2008-08-14 10:34:38.000 – Natalie Martin, Summit Intern
Maine Coons are typically a large cat, the average male weighs between 13-20 pounds and the average female weighs 7-11 pounds. They can also grow quite long, in fact the record length of a cat is held by a Maine Coon at 48 inches. Maine Coons grow a bit more slowly than most cats, typically reaching their full size until four or five years. Marty is thought to be only 2-3 years old so I won’t call him a small cat just yet. They come in a wide variety of colors, brown tabby being the most common. Maine Coons have tufts of fur on the backs of their legs, on the ears, and between their toes (which helps keep them warm). They also have broad angular heads, wideset ears, and squared off muzzles. But what really makes them stand out is the tuft of hair at the chest and on parts of the head that makes it look like a lion’s mane (some people call it the “Mane Coon” for fun). All this hair is actually in two layers. There is very soft underfur to keep them warm and a top layer of guard hairs to protect them. Maine Coons are generally very soft, and though they may not mind a good brushing by humans, they do a very good job in grooming themselves and keeping their hair untangled.
Polydactylism, (having extra toes) was originally common in Maine Coons. However, cats with this trait are disqualified in shows, so breeders selected against them. The trait endures in the typical Maine Coon though, being dominant, a cat that has polydactylism will likely pass it on to their kittens. Some breeders have chosen to keep the extra toed wonders in their line because they find it enjoyable, which is lucky for the Maine Coon because it gives them extra dexterity and greater surface area when walking which makes snowshoeing a breeze. Having extra toes is one of the distint indicators of a Maine Coon, and has been integral in the survival of the breed.
They are widely known for being an intelligent, dexterous, and playful breed. Some can open cabinets, flush toilets, turn on faucets, and are known to curl their front paws to pick up desired items. They are not know to be lap cats, and would generally prefer to play. Some consider them to be similar to dogs in that the Maine Coon is more easily trainable than most cats and may even fetch or follow you on your daily routine.
The Maine Coon is one of the oldest cat breeds in the United States and generally regarded as being native to Maine. Let’s explore some of the stories of how this breed came to be.
One of the more outlandish (and impossible) tales is that semi-wild domestic cats breeded with racoons to create a new breed of bushy tailed cat. Only the brown tabby variety were called “Maine Coons” because their coloring looked more like a racoon, while all other colors of this breed were referred to as “Maine Shags”. Another tale was that the Maine Coon was created from the six pet cats Marie Antoinette sent to Wiscasset Maine when plotting her escape from France. Generally, the accepted story is that domestic short-haired cats were bred with overseas longhair breeds like Angoras or longhaired cats brought over by the vikings. Even if none of these stories are true, one thing is certain; the Maine Coon is a proud American breed and a favorite of New Englanders and observers alike.
Natalie Martin, Summit Intern