The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated breed of cat. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, Specifically "native" to the state of Maine (though the feline was simply introduced there where it is the official state cat).
No records of the Maine Coon's exact origins and date of introduction to the United States exist, so several competing hypotheses have been suggested. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century.
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, "the gentle giant". It is characterized by a robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, a silky flowing coat and a long, bushy tail.
The breed's colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality. The Maine Coon is often cited as having "dog like" characteristics.
Myths, legend and lore surround the Maine Coon Cat. Some are amusing, some are fantastic flights of fantasy and some are merely plausible. They certainly provide good material for conversation. Many books and articles dealing with these aspects of the Maine Coon Cat are available and have been well received as people never seem to tire of the subject and are always eager to learn more about this National Treasure.
The Maine Coon Cat is the Native American long-haired cat and was first recognized as a specific breed in Maine where it was named the official cat of the state. These cats were held in high regard by the locals for their mousing talents and special competitions were even held to reward the best “Coon Cat.”
The Maine Coon cat evolved through nature’s own breeding program developing characteristics by following a “survival of the fittest” evolution. The characteristics all have a purpose or function. Maine Coon cats developed into sturdy, working cats suited to the harsh winters and varied seasons of the Northeast region.
The Maine Coon Cat of today is known for a sturdy, rugged appearance, which includes an uneven, shaggy coat of three distinct lengths and a long, well-furnished tail. They carry that tail proudly and use it to surround themselves for warmth and protection.
A Maine Coon Cat has large, well tufted paws to allow ability to walk on top of snow despite size and weight. Ears are large and well tufted for protection and warmth. Even more than for beauty, Maine Coon Cats are noted for intelligence and kindly disposition. After all, what they couldn’t obtain themselves, they could always get by charming a nearby human. Though their size can be intimidating, they are known for their friendliness towards just about anything and are especially good with children and other pets. For these reasons, they have been dubbed the “Gentle Giant” of the cat fancy and are commonly sought after as family pets,
companions, and therapy cats.
After years of local competitions and adoration, the Maine Coon Cat was chosen as Best Cat at the first major cat show ever held in the United States. “Cosey,” a brown tabby female Maine Coon Cat, was awarded this distinction at the Madison Square Garden show held in NYC in May of 1895. The silver collar and medal awarded to Cosey is on display at the CFA headquarters in Alliance, Ohio.
The transition from adorned or glorified “Barn Cat” to pedigreed CFA finalist was neither an easy one nor did it happen quickly. The Maine Coon Cat was all the rage in the early 20th century but lost popularity after the introduction of other long-haired breeds to the U.S. The Maine Coon Cat was even thought extinct in the 1950’s. Luckily, rumors of their death were greatly exaggerated and thanks to the dedication and perseverance of breeders, the Maine Coon Cat breed was accepted for CFA championship status in 1976.
Maine Coon Cats are intelligent, trainable, described as “dog like”. They will offer you hours of enjoyment with their antics but can at times be intrusive. Without question they want to be part of everything and your privacy may require a closed door between you and your cat. Most Maine Coon Cats have a fondness of water, to be in it, watch it, wash their food in it, or just plain play in it, so don’t be surprised if you have an uninvited guest in your shower or help washing the dishes on any given day.
The Maine Coon Cat has a silky and somewhat oily coat, it is not dense and its upkeep is much easier than that of other longhaired breeds. The coat is almost self-maintained but will require occasional grooming. Because they love attention of any kind, grooming is easily accomplished.