The Maine Coon is the gentle giant of the cat world. These hefty furballs have a sweet temperament and a laidback personality that lets them feel right at home with friendly dogs, children, and other cats. Further, their long, luxurious coats are a thing of beauty and the perfect winter accessory that's always in fashion. So what's the scoop on the pride and joy of Maine's cat-loving population? Read on to find out.
Maine Coon Physical Traits
Maine Coon cats are large, muscular cats with a healthy weight range of between 9 and 18 pounds. Appearances can be deceiving, though, as Maine Coons are the proud owners of very long, thick coats that sometimes make them seem bigger and heavier than they really are.
The Maine Coon's coat is long and shaggy, and her tail fans out in a lovely plume. She has a thick ruff around her neck and tufted ears and paws, which developed to help keep them warm in the harsh New England winters.
Although the coat is thick, it is not especially dense, making it easy to groom with just a comb. Given the Maine Coon's tendency to snuggle up to her owner, she'll likely even come to appreciate her twice weekly hair appointments.
The coat itself can come in a variety of colors and patterns. The most common is brown or mackerel tabby, but it can also present as a solid color as well as tortoiseshell and other tabby patterns. The eyes are usually gold to green, but some Maine Coons can have blue eyes, especially those with white coats.
Maine Coon Personality
Though their large size can be intimidating, Maine Coons are renowned for being easygoing and affectionate. They enjoy quality time with their human companions and other four-legged family members, but they won't pester you constantly for attention and are happy to do their own thing when you're busy or away.
Maine Coons are docile and adaptable. They tend to go with the flow, so they're excellent choices for pet owners with busy households. For the more adventurous sorts looking for a travel companion, Maine Coons can even be taught to walk on a leash. Every individual has her own personality, of course, but as a breed, they're open to the idea of going for walks with their humans to check out the neighborhood and keep it safe from any mice or birds that might be nearby.
Oh, that's another thing--if you have hamsters, mice, birds, or other small pets, make sure to keep them protected. All cats are hunters by nature, but Maine Coons are especially keen to safeguard against what they see as invading pests. They have traditionally been kept as barn cats, after all, so they take great pride in their reputation as mousers, even if your particular bundle of fur has never seen a barn in his life.
First, let's set the record straight: despite the size and name, Maine Coons are in no way biologically related to raccoons. They were simply given that name due to the large size and ringed tail so common in the breed.
No one really knows where the very first Maine Coon appeared or when. There are several fanciful theories, including one holding the breed began when Marie Antoinette sent several of her pet cats to Maine in the 18th century while attempting to escape France during the revolution.
The most commonly accepted origin is that domestic shorthairs in the region mated with long-haired cats brought over by sailors and colonists. One plausible theory is that the modern Maine Coon is a close cousin of the Norwegian forest cat, which might have been found its way to North America by tagging along with the Vikings on their coastal expeditions.
However it first appeared, the Maine Coon has the distinction of being the oldest cat breed native to North America.