About Maine Coons

There are many tales that try to chronicle the history of the Maine Coon, but no one can be absolutely sure of their precise origin. The first Maine Cats, as they were called early on, evolved along the Maine coastal towns and villages some 3 centuries ago. Early Maine Cats were a normal part of the rural life. A flourishing maritime trade existed during the colonization of New England (and before) and cats were important passengers on the ships and schooners. The paring
of these seafaring felines with the land cats of the early Maine settlers, along with the climate and terrain of the region, is what most likely produced the unique cats that today we call Maine Coons. Available literature has the Maine Cat as a recognized "type" of feline as early as the mid-1800's. The cats were developed into a standardized and registered breed in Maine during the 1950's and 1960's and by 1980 all of the cat registering organizations had accepted the Maine Coon. During the early part of the 1900's, outside of the New England area, the Maine Coon's popularity waned with some of the newer, European imports, such as the Persian, gaining favor. However, the popularity of the Maine Coon began to increase again during the 1950's and since that time, their acclaim spread across the United States and into other parts of the world.

Maine Coons can come in almost every color. The most common color is the brown tabby, but Maine Coons can be white, black, red, blue, silver and any mixture allowed by genetics. The color can be with or without white. They can be solid cats or tabbies. Their tabby pattern can be mackerel (a striped tabby) or classic (a bullseye pattern on the side of the cat). Maine Coons will not be the pointed colors or pattern, such as a Siamese.

The body and coat characteristics of the Maine Coon is an outcome of their development in the harsh climate of New England, and is a credit to Mother Nature. Their coat is glossy, water-resistant, and layered. Soft, downy-like undercoats, and longer, coarser, guard outer hairs keep the cat warm and dry during snowy, wet, or chilled weather. The coat is longer on the ruff, stomach, and legs (britches) which provides protection from moisture, and shorter on the back and neck as a defense against tangling in brush. During the colder months, the undercoat will thicken, especially underneath the neck and stomach, adding a protective "layer" of insulation. The tail is long and bushy, called a "brush", which allows the cat to curl up around the tail as another protection from the elements. The feet of a Maine Coon are large, rounded and tufted, to facilitate walking on cold, wet, snowy surfaces. Originally, up to 25% of early Maine Cats were polydactyl, or multi-toed. These cats were also called mitten-toed cats and could have extra toes on just the front feet, or all four. The ears, while big, are not as large as many breeds, but are hairy, both giving extra protection from climate and heat loss.

The size and structure of the Maine Coon also showcases Nature's abilities to promote the best. A strong, solid body supports the predatory nature of the Maine Coon. A rugged, outdoor cat, the Maine Coon's body is substantial, muscular, medium to large, rectangular in shape, and very balanced. The ears have a wide range of motion. Eyes are large. Long whiskers help with balance and movement, as does the long tail. A long. square muzzle aids in grabbing prey and lapping water. A Maine Coon is a slow developing cat, not reaching full size until around three years old, and some state up to five years. Males typically weigh 15 - 20 pounds, while females usually weigh between 9 - 12 pounds.

The temperament of the Maine Coon belies its rugged hardiness. The Maine Coon is a relaxed cat, with an easy-going personality one of its major traits. They are often referred to as goofy. Maine Coons get along with children, dogs, other animals, and other cats. In keeping with their heritage of being prized by New Englanders, they are very people-oriented, preferring to be close to their human companions whenever they can. Maine Coons are not known for being "lap cats" - their size may preclude that - but they will greet you at the door, follow you from room to room, and help you with whatever you are doing. If allowed, Maine Coons love to sleep on the bed with their humans. The Maine Coon is an intelligent breed, and can be taught to walk on a leash, play fetch, and perform many other tricks. Maine Coon owners can keep you occupied with stories of the many things their furry child has learned to do on its very own! Maine Coons love to climb and jump, but, again true to their working cat background, love to chase objects on the ground and carry their "prey" around in their mouths. A Maine Coon will stay playful even as an adult.

A Maine Coon is also a quiet cat. One would think that with the handsome ruggedness of the breed, s/he would have a royal roar. But when a Maine Coon is vocal, the voice is more of a chirp or trill. They love to sing though, even when not courting.

Since the 1950's especially, planned breedings with other registered Maine Coons with a known pedigree has begun. Maine Coon breeders have sought to preserve the robust nature and wonderful personality of the cat. Ethical, caring breeders hope to produce healthy cats. Breeders tend to breed for traits they like personally, while trying to keep the overall picture (and written standard) of an ideal Maine Coon in mind. The cats we see and call Maine Coons now are a bit different than the original Maine Cats. They have bigger builds and longer bodies and heads, with taller ears. Coats can be longer (or shorter) and more uniform, with less shag. Coat colors and patterns are closer to a desired standard. Most are not polydactyl, since this trait is not accepted in written breed standards. Temperament is probably even more people-oriented than before. Some of the modern Maine Coon cats have lost the sweet, big-eyed look and instead have a more wild facial expression. I think that the early Maine Cats have developed into what is now called a "traditional or moderate" style in Maine Coons, and the bigger, longer, more wild look of some of today's cats is a more "extreme" style.

See the Links page (coming soon) for more stories about the Maine Coon.