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The Ultimate Guide to Bathing and Grooming Your Maine Coon

Maine coons are a semi-long hair breed of cat and, in general, are very good at keeping themselves clean. They have a lovely, glossy coat which is thick due to the fact that it has multiple layers. This has evolved over the years so that they can survive outside in harsh climates. Having that much hair is inevitably going to lead to grooming issues and of course, shedding is a big issue in the home.

Maine coons really need to be groomed every day in order to keep shedding under control and to prevent their fur becoming matted. This daily grooming need only be a gentle brushing but a more thorough grooming routine should be performed at least once a week.

Now, I will give my coons a brief brush as part of play time on almost a daily basis. This reduces the amount of shedding and as a result reduce the amount of vacuuming I end up doing! It also reduces the chances of their fur matting.

When fur becomes matted it is a serious issue and needs to be sorted out quickly. Large sections of fur matting can be really painful for your cat as it will pull on their thin skin. Inflammation of the skin can occur really easily and this can subsequently cause skin infections. If your Maine coon has developed matted fur then take a look at my article, Removing Matted Fur From a Maine Coon: A Step-by-Step Guide.

You Should Give Them a Quick Brush Daily

For a quick brushing on a daily basis you don’t need to use any fancy tools. I use a small, silicone massage brush (I bought mine from a local company but click this link to see a good, inexpensive example on Amazon, or the popular Zoom Groom on ZooPlus). Shedding is much reduced and the cats love the sensation. Another option to use a double-sided brush. Use the pin side to brush the fur and then the bristle side to remove the excess hair.

Perform a Thorough Grooming Routine at Least Once a Week

You should make sure that your Maine coon is getting a thorough grooming session once or twice a week. Keeping all that fur in good condition does take care and attention. An effective and thorough grooming session can be done at home; you don’t need to go to a professional grooming parlour and pay top dollar. It may seem daunting at first. If your cat isn’t used to being groomed then they may be resistant and man, those claws can hurt!

Bathing doesn’t need to be done every week unless your coon is getting particularly grubby. This will largely depend on whether they are being kept indoors or not. Outdoor cats will inevitably accumulate more dirt onto what is already a naturally oily coat. With that in mind I have included a section on how to bathe your Maine coon in this guide.

So, let’s get started. Here’s my ultimate guide to bathing and grooming your Maine coon. In this guide we will go over: brushing, bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning and tooth brushing. You may want to include all of these in your weekly routine or some weeks you may want to do a shortened version of this. You may find that your coon doesn’t take to certain things and that’s okay. With time you will work out a routine that works for both you and your coon.

Step One – Gather Your Equipment

You want to make sure that you have everything to hand before you begin because it’ll unlikely you’ll be able to move far once you get started. If you have a second pair of hands with you then it’ll make life easier but this isn’t always possible.

Here I’m going to list the important items that you will need before you begin the grooming process. Throughout the rest of this article I will mention other grooming items that I find helpful but these are more of an optional extra to make life easier.

The essential items for Maine coon grooming are:

  • Brushes – there are various different grooming brushes available and each has its own use.
  • Greyhound comb – this is a metal comb with wide-set teeth which is great for de-tangling long hair.
  • Slicker brush – this is a flat, metal brush with fine bristles. The bristles are bent at angle so they can trap loose hair.

  • For a guide to the best brushes available for grooming Maine coons see my owners guide: Best Brushes for Maine Coons.

    A good quality cat shampoo – At this point you might like to read my guide to the Best Shampoos for Maine coons . Be aware that there are different shampoos available for different situations (sensitive skin, fleas, furball prevention) and also that Kittens require a special kitten formulation due to their sensitive skin and eyes. Do NOT use shampoo designed for humans. Cats have a different pH balance for their skin and human shampoo will just cause irritation.

    Nail clippers – there are three different type of nail clipper available for using with cats: scissor-type, guillotine-type and human clipper type. The human or guillotine style are easiest to use. Grinder-style trimmers also exist but are cumbersome and time-consuming to use.

    Cat toothbrush and toothpaste – In order to brush your Maine coon’s teeth you are going to need a tooth brush (one designed for cats) and toothpaste (again, one that is specially-designed for cats). Do not use human toothpaste on your cat. They will not thank you for the minty sensation they will experience in their mouth. Cat toothpaste often comes in a malt, liver or chicken flavour which is a much more familiar taste for your coon. Here are links to some inexpensive examples on Amazon of a cat toothbrush and cat toothpaste.

    A plentiful supply of treats – We use Dreamies (known as Temptations in the USA). Our two love the cheese flavour.

    Step Two – Relax Your Maine Coon

    This is particularly important if your cat is new to this grooming routine. Take your cat into the environment you intend to groom them in, this might be putting them up on a table or maybe taking them into the bathroom. Maine coons shed a lot of fur so you want them on a surface that you can wipe clean or maybe even a purpose-bought mat or rug. So say I am going to groom my cat on the laminate floor in my living room, I’d put a grooming mat down, put then cat on and mat and then give them a good stroke, give them a scratch under the chin and offer them a couple of treats. Your cat will then learn that this is a safe place to be and not be afraid of the grooming mat.

    Step Three – Cutting Your Maine Coon’s Claws

    Once your coon is relaxed it’s advisable to start with the claws. So, why clip your coon’s claws? Well, aside from the obvious advantage of not having your furniture ripped to shreds, it will stop your coon from accidently ripping them on the carpet. This will also help you out further down the line in the grooming process. If your coon gets spooked then you are much less likely to get injured.

    • Sit on the floor, cross legged.
    • Picked up your Maine coon and sit their bottom in the gap between your legs. Now you can hold into them tightly and have access to their paws.
    • Take the first paw and gently press on the joint connecting the first digit. This will expose the claw.
    • Take the clippers and snip off the end, perpendicular to the claw. Do not cut too far down into the pink area. This is known as the ‘quick’ and is full of tiny blood vessels. If you cut into the quick not only will your coon find it rather painful, it will likely start to bleed. If you do accidently cause bleeding then try dabbing some coconut oil onto the quick using a ball of cotton wool.

    The video below shows you how to cut your Maine coon’s claws:

    Step Four – Perform an Initial Brushing and De-Matting

    Now that the claws are nice and safe we move on to brushing. Here we want to remove any fur that is about to shed and detangle any knots. This is also the time to identify any matted fur and remove it.

    Take your de-shedding brush and give your coon a quick once over. Remove any clumps of loose fur which have gathered. If you come across any knots then attempt to untangle them. This can usually be done using the teeth of a greyhound comb but for tighter knots you may want to try using a de-matting tool.

    If you are struggling to remove the knots or identify areas of matted fur then please see my guide: How to Remove Matted Fur from a Maine Coon: A Step-by-Step Guide. It is important that these mats are removed prior to bathing as getting them wet can cause the mats to form tighter knots.

    Step Five – Cleaning Your Maine Coon’s Ears

    Maine coons have lovely big ears and these need some attention too! Ear infections are common in all breeds of cats so regular ear care can help to prevent this. For good ear care you will need to use either ear wipes (see an example) or some cotton wool balls with an ear cleaning solution. You can make your own version of this at home using water and apple cider vinegar in equal parts. If you’d rather buy a pre-made solution then this is also available on Amazon via this link.

    To clean your cat’s ears take a ball of cotton wool and dip it into the solution. Wipe around the inside of the ear gently, taking care not to push the cotton wool too far inwards as this can damage the ear drum. Avoid using cotton wool buds (Q-tips) as you have a much higher risk of damaging the ear drum when using these, especially if your cat moves whilst you are cleaning their ears.

    Step Six – Bathing Your Maine Coon

    Maine coons are funny creatures when it comes to water. A lot of them have funny habits such as turning on taps to have a drink or even jumping in the bath or shower with their owner! (You might want to check out my previous article, How to Manage Your Maine Coon’s Water Obsession).

    Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all Maine coons will take well to being bathed. Maine coons have lovely, glossy coats but these can often end up getting greasy, especially if you allow your coon outdoors. You’ll also want to bathe your coon if you are considering showing them at all.

    Getting them used to bathing from a young age is key, then they won’t be afraid of the water. Having said that, if you have a kitten then you should wait until they are at least 8 weeks old, prior to that age their mother should be doing a good job of grooming them herself. You also don’t want to risk changing the scent of the Kittens as the most extreme cases the mother will no longer recognise her Kittens.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining how to bathe your Maine coon:

    • First things first, close the bathroom door. This is crucial because if your con does try to escape, they won’t be able to get too far. A soggy cat trailing water around the house is no fun. Make sure you have everything you need in the bathroom before you begin.

    • If you have a heated towel rail then place the towels on there at the start. Then they will be nice and warm for your coon when they come out of the bath. It just makes the experience a little bit nicer for them and also helps to dry them a little bit quicker.

    • Place a non-slip bathmat on the bottom of the bathtub so that your coon does not run into any issues if they try and pull away during the bathing process.

    • Now,if your coon will allow, place some cotton wool gently into their ears to reduce the chances of water getting in during bathing.

    • Fill the bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water. You don’t want them swimming in it.

    • Dip your elbow into the water to gauge the temperature, as you would for a baby. If you are able to keep your elbow in the water comfortably for five seconds then you can be sure that the water is not too hot.

    • Place your coon into the bath and gently scoop some warm water onto them. Give them time to get used to the sensation.

    • Next you want to get your coon wet all over. A good idea is to take a cup, scoop it full of water and then gentle pour it over your Maine coon, slowly moving from one direction to the other. Keep movements slow so that they do not startle and try to jump out of the bath. Remember that Maine coons have a thick fur coat so it may take a while to get them wet through.

    • Once they are wet all over you can start shampooing. Pour a little shampoo into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together and then gentle massage it into your coon’s fur. Work up a good lather and try and cover all of the fur. Be careful not to use too much around the facial area and try to avoid the eyes.

    • Once you have washed all of the soap suds off of them, you can remove them from the bathtub and place them onto a bath mat so that they don’t drip all over the floor. Then take a towel and begin to dry them by patting them down to remove the majority of the moisture. Then gently rub them until dry.

    *If your coon is not afraid of loud noises then you may want to try using a hair dryer to dry them, but many cats do not like the sounds and the sensation. If your coon has been to to going to a professional groomer before then they may used to it.  

    The video below demonstrates the technique for bathing a Maine coon, in this video she uses dish soap initially to clean the coon which I do not necessarily recommend. I will be releasing my own Maine coon care video series in early 2020.

    Step Seven – Brushing Your Maine Coon

    Now you’ve already performed an initial brushing with the greyhound comb to remove any tangles and identify any matted fur. This next step is going to be a more thorough brushing to get them looking handsome and sort out the scruff that just came out of the bathtub!

    First we need the slicker brush. Take the slicker brush and gently brush your coon all over. Start by brushing down their back. Always brush in the direction of fur growth, from top to bottom. Be sure to include the underside and the tail. Part the tail in half and brush out to one side to remove any knots.

    Then take your long-hair brush and use the side with the bristles to remove all of the excess fur that has built up.

    Now it’s time to use the undercoat rake. Move your coon into a position where their belly is exposed. The blades are curved to prevent them from cutting into your coon’s skin. Despite this you do need to be careful not to press too hard when using it.

    Step Eight – Cleaning Your Maine Coon’s Teeth

    Maine coons commonly suffer with gum disease known as gingivitis. You can help to prevent this by brushing your cat’s teeth on a regular basis. This will reduce the build up of tartar which causing inflammation of the gums.

    Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your Maine coon’s teeth:

    1. First sit your Maine coon with their back to you. This way they are unable to back away from you once you get brushing.
    2. Let them have a good inspection of the toothbrush. It’s likely they will not have come across this before and so will want to rub their face all over it.
    3. Put some cat-specific tooth paste onto the toothbrush.
    4. Using your finger, lift up one side of your cat’s top lip.
    5. Gently start brushing for a few seconds. Brush downwards from the gumline, not up and down. You want to clean the whole tooth but avoid the gums as brushing here can cause recession.
    6. Repeat on the opposite side.
    7. The toothpaste is designed to for eating and so you do not need to rinse their mouth out after brushing.

    You only need to brush each area for a few seconds. If you can’t do that then just do as long as your coon will allow. Ideally this should be performed once a day but if that is not possible then try to do it at least twice a week.

    The video below demonstrates the technique for brushing your Maine coon’s teeth:

    Step Nine – Cuddles and Treats

    Once you are all finished, and your coon is looking lovely and handsome, then it’s time for some loving. Treat your cat to their favourite snack to reward them for putting up with this fur maintenance session. Give them a good scratch and a smooth to ensure that the two of you are still friends. Positive reinforcement like this will make future grooming sessions much, much easier.

    Troubleshooting When Grooming Your Maine Coon

    Using a pheromone spray such as Feliway may help to relax your coon prior to a grooming session. Use the spray about half an hour before you intend to groom your Maine coon. Click here to see this product on Amazon.

    If your coon is prone to particularly troublesome knots, try rubbing coconut oil into your coon’s fur. It may help to detangle long hair prior to grooming.

    If your coon really cannot get on with brushes then try using a grooming glove instead. Silicone ridges give a massaging sensation to relax your cat while they are being groomed. See here for an example.

    Final Thoughts

    Grooming can help to improve the bond between you and your Maine coon. Older cats and cats which are overweight often find it more difficult to groom themselves, in which case you may want to groom them more frequently. If you groom your coon from an early age they will soon learn to tolerate any aspects of the grooming routine which they may not like. Keeping them calm throughout the process is key and will allow you to achieve a thorough grooming in a safe and efficient manner.


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