Are Maine Coons part raccoon? No, but some people did believe it.

Positively NO, it is genetically impossible for a domestic cat to mate with a raccoon to produce a hybrid described as the Maine Coon. I guess that you knew that already but just in case. It is a question hardly worth asking. 

Jan Horlick's "Just Blue" Maine Coon, photographed against our "Charcoal" background at TICA's Evergreen Cat Fanciers cat show, Ferndale, WA, October 2015 by Helmi Flick
Jan Horlick's "Just Blue" Maine Coon, photographed against our "Charcoal" background at TICA's Evergreen Cat Fanciers cat show, Ferndale, WA, October 2015. Photo: Helmi Flick.

However, for quite a long time in the 19th century and perhaps early 20th-century, many people did believe that the Maine Coon was the product of a raccoon mating with a domestic cat. Sarah Hartwell on her website messybeast.com has an example. It comes from 1900 and the author is Helen Winslow. She said:

"There is in this country a variety known as the 'coon cat,' which is handsome, especially in the solid black. Its native home is in Maine, and it is thought by many to have originated with the ordinary cat and the raccoon. It grows somewhat larger than the ordinary cat, with thick, woolly fur and an extremely bushy tail. It is fond of outdoor life, and when kept as a pet must be allowed to run out of doors or it is apt to become so savage and disagree-able that nothing can be done with it. When it is allowed its freedom, however, it becomes affectionate, intelligent, and is usually a handsome cat."

And the Washington Post published an article about the Maine Coon on December 22, 1901 in which they said:

"The assistant curator attended the last cat show held in Boston, and his feelings may be imagined better than described, to witness one of these cats in a large cage, bearing the following legend In flaming letters: “Genuine Coon Cat Hybrid Of Raccoon and Domestic Cat. Only specimen in the United States, etc.” This In Boston, the Hub, the center of learning and culture."

Although it is unlikely, perhaps the name Maine Coon originates in the belief that this cat was indeed a raccoon x domestic cat hybrid. I doubt that but it is just possible. The more likely explanation for the name is that one of the ships' cats that came ashore was on a ship owned by an individual called captain Coon. It is believed that the Maine Coon cat originates in ships' cats imported from Europe. 

CLICK FOR MAINE COON HISTORY - 8 THEORIES

Although no one knows why this breed is called the Maine Coon. There are many theories. Extraordinary, isn't it? Because no one knows the origin it seems plausible that it is indeed due to this misapprehension that the cat is a raccoon hybrid. There appears to have been quite a lot of hype about it in the news media at one time in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Associated: Where do Maine Coons come from?

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