The Maine Coon is a striking cat with a shaggy fur coat, a long fluffy tail, and a lion-like mane. Its sheer size makes it stand out among other domestic cats.
There is one other feature of a Maine Coon that is really quite distinctive – and that is the long tufts of fur that sprout straight up from the tip of each ear. Could this feature hold a clue to the Maine Coon cat’s origin and prompt people to ask the below question…
Are Maine Coons part Lynx? Maine Coons are not part lynx despite having those lynx-like ear tufts. The tufts are referred to as Lynx tips purely because they resemble those of a lynx.
It is easy to see how people could develop the idea that these two cats are related and whilst it is true that some domestic cats have been successfully bred with wild cats to produce hybrids the Maine Coon is not one of them.
Maine Coons originated in Maine, USA. There are many theories on how the breed and its name originated.
How Did The Maine Coon Evolve?
There are no definitive records that show when this breed first appeared but Maine Coons did feature in cats shows as early as the 1860s and a Maine Coon won a New York cat show in 1895.
Sometime after this, the breed almost disappeared but was revived to become a recognized breed in 1976. In 1985 it was crowned the official state cat of Maine, the place of its roots.
Many stories surround the Maine Coons origins:
- Some say a sea captain named Coon used to bring his long-haired cats ashore in areas of Maine where they bred with local cats resulting in long-haired kittens that became affectionately known as Coon’s cats.
- Others tell stories of Marie Antoinette placing her Turkish Angora cats on a ship headed to New England. She didn’t survive to make the journey herself but her cats disembarked in Maine and mated with the local felines resulting in the long-haired cats we know and love today.
- Because of their striking similarity to Norwegian Forest cats, there are those who believe Vikings bought their own cats with them and these were responsible for the start of the Maine Coon bloodline.
All of the above stories are feasible but we will never know the real truth.
Are Maine Coons Part Raccoon?
Though some have rings on their tails as raccoons do, Maine Coon cats are not part raccoon.
Raccoons are genus Procyon and Maine Coons are genus Felis and broadly speaking, two different species are unable to interbreed. It is, however, possible for a Maine Coon and a Raccoon to mate but no offspring will result.
It’s the similarity between a brown tabby Maine Coon’s and a raccoon’s tail that led to the once-popular belief that Maine Coons resulted from domestic cats breeding with raccoons.
However, it is now widely known that Maine Coons are not related to raccoons. Maybe this is where the Coon part of the cat’s name came from though.
Are Maine Coons Part Bobcat?
Because a Maine Coon is well built with large paws some people ask if they are related to bobcats. Though there are some hybrid cats developed by breeding domestic cats and wild cats, there are no wild cat genes in the Maine Coon and no Maine Coon hybrids have been developed to-date.
Though they are large cats, they have extremely gentle and docile natures which is why they are perfect family pets. And the bobcat lacks the fabulous tail of the Maine Coon!
Maine Coon Cat origins
A Maine Coon is a large domestic cat that originated in Maine, USA and has physical characteristics that evolved to help it survive severe winter weather.
Nowadays, many Maine Coons are indoor cats and so never put their fur coats to the test. On a snowy day, you are more likely to find a Maine Coon in front of a fire than braving the snow.
The Maine Coon Coat
The Maine Coon has a shaggy uneven coat. The fur is noticeably longer on its legs, front of neck and belly. The long neck fur resembles a mane and would have once provided protection from icy winds and snow. The longer belly fur would have given extra insulation from deep snow.
Their coat is waterproof too so rain and snow cannot penetrate to their skin. It is important to keep a Maine Coon’s coat well-groomed to prevent knots from forming. This grooming brush is the perfect tool for the job.
The Maine Coon Tail
The Maine Coon has a long furry tail. Once-upon-a-time this tail would have protected their faces. When a Maine Coon curls up its tail can sweep right around its face to keep it warm.
Maine Coon Paws
Maine Coons have sturdy paws with long tufts of fur sprouting between their toes. These would definitely have helped them walk on snow without sinking too deeply and protected them from the icy cold ground.
Maine Coon Ear Tufts and Furnishings
No-one really knows what purpose those lynx tips serve but the soft fluffy hairs in each ear would have helped keep snow out and provide warmth and protection.
Maine Coon Eyes
Maine Coons have large eyes set at a slightly oblique angle. They come in a range of colors, including green, amber copper, orange, gold, and blue. Did you know only white Maine Coons and those with some white in their coats can have blue eyes or sometimes odd-colored eyes?
What Are Hybrid Cats?
In the 1970s, scientists created hybrid cats as part of a study into leukemia. They bred domestic cats with a small wild cat known as the Asian Leopard Cat.
At the end of the program of study, some of the resulting little leopard-like cats were given to people as pets. These cats were further bred to become the Bengal breed we know today.
People loved Bengals and so other hybrids began to be developed. Wild African cats, known as Servals, and domestic cats were used to produce Savannah cats.
The wild Jungle Cat native to certain Asian countries was bred with domestic cats to produce the Chausie.
Health and Behavioral Issues of Hybrid Cats
Hybrids are engineered. The wild breeds used would not normally be able to mate with domestic cats. Even several generations in, a hybrid cat will still very much have wild cat instincts. Owners report high incidences of aggression and failure to use litter boxes.
Sadly, many hybrids are turned over to shelters and many shelters are struggling to re-home them. Many are now refusing to take them in.
Breeding two cat species that were never meant to mate has led to a variety of health issues. Usual cat vaccines are not guaranteed to be effective on hybrids. They can also suffer from digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Disease and intestinal parasites.
These lead to chronic diarrhea which is difficult to treat. They can also suffer from Hypertrophic
Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
Glamorous as they may seem, it isn’t always a good idea to take on a hybrid cat as a pet unless you are fully aware of what this involves.
More Maine Coon Features
Maine Coons have a lot of energy and they need to expend it every day. So if you keep one indoors you should provide it with plenty to do. Climbing trees are excellent for Maine Coons as they can climb, jump, scratch and sleep on them and basically behave like little wild cats in the jungle. Here are my favorite indoor cat trees.
Need For Attention
Maine Coons are sociable cats that love attention. Make sure you give plenty of quality time and play with it every day. This is good for their mental health and will help to prevent the kind of unwanted behavior that results from boredom.
The Need To Scratch
Just like cats in the wild, all domestic cats like to scratch at things and this includes Maine Coons. They must have somewhere to do this as it serves several purposes:
- Like our finger nails, a cat’s claws continually grow. Scratching removes the dead outer layers to reveal the fresh sharp claw beneath.
- As a cat scratches it grips with its claws and stretches out the muscles and tendons of its shoulders and front legs. This keeps them in a prime, flexible condition for hunting.
- Scratching visibly marks territory as well as leaving a scent marker. Your cat feels more happy and relaxed if it can smell its own scent all around the areas it frequents
So make place several scratching posts around your home and encourage your cat to use them from day one, it will learn to just scratch these and will leave your furnishings alone. For more advice on this subject please see How to stop your Maine Coon scratching your furniture.
Maine Coons Need Their Claws
If you can’t tolerate some scratches to your furniture or see yourself investing the time to train your Maine Coon where it can scratch, then a Maine Coon may not be the cat for you.
Please don’t think declawing is an acceptable solution to limit the damage a Maine Coon might cause. Have a look at this article to find out why.
Maine Coons are not part lynx, bobcat or any species of wild cat. They are not part raccoon either. They might look like little lions, they might occasionally run about your house like crazy, possessed wild things but their temperaments are always docile, gentle and loving.