Maine Coon International, issue 3
Copyright © 1986 Beth takes us on a quest for the native cat of Maine. "I drove all over Maine and I didn't see one cat, let alone a coon cat, the famous state cat of Maine! I have been looking all over. They sure are hard to find." As a LONG-TIME BREEDER of Maine Coon cats, I have heard this statement repeated every summer during the tourist season. Maine is still full of native Maine Coon cats, but it is possible to drive through the state of Maine from Kittery to Eastport, past house after house for miles and never see a cat or kitten. Yet you can locate a Maine Coon kitten even on a short vacation trip, if you are adventurous and like to treasure hunt.
Here are some tips on how and where to look!A Maine vacation isn't complete until you visit the ocean. the lakes or the rugged mounrains. Tucked in the back of your mind; however, is the hope of finding a big sign advertising Maine Coon cats! Not likely. How does one find a free Maine Coon kitten in Maine? (“Well, Stranger, you folks from away gotta know where to find ‘em”.) First, travel across the state line and select your destination to spend the night, plan a day or two to enjoy the scenery and surroundings which are the natural habitat of the Maine Coon, pick an area that is fairly close to the coast or to a major river. These cats evolved along the old navigable areas and fanned out into the rest of the state only after the settlements expanded into farming as well as seafaring industries. The agricultural areas are important because the small farms of old gave the necessary shelter for the expansion of the native cat. Once settled, seek sources of kittens or cats, remembering that kittens are more likely to be found in the warmer months of the year and are therefore unlikely to he born in the winter. Sources of kittens or adult cats could include telephone yellow page listings of animal shelters and humane societies. It is important to remember that many of the employees and volunteers in such shelters will not know if they have a Maine Coon there or not, because they have not learned to recognise them. The recognition and discernment will be your responsibility. Local newspaper ads in the pet sections and some veterinary offices have a kitten bulletin board. People often advertise free kittens in local newspapers. A true treasure of a kitten may not have a price tag in dollars! Country stores located at the many crossroads throughout Maine may be central to the life in their area, and the clerks may know of kittens among their customers. A unique opportunity to catch the flavour of the native accent will be the bonus of stopping at a country store. One can visit small farms; knock politely on the front door and enquire if they might have any kittens from their barn cats (long haired ones). Plan to allow several days, as kitten- hunting is time-consuming but magical in that scenic areas often overlooked can be explored and one can meet and talk with Maine people. When calling about kittins, be sure to ask if they are long- haired! This will eliminate the possibility of your falling for a darling, but a short- haired ordinary cat! Do not be confused by the description of a fluffy kitten, because short-haired kittens are often fluffy when young. The trick is to be able to differentiate between a regular cat that is long-haired and a Maine Coon kitten. Of course, the best and safest source of a Maine Coon kitten is from a breeder of Maine Coons they are located world-wide now and can be found in any specialist cat magazine. Most people think of the brown tabby as the only colour that Maine Coons come in, but they come in every colour and pattern that is possible for cats, even pure white and various shaded colours, (the only colour that they do not come in is the colour pointed pattern of the Siamese cat). Just choose any colour that you like.
Telling them apartWhat differentiates a real Maine Coon kitten from a regular long-haired kitten is the head shape and body type. A regular cat has a patty-cake round head and is generally shorter and compact in the body. Its tail is of ordinary length. Maine Coon kittens have little fox faces, with distinct and square muzzles. There will sometimes be a little beard of extra-long fur, and extra-long hairs extending past the tip of their ears. The kitten will have a slightly more rectangular body, but the tail will be just a baby kitten tail like any other. Select the fluffiest, pointy-eared kitten with little square muzzle that you can find, remembering that Maine Coons are ALWAYS long-haired. The fur on an 8-10 week old kitten will indicate its future coat on maturity. If it is very long at eight weeks. it will he long at maturity. A Coon Cat has a full ruff set off by short hair over the shoulders, and the hair gets fluffy again along the rest of the body. Sometimes a mother cat will not have ruff due to breeding but her body hair and tail should be fluffy and full. Many Coon kittens are 'fur-balls' with beards and fuzzy tipped ears. A free kitten from within the borders of Maine which meets this description is most likely part Maine Coon and will be a treasured family companion like no other. Sometimes a surprisingly good example of a Maine Coon kitten can be found sitting among its short-haired littermates (the vagaries of genetics!) Telling a full-grown regular cat from a full-grown Maine Coon is usually easy. The real trick is to be able to choose a kitten that is a Maine Coon, when the owner may not know nor care one from the other! When searching for a kitten from one whose cat has been bred by 'Mother Nature', it is important to remember that those kittens could always have a lot or a little of regular cat mixed in. How much or how little will affect the look of the kitten. Never select a kitten as a Maine Coon if the owner admits to it being part-Siamese or part-Persian! A Maine Coon can be part alley cat, but never part Siamese or Persian. Those kittens forever retain their half- breed status and never look or act like real Maine Coons. The Maine Coon is truly the every-day cat of New England. Many still do 'barn-duty' and many more are ordinary housepets. Through the efforts 'of a dedicated group of breeders in the 60s, the Maine Coon cat has found its way back to the fancy show halls since its heyday in the early cat shows of the 1890’s. To acquire a prize-winning show quality Maine Coon, one must purchase from a breeder, but lucky, careful individuals can still find a great 'yankee' cat, the native Maine Coon, with a great price tag - free! When placed shoulder to shoulder to a purebred Maine Coon, your 'come-by' cat will not reflect the distinct beauty of the years and generations of selective breedings, but the true nature and characteristic friendliness will come through, wherever it came from. Pack a cat carrier in your trunk, just in Case. You can always buy litter and food. Be sure to take your new kitten to a veterinarian for a health check, especially for FELV, FIV before taking it home to your other cats and of course, keep up the health checks and vaccinations for the rest of his life.
How to register a Foundation Maine CoonIF YOU HAVE LOCATED a Maine Coon of unknown ongin, it is still possible to register it. . . . . . How to Register a Foundation Maine Coon Write and tell Dirigo Maine Coon Cats if you go on this trip of a lifetime, searching out the highways and byways of the beautiful state of Maine for your very own Foundation cat. Dirigo Maine Coon Cats
Copyright © Beth 1986