An impressively large cat that is kind-natured and easy to keep, this breed is intelligent and makes a devoted pet.
Regarded as America’s native cat, the Maine Coon is named after the New England state where the breed was first recognized. Exactly how the breed first arrived there has been explained in various entertaining but mostly improbable tales.
Wilder versions of the Maine Coon’s history put forward the theory that it descends from Scandinavian cats brought in by the Vikings, or claim that several cats of this type were sent to the US by Queen Marie Antoinette, anxious to preserve her pets during the French Revolution.
The suggestion that the Maine Coon was originally a hybrid between feral cats and raccoons can definitely be discounted as a scientific impossibility, although the cat’s bushy tail makes it easy to see how the idea might once have had credibility.
Huge and handsome, the Maine Coon has a thick, shaggy, waterproof coat that served it well in its earlier role as a farm cat, leading an outdoor life through harsh North American winters. Once highly regarded for its skills as a vermin-catcher, this breed has become a popular pet since the mid-20th century.
Maine Coons have many endearing characteristics, including a tendency to act like kittens all their lives. Their voice, described by some as a birdlike chirrup, sounds surprisingly small for such a big cat. These cats are slow to mature and do not usually reach their full magnificent growth until about their fifth year.
In 2004, a Maine Coon named Little Nicky was the first pet animal to be cloned commercially. His Texas owner paid $50,000 to have a “carbon copy” created of her much-loved cat Nicky, which died at age 17.
Nicky’s DNA was transplanted into an egg cell and the resulting embryo was carried by a surrogate mother cat. The highly controversial procedure produced a kitten identical in appearance and personality to the original.
Origin: US, 1800s
Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA
Weight range: 9–17lb (4–7.5kg)
Grooming: 2–3 times a week
Colors and patterns: Many solid colors and shades in tortie, tabby, and bicolor patterns.