Relative birth weight (to mother's) is lower in Maine Coons compared to smaller breeds

This is a very short note on an interesting topic as it concerns the weight of the Maine Coon which is important to Maine Coon afficionados. Although Maine Coon kittens have a birth weight which is higher than that of other breeds e.g., Maine Coon kittens 115 grams, Norwegian Forest Cat kittens 106 grams, Birman kittens 97 grams, Siamese kittens 92 grams and Persian kittens at 82 grams, the weight of Maine Coon kittens relative to their mother's weight tended to be lower than for the other breeds mentioned.

Lithuanian Maine Coon kitten
Lithuanian Maine Coon kitten. Image: the breeder.

For instance, Maine Coon kittens' weight relative to their mother's weight was 2.3% in this study. For the Norwegian Forest Cat kittens, the percentage was 2,7%, Birmans 2.8%, Siamese 2.8%, Exotic Shorthair 2.9%, British Shorthair 3.1% and Persians 3.2%. Incidentally this tendency is seen in puppies i.e. smaller birth weight for the larger dog breeds.

For comparison the study states that the kitten to female mature weight ratio for wild cats is 3.7% which is higher than for all the domestic cats listed. The scientists don't know the reasons for this.

Comment: I'd speculate that the difference between wild cats and the purebred domestic cats in this regard is linked to inbreeding (due to artificial selection) which means that there is a lack of genetic diversity compared to the wild cat species (natural selection). Inbreeding cause inbreeding depression, one symptom of which is smaller kittens and smaller litters. But I have no science to hand to support that assertion.

Kittens of the larger breeds such as the Maine Coon have faster growth rates than those of the smaller breeds. This is born out in the many videos on social media showing the rapid growth of cute Maine Coon kittens surging in size and weight to enormous subadults.

Also, in Maine Coons the typical difference in weight between females and males (heavier) - called sexual dimorphism - appeared earlier (early onset) compared to other breeds.

Study referred to: Birth weight and postnatal growth of pure-bred kittens published on the Cambridge Core website.


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