The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed.
The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are unknown — there are only speculation and folk tales.
One such folk tale involves Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that before her death, Antoinette attempted to escape France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. She loaded Clough’s ship with her most prized possessions, including six of her favorite Turkish Angora cats. Although she did not make it to the United States, her pets safely reached the shores of Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with other short-haired breeds and developed into the modern breed of the Maine Coon.
Another folk tale is that long-haired cats, were brought to New England during the 1700s by Vikings or English sailors. They were bred with domestic shorthair cats and the result was Maine coons.
First recorded in cat literature in 1861 with a mention of a black and white cat named “Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines,” Maine Coons were popular competitors at early cat shows in Boston and New York.
Several Maine Coon cats were shown in the first cat show ever held at Madison Square Garden in 1895, and one of them, an impresive female said to strongly resemble a racoon in size and color, was actually crowned Grand Champion of that historic show!
The invasion of glamourous Persian and exotic Siamese cats from England around the turn of the 20th century spelled the end of the Maine Coon’s popularity for about five decades. Things took a turn for the better in the 1960s, and the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association was formed in 1968.
Today these big, beautiful cats are among the world’s most popular breeds.
The Maine Coon is characterized by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, an uneven two layered coat with longer guard hairs over a silky satin undercoat, and a long, bushy tail.
The height of adults can vary between 25 and 41 cm (10 and 16 in) and they can reach a length of up to 120 cm (48 in), including the tail, which can reach a length of 36 cm (14 in) and is long, tapering, and heavily furred, almost resembling a raccoon‘s tail.
On average, males weigh from 5.9 to 8.2 kg (13 to 18 lb), with females weighing from 3.6 to 5.4 kg (8 to 12 lb).
The Maine Coon comes in almost any color or pattern with classic “tabby” or “tiger cat” patterns being most common.
The coat is soft and silky, although texture may vary with coat color.
The coat length is shorter on the head and shoulders, and longer on the stomach and flanks with some cats having a lion-like ruff around their neck.
In May 2018 the Maine Coon “Barivel” measured 123 cm (48.5 in) making him the longest cat ever measured. This was verified on 28 August 2010 by Guinness Book Of World Records.
The record for the longest whisker on a cat measured 19 cm (7.5 in) and belongs to Missi, a Maine coon who lives with her owner, Kaija Kyllönen. The whiskers were measured in Iisvesi, Finland on 22 December 2005.
While most cats reach their full size within their first year, Maine coon cats can take up to five years to reach maximum height, length and weight.
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, “the gentle giant.”
The Maine Coon is the most commonly found household cat in North America. The reason for its popularity and likableness is the friendly, quick and spirited nature of this breed of cats.
While most cats and kittens let out a meow to communicate with their people (and occasionally, other cats), Maine coons do not truly meow. Instead, they chirp and trill (which is a combination of a meow and a purr).
Unlike many cats, Maine coon cats actually like water and are super strong swimmers.
The Maine coon cat was recognized as the official state cat of Maine in 1985.