Thursday, April 15, 2010
By Suzanne Alicie
The breed of feline known as the Maine Coon is a domestic cat with a very distinctive appearance. This is one of the oldest natural breeds of cat in the United States, and is not only native to the state of Maine but is also the official cat of the state.
The Maine Coon cat is one of the largest domestic cat breeds, with males weighing between 15 and 25 pounds and females between 10 and 15 pounds. The solid muscular build is important for supporting the weight of this cat, and the broad chest with rectangular body shape balances out the long tail and the weight that this cat can gain.
The 2006 Guinness World Record holder for “longest cat” is a Maine Coon known as Leo. He was the only kitten of two fairly large Maine Coons, and the benefit of having all of his mother’s milk may have been the reason he was able to grow to 35 pounds and 48 inches in length!
The origin of the Maine Coon cat is steeped in folk tales and theories with no factual proof. There are rumors that the Maine Coon evolved from the Turkish Angora cats that Marie Antoinette sent to the United States mating with Norwegian Forest cats. Another tale involves sea captain Charles Coon and his long haired ship cats. Rumor says that when Captain Coon laid anchor in New England his ship cats would visit and mate with the feral cats in the area. When long haired kittens started being born, the locals referred to them as Coon’s cats.
While not a traditional long haired cat, the Maine Coon is considered a long haired or medium haired cat. The length of the hair is short on the head and shoulders and longer on the stomach and flanks. Some Maine Coons have a long lion’s ruff around the neck. The light undercoat helps keep grooming to a minimum by being self maintaining. The most common color of a Maine Coon is brown tabby, but the breed can have any color that other cats have, as well as many different eye colors.
Maine is known for harsh winter conditions, and these cats have adapted to their native environment. Dense water-resistant fur, a long bushy tail and large paws provide these cats with many different options to deal with the cold weather. The long hair on the underside provides extra protection while walking or sitting in wet snow and ice. The tail can curl around the face and shoulders for warmth, and the ling tufts of hair between the toes and the ears also help keep the cat warm.
The Main Coon cat is a hardy breed that has evolved to survive and thrive in the harsh Maine climate. They are generally healthy cats whose most sever threat is HCM (feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). This is the most common heart disease found in cats and is an inherited trait in Maine Coons.
These large dignified cats are not known for being “lap cats,” but they are relaxed and amiable. This makes them a good choice for families with children, other animals and even dogs. The Maine Coon is an extremely intelligent cat that is easy to train. They are a playful breed and actively affectionate. As with most cats they are independent, and their love is shown less through cuddling and more through play and interaction.
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie