Breed Description

One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine Coon is generally regarded as a native of the State of Maine.

Most breeders today believe that the breed originated through matings between preexisting shorthaired domestic cats and overseas longhairs (perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen, or longhairs brought to America by the Vikings).

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.

Because the Maine Coon breed resulted from natural adaptations to the harsh New England climate, everything about the Maine Coon suggest a rugged hardiness. Its glossy coat, heavy and water-resistant, is like that of no other breed, and must be felt to be truly appreciated. The coat is longer on the ruff, stomach, and britches to protect against wet and snow, and shorter on the back and neck to guard against tangling in underbrush. The coat falls smoothly, and requires little maintenance – a weekly combing is all that is usually required to keep it in top condition. The long, bushy tail, which the cat wraps around himself when he curls up to sleep, can protect him from cold winters. His ears are more heavily furred (both inside and on the tips) than most breeds for protection from the cold, and have a large range of movement. Big, round, tufted feet help them negotiate uneven terrain and serve as "snow shoes." Their large eyes and ears are also survival traits, serving as they do to increase sight and hearing. The relatively long, square muzzle facilitates grasping prey and lapping water from streams and puddles.

The Maine Coon is one of the largest domestic breeds. They are tall, muscular, and big-boned; males commonly reach 13 to 18 pounds, and females normally weigh about 9 to 12 pounds. Add to that two or three inches of winter coat, and people will swear that they're looking at one big cat.

Maine Coons develop slowly, and don't achieve their full size until they are three or four years old. Their dispositions remain kittenish throughout their lives; they are big, gentle, good-natured goofs – the gentle giants of the cat world. Even their voices set them apart from other cats; they have a distinctive, chirping trill, which they use for everything from courting to cajoling their people into playing with them. Maine Coons love to play, and many will joyfully retrieve small items. They rarely meow, and when they do, that soft, high-pitched voice doesn't fit their size!

The important features of the Maine Coon are the head and body shape, and the texture and "shag" of the coat. The head is slightly longer than it is wide, presenting a gently concave profile with high cheekbones and ears that are large, wide at the base, moderately pointed, and well tufted inside. They are set well up on the head, approximately an ear's width apart. Lynx-like tufting on the top of the ears is desirable. The neck should be medium-long, the torso long, and the chest broad. The tail should be at least as long as the torso. One of their most distinctive features is their eyes, which are large, round, expressive, and set at a slightly oblique angle. Overall, the Maine Coon should present the appearance of a well balanced, strongly built, rectangular cat.

Throughout their history there has been no restriction on the patterns and colors acceptable, with the exception of the pointed Siamese pattern. As a result, a wide range of colors and patterns are bred. Eye colors for all coat colors range through green, gold, and hazel (green-gold). Blue eyes and odd eyes (one blue eye and one gold, green, or hazel eye) are also permissible in white cats

Many people consider Maine Coons the perfect domestic pets, with their clown-like personalities, very affectionate natures, amusing habits and tricks, willingness to "help" with any activity, and easily groomed coats. They make excellent companions for large, active families that also enjoy having dogs and other animals around

Adapted from "The Maine Coon" By Mike and Trish Simpson