Myths, legend and lore surround the Maine Coon Cat. Some
are amusing, some are fantastic flights of fantasy and some
are merely plausible. They certainly provide good material for
conversation. Many books and articles dealing with these aspects
of the Maine Coon Cat are available and have been well received
as people never seem to tire of the subject and are always eager to
learn more about this National Treasure.
The Maine Coon Cat is the native American long-haired cat
and was first recognized as a specific breed in Maine where it
was named the official cat of the state. These cats were held in
high regard by the locals for their mousing talents and special
competitions were even held to reward the best “Coon Cat.”
The Maine Coon cat evolved through nature’s own breeding
program developing characteristics by following a “survival of
the fittest” evolution. The characteristics all have a purpose or
function. Maine Coon cats developed into sturdy, working cats
suited to the harsh winters and varied seasons of the Northeast
region. The Maine Coon Cat of today is known for a sturdy, rugged
appearance, which includes an uneven, shaggy coat of three
distinct lengths and a long, well furnished tail. They carry that
tail proudly and use it to surround themselves for warmth and
protection. A Maine Coon Cat has large, well tufted paws to
allow ability to walk on top of snow despite size and weight.
Ears are large and well tufted for protection and warmth. Even
more than for beauty, Maine Coon Cats are noted for intelligence
and kindly disposition. After all, what they couldn’t obtain
themselves, they could always get by charming a nearby human.
Though their size can be intimidating, they are known for their
friendliness towards just about anything and are especially good
with children and other pets. For these reasons, they have been
dubbed the “Gentle Giant” of the cat fancy and are commonly
sought after as family pets, companions, and therapy cats.
After years of local competitions and adoration, the Maine Coon
Cat was chosen as Best Cat at the first major cat show ever held
in the United States. “Cosey,” a brown tabby female Maine
Coon Cat, was awarded this distinction at the Madison Square
Garden show held in NYC in May of 1895. The silver collar and
medal awarded to Cosey is on display at the CFA headquarters
in Alliance, Ohio.
The transition from adorned or glorified “Barn Cat” to
pedigreed CFA finalist was neither an easy one nor did it
happen quickly. The Maine Coon Cat was all the rage in the
early 20th century but lost popularity after the introduction of
other long-haired breeds to the U.S. The Maine Coon Cat was
even thought extinct in the 1950’s. Luckily, rumors of their
death were greatly exaggerated and thanks to the dedication
and perseverance of breeders, the Maine Coon Cat breed was
accepted for CFA championship status in 1976. At present,
sometimes the largest number of entries in a CFA show will be
Maine Coon Cats and it is not unusual for one of them to be
named Best Cat in a ring or even of the entire show. Recently,
GC, NW, Highlander Tony Bennett of Wenlock achieved one
of CFA’s top awards: Highest Scoring Cat in Premiership.
Maine Coon Cats are intelligent, trainable, described as “dog
like”. They will offer you hours of enjoyment with their antics but
can at times be intrusive. Without question they want to be part
of everything and your privacy may require a closed door between
you and your cat. Most Maine Coon Cats have a fondness of
water, to be in it, watch it, wash their food in it, or just plain play
in it, so don’t be surprised if you have an uninvited guest in your
shower or help washing the dishes on any given day.
The Maine Coon Cat has a silky and somewhat oily coat, it is
not dense and its upkeep is much easier than that of other longhaired
breeds. The coat is almost self-maintained but will require
occasional grooming. Because they love attention of any kind,
grooming is easily accomplished.
Maine Coon Cats are an affordable pedigreed addition to any
household. Prices vary in different areas of the country and
overseas, depending on an individual breeder’s guidelines.
“Show” vs. “pet” qualities are often a determining factor as well
as the pedigree or titles held by the cats in the kitten’s “family
tree.” However, many breeders offer retired show or breeding
cats at a reduced cost to welcoming homes.
Kittens are normally available after 12 weeks of age, once they
are weaned, physically stable, and have received basic inoculations.
Socialization, additional examinations, testing and/or guarantees
will vary from breeder to breeder. Maine Coon Cats and kittens are
available from reputable CFA breeders in most areas in the U.S.,
Canada, and overseas, however, the transportation of cats/kittens
to new homes depends on the individual breeder’s practices.
Your new Maine Coon Cat addition should be kept indoors,
spayed/neutered (if purchased as a pet) and be provided proper
nutrition and acceptable surfaces for expression of natural
behavior, for example, clean litter pans and scratching surfaces
(CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery and most
breeders will have related stipulations as part of their contract).
Available in a variety of about 75 different color combinations (with
the exception of pointed pattern and colors) and two acceptable
tabby patterns (classic and mackerel), there is a Maine Coon Cat
just right for anyone. Although it is impossible to predict longevity,
with proper care and nutrition, your Maine Coon Cat should give
you many years of love, enjoyment, and companionship.
For more information, please contact the Breed Council Secretary for this breed.