Although no records exist regarding the Maine Coon's exact origins and date of introduction to the
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname - "the gentle giant", and is characterised by a robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, a silky flowing coat and a long, bushy tail. The breed's colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality, the Maine Coon is often cited as having "dog-like" characteristics. Professionals notice certain health problems in the breed including feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hip dysplasia, but reputable breeders use modern screening methods to minimize the frequency of these problems.
The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are unknown—there is only speculation and folk tales. One such folk tale involves Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who was executed in 1793. The story goes that before her death, Antoinette attempted to escape
Another folk tale involves Captain Charles Coon, an English seafarer who kept long-haired cats aboard his ships. Whenever Coon's ship would anchor in
A myth which is trait-based, though genetically impossible, is the idea that the modern Maine Coon descended from ancestors of semi-feral domestic cats and raccoons. This myth would account for the common color of the breed (brown tabby and its bushy tail. Another idea is that the Maine Coon originated between the matings of domestic cats and wild bobcats, which could explain the tufts of hairs that are so commonly seen on the tips of the ears.
The generally accepted theory among breeders is that the Maine Coon is descended from the pairings of local short-haired domestic cats and long-haired breeds brought overseas by English seafarers (possibly by Captain Charles Coon) or 11th-century Vikings. The connection to the Vikings is seen in the strong resemblance of the