The History of Maine Coon Cat is one of the oldest naturally developed pedigree cat breeds in North America. The name Maine Coon came about because it is generally assumed that it originated in the state of Maine (it has actually been given the title of the official cat of the State of Maine). The Coon part can be attributed to many myths, but the most common, although genetically impossible, is that the ringed tail on the tabby varieties was the result of matings between domestic cat and raccoons! However, originally only the brown tabby Maine Coons were called Maine.
Myths and Reality:
Another of the colorful myths was the romantic tale of Captain Samuel Clough of Wiscasset, Maine and Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and her royal cats. At the time of the Revolution, there were plans to ship the Queen and some of her household belongings from France to America.
Captain Clough was hired to transport the Queen’s possessions over to America. In addition to her china, silver and furniture were loaded six of the Queen’s longhaired cats. Upon arrival in America, the goods were put into the store but it soon became apparent that the Queen would not be leaving France so, in the absence of anyone likely to claim the furniture, it was distributed amongst Captain Clough’s relatives.
The cats were then set free and proceeded to do what came naturally to them, their offspring are said today to be the royal ancestors of the Maine Coon. The third myth was concerning a much more ordinary English sea Captain, Captain Coon! Captain Coon operated in the trading ship in the early days of the colonies, he was, like many sailors, extremely fond of cats. He traded all along the New England coast and obviously when stepping ashore to trade, his feline friends took the opportunity of taking a little shore-leave of their own!
These cats were the early long-haired Persians and Angoras which were at the time very popular in England. Quite understandably his cats mated with the local population and some longhaired kittens began to appear which the locals named Coons cats. As they were so unusual (there were no native longhaired cats in America before this time. In fact, the only domestic cats in the USA arrived with early European settlers), they were extremely highly prized and people began to deliberately mate one with another and this is how the Maine Coon was supposed to have started! In reality, the Maine Coon appears to have developed to cope with the harsh climate. But, as explained before, the longhaired gene from the cats of European settlers must also have played its part.The coat is glossy, heavy and water-resistant with a marked difference between the winter and summer coats. They have a full ruff, longer in the males, and the hair is also longer on the stomach, they also have a rather splendid pair of britches! This long hair, it is believed, is there to protect against the snow. The shoulders, head, and back are shorter so that it does not snag when walking through the bushes. However, the coat is fairly maintenance free, with the exception of the winter molt when the coat sheds. The Maine Coons other protective qualities are the huge plume tail which can be used to wrap around his body against the winter cold. His ears also more heavily furred and his big round feet act as a kind of snowshoe, especially as the paw tufts extend backward to flick off the soft snow preventing it collecting between the pads, which frostbite. It also believed that the large ears and eyes have evolved for increased awareness
Size: The size of the Maine Coon has been much exaggerated with stories of over 30 or 40-pound cats! In reality, they are indeed very large, tall, heavy boned, muscular cats, but perhaps with the addition of the heavy coat has led to people perceiving them as much larger than they actually are. Like most stories, they tend to become more colorful and exaggerated the more times they are told! Males are much larger than the Females reaching a weight when fully grown of between 13 and 18 pounds (6-8kgs) and the Females between 9 and 12 pounds (4-5.5kgs). Maine Coons develop very slowly, achieving their full size in three to four years.
DISPOSITION: Their disposition is second to none, they remain playful for all of their lives and are commonly called the gentle giant of the cat world. As they have a very laid back attitude towards other cats, preferring to be friendly rather than aggressive’. They also have a very endearing quality of chirping, a rather delightful and gentle noise considering their size! Another rather strange quality is their affinity to water, they can often be seen playing with their paws in the sink, bath, shower, they often like to come and sit on the edge of the bath and seem fascinated with the movement of the water. When they drink from their water bowls, they scrap the surface of the water for imaginary leaves, this is presumably an inherited quality from the time when they drank from pools.
BODY AND SHAPE: The most important features of the Maine Coon are the head, body shape and texture quality of the coat. The head is slightly longer than it is wide, with a gently concave profile and high cheekbones with a definite square muzzle. The ears are large, wide at the base but moderately pointed, well furnished with hair and set high on the head about an ear’s width apart. Lynx tips extending from the top of the ears are most desired! The neck should be of medium size and the body length with a broad chest, the tail must be at least as long as the body, reaching to the shoulders.
VARIETY OF COLOURS: There is a huge Variety of colors available in the Maine Coon in both tabby and solid patterns but not the Siamese- type pointing. There is no restriction on the eye color with the exception of the solid white which may also have blue or odd eye color ( one blue eye and one gold) which is not permitted in the other colors.
THE PERFECT PET: Finally, the Maine Coon is considered by many people as the most perfect of domestic pets with their clowns like personalities, affectionate natures, insatiable curiosity and their easy maintenance coats. They do make wonderful companions, have no objections to dogs and other animals and can easily get used to walking on a harness. A Maine Coon will not ignore you, preferring all the time to know exactly where you are and just hate being left alone with no companionship. Once you have owned a Maine Coon, to buy any other breed would just be a compromise!