The Maine Coon cat is a very popular breed of cat. “Breed of cat” basically means that all Maine Coon cats have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who are also Maine Coon cats and all the names of the cats are written down in a book or on a computer by people who are members of a cat club who believe that the Maine Coon should be a special cat and a cat breed. You can read about how cat breeds are started by clicking on this.
The Maine Coon is what people call “a natural breed of cat”. This means that in the beginning nature created this cat. That is, it happened naturally without people being involved. But after a while people who like Maine Coon cats got involved. Over the last 100 years, they changed the way the cat looks. They made sure that a female Maine Coon, that they liked, mated with a male Maine Coon that they also liked. The kittens produced were especially nice Maine Coons.
The Maine Coon cat is called the “American Cat”. This is because the Maine Coon has been living in America for about 400 years. I guess you would call that a long time. I think it is long enough to call this cat an “American cat”. But, some people say the cats that became Maine Coon cats have been in America for 1000 years, even longer. They think that cats were brought over from Norway with the Vikings.
The history of the Maine Coon cat is important because it tells us why this cat breed is important to Americans. The trouble is people are not really sure about the history. They know that cats were brought from Europe to America about 400 years ago. They came on ships with the people who came to live in America. They were ship’s cats. Their job was to kill mice and rats on the ship to protect the food for the sailors and voyagers. I think that the Maine Coon comes from these long-haired ship’s cats. You can see where Europe is in the picture. England is part of Europe.
These ship’s cats were not Maine Coon cats, though. They were moggies with long fur. A moggie is a cat that is not part of a cat breed. In America, they became farm cats living in barns. They caught mice and rats. This helped the farmers who wanted to stop rats eating the grain that they had grown on their farms. These long-haired moggie cats were useful to farmers from 1600 to the middle of 1800 (19th century).
The next Maine Coon cat fact we need to check out is: why is this cat called the “Maine Coon”? Well, we know that Maine is a state of America on the east coast. Some Europeans who came in ships with their cats landed at Maine so these long-haired European cats that were to become Maine Coon were first living in Maine (see picture above). That probably explains the “Maine” bit of the name! Where does “Coon” come from?
Well, this is trickier. We don’t know for sure why the second part of the name is “Coon”. It is not because this cat is half raccoon! That story is wrong.
A good answer, and one that I like, is that the captain of one of the ships that landed in the area of Biddeford Pool, Maine was Capt. Charles Coon. Yes, a nice name. He had lots of ship’s cats and when the crew of the ship went ashore some of the cats did too. And some never went back to the ship. The cats that stayed in on land became known as “Coon’s cats”. And so the first Maine Coons had arrived in America. The rest is history.
As I said, in the early days of America, the Maine Coon was a working cat living outside. They were tough cats. Their long fur helped keep them warm during cold days and nights. Today they are often kept inside nice homes and are well fed by caring people who are very proud of their Maine Coon. The modern Maine Coon has a life of luxury by comparison.
Maine Coon kittens of today come from people who breed the cat. By this I mean that they make sure that all the Maine Coon kittens have parents and grandparents who are Maine Coons so their blood is pure Maine Coon. And to make sure people know that a cat that looks like a Maine Coon is one, all the names of all the cats belonging to these Maine Coon families are written down in a book or a computer as I wrote earlier. In recording the cat’s names the family tree is known. This makes the Maine Coon a “pedigree cat”. And the fact that all Maine Coons have pure blood means they are called “purebred cats”.
The Maine Coon is probably the world’s most popular cat breed. And it is the biggest domestic cat that belongs to the most important cat club in the world, The Cat Fanciers’ Association.
At America’s first real cat show in New York in 1895 a Maine Coon cat called “Cosey” was the best in the show.
The Maine Coon cat is big and it has a long body. The world’s longest domestic cat is a Maine Coon. It has shaggy long fur. The face of the Maine Coon is very special with a strong chin and muzzle. The ears are large and there is fur growing out the tip of the ears. The tail is very furry and impressive.
The Maine Coon makes a sound that is special, a chirrup type sound. They are quite independent but a loving and loyal companion to their human friend.
There are lot of pages on PoC about the Maine Coon. They are written for adult people and you can find them using custom search on this page. Thanks.