The Maine Wave, a rexed Maine Coon cat, never became a recognised cat breed. FYI – ‘rexed’ means having a curly or wavy-haired coat. The history of the Maine Wave is rather patchy and unfortunate. With more luck and some common sense it could have been a successful cat breed.
The curly haired mutation was first reported in the Maine Coon by British breeder Di Everett. In 1994 she said:
The first rexed Maine Coon in Britain was born, as far as we know, in our household in 1988. We have produced a total of four rexed kittens, from three different mothers, all mated to the same male.
Through tests it was concluded that the genetic mutation was neither the Devon Rex gene nor the American Wirehair gene. And there were indications that the Cornish Rex gene was not involved either.
Di Everett found that, “out of some 4,000 registrations in Britain [of Maine Coon cats] we only have approximately 20 rexed kittens”. This is a 1 in 200 occurrence of this gene mutation.
Sarah Hartwell on messybeast.com writes that in 1994 there were “one or two unexplained and un-autopsied early deaths” of the rexed cats which lead Everett to fear that the gene mutation causing the rexed coat was lethal. This lead to the vilification of breeders of the Maine Wave. The breeding of the cat was ultimately discontinued.
In addition the cat fancy at the time in Britain – the GCCF – would only allow them to be registered as Maine Coon new Variety and not a new breed. A shortcoming in the cat fancy and a further barrier to success.
Other breeders said that their Maine Waves were healthy and disagreed with the lethal gene assessment. The early deaths may have been related to some other health problem unconnected to the Maine Coon rex gene.
In 1992 Dr Desmond Morris wrote, in Cat World, that some breeders regarded this rex gene in Maine Coons as a problem to be eliminated. He further wrote that breeder David Brinicombe reported positive reactions to his cats in an exhibition.
I exhibited my three recently (billed as ‘Maine Waves’ or just ‘Waves’) and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to them with very few adverse comments…”
The Rexed Maine Coon could and perhaps should have been successful but for a nervous cat fancy which appears to have wanted to preserve the purity of the Maine Coon or lacked the imagination to promote it and a likely false rumour about the genetic mutation being lethal.
There is no doubt that the Maine Wave is a handsome cat. Pictures are incredibly hard to come by. I have taken the liberty of publishing one from Sarah’s website (a German Rexed Maine Coon) and another in the public domain online.
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