The world is in love with a specific breed of cat and doesn’t even know it. I am referring to the beloved Maine Coon breed of cat. This distinctive cat breed has amassed a following across so many broad audiences, that no other cat breed compares.
The general movie-watching public might recognize a Maine Coon in Mrs. Norris, the cat inside Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. A person who goes to a cat show would surely spot many Maine Coon, winning awards as professional show cats. Those at a hospital or nursing home will come across Maine Coons working as therapy cats: dispensing comfort and furry hugs to those who need it.
Fans of The Tiger King from Netflix, and other big cats in general, adore Maine Coons, as Maine Coons are the largest domestic cat breed in the world. And finally, owners of Maine Coon cats recognize this friendly breed as the most family-oriented and loyal cats they’ve had the pleasure of living with.
But how did this breed get to this status and what makes them so special? Let’s start at the beginning.
The American Dream
The Maine Coon breed’s origin story is one that parallels many American families. It’s a palatable, rags to riches tale we can all find appealing. To start, the Maine Coon, like their name suggests, are a native of Maine, the state in the Northeastern United States. Mainers are proud of this breed, so much that the Maine Coon is Maine’s official state cat.
But it was not always like this. The descendants of Maine Coon are actually immigrants who hitched a ride with Vikings or ships as they sailed from Europe. These long-haired cats (perhaps Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, or Angora breeds) were a staple on these ships for their mousing skills. Once they landed in New England, these cats mingled with the local shorthaired cats and the Maine Coon breed was created.
Later on, humans began to accept Maine Coons and started letting them stay indoors, in barns and houses. This was because of the same skill that earned them a spot on ships: their superior mousing and vermin hunting abilities. Once humans started living with these charming cats, a beautiful relationship began.
From House Cat to Show Cat
Maine Coons quickly gained popularity as family cats, and breeders marketed them as animals found in the “finest families.” The desirability behind Maine Coons was propelled in large part to their unique appearance: slightly wild, large, and majestic.
Once in the households of fine and normal families, it was only a matter of time before owners did the natural next thing: put them in cat shows and hit the big time. In 1895, a Maine Coon named Cosey won the “Best Long-Haired Cat in Show” category at one of the first cat shows in the United States, held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cosey was a role model for the Maine Coon breed standard in competition, and show cats today owe her a lot.
In contemporary times, visit a CFA or TICA accredited cat show to see shining examples of Maine Coons. These are places where hard-working breeders show off their cattery’s lines. If interested in a Maine Coon yourself, talk to breeders and pick up some business cards. But do not discuss business. A cat show is a busy, frantic place and it’s amenable to make plans and visit their cattery later. Finally, expect to pay a lot of money for a purebred Maine Coon with a pedigree from legitimate catteries. Prices start at $1000-$1200.
The Maine Coon has looks that kill, with a personality that endears their way into the most ardent cat opposer. Let’s talk about those looks first.
Maine Coons are large cats, often dramatically large. They dwarf your plain domestic shorthair cats in height, weight, and length. Adult males are between 15-25 pounds, with females coming in at between 10-18 pounds! If you measure a Maine Coon from nose to tail, you can expect them to be between 3-4 feet or 30-40 inches.
That’s a lot of cat, and the impression is made even stronger by the solid, square body structure and thick limbs.
But that’s not all. The Maine Coon’s coat is long, silky, and dramatic too. The coat is strategically longer by the neck and chest, along the belly and flanks, and back of legs. Extra tufts of fur sprout from the ears and between the claws of each paw. All this helps with snow protection. Maine Coon cats can walk through deep snow without exposing those sensitive areas directly to the elements. Their tails are extraordinarily thick and fluffy, like a raccoon. Hence, their namesake.
Mother Nature bestowed these abilities to the Maine Coon, and as a side benefit, they look really cool. The long fur on the neck and chest make up a regal mane. The other parts of the shaggy, uneven, long-haired coat lend a wonderful wildness to the overall impression. No wonder we have adored this breed since 1895.
True Family Cat
While their mousing skills brought Maine Coons indoors and in cohabitation with humans, it’s their lovable personality that continues to charm. To put it simply, this cat breed is an easy-going companion to humans, that is pleasant and easy to live with.
Maine Coons are adoptable and can share living environments and situations with humans of all ages, not to mention other pets. The big difference between owning a Maine Coon vs other cats is to provide properly sized supplies: food bowls, toys, cat trees, and so on.
The above could be said about most cats. But, Maine Coons have other…more unique personality traits. They are not shy, like other cats. They actually enjoy new people, provided those people are giving them attention and pats on the head. When friends come over, Maine Coons are the first ones to exhibit friendly curiosity and go over to meet them.
Maine Coons also have a water-infatuation. The most adventurous Maine Coons are found swimming in lakes and pools. Typical Maine Coons have been known to turn on the sink and stick their paws in the stream to play around with water. The same is true for bathtubs, toilets, water fountains or bowls, and just about any body of water. Maine Coons break the belief that all cats hate the water. And wise owners agree on keeping their toilet lid closed at all times.
Here’s another amazing thing: Maine Coons actually exhibit dog-like characteristics. Many owners have trained their cats to play fetch and go on walks. Then there’s the loyalty. If you’re in their trusted inner circle, they might follow you around the house as a “supervisor.” Come home from work and they run to the door to greet you, often with a chirp of happiness. This is your signal to proceed with the pets and snacks. If you close the door on them, Maine Coons sit down in front of the door until you open it up again. No fuss, no anxiety!
Maine Coons are an American success story. In the beginning, they had jobs as mousers and catchers of vermin. We humans noticed this fine specimen doing great work and brought them into our homes. From there, their distinctive appearance and winning personality captured our hearts. Now, you can find Maine Coons on the show cat circuit, in movies, and of course, in our homes as the third most popular breed of cat in the USA. They are beautiful, low maintenance, social pets, and a great addition to your family.