People in the old days thought that Maine Coons were a cross between Raccoons and domestic cats (which is biologically impossible!). But, the early Maine Coons were probably mostly brown tabbies. And with their ringed bushy tail and the way they play with or drink water with front paws made people believe that they are a cross between Raccoons and domestic cats. Thus their name.
After researching a lot online and through many books , I believe that the ancestors of Maine Coons were brought to the North East coast of the US by Viking ships several centuries ago or even before. I read that the Vikings, led by Leif Ericson (son of Eric the Red) reached Newfoundland around the year 1000 CE. Hmm…. interesting!
Anyway, I assume that the cats the Vikings brought to Maine or Newfoundland area were very similar to Norwegian Forest cats. Then they were bred naturally with domestic cats in the area and survived through the severe, harsh winters of Maine and its vicinity. Talk about “Survival of the fittest”!! Then our Maine Coons were started to establish about a few hundred years ago. Fascinating!
You can also read an absolutely interesting “possibility” that Marie Antoinette’s 6 cats came to Westport, Maine (Squam Island at the time) by way of the queen’s cell mate! Here is the link; “Of Cats and Queens”.
I would like to emphasize that Maine Coons mature “Slowly”!! It takes 4-5 years for them to fully develop and grown. A one year old Maine Coon is still in an adolescent stage, teenagers! So their body may still looks lanky, their coat not full. They do not reach their full size until they are 4 to 5 years. However, they remain kittenish even as they age, and throughout their life.
Maine Coons are called “Gentle Giant” of the cat breed. However, there is a significant size difference between males and females. Males weigh between 13-19 lb, some reach 20 lbs or more. The average weight of females between 8-14 lb, some girls get larger especially after they get spayed. Girls will more than make up for their size with their personalities! I found girls to be very smart and expressive! Males are easy going, laid-back and goofy. Another interesting fact about the breed is; they chirp! Like birds! You would not believe such soft kittenish chirp from a big cat. It is so funny!
Maine Coons are semi-long haired, so they require some light grooming. Not as much grooming as Persians, but a few times a week, several minutes each time, should work. Start slowly and gently! Let them get used to the idea! If you can do this, their coat remains nice and healthy. It saves them from getting matted, especially under their armpit and behind (britches). You can also start shampooing their coat while they are still young. The most cost effective and safe shampoo is dish washing detergent like Dawn or Ivory. They do an amazing job degreasing, and it is safe. If you are showing your Maine Coons, there are more steps though… That is another long story.
The links below are great articles from MCBFA site about the breed and history, Maine Coon seminar online, their health info, etc. These links should be very informative. Enjoy and read about this fascinating breed. I bet that you would love Maine Coons even more!
The Maine Coon : Cat Breed FAQ
The Maine Coon, America’s Native Longhair by Mike and Trish Simpson
Maine Coon Seminar – by Beth Hicks – Discussion and photos of Maine Coon Breed Standards. (Seminar in English, German, Japanese, and Spanish)
Care, Health, and Safety – by Trish Simpson,
Of Cats and Queens – by Mary L. Daniels.
Our Yankee Cat Goes National – by Jane S. Martink (opens pdf file)