Maine Coon Coefficient of Inbreeding not mentioned on CFA and TICA websites but is mentioned by GCCF

This information might interest Maine Coon aficionados i.e. those people who are really into the Maine Coon cat. It's about inbreeding which is measured by the inbreeding coefficient (COI). Sarah Hartwell very usefully provides a diagrammatic chart of the coefficient of inbreeding. It is a scale of 0 to 1 but is often presented as a percentage. So, for example, when siblings are bred to each other the coefficient of inbreeding is 25% and when first cousins are bred to each other the coefficient of inbreeding is 6.25%.

COI chart as presented by Sarah Hartwell on her website

Inbreeding depression

When breeders inbreed their cats too much it can cause what the cat fancy describes as inbreeding depression which is a compromised immune system and even anatomical defects such as you see in the white tiger. The white tiger by the way is heavily inbred.

Inbreeding depression means ill health basically and a shorter lifespan and weak kittens et cetera. It's what you would expect as a layperson.

COI is important and at the center of selective breeding

The coefficient of inbreeding is a very important part of purebred cat breeding and therefore an important part of Maine Coon cat breeding. And in the UK, the number one cat association is the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). And on their Maine Coon pages they have a document entitled Recommended Breeding Policy for the Maine Coon Cat. And in that policy, at the beginning, they refer to the coefficient of inbreeding (COI). They state:
"It is not recommended that in inbreeding COI of more than 6.25% should be allowed, and ideally, should be as low as possible. This is equivalent to the breding together of first cousins."
They also state that breeders are encouraged to work would towards a low inbreeding coefficient level. So, the target for Maine Coon breeders is a COI of around 6.25% or lower.


I was interested in what the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA) in America had to say on the COI of the Maine Coon cat. Remember, that the Maine Coon cat has a series of genetically inherited diseases which are perpetuated through inbreeding such as HCM, SMA and hip dysplasia.

It would be, I would argue, in the interests of these two cat associations to have a statement on their website encouraging member Maine Coon cat breeders to minimise inbreeding as is the case with the GCCF but there's nothing on this topic on their websites regarding the coefficient of inbreeding.

How do I know? I used the search facility on their websites and they found nothing. I may be wrong but this does point to a lack of regard for the health of Maine Coon cats registered with these associations?

Lack of concern for health

I might be obsessed with health but it seems to me that the health of a cat is the first priority and this simple statement if you agree it would imply that both the CFA and TICA would have something to say about the COI of the Maine Coon cat. But nada.

GCCF on appearance

The GCCF also make an interesting statement about the appearance of the Maine Coon cat which is that it is a natural breed "and as such breeders should always aim to maintain the natural appearance of the cat". In other words, it should not be bred to extreme because when you breed a purebred cat to extreme it no longer appears natural!

It does not surprise me that they GCCF state this because they are also concerned about the COI. My conclusion is that this British cat Association is superior to the two Premier cat associations I mention based in America.

Buy from the UK?

There is an argument that American buyers should buy from GCCF registered Maine Coon breeders as they should be better cats. Wrong? Extreme? Provocative? Tell me.


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