Myths and lore swirl around the history of the popular Maine coon cat. But what’s fact, and what’s fiction? We’ve done some investigating and turned up some fascinating facts about this breed.
One thing’s for sure: these “gentle giants” (as they’re often called) are a beautiful cat breed with a distinctive personality.
So, what else stands out about these unique creatures? Let’s get to know one of the oldest cat breeds native to America.
1. They have interesting origins
Despite popular belief, the Maine coon cat is not the result of a cat and raccoon pairing. And it’s equally unlikely they were sent over to America by Marie Antoinette during her foiled escape attempt from France, as some would propose.
What we do know is this: the Maine coon is the oldest cat breed native to America (specifically, the state of Maine), and it’s possible the breed originated when the Vikings and other European sailors arrived in America with long-haired cats. These cats bred with native short-haired cats and voila—the Maine coon breed was produced.
2. They’re “gentle giants”
Often mistaken for bobcats, Maine coons are huge cats with muscular builds. One of the largest domesticated cat breeds, these sluggers tip the scale at around nine to 18 pounds.
Maine coons are affectionately referred to as “gentle giants,” an apt nickname for this massive and sociable creature.
3. Maine coons have a lovely temperament
The Maine coon’s sweet disposition has earned the breed another fitting title as the “dogs of the cat world.” These friendly cats get along well with people and other animals. They enjoy the company of their humans and will show interest in whatever you’re doing.
While not overly demanding of your attention, they’ll still happily curl up on your lap—if they can fit!
4. Maine coons are a playful breed
Playtime is a priority for these curious cats. They love to play with people, so be prepared for lots of interaction.
Maine coons are also highly intelligent pets, and they can be trained to perform simple tricks on command. They like to play fetch, making them ideal for the more active pet owner.
5. You can walk them with a leash
A cat on a leash? Not as far-fetched as you might think. Another striking characteristic that sets Maine coon cats apart from the rest of their feline relatives is their ability to be leash-trained.
Similar to the highly intelligent Savannah Cat, Maine coons enjoy exploring the outdoors with their owners. With patience and diligent training, you can stroll the neighborhood with your furry friend.
6. They like to “sing”
Maine coons can croon! These cats communicate with a peculiar chirping sound, very unlike the familiar feline meow.
These cats definitely don’t suffer from communication breakdowns. They’re not shy about vocalizing to get your attention.
7. They love water
Perhaps it’s because of their water-resistant fur, but these cats love to play with water. Maine coons are strong swimmers, and they’ll be more cooperative at bath time than the average feline.
8. These cats were built for winter
Maine coons developed certain physical traits to help them survive the harsh New England winters. They have snowshoe-like paws and water-resistant fur that’s especially long around their lower bodies. This luxurious coat keeps them warm on the snow and ice.
They can also wrap their signature long, bushy tail around their body for extra warmth. So cozy.
9. They’ve been cloned successfully
In 2004, a Maine coon kitten named Little Nicky went down in history as the first known sale of a cloned pet.
A Texas woman paid $50,000 to commission a California-based biotech company to clone her dead cat. Despite the ensuing controversy, Little Nicky’s owner claims the clone was identical to the original Nicky.
10. A Maine coon starred in the Harry Potter films
Look out Hollywood—there’s a new star in town!
You might recall a shaggy cat roaming the halls of Hogwarts in the beloved Harry Potter films. That’s Mrs. Norris—the Maine coon companion to the castle’s caretaker, Argus Filch.
Unlike the typically well-groomed and sturdy Maine coon cat, however, J.K. Rowling described Mrs. Norris as a scrawny and messy cat in her books. To combat this discrepancy, animal makeup artists used special products to achieve a more ragged and messy look for their feline proteges.
11. Maine coon cats frequently carry the gene for extra toes
The gene for extra toes is dominant, which means a polydactyl cat has a 50% chance of passing the Pd gene on to their potentially well-heeled offspring. Maine coon fans think the extra toes help the cats pad through snow, catch mice, and climb around on ships better than the average cat.
With such charming looks and personalities, it’s no wonder that Maine coon cats have secured a top spot on the list of the most popular cat breeds in America. These cats are smart, stunning, and affectionate. What’s not to love?