The Maine Coon Cat – Born of Legend, Myth & Folklore

Perhaps one of the most beloved of all animal breeds, let alone feline breeds, the Maine Coon Cat is often called the “dog of the cat world”. These gentle giants have been a longtime favorite for companionship and are one of the oldest natural breeds in America, and are in fact the official state cat of Maine.


The breed has a face with a square muzzle, a thick neck, large ears, big, rounded eyes, and a large, muscular body. The tail is long and relatively bushy.

Maine Coons are very large and energetic cats, sometimes weighing up to 25 pounds); the average weight is 13-20 pounds for adult males and 7-11 pounds for females. Male Maine Coons may grow to a length in excess of 40 inches.  Growth to full size often takes longer than for most cats, with Maine Coons usually reaching full size at age four or five.

Here are 7 fun facts you may not know:

FACT #1:  They have a LOT of Origin Stories (most are nonsense)

The origin stories for the Maine Coon Cat rival the tall tales of Paul Bunyan (another Maine native).  Some say that this breed originated when a wild cat bred with a raccoon. Obviously biologically impossible, this myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a raccoon-like brown tabby) could have led to the adoption of the name “Maine Coon.” Another legend is that the cat was named after a ship’s captain named Coon who was responsible for the cat reaching Maine shores.  Another folktale involves Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, who attempted an escape with Capt. Samuel Clough in 1793.  Her prized possessions, including six beloved cats, were stashed on this ship. Though she didn’t escape her beheading, her cats arrived safely in Massachusetts.


The truth however, is much less dramatic, in the 17th and 18th centuries, domestic cats brought to the new lands, from Europe faced very severe winters in New England, only the strongest and most adaptable cats survived. Through natural selection (as opposed to selective breeding), the Maine Coon developed into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant, thick coat and a hardy constitution.  These days, the breed has many more recognized colors, including black, blue, cream, red, tortoiseshell, blue tortoiseshell, white, smoke, silver tabby, brown tabby, red tabby, blue tabby, cream tabby, and bi-color.

FACT #2: They are the Largest Domestic Cat

The term “gentle giant” is used frequently with this breed, and for good reason: They can reach 18 pounds and up to 40 inches tall. Their size makes them the largest domestic cat in the world, and their fluffy long hair makes them appear to be much larger than their substantial proportions.


FACT #3: They Love the Water

Much like their canine counterparts, Maine Coon Cats love the water. Their water-resistant fur makes swimming pleasurable and easy for Maine Coon Cats. Where Maine Coon Cats do not prefer to be up for play or hunting, many owners fill up bathtubs to allow their cat the opportunity to play and release energy.  The Main Coon cat in the photo below is an extraordinary therapy cat called Thula…read her story here: Autistic Girl and Therapy Cat


FACT #4: The Dog of the Cat World

Maine Coon Cats have gotten this reputation honestly. The breed is a loving, affectionate, loyal, and playful breed.  The Maine Coon is usually a social creature and gets on with other cats, dogs, and children. These cats have great personalities and are a great cat breed for family homes.  Interestingly, many do not prefer climbing or being perched like most other cats, but rather prefer to stay near the ground.


Due to their above-average intelligence, Maine Coons are known to be one of the easiest cat breeds to train. Maine Coons occasionally engage in mischievous behavior when bored, such as deliberately pushing things off tables and the tops of refrigerators with their paws.

FACT #5: They Don’t Meow

The vocalization of the Maine Coon Cat is very distinct and does not involve meowing. These cats are known for their chirp and their trill, vocalizations that serve two very specific purposes: Chirping to identify prey, and trilling to express happiness. When they trill their meows, it sounds like a combination of a purr and a meow, and they tend to make this sound when happy or startled.


FACT #6: They are Well Suited for Tough Winter Weather

Maine Coon Cats, much like the residents of the state they are named after, are ready for tough winters. They have a long and shaggy coat that includes multiple layers of fur. They also have large paws that enable them to walk on the snow with relative ease. Maine Coon Cats also have tufts of hair in their ears and large bushy tails to use for additional warmth.


FACT #7: They made Cat History in the United States over 100 Years Ago

The Maine Coon Cat was the first winner of the American Cat Show, held in New York City back in 1895. The first winner of this event was a brown tabby Maine Coon Cat named Cosey.


This breed of cat is also known for having a tendency to use their front paws a lot. Whether for eating, playing with toys, drinking or getting into trouble, the Maine coon likes the dexterity and ability of front paw use.

A Maine Coon cat would be right at home in a family that has children and other pets. This breed has long been recognized and sought out for its people-oriented nature, easy-going personality and fondness for companionship, be it with people or other animals.

Be sure to check out this Maine Coon Cat who plans to sail the world




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  11. Sharon P Bontreger June 4, 2022

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