7 facts about the early development of the Maine Coon

Maine Coon cats were exhibited in semi-informal shows as early as the 1860s in America. That's quite interesting because it is before the first formal cat show in England which was in 1871 at Crystal Palace, south London. They were very popular and were frequent winners. You may know that the first American cat show (formal) at Madison Square Garden resulted in a Maine Coon winning the show. The cat was a brown tabby owned by Mrs EN Baker.


As the cat fancy developed and cat shows became more sophisticated, more imported varieties of cats came into America and they had long pedigrees. Their breeding was more sophisticated. They were cats of uniform colour without white markings. This created a vogue and the Maine Coon's popularity declined. They disappeared from shows altogether for a while.

Early Maine Coon
Early Maine Coon. Completely different to the
modern version. Photo in public domain.

Persian breeders frequently outcrossed to Maine Coon cats because they were strong and vigorous. In those days the cat registries accepted cats of unknown parentage provided they conformed to the colours recognised for a breed. The breeder simply had to provide a sworn affidavit testifying that it was a long-hair or whatever other requirement the breed standard demanded.

There was a struggle amongst the breeders and lovers of the Maine Coon cat to bring the breed back into popularity. They apparently struggled with the breed standard. Should the breed standard fix the cat as a natural looking cat i.e. fix the cat to the past, or should they allow the cat to be developed into a more contemporary animal as demonstrated in the Persian and Siamese?

Richard H Gebhart, in his book, The Complete Cat Book, writes that "Time and again the question came up: is the Maine Coon cat simply the long-haired variety of the domestic, or American, shorthair?"

He says that experience suggested that Maine Coons were originally the true Angora cats. In those years before the cat fancy the Maine Coon mated randomly producing hearty and strong cats with a wide variety of colours and markings to appeal to everyone.

It appears that the cat fancy chose the natural Maine Coon harking back to their origins which was a wise decision. There is, currently, however, a trend I believe in Russia to breed extreme Maine Coons which drives this cat away from their natural origins. 

It will always be like this because humankind likes to push the envelope. I think it's a mistake although these huge Maine Coon cats with huge muzzles an enormous ears are very popular with the public. Popularity with the public is always an objective for cat breeders.

Although the Maine Coon cat is a long-haired cat, strictly speaking a medium-long-haired cat, the texture and coat quality is different from the Persian. Maine Coons will mat if they are neglected totally but they remain mat-free with little effort. Persians require constant intervention by their owner to avoid matting.


Popular posts from this blog

The extreme Maine Coon face

Eerie picture of a Maine Coon sitting like a human on a chest of drawers

No part of a Maine Coon cat should be exaggerated