Today's Maine Coons are much larger and longer than the original

There was a time, during the early years when the Maine Coon's popularity was in decline that the cat fanciers struggled with writing what they believed to be the correct breed standard. There was competition between what Richard H Gebhardt describes as a "progressive standard" or one which was designed to "describe and preserve an existing cat" i.e. fix the appearance. At this time this cat breed was much more a standard looking cat which is probably why it failed to catch the imagination of the cat loving public of America.

Maine Coon. Photo in public domain.

A progressive standard is one which allows breeders to constantly "refine" the appearance as they might describe it. But this can lead to extreme breeding and extreme appearances such as is evident in the Persian and Siamese.

There was a time, then, went Richard H Gebhardt says that cat fanciers asked, "is the Maine Coon cat simply the long-haired variety of the domestic, or American, shorthair?" And the picture (not the one above I might add) that he shows in his book, The Complete Cat Book, looks very much like a regular domestic cat not showing the usual distinctive Maine Coon characteristics. His book was published in 1991. You can see, therefore, how the Maine Coon has evolved over the past 30 years. It seems that they have decided what a Maine Coon should look like, which is very distinctively a large, and long domestic cat of many coat types and a strong-looking face.

They are, on my assessment, breeding them bigger and longer every year and there are some enormous examples today which people love, quite frankly. The Russians are ahead of the game in breeding this type of cat. The average person likes to see a very large domestic cat as it fascinates them. The Maine Coon is the largest standard domestic cat other than the wild cat hybrids. This cat breed comes in a huge range of colours and coat types but perhaps the best is the brown tabby-and-white, reflecting the original barn cat from which this breed has been developed since they were working cats in the state of Maine 400 years ago.

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