One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine Coon
is generally regarded as a native of the state of Maine (in fact,
the Maine Coon is the official Maine State Cat).
A number of attractive legends surround its origin. A once wide-spread,
though biologically impossible, belief is that the breed originated
from matings between semi-wild, domestic cats and raccoons. This
myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a
raccoon-like brown tabby) led to the adoption of the name "Coon
Cat" which eventually was changed to "Maine Coon Cat."
Another popular theory on the origin of the Maine Coon is that it
sprang from the six pet cats which Marie Antoinette is said to have
sent to Wiscasset, Maine when she was planning to escape, with the
help of New England seaman Captain Clough, from France during the
French Revolution. In fact, the house that Capt. Clough was said
to have built for her still stands across the Sheepscott river from
Wiscassett in Edgecomb, Maine.
Most breeders today believe that the breed originated in matings
between preexisting shorthaired domestic cats and overseas longhairs
(perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen, or longhairs
brought to America by the Vikings). Maine Coons were well established
more than a century ago as a hardy, handsome breed of domestic cat,
well equipped to survive the hostile New England winters. Nature
is not soft-hearted. It selects the biggest, the brightest, the
best fighters, and the best hunters to breed successive generations.
Since planned breedings of Maine Coons are relatively recent and
carefully monitored, these cats still have their strong, natural
qualities. Maine Coons are healthy, disease-resistant, rugged cats.
Interestingly, the breed closest to the Maine Coon is the Norwegian
Forest Cat which, although geographically distant, evolved in much
the same climate, and lends credence to the theory that some of
the cats responsible for developing the Maine Coon were brought
over by the Vikings.
Many people consider Maine Coons the perfect domestic pets, with
their clown-like personalities, very affectionate natures, amusing
habits and tricks, willingness to "help" with any activity, and
easily groomed coats. They make excellent companions for large,
active families that also enjoy having dogs and other animals around.
Their hardiness and ease of kittening make them a satisfying breed
for the novice breeder. For owners wishing to show, the Maine Coon
has reclaimed its original glory in the show ring. Welcome a Maine
Coon into your home, and you will join the thousands who sing the
praises of this handsome and lovable cat!
GENERAL: originally a working cat, the Maine Coon is solid,
rugged, and can endure a harsh climate. A distinctive characteristic
is its smooth, shaggy coat. A well proportioned and balanced appearance
with no part of the cat being exaggerated. Quality should never
be sacrificed for size. With an essentially amiable disposition,
it has adapted to varied environments.
HEAD SHAPE: medium in width and slightly longer in length
than width with a squareness to the muzzle. Allowance should be
made for broadening in older studs. Cheekbones high.
MUZZLE/CHIN: is visibly square, medium in length and blunt
ended when viewed in profile. It may give the appearance of being
a rectangle but should not appear to be tapering or pointed. Length
and width of the muzzle should be proportionate to the rest of the
head and present a pleasant, balanced appearance. The chin should
be strong, firm and in line with the upper lip and nose. When viewed
in profile the chin depth should be observable and give the impression
of a square, 90-degree angle. A chin lacking in depth, i.e. one
that tapers from the jaw line to the lip, is not considered strong,
firm or desirable.
PROFILE: should be proportionate to the overall length of
the head and should exhibit a slight concavity when viewed in profile.
The profile should be relatively smooth and free of pronounced bumps
and/or humps. A profile that is straight from the brow line to the
tip of the nose is not acceptable, nor should the profile show signs
of having a "break" or "stop."
EARS: Shape: large, well-tufted, wide at base, tapering
to appear pointed. Set: approximately one ear's with apart at the
base, not flared.
EYES: large, expressive, wide set. Slightly oblique setting
with slant toward outer base of ear.
NECK: medium long.
BODY SHAPE: muscular, broad-chested. Size medium to large.
Females generally are smaller than males. The body should be long
with all parts in proportion to create a well-balanced rectangular
appearance with no part of the anatomy being so exaggerated as to
foster weakness. Allowance should be made for slow maturation.
LEGS and FEET: legs substantial, wide set, of medium length,
and in proportion to the body. Forelegs straight. Back legs are
straight when viewed from behind. Paws large, round, well-tufted.
Five toes in front; four in back.
TAIL: long, wide at base, and tapering. Fur long and flowing.
COAT: heavy and shaggy; shorter on the shoulders and longer
on the stomach and britches. Frontal ruff desirable. Texture silky
with coat falling smoothly .
PENALIZE: a coat that is short or overall even.
DISQUALIFY: delicate bone structure. Undershot chin, i.e.
the front teeth (incisors) of the lower jaw overlapping or projecting
beyond the front teeth of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed.
Crossed eyes. Kinked tail. Incorrect number of toes. White buttons,
white lockets, or white spots. Cats showing evidence of hybridization
resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the Himalayan pattern;
or unpatterned agouti on the body (i.e. Abyssinian type ticked tabby).