Maine Coon cats are one of the largest breeds of domestic cats. They are big and sturdily built, broad-chested, with a long body, large slanted eyes, long glossy coat and long plumed tail. These pets are gentle and playful, tolerant of children and other animals.

Characteristics

Maine Coon cats developed outdoors into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant longhaired coat and a hardy constitution. They weigh in at 10 to 20 lbs with the male cat usually somewhat larger than the female. In 2006, the largest male Main Coon ever documented measured 48 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail.

The most common color and pattern is brown tabby, however, these felines come in most colors and patterns except; chocolate, lavender, ticked tabby and pointed.

Eye color varies from; green, green-gold or gold. Sometimes a white cat will have blue eyes or one blue eye and one gold eye.

Main Coon cats have medium long dense fur made up of two layers, an under coat and longer guard hairs. Often they will have long hair on the chest, called a ruff, and long hair at the back of their legs and between their toes. This extra fur keeps them warm in the winter. Sometimes they have fur tufts at their ears known as Lynx tips.

There have always been a lot of polydactyl cats born in this breed. Polydactyl cats have one or more extra toes, and are gaining world-wide popularity due to their perceived increased dexterity and above average intelligence.

Temperament

Main Coon cats are highly intelligent and playful. They have a high degree of dexterity and have been know to open doors, flush toilets, turn on water faucets and pick up small objects. They rarely eat alone, preferring the company of other cats or humans. However, they are not usually lap kitties.

Due to their intelligence, these pets are very trainable and a favorite game is fetch. They will often accompany their owners on chores like walking the dog and picking up the mail.

These felines love being around, but not in, water. They may dip toys in their water, turn the bowl over, or dunk their paw in water and drink that way.

Brief History

Main Coon cats are one of the oldest breeds in North America, native to the state of Maine. Although exact origins are unknown, most breeders agree that they are a cross breed of North American shorthairs and European longhairs.

In the early to mid 1800s prior to the Civil War, there is written documentation describing the coon-cat as a distinct breed of cat. Tongue-in-cheek, the locals use to claim that the coon-cat is a cross between a raccoon and a common cat, even though that is biologically impossible.

There are other tales describing a seaman named Coon who collected cats as part of his job on a sailing vessel to combat the wharf rats. As the story goes, an exotic long-haired mother cat and her litter found safe harbor in Maine sometime during the 1800s, and the rest is cat history.