Lots of myths surround the origin of the Maine Coon, from the belief that he’s the result of a cross between a cat and a raccoon — biologically impossible — to the fanciful notion that he descends from French cats sent to Maine by Marie Antoinette in anticipation of her intended escape from France. More likely, the cats descend from meet-ups between shorthaired domestic cats already in this country and dashing longhaired foreign cats brought home as souvenirs by New England sailors. Some even say the Vikings might have brought longhaired cats with them when they touched the shores of America a thousand years ago, and indeed there is a resemblance between the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat. Wherever they came from, the cats were viewed as household and farm workers, highly valued for their mousing talent.
The first mention of a cat called a Maine Coon occurred in 1861, in reference to a black and white specimen named Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines. It wasn’t unusual to see Maine Coons at the then-new and popular events called cat shows held in Boston and New York. In 1895, a brown tabby Maine Coon named Cosie won Best Cat at the Madison Square Garden Show.
Today, Maine Coons are among the most popular pedigreed cats. They rank third among the breeds registered by the Cat Fanciers Association.
What They Are Like to Live With
They tend to be a hardy breed, but are at risk for hip dysplasia, polycystic kidney disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Things You Should Know
Bestowed many nicknames, including “Gentle Giant,” “Feline Greeters of the World” and “Shags.”
This longhaired breed requires minimal grooming because they keep their coats in top condition.
Look like small bobcats.
They are slow growers, reaching full maturity by age 4 or 5.
Maine Coon Temperament and Personality
The Maine Coon is sweet and friendly, with the typically curious cat nature. He is a sociable cat who loves his family but isn’t demanding of attention. He’ll follow you around and show an interest in what you’re doing, and if you’d like to give him some lap time, he’s happy to oblige.
This is one of those cats who gets along with everyone, including dogs and other cats. He enjoys playing fetch and is willing to learn to walk on a leash, making him a great choice for anyone who travels frequently and would like to bring a feline companion along. When you’re not home with him, keep your Maine Coon entertained with puzzle toys, a bird feeder he can watch from the window and a water bowl he can splash in.
Maine Coons communicate with a variety of sounds. In addition to the all-purpose meows and purrs, you will hear them cheep, chirp and trill, incongruous sounds coming from a gentle giant. They use body language, too. A Maine Coon will give you a nice head butt to let you know just how special you are to him.
Maine Coons can adapt to any type of home in any climate. They are built for cold outdoor living, but it’s safer to keep them inside so they don’t get hit by cars or run the risk of disease spread by other cats.
The Basics of Maine Coon Grooming
The Maine Coon has a heavy, shaggy coat that’s silky to the touch. It rarely mats and weekly combing is all that’s needed to care for it. Combing removes the dead hairs that would otherwise be ingested by your cat when he bathes himself, resulting in hairballs. Trim the nails as needed, usually every 10 days to two weeks. Cats can be prone to periodontal disease, so brush the teeth at home with a vet-approved pet toothpaste and schedule regular veterinary dental cleanings.