What is a Maine Coon Cat and what are they doing on OUR shoreline?
Simply put, the Maine Coon Cat is the only Native American long haired domestic cat. At least a century ago, the Maine locals thought the cats’ tabby (striped) markings and shaggy coats resembled a raccoon. Like raccoons, these cats had bushy tails, and used their paws much like a raccoon can.
Steeped in legend, the development of this breed is not completely understood. One legend states that the Maine Coon Cat is a cross between native New England short haired cats and Marie Antoinette’s long haired cats that were sent to America (along with her other treasures), futilely awaiting her arrival. Another, and more plausible explanation, is that long haired cats from Europe came across on early sailing vessels, jumped ship while in port, and mated with the native short haired cats. The Maine Coon cat is the result of those matings. One tale even suggests that the cats belonged to a Captain Coon, and referred to as Coon’s cats.
Whatever the exact story is, their ancestors did hail from Maine, and possibly other parts of the New England sea coast. Prized for over 200 years for their beauty and superb temperament, their large physical appearance does suggest they adapted well to the harsh New England climate (strong bones and a shaggy, warm, weather resistant coat), and they were apt predators (large ears, nimble paws, strong jaw and pronounced muzzle).
Today, Maine Coon Cats are dog-like, goofy, sweet, and loving. Often called the “Gentle Giants” of the cat world, Maine Coon Cats are not always lap cats, but will follow their owners around from room to room, and are very interested in interacting with their families. Most Maine Coon Cats get along well with other pets in the household. They are attracted to water and may play in their water dish, sink, or tub. Some like to drink from the faucet. Maine Coon Cats are not usually loud cats. They can be very talkative, but will usually chirp or trill rather than cry. Males on average reach 18 pounds or more and females might reach 12 pounds.
Some people think all Maine Coon Cats are brown tabbies. However, the breed comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The only pattern not allowed is “pointed” or “Siamese pattern.” One of the most popular cat breeds in the cat fancy, you will find Maine Coon Cat breeders all over the United States and the world. As with any pedigreed pet, do your research and make sure you are buying from a responsible, reputable, and knowledgeable breeder.
The author, Tina Dodge has been showing and breeding Maine Coon Cats for over 10 years, under the name Fog City Cattery.
Photo of Maine Coon Cat and Kittens courtesy of Harold Shapiro, Photographer.