The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural breeds of North America, and is generally regarded as a native of the state of Maine. There are a numbers of legends concerning its origin, a very popular (though biologically impossible) one being that it originated from matings between semi-wild domestic cats and racoons. This belief - bolstered by the busy tail and the commonest colouring, a very racoon - like dark tabby - led to the adoption of the name Maine Coon.


Certainly Maine Coons were well established more than a century ago, and had evolved into a hardy, handsome breed of domestic cats, adept at keeping down the mouses population on New England farms. They had not only become rugged of coat and build, and tough enough to withstand even the hardest winters, but had also become one of the largest breeds physically.


Relatively tall and long bodies, males commonly weigh up to 8kg (16lb) and females up to 4kg (8lb). The coat is long and flowing, being relatively heavy and shaggy, shorter on the shoulders and longer on the belly and tail. With their well-developed ruff offsetting the relatively long, square-muzzled head, Maine Coons are indeed handsome as well as strong cats.



Maine Coons were popular competitors at early cat shows in Boston and New York, one winning at the 1895 Madison Square Garden show. They declined as show cats with the arrival of the more flamboyant Persians from cat breeders in Britain, but as household pets they still reigned supreme in the north-eastern states of U.S.A. It is not hard to understand why these tough, agile, independent cats were thought to have wild racoon ancestry and why they were treasured as very special pets right through to the early 1950s, when cat fanciers began once more to pay attention to them, show them and record their pedigrees.


All along there had been a small core of breeders - albeit very few - who had persisted with the breed in spite of its unpopularity. Once pedigree records were established, Maine Coons once again became 'respectable', and cat lovers and breeders outside their native territory realised just how attractive they were. In 1967 a special show standard was accepted by the CCA, ACFA and ACA, but it was not until 1976 that the breed was also recognised by the CFA. A number have been sent overseas and are being bred, notably in West Germany.


By far the most important features to judges are the head, body and coat. As already hinted, the Maine Coon is quite different in appearance from the Persian. The head is much longer, with high cheek-bones and ears that are large, well tufted and wide at the base. The neck should be medium-long, the torso long and the chest broad. The legs are considerably longer than in a Persian, as is the tail. The closest breed to the Maine Coon in appearance is probably the Norwegian Forest Cat.


Maine Coons develop relatively slowly, and may not achieve their full size until they are about four years old. Many people consider them to be the perfect domestic pets, with their clown-like personality, amusing habits and tricks, and easily groomed coat.  Maine Coon litters are not normally very large, four kittens being the most to be expected and two or three more usual. Because of variety of coat colours and patterns bred, many of the cats carry a variety of colours genes and every kitten in a litter may well be different.




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