The Maine Coon is one of the largest among breeds of domestic cats and is often referred to as the ?gentle giant? of the cat fancy. It is lynx-like in appearance, yet gentle in temperament. It is North America?s only natural longhair breed, and the state of Maine?s official cat.ÿDescription:The Maine Coon is a mixture of elegance and ruggedness, wildness and gentleness. It is a large, semi-long-haired cat, with a shaggy coat, large ears and a extremely long, full, plume tail; a ?working? cat, able to fend for its self in rough, woody terrain and under extreme climate conditions, exhibiting exceptional strength due to heavy boning and sturdy muscles. Maines are very slow to mature, not reaching full growth until three to five years of age. Males weight between twelve and eighteen pounds; females usually smaller. The Maine, however, should not be judged on poundage and size alone. Without the large ears, high cheekbones, strong, square muzzle, the long, strong rectangular body, firm legs and large paws, and the extra-long bushy tail, the ?look? is not there. The head shape is a broad modified wedge, with rounded contours, wide nose and a square muzzle. The strikingly large, wide ears are set well apart on top of the head, never on the sides, and should not flare out. Lynx tipping and ear furnishings are desirable. The eyes are large and oval. Legs should be of medium length. The tail should be the same length as the measure from the base of the neck to the base of the spine. The shaggy, uneven coat lies flat, having very little undercoat. Toe tufts may be present, which some believe, aides the cats on walking on snow. Maine Coons may be shown in all colors and patterns except the pointed, sepia and mink colors.
Many believe the Norwegian Forest cat to be an ancestor of the Maine Coon; indeed, some of the present-day Norwegian Forest cats in Norway resemble the Maine Coon. Other believe them to be the result of mating, in Maine, between semi-wild domestic cats and raccoons ( a genetic impossibility), hence the name. Another story tells that a cat was brought by ship to Maine by a certain Captain Coon, and that it escaped, lived in the woods and with the semi-wild domestic cats. The breed probably developed through a process of natural selection. Whatever the origin, it may be surmised that breeders discovered these wonderful animals and carefully bred them to preserve the look of the original ?wild? Maine Coons.There is little doubt that this breed has been around for a long time. Maine Coons were exhibited in many of the early cat shows, one winning the 1895 Madison Square Gardens Cat Show. These magnificent cats fell from favor with the arrival of the flashier Persians from Great Britain, only to come back to full glory in recent years through the dedicated efforts of American breeders. The earlier Maine Coons were often regarded with disdain, some breeders referring to them as barn cats or alley cats. They did not have an eye for the rugged beauty of this cat! In the 1950s Maine Coons were shown once again and in the 1970s they started making a real comeback by winning the Best in Show awards. The Maines of today hold their own with any other breed. In the past, judges had been reluctant to award these rugged-looking, unpolished cats, so different from the manicured, every-hair-in-place, magnificent Persians. In today?s cat shows, Maines outnumber some of the other breeds. The Maines are here to stay!
Males tend to be very possessive of their owner and extremely loyal. Females may appear, at times, to be grumpy, especially I they can bluff you. They may first growl; if that doesn?t work, they will ?huff and puff?. Even small kittens can call this bluff, causing the twelve pounder to slink away with tail between its legs. The females are excellent mothers, which is just as well, as litters may number seven or eight kittens. Maines are extremely intelligent and exhibit a keen interest in their surroundings. These are mellow cats, amiable and ealy to get along with when they know you. They give the impression of being kind and considerate. They do not necessarily want to be held, but want to be close to the person they love, following from room to room. Usually they will bond with only one person and are completely loyal to that individual. Maine Coons are usually very quiet, although when they see something as interesting as a bug or bird, they many stand on their hind legs, like a bear, and make a chirping sound. Many Maines will fetch and return an object. They do not like to be restricted, yet, loving the outdoors, they can be trained to walk on a leash. A Maine Coon will enjoy the snow and seem to even enjoy getting wet. These are truly gentle giants; they own you, not the other way around.