MAINE COON HISTORY
The Maine Coon is one of the largest domesticated cat breeds. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, especially the “original” in the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat. There are no exact sources and dates of the introduction of the Maine Coon in the United States, so there are several opinions. The breed was popular at cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds were introduced from abroad in the early 20th century.
A Gentle Giant
The Maine Coon is a very sociable cat, known by the nickname, “gentle giant.” It is characterized by a prominent strong and long body, strong chest, two-layer silk fur, and a long, furry tail like a raccoon! The colors of the breed vary greatly, and only lilac and chocolate are banned because of the pedigree. They are intelligent and playful, gentle personalities, wonderful friends.
Legends and folk tales
The origins of the Maine Coons are not entirely known – there are legends and folk tales. One such folk tale tells of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that Antoinette tried to escape from France before her death with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. She boarded Clough’s ship with her most prized goods, including six of her favorite Turkish Angora cats. Although she did not arrive in the United States, her pets certainly reached the shores of Wiscasset in the state of Maine where they bred other short-haired breeds and developed into a new breed of Maine Coon.
Captain Coon’s Cats
Another folk tale involves Captain Charles Coon, an English sailor, who had long-haired cats on his ships. Whenever Coon’s ship anchored in the ports of New England, the cats would come out of the ship and mate with the local wild cat population. When long-haired kittens began to appear in the litters of the local cat population, they were called one of “Coon’s cats”.
There is also a legend, although genetically impossible, that the Maine Coon is descended from domestic cats and raccoons. This myth is probably based on the breed’s usual color (brown tabby) and its tail like a raccoon.
Norwegian Forest cats
It is generally accepted that the Maine Coon is descended from pairs of local short-haired domestic cats and long-haired breeds brought by English sailors (probably Captain Charles Coon) or 11th-century Vikings. The connection to the Norwegians is seen in the great resemblance between the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat, another breed said to be a descendant of cats that traveled with the Norwegians.