The Maine Coon is adorably lovable, and there sure is a lot to love! Nicknamed the “Gentle Giant” of cats, Maine Coons are fascinating in so many ways. Here are 10 fascinating facts about Maine Coons.
1. They’re Giants (but Gentle)
There’s no doubt about it, Maine Coons are BIG. In fact, they’re the largest domesticated cat breed in the world, averaging between 15 and 25lbs as an adult. Despite their large stature and resemblance to bobcats, though, they’re known for their gentle, sociable nature. The Maine Coon’s lovable personality is a big reason why people love to have them as pets.
2. Maine Coon’s Hold Records for the Longest and Oldest Cat
Although the Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t have a category for biggest cat (for fear that cat owners might purposely make their cats obese), they do have one for longest. The current holder of that record is Stewie, a Maine Coon that measures 48.5 inches in length.
And the Guinness Book of World Records oldest cat award goes to Corduroy, a 26-year-old half Maine Coon.>
3. Maine Coons Used to Have Six Toes
Many early breed Maine Coons used to have six toes, a trait known as Polydactyly. It’s estimated at up to 40% of Maine Coons at one point in time had this trait, which some believe stemmed from an advantage where they could use their wider feet as snow shoes in the cold, snowy northern climates.
Polydactyl Maine Coons become nearly obsolete when the cat associations banned the showing of cats with six toes, so breeders would purposely avoid breeding for that trait. Even though there are fewer six-toed Maine Coons today, some litter still produce some kittens with the trait.
4. Maine Coons are “Dog-Like”
If you’ve ever met a Maine Coon owner (or happen to be one), you’ve probably heard them exclaim at one point or another, “They’re so much like dogs!”. This is a novel idea for a cat; while most domestic cats spend a lot of time hiding under the bed or ignoring your desperate calls for attention, Maine Coons are frequently by their owners’ side and endlessly curious as to what people around them are doing. Many Maine Coons love strangers and have a wide range of chirps and trills aside from the typical meow to communicate with the people around them. Not only that, but they’re loyal and very playful. Some Maine Coons will greet you at the door because they missed you after a long day of work! And to top it all off, Maine Coons are known for loving water!
5. Maine Coons are the State Cat of Maine
As their name suggests, Maine Coons are the official state cat of Maine. This status stems from the fact that Maine Coons were originally bred in Maine. Although the exact history of how the Maine Coon got there is a bit of a mystery, we do know that they were prized by the local farmers and shown in local cat shows long before they were recognized by any official cat registry.
6. Their History is Fascinating
Nobody knows for sure how the Maine Coon breed came into existence or how they got to Maine, but theories often comprise of boats and strange cross-breeding.
One theory suggests Marie Antoinette shipped six of her favorite Turkish Angora cats over to America as she was attempting to escape execution by her husband, the king, in 1793. According to the theory, these cats then bred with local shorthairs in the new world and produced the first Maine Coon.
Some other theories suggest Maine Coons came over as ship cats whose job was to kill disease-carrying rats, and others suggest they were even the prized pets of Vikings.
Perhaps one of the most ridiculous myths is that Maine Coons were a result of cross-breeding with raccoons or bobcats, which is technically impossible (but a fun exercise in imagination).
For more detailed reading on the history of the Maine Coon, read this article.
7. A Maine Coon Was Cloned
Nicky, a Maine Coon, was cloned in 2004 by a commercial pet cloning company called Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc. After Nicky’s death at the age of 17, her owner, Julie, paid $50,000 to have the cloning done. The company transplanted Nicky’s genes into an egg cell that was implanted into a surrogate mother cat, and the cloned kitten was born.
According to reports, the kitten looked and acted very much like Nicky.
8. A Maine Coon was in the Harry Potter Movies
Perhaps you remember Mrs. Norris, Argus Filch’s feline pet in the Harry Potter movies. Well, the kitty actress that played the part of Mrs. Norris was a Maine Coon named Pebbles, who was discovered at a cattery in Southwest England. Although the trainers didn’t think Pebbles was the most trainable cat, she was naturally very good at walking across the set and stopping on command.
Another fun fact: Pebbles was one of three cats to play the role of Mrs. Norris. The movies ranged over such a long time period that multiple cats were needed throughout the series!
9. A Maine Coon Won the First Official Cat Show in North America
The very first North American cat show was hosted in Madison Square Garden in 1895 and Corey, a Maine Coon, won “Best in Show” that year. However, the breed’s popularity dipped in the decades following, and Maine Coon’s wouldn’t win many more titles until many years later.
10. Ernest Hemingway Owned Maine Coons
One of the world’s most well-known authors, Ernest Hemingway, owned and loved many cats, one of which was a six-toed Maine Coon named Snowball, which was purportedly given to him by a ship’s captain.
The Hemingway Museum was erected out of his home in the Key West and houses around 50 cats, most of which are descendants of Hemingway’s original cherished cats. Among the herd of cats living at his museum, many are decedents of his original Maine Coon, Snowball.