The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat, known for its intelligence, playfulness as well as distinctive physical appearance. The breed is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America and originated from New England. more...
In the 17th and 18th centuries, domestic cats brought over from Europe faced very severe winters in New England where only the strongest and most adaptable cats survived. Through natural selection (as opposed to selective breeding), the Maine Coon developed into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant, thick coat and a hardy constitution. The origin of the breed (and its name) has several (often fantastic) stories surrounding it. One comes from a legend that a domestic cat released in the wilds of Maine interbred with a raccoon, resulting in offspring with the Maine Coon's characteristics. Though this is biologically impossible, this myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a raccoon-like brown tabby) probably led to the adoption of the name 'Maine Coon.' Another popular story is that the breed sprang from the six pet cats which Marie Antoinette sent to Wiscasset, Maine when she was planning to escape from France during the French Revolution. However, most breeders today believe that the breed originated in matings between pre-existing shorthaired domestic cats and overseas longhairs (perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen, or longhairs brought to America by the Vikings). Maine Coons' long coats resemble their European counterparts, the Norwegian Forest Cats.
Maine Coons are very large (but energetic) cats, sometimes weighing 11.3 kilograms (25 pounds); the average weight is 6 to 9 kilograms (13-20 pounds) for adult males and less (7-11 pounds) for females. Growth to full size often takes longer than for most cats, with Maine Coons usually reaching full size at age three or four.
The most common color/pattern in the breed is brown with tabby markings. Maine Coons are recognized in all colors except for chocolate, lavender, ticked tabby, and the point-restricted ("Siamese") pattern. Eye color also varies widely. All patterns may have green, green-gold, or gold. Blue eyes, or one blue eye with one gold eye, are possible in white coat cats.
Maine Coons have medium-long, dense fur, with longer hair, or a ruff, on their chests similar to the mane of a lion (which is why the breed is sometimes humorously called the "Mane Coon"). Their fur consists of two layers - an undercoat and an additional layer of longer guard hairs, which gives the breed their key physical feature. The fur is generally very soft. Maine Coons have long hair on the backs of their legs (called pantaloons or britches) and between their toes which helps to keep warm in the cold. They also have bushy plumed tails and broad, anglular heads, squared-off muzzles and wide-set ears topped with tufts of fur. Most Maine Coons keep their fur in good order without the need for additional human grooming, but due to the length and quantity of hair, most will also benefit from a simple brushing once a week. While the Coon may be polydactyl, having one or more extra toes on their paws, this trait is generally bred out, as it has been rejected by the standard.
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