America's Native Longhair

One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine Coon is generally regarded as a native of the state of Maine (in fact, the Maine Coon is the official Maine State Cat).


A number of attractive legends surround its origin. A once wide-spread, though biologically impossible, belief is that the breed originated from matings between semi-wild, domestic cats and raccoons.


This myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a raccoon-like brown tabby) led to the adoption of the name "Coon Cat" which eventually was changed to "Maine Coon Cat."


Another popular theory on the origin of the Maine Coon is that it sprang from the six pet cats which Marie Antoinette is said to have sent to Wiscasset, Maine when she was planning to escape, with the help of New England seaman Captain Clough, from France during the French Revolution.
In fact, the house that Capt. Clough was said to have built for her still stands across the Sheepscott river from Wiscassett in Edgecomb, Maine.
 
 

...a success and now a legend

Maine Coons were well established more than a century ago as a hardy, handsome breed of domestic cat, well equipped to survive the hostile New England winters.


Nature is not soft-hearted. It selects the biggest, the brightest, the best fighters, and the best hunters to breed successive generations.
Since planned breedings of Maine Coons are relatively recent and carefully monitored, these cats still have their strong, natural qualities.

 
Maine Coons are healthy, disease-resistant, rugged cats. Interestingly, the breed closest to the Maine Coon is the Norwegian Forest Cat which, although geographically distant, evolved in much the same climate, and lends credence to the theory that some of the cats responsible for developing the Maine Coon were brought over by the Vikings.

 

Maine Coon - a popular race

First recorded in cat literature in 1861 with a mention of a black and white cat named "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines," Maine Coons were popular competitors at early cat shows in Boston and New York.
 A brown tabby female named "Cosie" won Best Cat at the 1895 Madison Square Garden Show.


Unfortunately, their popularity as show cats declined with the arrival in 1900 of the more exotic Persians. Although the Maine Coon remained a favourite cat in New England, the breed did not begin to regain its former widespread popularity until the 1950's when more and more cat fanciers began to take notice of them, show them, and record their pedigrees.

 
In 1968, six breeders formed the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association to preserve and promote the breed. Today, our membership numbers over 1200 fanciers and 200 breeders. By 1980, all registries had recognized the Maine Coon, and it was well on its way to regaining its former glory.

 

Standard

In the US, there are 5 standards for the Maine Coon, and with FIFé’s standard, the number is up to 6. Small wonder, therefore, that confusion arises due to the differences in the way these cats look.

The standards are almost the same, but differ on individual points enough to result in a different look. US standards prescribe for example a medium broad and medium long head, slightly longer than it is broad, while the FIF simply states that the head should be broad.

Some standards wish to see large, round and slanting eyes, while some require them to be large and oval, FIFé wants them large and open. CFA requires stooping  ears, while other standards require the ears to be straight with a least one ear’s width between them.
 

General

The Maine Coon is a working cat, muscular, solid, medium to large in size with the look of the wild. This cat is a result of natural evolution, capable of surviving a harsh climate with little or no human assistance.

Thus, this cat may be reserved initially toward strange people and new situations, yet the Maine Coon does have an amiable disposition. Males may be larger, females are usually smaller. Females should not be penalized because of this size difference.

Allowance should be made for slow maturation, as a Maine Coon does not achieve ultimate type until three to four years of age. Type must not be sacrificed for size, or size for type.

 

Personality


Maine Coons develop slowly, and don't achieve their full size until they are three or four years old. Their dispositions remain kittenish throughout their lives; they are big, gentle, good-natured goofs – the gentle giants of the cat world.

Even their voices set them apart from other cats; they have a distinctive, chirping trill which they use for everything from courting to cajoling their people into playing with them.

Maine Coons love to play, and many will joyfully retrieve small items. They rarely meow, and when they do, that soft, high-pitched voice doesn't fit their size!