The Maine Coon is a widely recognized breed of cats, known for its grand body size which makes it top the list of natural purebred felines. These cats are not only physically beautiful but also have a friendly and amiable personality, making them the third most popular cat species in the US. Discover more about the American Maine Longhair cat breed in this article by tindongvat.
I- Origin and History of the Maine Coon
The Maine Coon is a natural breed of cats that hail from the state of Maine, United States. They are usually identified by their long and thick fur coat that represents the long-haired American cat breed. Although there are several speculations and tales about the origin of these felines, the true history of their existence remains unknown. However, one of the widely accepted theories is that the Maine Coon is a descendant of the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian Cat.
The first theory surrounding the origin of Maine Coon cats revolves around Queen Marie Antoinette’s attempt to flee France in 1792 with Captain Samuel Clough’s help. Marie Antoinette was a queen consort of France from 1774 to 1792, but due to a grave error, she faced the death penalty. In an act of desperation, she planned to escape with her 6 Angora Turkish cats and some personal possessions. Although she did not manage to escape, the cats were taken by Captain Clough to the coast of Wisconsin, Maine, where they mated with local cats, giving rise to the Maine Coon breed. These new felines were named after the place they were born, earning them the nickname “big kittens”.
Captain Charles Coon was an ordinary sailor who had a great passion for cats, particularly for long-haired breeds. During a stopover in Maine, New England, he and his crew of furry companions strolled down the streets where they mated with local street cats, thus creating a new breed of cat by accident. The locals named these kittens Maine Coon after the port and the captain’s name. Although the breeding and development programs of Maine Coon cats were quite popular in 1895, they were overshadowed by the popularity of Persian and Siamese cat breeds. As a result, the Maine Coon breed was almost forgotten, and at one point, it was believed to be extinct. It took until 1976 for the breed to be officially recognized by the CFA association after three previous rejections. The Maine Coon enthusiasts fought hard to have the breed accepted, and by the 2010s, it had become the third most popular cat breed in the United States.
Maine Coon cats are known for being the largest natural breed of cats in the world. While the Savannah cat may be larger, it is a hybrid breed. These cats have large skeletons and muscular bodies that are well-proportioned. They can grow up to 41 cm tall and 120 cm long from head to tail when fully grown. The weight of male cats can range from 5.9 to 8.2 kg, while females can weigh between 3.6 and 5.4 kg.
The head of the Maine Coon cat is also quite large, but it is proportional to their body size. Their chin is relatively large, and their muzzle often forms a square shape. This is one of the distinguishing features of this breed, which sets it apart from other similar breeds like the Siberian or Norwegian Forest Cat.
Their ears are also notable for being large, erect and wide, and there is typically a tuft of long hair at the top of each ear. The hair around their earlobes is also quite long. Their eyes tend to be round, and they can be blue, yellow, or bronze in color. Even two-color eye colors are acceptable for white-haired Maine Coon cats.
The Maine Coon cat has a unique and thick coat that is perfect for all kinds of weather. The two-layered coat is long and slightly shaggy. It tends to be thicker in the winter and thinner in the summer. The lower body areas such as the belly and legs have denser hair which helps insulate the cat when lying on the snow or in wet areas. The tail hair is also thick and long, which the cat can roll up to the face to keep it warmer while sleeping.
The chest coat of Maine Coon cats is thicker and tends to form a mane. This, combined with their long and large chin, gives them the appearance of a little lion. The coat is especially long between the toes, which helps them walk on the snow without getting cold. Maine Coon cats come in a variety of colors, with up to 75 different coat colors accepted, except for hybrid colors such as Siamese, chocolate, ticked tabby, lilac, and hyma.
Despite their large size and rough appearance, Maine Coon cats have a gentle and friendly personality. They easily accept and make companions with foster people or other friendly animals such as dogs, cats, and hamsters. They have a high energy level and need a spacious area and a caring owner to play and work with every day. Maine Coon cats are quite vocal and tend to meow when bored or hungry. They like attention and may hover around you, lie on your documents while working, or crawl between your hands while you’re on the phone. They are also very obedient and will regretfully apologize when they do something wrong.
The Maine Coon cat is generally considered a healthy breed with no specific diseases to worry about. They have an average lifespan of 12.5-15 years and can live up to 20 years. However, due to their large size, they may be prone to a few health problems such as hip dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, spinal muscular atrophy, polycystic kidney disease, and obesity. It is important to monitor your cat’s health and take them to the vet if you notice any unusual symptoms.
When it comes to caring for a Maine Coon, their diet and care may require some special attention due to their size. It is unnecessary to feed them double or triple the amount of food a regular cat would eat. Instead, feed them only a quarter more than average and allow them to regulate their own intake. It is recommended to combine dry and fresh food or rotate different foods weekly and monthly to help their teeth work properly. Additionally, use nuts specially designed for Maine Coons to accommodate their larger chins.
Maine Coons also require daily grooming to prevent shedding and tangling of their thick coats. Use a specialized comb and pay attention to the hairs on their feet and near their tail as these areas are prone to attracting waste. Bathing them once a week or taking them to a spa can help keep their coat clean and smelling good.
Lastly, exercise is crucial to prevent obesity. Although they may be lazy, take them for walks in the park or play with them at home for 15-20 minutes a day.