The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated breed of cat. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically “native” to the state of Maine (though the feline was just introduced there), where it is the official state cat.
Although no records exist regarding the Maine Coon’s exact origins and date of introduction to the United States, there are multiple competing theories. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the more popular cat breeds in the world.
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.
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