The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat, with a strong and rugged appearance, long or medium length fur, tufted ears and a long flowing tail. They are most commonly seen as a classic or mackerel tabby, but they are also available in a multitude of different patterns and colour combinations.
Maine Coons are known for their intelligence and personality and many have called them the cat designed for dog-lovers. They have a friendly, loving nature and can be as playful and energetic as a small dog. They are also relatively easy to train, for example to fetch or to walk on a leash.
They get on well with children and other pets and will want to be an active member of the family, involved in every aspect of family life. If you want privacy, you may have to shut the door.
Sociable, playful and affectionate throughout their lives, they are well-known for being vocal and ‘talking back’– if you own a Maine Coon you can expect to have daily conversations with your cat.
Most Maine Coon’s are fascinated by water, and tend to enjoy any water based activities from showering to washing up the dishes. They also have a habit of dunking their favourite toys and other objects into their water bowl, and pawing at them in play. Some Maine Coon’s even enjoy a swim in the backyard pool.
Origins of the Maine Coon Cat
The origins of the Maine Coon are shrouded in myth and legend. One myth is that the Maine Coon originated from mating between semi-feral cats and raccoons. The Maine Coon’s bushy tail and tabby colouring (resembling a raccoon’s tail) is believed to support this.
Another legend is that the Maine Coon is descended from Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Angora cats, who she shipped to America when she attempted to escape from France.
A further tale is that the Maine Coon cat originates from long-haired breeds brought to America during the 1800s by English seafarer Captain Charles Coon who kept long-haired cats on board for their mousing ability and frequently anchored in New England ports where his cats ventured ashore.
Did You Know?
The Maine Coon is one of the oldest breeds in America, and was first recognised as a breed in the state of Maine where it was named the official state cat.
Nicknamed the ‘gentle giant’ the Maine Coon is a large breed with males often weighing in at more than 9kgs (20 pounds). Despite their intimating size, the Maine Coon is a gentle, placid companion cat who is especially good with children and ideal as a family pet.
Whereas most cat breeds reach maturity within one year, Maine Coon’s are slow to mature and do not reach their full maturity and size until they are four to five years old.
Many Maine Coon cats are polydactyl, which means they have one or more extra toes on their paws.
Caring for Your Maine Coon Cat
Typically strong and healthy, Maine Coons are bred to survive harsh New England winters. They have a long-haired shaggy coat which is silky to the touch and often slightly oily which makes it water-resistant. Due to their light density undercoat they are easily groomed compared with other long-haired breeds – a good brush or comb twice a week is all that is required to keep them in top condition.
If you have a Maine Coon cat in your life, please share your experiences in the comments below.
Image: Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr