair hind-quarters you might think they'd need a lot of grooming. Their coat naturally falls smoothly, and they do not need much grooming from their owners. A weekly grooming will keep their coats in healthy condition.

3. Do they have six toes? History shows that original Coon cats may have had extra toes (a trait called polydactyls meaning extra fingers or toes). Some think that this may have been a dominant in this breed to help them adapt to harsh weather conditions. This trait had almost vanished in Coons, as cat shows automatically disqualify any cats with this characteristic. Generally, these cats are not polydactyls.

4. Aren't they all brown in color? Many people think that Maine Coons are only brown; however, this couldn't be further from the truth. They come in a wide combination of colors and patterns. The only exception is they don't come pointed, like the Siamese.

5. How can I tell if my cat is a Maine Coon? Your cat may have similar characteristics to the Maine Coon cat, which is a native, long hair cat. Since this breed adapted to Maine's harsh, winter climate, it has large paws, a bushy tail, and a muscular body. The Maine Coon is a natural breed and hasn't been bred to extremes. It is often compared to the Norwegian Forest Cat, which evolved in a similar type climate. But looking for similarities will not give you a definitive answer. The only way you can tell if your cat is a true Maine Coon is to look at the cat's pedigree.

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