Legends of the Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coons have been around for many centuries.  Maine Coon cats were first listed in the program of a cat show which was held in Boston in January 1878.

There are several stories as to the origin of Maine Coons, unfortunately nobody really knows and the cats aren’t saying….

Some of the Stories:

  • Maine Coons were believed to have originated by interbreeding the American bobcat with the domestic cats brought to North America on the various sailing ships that came to the North-eastern seaboard.
  • The other belief is that the domestic cats of New England were bred with raccoons.
  • Another tale is that the Maine Coon’s ancestors came from Norwegian Skogkatts brought over by the Vikings.
  • More romantic versions of the Maine Coon’s development have been handed down over the years. One such tale claims that Maine Coons are descendants of longhaired cats owned by Marie Antoinette. According to the story, Captain Clough smuggled the queen’s cats and other belongings to America in preparation of the Queen’s rescue from her rendezvous with the guillotine. Unfortunately, he was only successful in rescuing her cats.
  • Another legend concerns an English sea captain, improbably named Coon, who was very fond of cats, sailed up and down the New England coast with his army of cats. Predominant in the group were his longhairs – the Persians and Angoras that were popular in England. When the captain went ashore, so did his cats. When longhaired kittens began appearing in local litters, the owner’s comment would be “one of Coon’s cats”.
  • A more logical conclusion is that the Maine Coon developed from the domestic shorthaired cats of settlers who came to America.  As the country became more civilized and the trading ships returned from their travels, the sailors returned with longhaired cats. The new longhaired cats in turn bred with the local shorthaired cats and began populating the Eastern seaboard. The cats that survived the harsh New England winters produced the next generation of kittens. These intelligent cats become beloved pets as well as good mousers. It was during the 1860s that farmers would tell stories and brag about the powers and intelligence of their Maine Coons. During this decade these same farmers began having their own cat show at the Skowhegan Fair where Maine Coons from all over the territory competed for the title “Maine State Champion Coon Cat.”