There is much speculation about the history of the Maine Coon, with many theories in circulation. Some suggest that these cats were brought into existence when six Turkish Angora cats reached Maine aboard the ship of Marie Antoinette, who was attempting to flee France during the Revolution. Once on land, these Angora cats went on to breed with local short-haired cats and created the Maine Coon of today. Another theory credits the English seafarer, Captain Charles Coon, who took his long-haired cats with him when he sailed, which went on to breed with local cats whenever the ship anchored in New England. It is very probable that the Maine Coon evolved through the mating of cats introduced by early settlers, including Angoras and Domestic Shorthairs. Whatever the truth behind the breed’s development, it has become one of the most desired and widely recognised cats across the world.
The name ‘Maine Coon’ was adopted after the state of the breed’s origin, Maine, and after the early belief that the cat was in fact the result of crossing between domestic breeds and raccoons. Despite being genetically impossible, it would explain the cat’s original appearance, with its dark brown tabby coat, its long, feathered tail, and its overall wild look. The Maine Coon we recognise today still boasts its large frame, being one of the largest cat breeds out there, but with characteristics that are more refined. With a solid body that is heavily feathered, muscular legs, a broad chest and wide-spaced ears, the Maine Coon is easily recognisable. The most unique feature of the cat is its profuse tail which is used to better insulate it from the cold, by wrapping the tail around the body. The double coat is thick, becoming longer as it gets further towards the rear of the cat, and has a weatherproof topcoat that protects against wet weather and bleak climates. All coat colouring is permissible.
Described as the ‘clown of the cat world,’ the Maine Coon is a wonderfully animated, playful and exuberant cat, full of life and character. When it is not delighting in the little wonders in the home, it is enjoying a frolic and a cuddle with its family, content to sit in a lap or nestle in a warm space. Not only does the Maine Coon possess a relaxed and gentle disposition, it is also highly intelligent and can be trained to a good degree. Compatible with young children and other house pets, the breed is a great breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner, ready to return its unceasing love and loyalty. On average, a healthy Maine Coon will weigh anything from 10-25 pounds, with a typical life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Although the Maine Coon is a relatively hardy breed, it is susceptible to various hereditary health complaints, ranging from mild cases of hip dysplasia, to more severe incidences of spinal muscular atrophy – a degenerative muscle condition – and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common type of heart disease in cats.