Those who work to help homeless Maine Coons find it hard to understand why anyone would reject this beautiful cat breed. “Maine Coons make wonderful pet cats and great family members,” says Christie Montgomery, a volunteer with Texas Maine Coons and Friends. “Maine Coons are smart and loving and live up to their name, the Gentle Giant. It’s very difficult to understand why they find their way to a rescue or a shelter.”
Finding a new home for a needy Maine Coon is a two-part effort: first, rehabilitation for the Maine Coon and second placement in a new home.
Cat Rehab Shelter workers and rescuers make a cat more adoptable through rehab. The work performed depends not only on shelter or rescue group policy, but also the needs of the individual cat. Some Maine Coons may be especially traumatized—either because they have lost their homes or because they were mistreated in their previous homes. Such cats need much more attention and care than a cat whose initial home was relatively benign.
A shelter or rescue group is looking for “a good, solid permanent home so the Maine Coon doesn’t have to go through rescue again,” Montgomery says. “Some of what we look for is based on the facts of an adoption application, and some is based on the feeling you get from the person during an interview.” Most shelters and rescue groups ask for references from a veterinarian and from friends of the applicant—and they follow up with phone calls. Some Maine Coon rescue groups also visit the applicant’s home to ensure it’s a good place for a Maine Coon, and many will ask to see a copy of a lease to ensure that a landlord allows tenants to have pet cats in a rental house or apartment.
Cat Placement Shelter workers and rescue volunteers speak frankly about how difficult and stressful such work can be. “The worst part of being a rescue volunteer is not being able to save them all,” says Marianne Daniel, another volunteer with Texas Maine Coons and Friends. “More rescue foster homes (a temporary home for rescued cats) are needed so cats aren’t euthanized. The shelters are overrun with cats needing rescue, and we don’t have the space.” The foster caregiver, generally a volunteer from the rescue organization, provides daily food, shelter, affection and social stimulation to one or more rescued cats in her home. Some foster caregivers also participate actively in finding permanent homes for the Maine Coons in their care.
But for all the heartache that goes with helping Maine Coons find new homes, there are plenty of joys — particularly when a cat is adopted into a permanent home.
Montgomery points to multiple joys that result from re-homing Maine Coons, including “the gratification of seeing someone with their new family member, and seeing how happy the Maine Coon and family are, as knowing that you saved another life. It’s also ever so gratifying when the adopting family calls, e-mails and sends photos. This makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life, and that’s the best part of rescue work.”
Do you think an adopted Maine Coon is the perfect fit for you? Read these Maine Coon adoption tips to get started.
Excerpt from the Popular Cats Series magabook Maine Coons with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Maine Coons here.