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
Another distinguishing feature are the tufts of hair that protrude from the ears and between the toes of the cat’s feet. That extra hair in the ears make their hearing that much more acute, and the tufts between the toes also helps the cat with their “snowshoe” feet and keeps them warm.
My next cat will sooooo be a Main Coon – love them!
My sister has a coon. They spend their summers by a lake and the cat just loves the water. So fun to watch.
are they related to Norwegian Forest Cats?
Check out the breed. Which came first? Probably the Norwegian Forest Cat.
Coon cats have water-resistant fur which makes them unafraid of water and many are good swimmers. We have 2 but one is too fat now and has gotten quite lazy.
Coon cats are awesome. Ours will play fetch and we can even walk her on a leash!
I could be wrong and only a feline genome project will tell for sure, but I think there’s a simple solution to the Maine Coon origin question. When visiting Maine years ago I noticed that a large percentage of the people were of Scotish, Norwegian, and Russian descent. So, I think Highlander Cats (nearly extinct now), Norwegian Forrest , and Siberian Forrest Cats came with these folks and mated with the Northwoods Wildcat ; also believed to be extinct now.
Look at those feet, the tale, the shape of the skull, the liking to play in water, etc. The Northwoods wildcat was known to love playing in water and had that big snowshoe feet.
This is my first Maine Coon, she’s feral and BY FAR the BEST CAT EVER, ours name is Mittens, as all of her feet are white, she is a loving cat and is absolutely stunning. She is my first cat to sleep in the bed with my husband and I and our Pomeranian. She loves her cat tree, it’s about 6′ tall, and adores her “baby” it’s a stuffed animal with cat nip and she will sit and meow to it; while playing with it. They call it a maternal sound she’s making toward the toy/baby. I will never have any other breed now that we have Mittens.
I wanted a companion for my older cat miss kitty. I went to Paws and picked a cool cat that I liked. They got along fine after some hisses and batting. My husband told me they had a big cat that turned out to become a huge male Maine coon. Neat cat. Well I looked our new cat she was a Maine coon. Comes when I call her, sleeps on my bed, loves my lap. I just love her.
Coon cats are awesome. Thanks
We have Maine Coon/Munchkin kittens. Not short legged, but are adorable.