Maine Coons are the oldest natural cat breed in North America. They are also one of the biggest breeds of domestic cats. It is native to Maine and is the official state cat. Because of this, surely there is plenty to learn about these cool cats!
According to experts, these cats grew thick, long hair through natural adaptation. The same is true of their larger size (compared to other domestic breeds). They are quite different than other domestic breeds because they love water and have more dog-like intelligence. They don’t meow, but chirp instead.
These unique cats have been called many names over the years, including Coon Cat, Maine Cat, Maine Shag, American Longhair, American Coon Cat, Snowshoe Cat, and American Forest Cat. They are most commonly known as the Maine Coon.
There are many different legends about where the Maine Coon originated from. This makes it tricky to truly track down their real origins. This is likely due to the uniqueness of the cat. Plus, they have been around for a fairly long time.
The Legend of Marie Antoinette and Captain Coon
One of the legends is that the Maine Coon came as the offspring of Marie Antoinette’s Angoras. The legend says that, prior to her execution, Antoinette was attempting to escape. Captain Samuel Clough helped her to fill his ship with her possessions. Antoinette put her six Turkish Angoras on the ship. Then, of course, she was executed. Her cats arrived in Wiscasset, Maine. There, they bred with short-haired breeds.
Another belief is that these cats were on Captain Charles Coon’s ships. Coon was an English seafarer. For some reason, he kept cats on his ship. Once the ship was docked in New England, the cats would mate with feral cats near the ports. This occurred in many ports throughout New England. The kittens that were born with longer hair were called “Coon’s cats”, which would explain the nickname of the breed.
Are Maine Coons Part Racoon?
There are other legends and myths about Maine Coons. One states that the Maine Coon is a result of semi-feral cats mating with raccoons. That'a a rather silly theory! Another theory is that the Maine Coon came from domestic cats and bobcats. We may never know the actual true story, but there are plenty of legends to consider. They’re definitely fun to think about!
There is one particular story that makes the most sense. It’s more logical than the other Maine Coon ancestral beliefs. It’s believed that the Maine Coon came about when domestic short hair cats and long-haired cats mated. Notice that this likelier story includes a little bit of the information from the myths listed previously. There may also be links between the Norwegian Forest Cat, which is a breed that once traveled with Norsemen.
Maine Coons Get Recognized at Cat Shows
It is thought that the domestic short-haired cats came from New England and the long-haired cats came from Europe. This began sometime between the 17th and 18th centuries. The first time that Maine Coons were truly recognized as a breed was in 1861. This first recognized Maine Coon was a 22-pound male. This is pretty standard size, considering the Maine Coon Cat is the biggest domesticated kitty.
In 1870, Maine Coons found their place as show cats. This was because of their unique appearance and the size of the cats. The first North American cat show took place in 1895 in New York City. This event, which was held at Madison Square Garden, featured Cosey, a Maine Coon brown tabby. Cosey took home the silver collar and the title of Best in Show.
This lasted until the early 1900s. Because of the other long-haired cat breeds sych as Persians appearing in shows, the Maine Coons were replaced. In the late 1950s, Maine Coons were listed as extinct. The main reason that people believed that they were extinct was that the other long-haired breeds that took over the cat shows.
It turned out that the announcement was quite premature. During this time, Maine Coons were still around in Maine, but not anywhere else. A group called the Central Maine Cat Club was able to share with the public that Maine Coons still exist. The Central Maine Cat Club are the ones responsible for setting the breed standard.
After the Central Maine Cat Club was ended, the Cat Fanciers’ Association refused to recognize the Maine Coon as a breed. This meant that Maine Coons could not be a part of championship cat shows.
Thank you to The Maine Coon Cat Club
The Maine Coon Cat Club, which was started in 1973, had some major contributions to the breed’s acceptance. Because of these organizations and their hard work for Maine Coons, the Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized the cats for provisional status. This was in 1975. In 1976, the cats could be a part of the championships.
As a result, the Maine Coon became a very popular cat breed. For a couple of decades, the Maine Coon’s popularity continued to rise. They had some great championship victories. They achieved high rankings nationally too. The Maine Coon is always a crowd favorite at the cat shows.
All of the hard work from the Central Maine Cat Club and the Maine Coon Cat Club paid off. Today, Maine Coons come in 2nd place for popular cat breeds, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
Because the history of the Maine Coon is a bit unclear, it is interesting to investigate the different legends and myths. This cat is truly a unique breed, which brings even more value to its rich history. Maine Coons are an excellent cat breed to bring into your home. These gentle giants are very sociable and get along well with others.