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We have five cats, four adults and a kitten. Other cats eat well but this one is just keeping slim lean thin like it was a fashion model on a catwalk. She is a Maine coon and just got two years old this month, and I'm getting anxious about her weight. She is a little over 90 cm (3 feet) including tail, and weighs about 3,5 kg (under 8 lb). Wikipedia says an adult female Maine coon should be 10 to 15 lb.

She eats dry food and wet food, just like the others, but ever so small amounts of it at a time. We have dry food on constant offer and wet food two or three times a day. During the first 18 months I told myself that she is just busy growing up, as these Maine coons are slow to build up their body, so she just don't get body mass until she has reached her full size. But our other cats are (slightly) younger than this one, and they're looking like already at their full adult size. So for the last half a year I've been wondering if she is allright.

Half a year ago she was at a vet to get her vaccines and the vet said something about her possibly being in heat every so often, and that consumes a lot of energy. The vet said our cat sure is a bit too lean, but it should change soon after spaying. I don't know, we have plans to let her have one set of kittens before doing that. And we've been waiting for her to grow up before introducing her to a tom. (That's part of it why we now have the male kitten..)

After that talk with the vet I've started buying Royal Canin Exigent 33 Aromatic Attraction food for fussy cats. The slim cat seems to like it, but our other cats love it. So our other cats are gaining weight perhaps a bit too merrily, only because I'm trying to fatten this one.

To sum it up: a two year old female Maine coon is ever so slim, even though she does eat. How slim is normal for this breed? Am I worried for nothing, and if not, what can I do?

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Okay, there are a few points that may be relevant here:

  • Maine coons do have a tendency to grow and mature slower than other breeds. She may not be done growing yet or that may just be her body type/metabolism.

  • Her metabolism will likely change (read: slow down) after being spayed, so that should help. (I'm somewhat curious as to why you want to breed her before spaying, it's generally best if you can actually spay cats slightly before their first heat cycle. There seems to be a belief that it is somehow beneficial to the cat to reproduce before getting spayed, but I have not been able to find any sort of evidence to back this.)

Things to watch out for:

  • If she starts losing weight, get her checked out ASAP.

  • If she ever goes for 24 hours without eating she could be in danger of hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver). This is very serious, if you cannot get her to eat, get her to the vet.

  • If you notice a yellow tinge to her skin -- look particularly around the mouth and the inside of the ears -- this is a sign of jaundice which often accompanies liver problems such as hepatic lipidosis. Again, an immediate vet trip is in order if this happens.

  • If you notice a change in behaviour. If she becomes lethargic, begins throwing up a lot, seems unusually irritated or hostile; keep a close eye on her, make sure she's still eating, check to see if she's lost any weight, look for other signs of trouble, etc. If she does not go back to "normal" after a week or so or you notice any other signs of problems, get her checked out.

In the meantime, if she seems generally happy, healthy, and active, I would just continue to keep an eye on her, but otherwise, not worry about it too much. If in doubt, consult your vet.

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The answer occurred to me the other day. No, I still don't know if this cat is too lean or what, but an answer to how I can get her to eat more.

It is actually so obvious that I wonder why it took me so long to get to. This shy eater needs to be fed separately. Now I put wet food on a plate and place the plate (bowl) in such a place where only one cat at a time can get to. In my home I chose a narrow ledge in front of the microwave oven. The cat eats alone up there and no matter how many other cats come watching, they just can't jump on the narrow ledge while this shy cat is there eating.

Other cats will try though, so I need to stand there keeping watch over the situation. Somehow I had thought it enough when we have dry food on constant offer, and wet food at times, but that alone seems to just keep the shy cat alive, she is not really gaining weight. Then again, so far (two weeks gone by) I have not noticed much change in her weight yet. Anyway, the cat seems happy with her own private spot where to eat in peace.

This also allows me to feed her high energy food without those other cats having access to the same. If I find a spot in our apartment where only she can go (has to be a place for which an extreme jump is needed) then I don't need to keep watch anymore on her eating different food than the others.

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Maine Coons take 5 years to reach physical maturity. She's still growing. My male is quite lean - he is one and my female is 9 months and she is much bigger than him.It depends what lines they come from.

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  • Thank you for a good answer and welcome to Pets Stackexcange. May I ask you to further improve it by explaining what it means that there is 'breeding lines' so that even a layman can understand the last part of the answer? If you will, use the 'edit' link under your answer. – Esa Paulasto Feb 4 '14 at 16:37
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There are pet-body-weight check pages like this one on Pet MD. The self check descriptions are:

Too Thin: Ribs, spine and bony protrusions are easily seen. Cat has lost muscle mass and there is no observable body fat. Bony and starved in appearance.

Underweight: Ribs, spine and other bones are easily felt. Cat has an obvious waist when viewed from above and an abdominal tuck. Thin or skinny appearance.

Ideal: Ribs and spine are easily felt but not necessarily seen. Cat has a waist when viewed from above and the abdomen is raised, not sagging when viewed from the side.

Overweight: Ribs and spine are hard to feel underneath fat. Distended or pear-shaped waist when viewed from above. The abdomen sags when seen from the side.

Obese: Large fat deposits over the chest, back, tail base and hindquarters. The abdomen sags prominently and there is no waist when viewed from above.

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