~ A"Gentle Giant" ~
"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" Theophile Gautier
Maine Coon Cats are well known for their wonderful temperament, loving nature, and great intelligence ~ resulting in the breed being nicknamed the "Gentle Giant." They are particularly good with children & dogs and have always been sought after companions. Their disposition remains kittenish throughout their lives, they are large, gentle, good-natured goofs. They rarely meow, but when they do, their soft, tiny voice doesn't fit their huge size ~ and their distinctive, chirping 'trill' which they use for everything from courting to cajoling their people into playing with them, is quite unique.
While Maine Coons are highly people-oriented, they do not constantly pester you for attention, but prefer to 'hangout' with their owners. They are frequently investigating whatever activity you're involved in and 'helping' whenever they can. They are not, as a general rule, a 'lap cat' but as with any personality trait, there are a few Maine Coons that do prefer laps. Mostly Maine Coons prefer to lay close by, most likely occupying the chair next to you. They will follow you from room to room and wait outside a closed door for you to reemerge. A Maine Coon will be your companion, your buddy, your pal, but seldom your baby.
Maine Coons are relaxed and easygoing in just about everything they do. While the males tend to be the clowns, the females retain more dignity, but both remain playful throughout their lives. Many will play fetch, retrieving small items for you. Our Bocephus retreives his "mice" from the toy basket, accends to his favorite shelf on the cat tree, and throws the mice at us, his way of requesting a game of "catch." Their affectionate nature, clown-like personality, amusing tricks, and a willingness to 'help' with any activity, makes them the ideal companion. Add to that an easy to maintain coat and what more could you want?
If you welcome a Maine Coon into your home, soon you too will 'trill' the praises of this handsome, large and lovable cat.
~ History of the Maine Coon Cat ~
Myths, legend and lore surround the Maine Coon cat, especially regarding its origins. Some are amusing, some are fantastic flights of fantasy and some are merely plausible. Although the early settlers thought it was a cross between a cat and a raccoon, that is a biological impossibility. Another popular theory is that the Maine Coon 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 the breed originated from matings between pre-existing short-haired domestic cats and overseas long-hairs -- perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen or those brought to America by the Vikings. Books and articles dealing with these aspects of the Maine Coon cat have been well received as people never seem to tire of the subject and are always eager to know more about this wonderful breed. Two such books are "That Yankee Cat, The Maine Coon" by Marilis Hornidge published by Tilbury House, Gardiner, Maine and "Maine Coon Cats" by Carol Himsel Daly, D.V.M. published by Barron's.
Whatever the true origins, the Maine Coon is the first native American long-haired cat and was recognized as a specific breed in Maine where they were held in high regard for their mousing talents. Through nature's own breeding program, this working breed has developed into a rugged cat that is relatively free of genetic problems.
First recorded in cat literature in 1861 with a mention of a black and white cat named 'Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines,' Maine Coons have been admired for their beauty and stamina. In May of 1895, Cosie, a brown tabby female Maine Coon Cat, first place and best of show at the first major cat show ever held in this country at Madison Square Garden in New York. Unfortunately, the "Shags" as they were frequently called, lost popularity as show cats with the arrival in 1900 of the more flamboyant Persians.
Although the Maine Coon remained a favorite cat in New England and on farms across the country for their mousing abilities, the breed did not begin to regain its former widespread popularity until the 1950's when more and more cat fanciers began to take notice of them, show them, and record their pedigrees. In 1968, six breeders formed the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) to preserve and protect the breed. By 1980, all cat registries had recognized the Maine Coon as a unique and separate breed. It has now regained its former glory -- ranked as the most popular breed in TICA (The International Cat Association) and the SECOND most popular breed in CFA (Cat Fancier's Association), only surpassed by the Persian.