Stories abound with regard to the origins of the Maine Coon cats. The ancestors of this breed had most probably arrived in North America with European colonists. These cats were thought to be brought on board ships by journeying humans for the purpose of protecting food stores from rodents. The weather in New England was severe and those first years had been a struggle for the cats. Those that survived were the ones who were the quickest and most adaptable. The adverse weather conditions had developed the Maine Coons into a hardy breed. They have large bodies and an excellent hunting skill. Its over-sized and nimble paws were also developed for their environment then.
This beautiful breed was shown in local cat shows in the early 1860s and captivated many with its stunning beauty and size. The love from the fanciers did not last when they decided to turn their backs in favor of the other cats being imported from Europe in the 20th century. One such breed was the Persians, which had waned off the popularity of the Maine Coon breed while winning many show rings. The Maine Coon soon fell into a rarity.
However, with dedicated fanciers comes the hope of a comeback. The Central Maine Cat Club was formed in 1953 to help promote the breed. Interest in the breed was rekindled during the Maine Coon shows that were held in Maine. Efforts were extended by the club in writing one of the first breed standards and in keeping the breeding records. In 1968 the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) was formed by breeders and fanciers to preserve, protect and promote the breed. The organization worked to restore the respect that is deserving of the Maine Coon.
Physical appearance and attributes
This giant of cats can weigh up to 25 pounds, although the average weight is a hefty 17 pounds for adult males. Females weigh between 9 – 13 pounds. Maine Coon has a muscular and long body. It stands and sits in dignity with its broad chest. All other parts of the Maine Coon are well-balanced and proportionate to its body; not one feature is more dominant than the other. Every angle of the Maine Coon spells strength. Solidly built, it has a substantial, medium length legs that walks on large, well-tufted snowshoe paws. The hind legs appear straight from the back. Balancing its well-developed frame is a long tail that is wide at the base. It tapers into a gorgeous plume, which the Maine Coon swishes it proudly around its body.
Maine Coon has a head of medium width and is slightly longer than it is wide. It has high cheekbones and its muzzle is visibly square, medium in length and rounded when viewed in profile. The chin is strong and firm. A slight concave can be also be traced from its profile. Its large ears are well-tufted and wide at the base. They sit upright atop the head and tapers to a point. The ear tufts may extend the tips of the ears like a special adornment. Its wide-set eyes are oval and have a slight upward slant towards the ears. Colors of eyes rang from shades of green, gold, green-gold or copper. They are not linked to coat colors. The medium length neck wears a stunning ruff that falls gorgeously to its chest level.
Adding to the stately and stunning appearance is its thick coat that is semi-long, all weather and water-resistant. Though heavy and shaggy, they do not mat easily. The hair is shorter on the shoulder and extends on the tummy and britches. Silky in texture, they fall smoothly over the entire body. Maine Coon has a wide palette of coat colors and patterns, even though the brown tabby and brown tabby with white are the most popular. There are however exceptions due to hybridization that result in colors such as chocolate, lavender, the pointed pattern and agouti. A slow developing breed, the Maine Coon usually takes four years for full musculature.
Personality and temperament
The Maine Coon has a heart that matches its size. It is loaded with loving devotions and playfulness well into its old age. It might appear to be unapproachable when first introduced to a new home, but the Maine Coon is a highly adaptable breed. Give it some time and close bonds will soon be easily established. It will then prove itself to be a devoted companion. Such devotion comes with a desire to maintain proximity with its favorite members of the family.
Whether it is fixing dinner, watching you surf the net or making beds, the Maine Coon would seek to be involved in your everyday routine and family activities. Possessing a liking for water, it finds pleasure in dapping its paws into its water bowls and enjoys plunging itself into pools of water.
This gentle giant has a contrastingly sweet, small voice for its size. This breed is capable of making a variety of sounds and has an interesting array and combination of cheeps, chirps, trills and meows for their range of emotions and sentiments.
Care and health issues
This is a healthy and hearty breed with a general lifespan of between 12 -1 5 years. Health issues that are of concern include the common feline heart disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Maine Coon is also prone spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), an inherited disease which causes the death of spinal cord neurons that activate skeletal muscles. This will result in weak muscles, muscle and atrophy and a shortened life span. The disease is governed by a recessive gene and has no cure.
Maine Coon is also known to have feline hip dysplasia, an inherited joint disorder. Though this disease is not life threatening, extreme pain and stiffness can be experienced. This might lead to lameness, dysfunction and often crippling osteoarthritis as the cat gets older. Obtaining the cat from a qualified breeder would ensure that it has undergone all the necessary tests for a written health guarantee that shows that it is free from any genetic diseases.
Even though the medium length coat needs frequent grooming, it is relatively easy. The coat does not matte easily, thus, the twice weekly combing serves to only remove dead hair and to keep it neat and healthy. Other basic grooming that needs to be carried out include weekly nail trimming and regular teeth brushing. Check also for accumulated dirt or odor in the ears and clean them when necessary. Products for grooming need to be vet-approved and gentle on the cat.
The ideal home
The friendly and laid back Maine coon can be an ideal pet for most friendly. It can adapt well to children and other cat-friendly dogs. Though moderately active, the Maine Coon would still appreciate any play space that is filled with interactive toys and cat trees to keep it active. A safe outdoor garden would be ideal for its exploring and hunting instinct.
This mellow yet affectionate breed will be an endearing companion to any family, supplying the home with much warmth and joy for a long time.