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Can you tell the difference between the Maine Coons and Persians in these vintage pictures in the slide show above? I am sure you can but there ain’t much in the difference. There are five Persians and three Maine Coons. Persians were more common than the Maine Coon in 1903. A Maine Coon won America’s first cat show. He was a neutered cat.


You can stop the slide show by placing the mouse cursor over the image. You can move the slide show manually using the arrows left and right.


Before the word “coon” was tacked onto the word “Maine” (stupid idea, I believe) the cats from the state of Maine were simply called “Maine cats”. It makes sense and I wish that was still their name. They were handsome, long haired cats that looked like random breed cats, which is what they were 😉 . Well, technically they were random bred cats but were more purebred than today’s purebred Maine Coon, I suspect.

Admittedly, the quality of the images is not great. However, my overriding impression is that back around 1900 the cat breeds that were in existence then – very few compared to today – all looked more or less alike, which is the way it should be because the domestic cat is alike no matter where you are. The early cat clubs referred to show cats by their coat not their breed. One chapter of The Book of The Cat is entitled: Long-haired or Persian cats. You take your pick.

Today, the Persian is completely different to the Maine Coon. The former is cobby and very long haired. The hair is even. The face is flat and the head round. The ears are tiny and so on. The Maine Coon has large ears, a long elegant body and shaggy medium length hair. The face is “normal” and the muzzle strong. Chalk and cheese basically.

Today’s clear difference between these top cat breeds is due to “refinement” and advancements etc. to these cat breeds, so say breeders. Personally, I long for the natural appearance. I love naturalness. I don’t like artificiality and human interference. That is just my personal viewpoint and I totally accept the views of others even when they are opposite to mine.


The pictures: They are probably in the public domain. If not I would argue fair use because publishing them here will have no impact commercially on the copyright owner and also they are published here for educational and charitable reasons. I hope that suffices. It not please leave a comment and I will respond promptly.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • All the Maine Cats have at least a bit of a ruff on them, otherwise it is hard to tell much of a difference. Haven't the Turkish Angora been around for a long, long time? Wouldn't it be prudent to think they have mixed into a lot of breeds in nearby countries. Perhaps even several trade-route countries as well. I have always assumed that.

  • Breeders need to realise they can't improve on Mother Nature!
    Cats are naturally beautiful and no one should try to adapt them and often cause them health problems by doing so.
    Why can't everyone accept cats as they come, they are and always have been, perfect, claws and all.

    • Here, here. People believe they can improve on nature. For the life of me I can't see how they can do it and the cat breeds are evidence.

  • Hi Marc. Thank you for your kind remarks.
    ""The origins if the Turkish Angora"".
    That is very simple. Despite the claims that it is confined only to Ankara and environs, DNA research shows they are to be found in a very pure form all over Turkey and surrounding countries. I have several from Cyprus which test over 90% pure. They are the East Mediterranean group of cats, not just from Ankara. How could a genetically distinct breed of cat spontaneously appear in cats that are free-ranging and constantly breeding with cats from surrounding areas? This is just cat fancy nonsense. But the history of the cat fancy version of the "Turkish non-Angora" is much more murky and worthy of a who-dunnit novel by Agatha Christy. Like all illegal enterprises it's success relies heavily on a ready supply of gullible victims and believers as well as accomplices in the cat associations and the "scientific" community. Many golden opportunities were thrown away by researchers at UC Davis. They could have looked for trace markers of the Persian cat's ancient ancestors, but were more concerned with what made up the cat fancy Persian. There was mention of 4 cats of an unknown type or breed. But they were dismissed as "Probably from Cyprus". My God! Any researcher worth his salt would have given his right arm to discover a previously unknown cat I don't understand those people at UC Davis. And we are supposed to respect them as some kind of scientific elite.

  • I wish there were more people writing about the strange discrepancies that figure under the term 'breed' and how that has evolved. I know Harvey Harrison is very good at this and really understands it well and expresses it well. I do hope he and his associates write a book about the origins of the Turkish Angora cats in the light of what they are defined to supposedly be today.

    This question is ongoing and lasts through all breeds I am sure. Where did they come from and what are they and what 'could' or maybe 'should' they infact be. I love Harvey's website. It's very frank and well researched. This article brings up the same issues - what little difference between the 2 'breeds' in the past. Cats were much more alike. It's become a story of differentiation at all cost now.

    I like these articles.

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