40 facts about the Maine Coon cat

Here are 40 facts, presented in bullet-fashion for readers, about the ever-popular Maine Coon cat. As at 2022, the Maine Coon is probably the most talked about cat breed anywhere. This is probably due to the social media and the fact that they are being bred ever larger particularly in Russia where some breeders create outstanding cats which attract the attention of Internet users worldwide. They have possibly become more popular than the Persian in America.

All-white God-like monster Maine Coon
All-white God-like monster Maine Coon. Photo: social media.
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  1. The Maine Coon is sometimes described as the “gentle giant”.
  2. It is the largest domestic cat breed excluding the F1 Savannah cat wild cat hybrid which is not a registered cat breed.
  3. There are 12 different theories as to the origin of this most popular cat breed. They vary between the cat being a cross between a house-cat and a raccoon which was actually believed by some people at one time in the early years. It’s genetically impossible, by the way.
  4. Other theories include that it is descended from Norwegian Forest cats that were sent to America by Marie Antoinette or descended from Angora cats sent to America by the same person.
  5. Or, the breed is descended from Norwegian Skogcatts brought to North America as ships’ cats at a very early date by the Vikings. To accept this, you would have to accept that Vikings regularly visited North America 500 years before Columbus discovered the continent.
  6. The most likely version is that European settlers brought with them longhaired ships’ cats and perhaps pets and these cats ultimately formed the foundation cats of the Maine Coon being originally barn cats in the state of Maine and around Boston further north. They would have been allowed to breed by early settlers and over the intervening 400 years America acquired handsome barn cats in the state of Maine that were “converted” through selective breeding into modern day Maine Coons.
  7. Whatever your thoughts about the origins of the Maine Coon, it is undoubtedly one of the oldest natural breeds in North America’s New England area.
  8. The name of this cat breed is a curiosity in respect of the second part of it. The first part is obvious as it refers to the state of Maine. The second part might be due to the misapprehension that this was a raccoon hybrid or that a certain Captain Coon offloaded longhaired ships’ cats off the coast of Maine during his working voyages well before the breed was formally recognised.
  9. The Maine Coon has been around as a recognised purebred cat since the middle to late 1800s.
  10. It is generally regarded as being a native of the state of Maine and is the ‘state cat of Maine’.
  11. This is a heavy, unevenly-coated cat with a beautiful plumed tail, large, erect ears which are high-set, a large, square muzzle combined with a slightly wild barn-cat appearance. Although you will see great variations and a tendency to create very large and glamorous Maine Coons nowadays especially in Russia.
  12. The eyes have a look of quiet authority. I can recall that exact look in a snow-white enormous Maine Coon which you can see on this page above.
  13. In general, planned breeding of Maine Coons has only taken place since the late 1960s when six breeders formed the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association. This organisation was created to preserve and protect the breed. The members include 1000 cat fanciers and 200 cat breeders.
  14. In the early years it was called the Maine cat and sometimes the Maine Trick cat, the American Longhair, the American Forest cat or the American Snughead.
  15. Maine Coons were exhibited in the early American cat shows: a Maine Coon called Cosie won the first American cat show at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1895.
  16. Earlier, a black and white Maine Coon named Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines was exhibited at cat shows in 1861 in Boston and New York.
  17. In 1900 the Persian cat eclipsed the rising popularity of the Maine Coon. The Maine Coon’s popularity declined but in the 1950s the breed regained its popularity.
  18. In the 1980s the breed was recognised by all registries.
  19. In cat fancy language, the head is described as being a “broad, modified wedge with rounded contours and a broad square muzzle”. Those words come from Gloria Stephens in her excellent book Legacy of the Cat which is one of the sources of the information on this page.
  20. The eyes are large and oval shaped. The ears must be large and they must be lynx-tipped. This is a hallmark of the Maine Coon as is the square muzzle.
  21. This cat must be “substantial” and be solid and robust looking because after all the modern selectively-bred cat must reflect its origins as a hardy barn cat living comfortably under cold conditions in winter. Maine Coons should not have a delicate bone structure.
  22. And therefore, the boning and musculature must be substantial.
  23. Females are slightly smaller than the males.
  24. The feet should be large and in another hallmark of this cat, you will see tufts of hair sticking out between the toes.
  25. The Maine Coon is known to develop slowly, not reaching their full size until 3-5 years old.
  26. The coat should be shaggy and not full or dense.
  27. You will need to regularly comb the Maine Coon to avoid matting.
  28. It is said that Maine Coons love to play with water but some hate to be bathed. This is anecdotal but we do see Maine Coons playing with water in bowls on the Internet.
  29. The Maine Coon is recognised in all colours and divisions of the traditional category. The early Maine Coons were mostly brown tabbies. Many people still believe that that is the most attractive coat for this cat breed. Over time other colours and patterns were selectively bred including smoke and the dominant white appearance (see photo above).
  30. There are described as being relaxed and easy-going.
  31. They get along well with dogs and children and other cats.
  32. There are people orientated but not over dependent.
  33. They don’t demand attention but like to be around their owners.
  34. The Maine Coon does not, in general, necessarily want to be held (Gloria Stephens).
  35. They develop strong attachments to their female owners and don’t like it when their owners are away. This appears to be based on the direct experiences of Gloria Stephens.
  36. They are said to have a tiny voice which is incongruous in comparison to their large size.
  37. They are fairly quiet.
  38. Their appearance can be imposing and I have a wild look but they are of course sweet cats.
  39. I have lived with two Maine Coons in America for around 2 weeks. One of them was Zak. He was quiet as described by Gloria Stephens and a little shy but utterly charming. He liked me. See him below (last photo).
  40. As is the case with other purebred cats, due to selective breeding, the Maine Coon can suffer from some inherent health problems such as: patella luxation, hip dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and perhaps, rarely, pectus excavatum.
MC (Maine Coon) square muzzle per CFA breed standard
MC (Maine Coon) square muzzle per CFA breed standard. Image by MikeB based on a photo in the public domain of a European-style MC.
Ken and Helmi Flick's Maine Coon Cat - ZAK
Ken and Helmi Flick’s Maine Coon Cat – ZAK as photographed by Michael Broad.

1 thought on “40 facts about the Maine Coon cat”

  1. I appreciated you pointing out that the Maine coon cats are one of North America’s oldest natural breeds. That’s probably why my brother wants to have a Maine coon cat. They look adorable, so I’ll let him have one.

    Reply

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