Rexed Maine Coon cat (picture and discussion)

Sarah Hartwell of provides us with a comprehensive history of the curly-haired Maine Coon cat. A breed that could have been but never took off because of 'cat fancy politics'. In other words the cat fancy botched it if you believe that the curly-haired Maine Coon is a breed that should have become established as does Sarah Hartwell and she knows best!

Rexed Maine Coon
Rexed Maine Coon. Photo: website.

It is called the 'Rexed Maine Coon'. Sarah says that it could have been a wonderful breed. She fell in love with a Rexed Maine Coon when she held the cat at a cat show. The coat was soft to the touch.

The history of this variant to the shaggy medium-longhaired standard Maine Coon (MC) started in the late 1980s. The gene that causes the curly coat is recessive (single recessive gene assumed).

The curly haired mutation was first reported in the Maine Coon by British breeder Di Everett. In 1994 she said:

The first rexed Maine Coon in Britain was born, as far as we know, in our household in 1988. We have produced a total of four rexed kittens, from three different mothers, all mated to the same male.

MC breeders were uncomfortable with a rogue recessive gene entering the MC gene pool and rejected the idea. The gene was not introduced into the MC breeding programme by outcrossing.

This variant can be traced to Germany; a cat called Kalicoon Bashta Khan. He was a stud cat in Germany and the UK. The gene got into the breeding programme.

It is not clear that the gene is the same as the one causing the Cornish Rex coat. There was a 1 in 200 occurrence of the gene showing up.

In 1994 it was declared that the rex gene was harmful but the claim was unsupported by science. Some breeders were vilified as a result. Some quit breeding. Some imported rex-free stock and restarted. The British Maine Coon took a reputation knock. All known male carriers were neutered (culled from the breeding programmes). No more Rexed MCs were born.

Rexed Maine Coon
Rexed Maine Coon. Picture in the public domain.

It seems that there was a resistance within the UK cat fancy to the idea of a Rexed Maine Coon and panic ensued. As Sarah said politics ended the curly-haired Maine Coon at inception.

I have written about this cat before. Click here if you are interested.


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