Legends of the Maine Coon Cat



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Mysteries of the origin of the Maine Coon Cat, folklore and tales, and stories of interest, facts and circumstances surrounding the place and birth of Maine's wonderful native coon cat

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MAINE CATS, Origin of the Maine Coon Cat

Copyright 1990 Beth, Dirigo The State of Maine 200 years ago was particularly suited for development of the cat now known as the Maine Coon Cat. In those colonial times trade flourished with ships sailing to Europe and beyond. The return trip to England or Europe from Boston, Massachusetts was downwind to Maine, and "Downeast Maine" is an old seafaring term. When ships put into port for repair with Maine's magnificent timbers, cats jumped ship. Shipboard cats were common for rodent control and good luck. The strong sea trade in combination with family farms located near the small harbors created the perfect environment for development of the breed. The ship cats interbred with hardy harbor side cats. The family farms near the small harbors gave a good and welcoming environment. Though no one can be sure of the precise origin of the Maine Coon Cat, it is likely that those cats, the early gene pool of the Maine Coon Cat of today flourished and slowly developed the distinctive characteristics unique to the breed. Uncanny intelligence, sweet temperament, long warm coats, good size and slow maturity contributed to survival of the Maine Coon Cat. Two hundred years ago, and even now, the Maine harbor villages were isolated and the cat population was small. The gene pool of the early Maine coon Cat was not lost by interbreeding with large numbers of other domestic cats. These few early cats were nurtured and allowed to multiply until they naturally bred true to type in this magical location, with the beautiful sea, family farms and harbor side villages set in this cold northern climate. The breed could not have developed in Boston, for example, because there would have been too many other cats to dilute the gene pool. However, the Bostonian influence can be seen in the polydactyl Maine Coons that still naturally occur. The best-loved color of the Maine Coon Cat has always been the brown tabby. It is possible that the cat got its name because a farmer’s wife, watching her fluffy brown tabby, exclaimed, "Look at that cat. He looks like a big old coon!" Maine folks, long known for their sense of humor, soon began remarking to each other about their "coon cats". The name stuck. Exhibited in America's earliest cat shows as MaineCats (but known only as "coon cats" back home), the breed is now formally called the "Maine Coon Cat". Maine people invariably still call them "coon cats". Those from other states outside Maine are the only ones to call these cats "the Maines". In 1985, the Maine Coon Cat was designated the Maine State cat by act of legislature. Maine is still a source of lovely, pure, unregistered Maine Coon Cats. Some of the finest are living unobtrusively doing porch - duty or as much-loved family companions. They may never see a cat show or registration slip, but are valued and appreciated for their unique quality. Pure Maine blood in a pedigreed Maine Coon Cat is extremely rare and hard to find today. Few breeders exist who breed or have bred Maine-origin Maine cats exclusively. The breed itself is barely beyond its infancy because the registered genetic base is notably very small. The Maine Coon Cat is truly the every day cat of New England. Many still do barn-duty and many more are ordinary house pets. Through the efforts of a dedicated group of breeders in the '60's, the Maine Coon Cat has found its way back to the fancy show halls, since its heyday in the earliest cat show of America in 1895. In order to really understand the origin of the Maine Coon Cat, it is first needed to grasp the nature of the State of Maine as it has been over the past 3 centuries and continues today, an ongoing undercurrent of beauty, when separated from the signs of industrial toil and economic factors -- when visualized as it was 2 centuries ago, this vision and beauty lingers -- in the coastal villages in the salty aiiiir and in the now quiet golden fields. Family farms have virtually disappeared from existence, but the now quiet field fields are quiescent. Barns remain, such structures that reminisce days of old as much as the two hulls in the Sheepscot River. Imagine Maine's teeming clipper days. In order to really understand the origin of the Maine Coon Cat, one must visualize the unique characteristics of the State of Maine as it has been continues today. Its beauty lingers eastward to Mt. Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain in the deep and grand Penobscot of mighty tides and pointed firs. Maine lingers where winters are long and chill but the sea beacons ever fresh; the joys of hearth and home beckons ever more bright with a warmly purring, winter-hardy cats all the more treasured. Imagine old Maine teeming. boat builders hammering and sawing, clipper captains by the score called Maine ports home, and trusty schooners sailed the eastern coast, and world wide vessels of commerce. Maine's villages with salty air and inland, the short growing season, sent many of her young men to find their fortunes at sea. This is from where the Maine Coon Cat came.
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Copyright 1990, Dirigo
Revised 3/21/2011.
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Cats are a way of uniting people who would not otherwise meet.