The Maine Coon, also known as American Longhair, is a breed of cat with a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat.
Although the Maine Coon's exact origin and date of introduction to the United States are unknown, many theories have been proposed. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.
This is Cosey, a Maine Coon, and the winner of the first cat show in the United States. 8 May, 1895:
The Maine Coon is noted for its large bone structure rectangular body shape and long, flowing coat. The breed can be seen in a variety of colours and is known for its intelligence and gentle personality. Health problems are seen in this breed but screening methods can help minimise the frequency of these problems.
The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are unknown. There are only theories and folk takes. One such folk take involves Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that before her death, she attempted to escape France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. She loaded Clough's ship with her most prized possession, including six of her favourite Turkish Angora cats. Although she did not make it to the United States, her pets reached the shores of Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with other short-haired breeds and evolved into the modern breed of the Maine Coon.
Another folk tale involves Captain Charles Coon, an English seafarer who kept long-haired cats aboard his ships, Whenever Coon's ship would anchor in New England ports, the felines would exit the ship and mate with the local feral cat population. When long-haired kittens began appearing n the litters of the local cat population, they were referred to as one of "Coon's cats".
A myth which is trait-based, though genetically impossible, is the idea that the modern Maine Coon descended from ancestors of semi-feral domestic cats and raccoons. This myth would account for the common colour of the breed (brown tabby) and its bushy tail. Another idea is that the Maine Coon originated between the matings of domestic cats and wild bobcats, which could explain the tufts of hairs that are so commonly seen on the tips of the ears of Maine Coon cats.
The generally-accepted theory among breeders is that the Maine Coon is descended from the pairings of local short-haired domestic cats and long-haired breeds brought overseas by English seafarers (possibly by Captain Charles Coon) or 11th-century Vikings. The connection to the Vikings is seen in the strong resemblance of the Maine Coon to the Norwegian Forest Cat, another breed that is said to be a descendant of cats that travelled with the Vikings.
This is a 75-day old kitten. You can tell it will be a large cat when fully grown:
Maine Coons are known as the "gentle giants" and possess above-average intelligence making them relatively easy to train. They are known for being loyal to their family and cautious - but not mean - around strangers, but are independent and not clingy. The Maine Coon is generally not known for being a "lap cat" but their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats, and children. They are playful throughout their lives, with males tending to be more clownish and females generally possessing more dignity, yet both are equally affectionate. Many Maine Coons have a fascination for water and some theorize that this personality trait comes from their ancestors, who were aboard ships for much of their lives. Maine Coons are also well known for being very vocal cats. They were known for their frequent yowling, chattering, chirping, "talking" (especially "talking back" to their owners) and making other loud vocalisations.
(Precious (above) may not be a Maine Coon (she is quite small although similar in appearance) but the description in the very last line is her to a tee. If we let her out early morning, when she comes back inside she 'yowls' from the back door until she is back in her bed. She will also do that if we have moved into a different part of the house and she is looking for us. She also carries on a conversation and does 'back talk' quite often. Some of the sounds she makes are quite strange and last for several seconds i.e. mow-wow-wow wow wow wow and other variations. She is however afraid of strangers and I don't think she is fond of dogs or other cats and is terrified of children. I am glad to say Precious is very affectionate although not entirely a lap-cat and doesn't like to be picked up unless you are in the garden where she is quite happy to be carried around for a while.)