Once upon a time, the Maine coon cat breed was the star of cat shows and cat fancier associations. With the look of an exotic Norwegian Forest Cat, this massive breed captured fanciers' and owners' hearts. However, in the late 1800s, the Persians started to come on the scene. With their even softer hair, catching eyes and demure personalities, the Persians had taken it's place.
But, not for long because this giant, brown, tiger-like cat is making a comeback. Homey and domestic, it is becoming increasingly popular with pet owners who prefer its hardy nature, durability, strength, almost dog-like personality and friendly disposition.
What makes this cat so unique are two factors - the first is its size. It is big. For example, your average housecat weighs in at approximately six to eight pounds, however the average Maine coon will weigh twice that and more. They are the current record holder for the longest cat, a big fellow measuring in at 48 inches (that's four feet) in length. Because of their length and size, they don't reach full maturity until about age four or five.
And the Maine coon's other distinct feature? Personality. According to breed lovers, they are able and willing to learn and perform a variety of tricks, play in water, come when called and even engage in a game of fetch. This gentle giant has even been described as dog-like by many. This breed of cat is also known for having a tendency to use their front paws a lot. Whether for eating, playing with toys, drinking or getting into trouble, the Maine coon likes the dexterity and ability of front paw use.
On top of its love for play is its personable nature. Typically, they are an affectionate breed that loves to go for walks with its owner, participate in household activities and be with the family. While not usually known as a lap cat, they can be extremely affectionate.
The history of the breed is a little mysterious. According to the majority of sources, the breed was first created when longhaired European cat breeds came to Maine in the early 19th century and bred with local, but feral shorthaired breeds. Thanks to their brown color, big bushy tails and giant size, legend said they were derived from raccoon ancestry. While raccoon roots are genetically impossible, the name supposedly comes from the Maine region and the cat's often ringed and bushy tail. Some people believe that the breed originated due to the efforts of a cabin boy named Tom Coon, (from which the cat gets its name.) Tom worked aboard a sailing vessel and had the responsibility of collecting cats to rid the sailing vessel of rats. The cats were collected from various ports. The offspring of these cats were taken to Tom Coon's farm.
Despite being pushed out of the show ring in the early twentieth century by Persians, Maine Coons are making a comeback both in the ring and the home. According to the LA Times, today they are the third most popular cat breed in the United States. The Persian and the Siamese are first and second, in that order. From a breed often formerly dismissed as a barn cat, the breed has snuggled and pawed its way into America's heart.
CS Swarens is the president of Find a Pet Online. 800 998-7065
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