Maine Coon Cats - Gentle and Strong, Exceedingly Handsome Cats!

The precise origin of Maine Coon cats remains uncertain. The two most likely explanations for the existence of this large, hardy, and loving feline are:

large maine coon

Crossbreeding between established short-haired breeds and long-haired breeds (possibly Norwegian Forest cats), which voyaged across to America with the Vikings in longboats. Or...

...Mating between Persian or Angora breeds, imported to the New England area by seafarers, and established short-haired breeds.

Maine Coon Cats: Characteristics

Large, sturdy and with a thick double coat, this breed is well able to stand the sometimes harsh climate of New England.

Maine Coons may in fact be distantly related to the Norwegian Forest Cats with which they share some characteristics.

The breed tends to be somewhat slow maturing, frequently these cats will not reach their full development until they are three years or older.

They are intelligent, playful, energetic cats that often display kitten qualities well into maturity.

Maine Coon cats generally do not desire a lot in the way of petting.

This not to say that they are unfriendly, in fact Maine Coons are very much people cats, that form very strong attachments to their owners.

They are exceedingly curious, and love to try and get involved with anything you may be doing. Many Maine Coons even follow their owners from room to room, and in and out of the house.

Beautiful Maine Coon Calico - Photo: Sage

People that are unfamiliar with the Maine Coon, often think them to be a huge ferocious cat when first meeting one.

The breed's thick, long coat does tend to make Maine Coons seem to be bigger than they are, although mature males can indeed be quite large.

The truth is that these are very gentle cats that make marvelous pets, and soon become family members.

Easy Going

These cats are very tolerant and get on fine with children, but as with any breed, there are exceptions. Easy to train, and unfussy eaters, (they do require a copious amount of fresh water,) owners find them problem free, and easy to care for.

An excellent hunter and renown for its mousing and ratting capabilities, this longhaired cat is often employed as a farm cat, to keep the rodent population in check.

Laid Back Kitty - Photo by Dan Hershman

Very robust heavy boned cats, with long bodies and square muzzles; Maine Coon cats were developed by nature to withstand the harsh New England winters.

The males weigh in at up to 22 pounds, averaging at about 14 pounds, females tend to average 10 to 12 pounds.

Stories of Maine Coons of 35 pounds or more, are just that, stories. Unless of course, it is a very overfed kitty!

Their coats are long, silky and very water resistant, with the hair generally longest on the stomach and britches. Unlike other long-haired breeds, such as the Persian, M.C.'s do not require a lot of grooming, a once a week combing should, in most cases, be enough.

Coat Colors and Patterns

Originally only the brown tabby members of the breed were known as Maine Coon cats. Any other pattern or color, and the cats were known as Maine Shags. Nowadays all varieties are rightly classed as Maine Coons.

In the 1870's the breed began to get exhibited at shows and this handsome breed of shaggy felines proved very popular.

However around 1910 other long haired breeds, such as the Persian, that were considered more exotic and fashionable, were brought to America and entered at shows.

These newcomers stole the limelight and slowly the native Maine coon was forgotten about.

Rachael and Jellybean. Look at that tail. Photo: Lenore Edman

This state of affairs continued until the 1960's when people started campaigning for M.C.'s to be a recognized breed. Success came in the 1970's when America's native longhair was again taking top honors.

Maine Coons are found in pretty nearly every color, reds, blacks, whites, blues, creams, blue-silver, silver, black smoke, blue smoke, blue-cream smoke, tortoiseshell, calico, dilute calico, shell tortoiseshell, chinchilla silver, shaded cameo, cream & white etc. Not forgetting of course, the classic brown tabby, mackerel, patched, and ticked.

Maine Coon cats - gentle and strong, exceedingly handsome cats!

Need information about Maine Coon Kittens? Here is a page that will answer many of your questions, and has some very nice M.C. Kitten photos too! - Maine Coon Kittens. 

Maine Coon Cats - The Myths and Legends

The Maine Coon breed of cat has several amusing, but unlikely legends about its origins...

Marie Antoinette and Captain Clough

A very popular legend concerning the origin of Maine Coon cats, revolves around Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution.

The story would have us believe that the French queen commanded a certain Captain Clough to prepare to smuggle her out of France to Maine.

The dutiful Captain had his ship loaded with the queen's opulent furniture, jewelry, and other treasured possessions.

Marie Antoinette was a cat lover. Captain Clough was aware of this and installed six of the queen's favorite longhaired cats on board.

Unfortunately things went wrong for the queen, the captain, and the cats.

Before she could make her escape, Marie Antoinette was captured by the revolutionaries, and thrown in prison to await execution.

In fear of his own life, Captain Clough immediately set off with the cats to Maine.

On reaching Maine, the legend has it that the six longhaired kitties mated with local shorthaired cats, and produced the first litters of what was to become the Maine Coon breed.

An interesting romantic tale, it is unfortunately untrue.

Captain Coon and His Seafaring Long-haired Cats

This tale has it that a sea captain, an Englishman named Charles Coon, amassed a collection of dozens of longhaired cats to keep the rat population under control on board his ship.

Maine Coon Cat

Whenever his ship dropped anchor at New England, the pack went ashore along with the captain.

The seafaring long-haired cats of Captain Coon soon met with the local feral cat population, and mating naturally occurred.

After the pack of cats had gone back to sea with Captain Coon, litters were produced with a proportion of long-haired cats. These hairy felines were referred to as Coon's cats.

Does this legend revel the true origin of the Maine Coon breed? Highly unlikely, although Maine State library records of that period do show the existence of a seafaring man named Coon, the captain of a whaler.

Maine Coon Cats and Raccoons

One of two beliefs, once held about the beginnings of the M. C. breed, was the fantastic notion that they were the products of inter-breeding between raccoons, and feral domestic cats.

Genetically impossible, of course.

This mythical story most likely came about due to the brown tabby variety of America's native longhair having a fat ringed tail, in appearance not unlike a raccoon's tail.

Also, Maine Coon cats often talk with a chirpy trill, which is not dissimilar to the sound of a young raccoon.

The Maine Coon Breed and Bobcats Myth

The other, absolutely untrue but amusing, myth about the origin of the Main Coon is that they came about through the mating of bobcats and domestic cats.

Possibly the fact that Maine Coon cats have tufts on their ears and feet that are similar to the bobcat's, caused this legend to spread.

Truth is, that the bobcat would be far more likely to view a domestic feline as potential lunch, rather than as a possible mating partner.

A distant offshoot of the Norwegian Forest Cat? At least this theory has a possibility of being true. The plain fact is nobody is sure how the Maine Coon Breed came to be. But most everybody agrees that they are magnificent cats. 

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