About Maine Coons
(or why we love Maine Coons)
"The dogs of the cat world" - that's what people call Maine Coons because Maine Coons seek out and enjoy the company of people. Maine Coons make great companions as they are a friendly, playful, natural breed with an affectionate nature. Their dispositions remain kittenish throughout their lives and some people say they continue to grow until they're about four years old. They are big, gentle, good-natured goofs. Most of the cats Maine Coon Adoptions rescues and fosters are Maine Coon mixes. We look for Maine Coon traits such as ear and foot tufts, length of the coat and ruff, bushy tails, eye color, personality traits, etc. when we identify kitties in shelters, but it is impossible to tell from just looking at a cat if it is related to the Maine Coon. Because the Maine Coon is a natural breed, there are cats all over the world that resemble the Maine Coon. Thus, Maine Coon Adoptions cannot guarantee that our adoptable cats are, in fact, of Maine Coon parentage.
Maine Coons are native American longhaired cats, originally prized as skilled mousers on New England farms. Notwithstanding their working cat status, Maine Coons were the first indigenous American show cats. During the 1860s, farmers who bragged about the skill and intelligence of their Maine Coons started showing their cats at the Skowhegan Fair. Maine Coons were also listed in a show held in Boston in January 1878. In fact, a Maine Coon was chosen as Best Cat at the first major cat show in this country at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1895.
Daisy Mae "helps" with the laptop
The Maine Coon is well known for its loving nature, kindly disposition and great intelligence. Maine Coons are especially good with children and dogs, and have always been a popular and sought after companion. Maine Coons are often referred to as the "dogs of the cat world" because they seek out the company of people and are a gentle, loyal, friendly, playful, affectionate breed.
Although Maine Coons are highly people-oriented cats, they are not overly-dependent. They do not constantly beg for attention, but prefer to "hang out" with their humans, investigating whatever activity is going on and "helping" when they can. Generally, they are not known as "lap cats," but they will probably stay close by, following you from room to room and waiting outside closed doors for you to emerge. A Maine Coon will be your buddy, but hardly ever your baby.
Maine Coons tend to be easy-going cats. The males often have a more clownish personality while the females may try to retain more dignity. Both males and females generally remain playful throughout their lives.
Maine Coons are a vocal breed, with a variety of meows, chirps and trills at their disposal to get their humans to do what they want. When they meow, they often have a soft, tiny voice that is incongruous with their large size. Their dispositions remain kittenish throughout their lives; they are big, gentle, good-natured goofs.
Maine Coons generally have muscular, broad chests and long rectangular bodies with long, flowing, silky fur, often with a front ruff. Males average 12-15 pounds, with some reaching 20 pounds or more, and females average 9-12 pounds. They may not reach their full size until they are about four years old. Maine Coons come in just about the full range of cat colors and patterns. Whether you prefer solid, tabby, red or orange, cream, white, buff, black, silver, brown, multi-colored, tortoiseshell or calico, you can probably find a Maine Coon to suit you.
Eyes are large, round, expressive, wide set and slightly oblique. The most common eye colors are shades of green, gold, green-gold, or copper. White or bi-color Maine Coons sometimes have blue eyes. Paws are large, round, and tufted. The tail is long and generally fluffy. Ears are large, tufted, and set on the head approximately an ear's-width apart. Some original Maine Coons were polydactyl (had extra toes), and their descendents can also be polydactyl, although polydactyl Maine Coons are no longer common.
Caring for Your Maine Coon
Because most Maine Coons have full, thick, long-haired coats, they need frequent grooming to keep the coat in top condition. Many Maine Coons love water, so keep a good supply of clean, fresh water available at all times.
Indoor cats are safer, happy, and live longer lives. (Maine Coon Adoptions adopts to indoor-only homes.) Although it's hard to believe, a lot of people out there hate cats and think it's 'fun' to scare them, or cause them some other harm. Some dog people think it's funny to sic their dog on a wandering cat. Some drivers also think it's amusing to play cat and mouse, so to speak, with outdoor cats. There are also people who don't mind putting out some anti-freeze to poison neighborhood cats. All too often cats are trapped and released far from home by angry neighbors who don't like cats coming into their gardens.
In addition to human enemies, predators such as coyotes, opossums and raccoons can kill outdoor cats. Outdoor cats are much more likely to contract diseases such as feline leukemia, immunodeficiency viruses, or diseases carried by fleas, ticks and other parasites. They can get sick from eating garbage or other contaminated morsels. Harsh weather can cause frostbite in winter and dehydration in summer. Outdoor cats have a typical lifespan of 3-5 years, while indoor cats can live 20 years or longer.
Here's Angus, one of our kitties who found a wonderful indoor home after a tough life on the streets. We're pretty sure in sticking out his tongue, he's expressing his opinion of mean people and other outdoor dangers. He's a cute guy now, but you wouldn't have thought so when he first came to us off the streets.
The origins of the Maine Coon have given rise to many legends. One of the wildest ones is that Maine Coons are the product of interbreeding between the American bobcat and domestic cats brought to North America on sailing ships that came to the Northeastern seaboard. This legend may have originated because Maine Coons have tufted ears and feet, like the bobcat. Another fantastic origin story is that Maine Coons originated when domestic cats bred with raccoons. Brown tabby Maine Coons, which occur most commonly in nature, may have looked like raccoons to early Americans. Also, Maine Coons sometimes chirp or trill, which sounds a bit like the cry of a young raccoon. It is genetically impossible for domestic cats to breed with raccoons or bobcats, but these legends provide for some amusing conversation.
Other legends are the stuff of historical romance. One tale has it that Captain Samuel Clough brought them over as part of an unsuccessful plot to smuggle Marie Antoinette out of France during the revolution. Captain Clough's ship was loaded with the Queen's luxurious personal items, including six of her favorite pet cats. Marie Antoinette was seized before she boarded, and when Captain Clough learned she had been taken, he hastily made his escape, taking the Queen's six cats to America where they bred with native cats to produce the Maine Coon.
Another sea captain figures in a different origin legend. That legend tells of an English captain, named Coon, who sailed up and down the New England coast with a host of cats aboard his ship. Predominant among his cats were longhaired Persians and Angoras, popular in England. When the caption went ashore, his cats accompanied him. Thus, when longhaired kittens started showing up in local litters, people would say that the mother cat had gotten "one of Coon's cats."
A more plausible legend is that Maine Coons are descended from Norwegian Skogkatts, or forest cats, brought over by the Vikings. These Skogkatts came out of the Scandinavian forests some time in the last 4,000 years. Today, they are known in this country as Norwegian Forest cats, and they do bear a close resemblance to Maine Coons, with their long fur and tufted ears and paws. Like Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest cats are among the most people-oriented cats.
Another plausible tale is that Maine Coons developed from cross-breeding between short-haired and long-haired cats brought to America by early settlers. Harsh New England winters and nature's own breeding program ultimately produced cats with long coats and tufts of fur on their feet that enabled them to survive through the winter.
Louie, a modern-day Maine Coon sailor, on "his" boat in San Diego.