The Maine Coon is a native New Englander, hailing from Maine, where he was a popular mouser, farm cat and, most likely, ship’s cat, at least as far back as the early 19th century.
The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are unknown—there is only speculation and folk tales. One such folk tale involves Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that before her death, Antoinette attempted to escape France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. She loaded Clough’s ship with her most prized possessions, including six of her favorite Turkish Angora cats. Although she did not make it to the United States, her pets safely reached the shores of Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with other short-haired breeds and developed into the modern breed of the Maine Coon.
Another folk tale involves Captain Charles Coon, an English seafarer who kept long-haired cats aboard his ships. Whenever Coon’s ship would anchor in New England ports, the felines would exit the ship and mate with the local feral cat population. When long-haired kittens began appearing in the litters of the local cat population, they were referred to as one of “Coon’s cats.”
The generally accepted theory among breeders is that the Maine Coon is descended from the pairings of local short-haired domestic cats and long-haired breeds brought overseas by English seafarers (possibly by Captain Charles Coon) or 11th-century Vikings. The connection to the Vikings is seen in the strong resemblance of the Maine Coon to the Norwegian Forest Cat, another breed that is said to be a descendant of cats that traveled with the Vikings.
The Maine Coon is a big lug. He has a muscular, big-boned body and weighs 9 to 18 pounds. You may have heard tell of 30-pound behemoths, but any Maine Coon that reaches that size is probably grossly overweight.
The Maine Coon is sweet and friendly, with the typically curious cat nature. He loves his family but isn’t demanding of attention. He’ll follow you around and show an interest in what you’re doing, and if you’d like to give him some lap time, well, he’s all in favor of that, too. This is one of those cats who gets along with everyone, including dogs and other cats. He enjoys playing fetch and is willing to learn to walk on a leash, making him a great choice for anyone who travels frequently and would like to bring a feline companion along.
Maine Coons communicate with a chirping trill rather than a meow, an incongruous sound coming from a gentle giant. They are well suited to any home with people who will love them and give their gorgeous coat a weekly combing. Keep them indoors to protect them from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.