Maine Coon Cats
American Forest Cat, American Coon Cat, American LonghairFamily: Felidae Felis domesticusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Justin Brough
The Maine Coon is known for its massive appearance, lush coat, and luxuriant, plumed tail!
Despite its potentially intimidating size, the Maine Coon Cat is also known for pleasant personality. This cat breed has a gentle, mild-mannered, and friendly demeanor. Depending on the individual cat, their sociable tendencies may be variable. Some say that the Maine Coon is shy, while others say that it is out-going. But either way, the Maine Coon is a great family cat.
The Main Coon is one of the first true American cat breeds, originating in the state of Maine. Is is also known as the American Forest Cat, the American Coon Cat, and American Longhair Cat. One of this breed's defining characteristics is its large muscular body. Yet the finest trait of this natural breed cat is the long thick silky coat with a large ruff, and a very bushy tail that creates a plumed appearance. Despite its heavy coat, this massive long-haired breed requires only moderate grooming. It can withstand extremely cold weather but will then shed profusely in the summer time.
For many owners, the Maine Coon has an ideal personality. It is an affectionate, amiable breed that gets along with most people and animals, but is not too needy. It is gentle and easy-going, but also self-confident and a good hunter. This breed remains playful and "kittenish" throughout its years. It speaks softly to its owners in a chirping or squeaking voice.
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Background The Maine Coon is a natural cat breed. It is one of the first true American breeds, however the specifics of its origins are disputed. The most interesting explanation is that it originated from a cross between a house cat and a raccoon. However, this is biologically impossible. Another unlikely origin is that it is a cross between a house cat and an American Bobcat. Other stories include the basic idea that this breed descended from Norwegian Forest Cats that were sent to America.
A more probable explanation is that the Maine Coon originates from house cats that became semi-wild and developed a heavier body and thicker coat in order to protect them from the cold. However, the most accepted explanation of this cat's origins is that it developed from the breeding of house cats and Angoras in Maine. There is no proof for this theory, though it seems probable since a cross between house cats and Angoras would look something like the Maine Coon.
One interesting fact about the Maine Coons is that they were the first cats to be shown in cat shows. Though the first official cat show occurred in 1871 in London, Maine Coon cat shows had been held since the early 1860's at the Skowhegan Fair in New England. The Maine Coon was successful in the first official show in America in 1995, since it had the advantage of over 30 years of previous show experience. However, as more exotic breeds began to appear, it lost some of its popularity. In the 1950s it caught the interest of many again, and a Maine Coon Cat Club was formed in 1953. The Cat Fancier's Association recognized the breed in 1976.
The Maine Coon arrived in Europe, more specifically, in Austria, in 1953 and in Europe in 1983. It is still a fairly rare breed in Europe.The Maine Coon originated in Maine, and is easy to find in the United States. However, it is rare in Europe and Australia. Common names for this natural breed cat include: Maine Coon Cat, American Coon Cat, Maine Cat, Maine Trick Cat, American Longhair, American Forest Cat, American Shag, and American Snughead.
Description One of this breed's defining features is its massive size. It has a large, muscular body that is long and rectangular. The head is medium-sized, but appears small compared to its large body. The eyes are large and slightly oval and the ears are large and tufted. The tail, a prized feature of the Maine Coon, is long and thickly covered, creating a bushy, plumed appearance. It has a soft, chirping or squeaking voice. It has a long lifespan of 13 or more years.
The coat of this breed is long, thick, and silky with a large ruff. The traditional coat of the Maine Coon is tabby, but most other coat patterns and colors are acceptable. A few exclusions include Chocolate, Lilac and Siamese Points, blue or odd eyes in all coat colors except white, and Bi-color or Parti-color cats with white fur for more than a third of the coat. The Maine Coon weighs from 9 to 22 pounds.
- Ruff: A band of fur around the neck.
Social Behaviors The Maine Coon is not too needy, but is gentle and easy-going. It's not really a lap cat, but will stay close by. This is an easy-going breed that generally gets along with people, dogs, and other cats. It shows affection toward the whole family, but tends to become especially close with one person. If you are looking for a sweet loyal cat, this breed can offer that type of affection.
Activities This breed is playful and active. It is self-confident and a good hunter. It will enjoy playing with others, and can enjoy an interactive game of fetch. Yet it's also content to run around chasing things and exercising by itself.
Common Health Problems The Maine Coon is a generally hardy cat, if you get a healthy kitten you will most likely have a healthy adult. Still there are a few maladies this breed could suffer from. These include Hip Dysplasia, which is a more prominent problem in large cats, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM, which is a common heart disease of all cats, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA, which is a genetically inherited disorder that shows up in kittens.