The Maine Coon cat is another of the cat breeds known for their easy-going and even-tempered personality. They are sometimes referred to as the American Longhair and they are the official State cat of Maine. However, while Maine Coons are calm, quiet cats, those who live with them say the breed can adapt easily to a more active lifestyle when necessary.
The breed can be a relaxed cat that you can enjoy holding while reading or watching TV but
they can also be happy clowns who can make you laugh, or become
concerned nurse maids when you're under the weather.
The Maine Coon is very intelligent and they are always planning their moves, and are excellent at relaying what they want. It takes a great deal to anger a Maine Coon. They will often leave if pestered and will give several warnings before they strike.
The Maine Coon cat's history goes back to when Europeans first began exploring North America. To protect the food on the ships from rodents, the voyagers often brought along cats. When the ships arrived in the New World, the cats were often left to fend for themselves and it is believed that this is how they developed valuable hunting skills.
This is the most sensible story of their origins although there are numerous other myths that sound kind of far-fetched to me. Also, many have a fascination with water and it is theorized that this trait comes from their ancestors who were aboard the ships.
These cats became the basis for the development of the Maine Coon, as well as the American Shorthair. Many traits associated with the Maine Coon are the result of "survival of the fittest." The Maine Coon is the working cat of cat breeds ...solid, rugged and able to endure a harsh climate.
It has a massive, broad chest and a long, rectangular body that is carried on a substantial bone structure. The tail is long and well "feathered." Males can weigh up to 20 pounds while females usually mature in the 12-15 pound range.
The head is medium in width and length with a squared muzzle. Facial features include high cheek bones, a firm chin and a medium-long nose which in profile, shows a slight concavity. The ears are typically large, wide at the base and set high and well apart on the head although some have shorter ears.
Tufts of hair curl out to the sides of the head. The eyes are large and expressive. The heavy, shaggy coat falls smoothly and is not easily matted or entangled and feels soft and silky. Maine Coons come in every conceivable color and pattern except points.
(Seen above: Otis)
The Maine Coon cat has large paws, and especially the extra-large paws of polydactyl Maine Coons that facilitate walking on snow. The extra tufts of fur growing between their toes help keep their toes warm and give the paws more structure without adding extra weight to impede their "snowshoeing" ability.
Many of the original Maine Coons that inhabited the New England area had the polydactlism trait (one or more extra toes on the feet). The gene for this trait is a simple autosomal dominant gene. Breeders bred this trait out of them because it was a no-no for "show cats" but private organizations and breeders banded together to keep polydactylism in Maine Coons from disappearing totally.
My nephew, Delaine, has one of the polydactyl Maine Coons, named Otis. He is sweet and loving but not too happy that as a stranger, I marched in with a camera so he is seen peeking out from under the bed where he took refuge. I didn't get a close-up photo of his paws which would have been great because he uses his extra digits like thumbs and grabs things like we do.
Gentle giants of the cat world, a Maine Coon cat gets along with other small animals and with children. They are dignified in carriage and adept at avoiding vases and plants ...which, given their size, is a blessing. They are loving companions and protective of their humans. Certainly one of the cat breeds that makes a good house cat.