The Maine Coon is one of the most beloved breeds in the United States, and it’s easy to see why. These majestic felines are the lovable lions of the domestic cat world and make excellent pets. Their exotic features and sweet natures make them easy to love. Let’s get to know them a little bit better.
Maine Coon Origins – Shrouded in Mystery
Exactly where the Maine Coon came from is a mystery. We know that they rose to popularity in the 1800s, but exactly what helped transition the Maine Coon from glorified barn cat to the breed as it is known today is not exactly clear. There are many theories as to the breed’s origins, both fantastical and realistic.
The most far-fetched myth about the Maine Coon is that they are the result of crossings between barn cats and raccoons, based on these large cats often having tabby stripes and big bushy tails. A cat/raccoon cross is, of course, impossible, as raccoons and cats are completely different species and couldn’t mate. The more realistic theories as to this big cat’s origins are crossings between barn cats with Turkish Angoras or Norwegian Forest Cats brought over on ships by European travelers. Others believe there may be wild Bobcat or Lynx influence as well, due to the exotic appearance of the Maine Coon’s signature tufted ears.
Maine Coon Breed Standards
Contrary to the common misconception that any big, fluffy cat is a Maine Coon, they have a very specific breed standard. The Maine Coon is indeed a very big, long, hardy cat with a solid bone structure. Males range from 15-25 pounds fully grown, with females being slightly smaller at 10-15 pounds. Their breed standard accepts any color except pointed varieties (aka “Siamese colors”), with tabby, or tabby and white being very common. They have very large paws with tufts of fur designed to keep their toes warm in snow and cold weather. Speaking of a Maine Coon’s paws, in their early days the breed was especially prone to polydactylism or having extra toes. In the late 1800s it was thought that as many as 40% of the U.S. Maine Coon population has extra digits. The trait was subsequently bred out of the breed as it is undesirable, according to the breed standard.
Their coat length varies between medium and long, with some changes seasonally depending on the climate in which they live. Despite having such a thick coat, the Maine Coon is a very low maintenance breed. Their coats are silky in texture and somewhat oily, requiring only perhaps a weekly combing. The oily texture of their coats promotes water resistance. Many Maines seem to like water, and Maine Coon owners often experience surprise guests in their tubs and showers.
The “Dog-Like” Gentle Giant
Enjoying water is only part of what earns Maine Coons their reputation for being “dog-like”. They are sweet-natured people pleasers, and often trained easily. They love the outdoors and are built for exploring and climbing. This combination of loving to be outside and being easily trained lends itself well to being walked on a harness.
The Maine Coon is a popular pet, especially for dog people, because of their unique personalities. They’re a rugged, sturdy cat and fun to own—that is if you don’t mind guests during bath time!