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Education

​Hello! I am honored that you have chosen one of my kittens to join your family. When I said that I pour my heart and soul into these cats, I truly meant that. I have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort trying my very best to ensure that your cat is set up for success, so that it has the best chance at a long, happy life with you.

Below, I have amassed a collection of resources that I hope will be beneficial to you and your kitty. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please never hesitate to reach out to me, any time, day or night. If I do not have the answer, I will do my best to help connect you to someone who does.

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Canned (Wet Food)

For those who do not desire to feed a raw diet, in my opinion it is paramount that canned wet food be a primary source of nutrition. My kittens begin sampling wet food whenever they are naturally ready, or if I have any concerns about mom's milk production, I will begin introducing wet food by hand when kittens are four weeks old.


I exclusively feed Royal Canin Mom & Baby wet food until kittens are 10 weeks old. At this time, I begin the gradual transition to Royal Canin Kitten wet food. For adopters who choose to continue feeding Royal Canin wet food products, the company recommends that the kitten should be fully transitioned from Mom & Baby to Kitten by 16 weeks, and Kitten can be fed until twelve months of age.

Although there is some controversy regarding commercial brands like Royal Canin and Purina, I had a very traumatic experience when trying a boutique brand whose ingredients looked perfect on paper, so I will now only feed top-quality, commercial brands. The formulas these companies use are based heavily in science, particularly their higher-tier pet food lines. My cats have beautiful coats, steady growth, and optimal body condition scores.

Due to my work schedule, I do not have time to safely prepare a properly balanced raw diet, but I feel this can be an excellent option for Adopters who are very well-versed in feline nutrition or who have access to a qualified feline nutritionist.

Kibble (Dry Food)​

I only use kibble as a supplement, not as the primary diet. Kittens are introduced to kibble starting around 8 weeks of age. I am currently feeding Purina Pro Plan Kitten kibble to my kittens and lactating or pregnant adults. For my adult, non-lactating, non-pregnant cats, I feed Purina Pro Plan Indoor Hairball kibble as a prophylactic measure due to their long coats.

In the past, I have fed Royal Canin Maine Coon Kitten kibble. It has a larger kibble size to promote proper development of the masseter muscles in our large breed. It is also specially formulated for the longer growth period of our breed (fed until 15 months). I think this is a wonderful product and the kittens agree, but I found it prohibitively expensive. It may be a good option for someone with deeper pockets than my own.

As I discussed in the wet food section, there is some controversy surrounding commercial brands, but I have had excellent success with these products whereas boutique brands have given me trouble. In my opinion, cats should NEVER be on a dry-only or predominantly-dry diet, as this is directly linked to a multitude of health problems.

Supplements

When kittens begin showing interest in mom's wet food, I will add Purina Feline FortiFlora to it. I continue this supplementation until the box runs out. This helps to ensure that the gut is optimally colonized by "good bugs" during this stage of life where kittens are exploring the world with their mouths. There are scientific studies supporting this practice. You should consult a qualified feline nutritionists before adding supplements to your cat's diet, and be aware that some supplements are touted by well-intentioned but misinformed veterinarians despite no scientific studies proving their efficacy.

Water

I provide my cats with multiple opportunities to drink. They have access to stainless bowls and several styles of fountains, the latter of which are said to promote interest in drinking. These are strategically placed in nearly every room of my house, away from litter and food. As this breed generally loves playing in water, I place a small bathmat underneath to absorb any spills.

Enrichment (Toys)

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Wet Food
Dry Food
Supplements

Health Articles

Vaccination Schedule

For pets in normal, low-stress environments, our veterinarians recommend vaccinating for FVRCP at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, known as the primary kitten series. The cat is then boostered one year from the third vaccination in the primary kitten series, and once every three years ("triennially") after that. Indoor-outdoor cats and cats in high-stress, multi-cat households should be vaccinated annually instead of triennially.

The FVRCP vaccine helps protect your cat from Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus/Herpesvirus 1 (FVR/FHV-1), Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia/Parvovirus (FPV). Notice that each disease contains the word 'virus' and realize that no vaccine can completely prevent infection when it comes to viruses. Rather, these vaccines reduce the severity and length of symptoms when infection occurs.

So, why is vaccination imperative if it does not entirely prevent infection? Shouldn't we be eliminating exposure instead? Well, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to entirely eliminate the risk of exposure, especially in a multi-cat environment, which includes indoor-outdoor homes, multi-cat homes, catteries, show homes, and rescues, fosters, and shelters. According to the renowned Dr. David Gould, as many as 97% of cats are exposed to FVR/FHV-1. Additionally, a 2008 study investigating the prevalence of FVR/FHV-1 in non-symptomatic cats within a multi-cat environment found that 63% tested positive
. While we don't want to take unnecessary risks, I would argue that bolstering the immune system is far more important than trying to keep a cat in a bubble.

An initial Rabies vaccine should be given once between 12 - 16 weeks of age. We prefer to have the Adopter's veterinarian administer this vaccine, as some states require the vaccination to have been given by a veterinarian licensed in that state in order to be considered valid. There are two types of Rabies vaccines, one that is boostered annually and one triennially, so which one you choose is going to depend on your preference, your veterinarian's preference, and requirements of the law in your state. I strive to vaccination only as often as absolutely necessary, so I prefer the triennial Rabies vaccine.

 

When quality vaccines are properly used, they are very safe. There is only a small risk of reaction (around 1%), including injection-site sarcomas. To help mitigate risks, we choose to allow a veterinarian to administer vaccines to our kittens instead of administering them ourselves, although it is at a significantly increased cost to do so.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

The Maine Coon unfairly gets a bad rap when it comes to HCM. The reality is that HCM is the most common form of heart disease found in all breeds of cats, but because ethical breeders have voluntarily participated in scientific studies in an attempt to eliminate this disease, they have inadvertently made it appear that Maine Coons are more prone to the disease.
 

In humans, over 1000 genetic mutations have been identified which are responsible for the development of HCM. In cats, we have only identified a few such genes. For this reason, genetic testing alone is not sufficient when attempting to reduce the risk of HCM in pedigreed cats, although it is a necessary place to start.

 

So far, the genes we can test for are autosomal dominant with incomplete penetrance. This means, when compared to a cat with no HCM genes, a cat with one gene is 1.8 times more likely to develop HCM and a cat with two genes is 18 times more likely to develop HCM. Some breeders will take this risk under the guise of preserving genetic diversity, as this too is important for the overall health of our breed, but personally this practice is not for me, as I would never knowingly increase the risk that one of my babies would develop this horrible disease.

In late 2022, I became a volunteer for PawPeds' HCM database. PawPeds is essentially a free pedigree analysis platform where cat breeders can voluntarily submit pedigrees and health records so that the greater community can research bloodlines to help them produce the healthiest, most genetically diverse kittens possible. Additionally, PawPeds hosts seven health programs, through which they conduct research, maintain a list of participating feline cardiologists, and provide recommendations for screening and breeding.

PawPeds recommends that breeders have serial echocardiograms performed by a qualified feline cardiologist at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 years of age. It is important to continue these tests even after cats are retired from a breeding program, due to the risk of the late-onset form of HCM, which further complicates the pedigreed cat community's efforts to eliminate this disease as a genetically clear cat may have perfect echocardiograms for many years, and subsequently produce many kittens, before developing signs of HCM late in life.

Fortunately, most cats who will eventually develop HCM will have echocardiographic signs by three years of age. When selecting a qualified feline cardiologist to perform an echocardiogram, ensure that they have experience with Maine Coons, as larger breed cats will have different reference intervals than smaller breeds.

FCoV/FIP

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Minimizing Stress

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