One particular cat is rumored to be the descendant of a cat and a raccoon: the Maine Coon. The ancestry of the Maine Coon cat is shrouded in mystery due to the lack of written evidence which has led to much-unsubstantiated hearsay being passed down through the years.
Many surprising theories exist as to the origin of the Maine Coon, with a popular one involving the raccoon. Let’s examine what science says about cats and raccoons mating.
Though they are different species, a cat and a raccoon are physically capable of mating. It is more likely for a male raccoon to attempt to mate a wild female cat as opposed to the other way round. However, even though a raccoon and a cat can mate, they cannot reproduce.
Where does this leave the ideaology that a Maine Coon is part raccoon? As much as it may seem to be a logical idea, it is not supported by facts.
Maine Coons are not part raccoon because of a genetic barrier known as the mechanism of reproductive isolation. Though early Maine Coons were brown with raccoon-like tails, a cat and a raccoon did not mate to create them. It is more likely that Maine Coon cats are descendants of Norwegian Forest cats.
Even though it has been unequivocally proven as genetically impossible for a cat and a raccoon to successfully breed, some people like to believe that early Maine Coons were the result of a raccoon and a cat mating and that today’s Maine Coons are their descendants.
A male raccoon cannot impregnate a female cat and a male cat cannot impregnate a female raccoon because fertilization of eggs cannot occur.
The reason for this barrier is to keep each of these species distinct. The science behind this is explained more later on.
Can a raccoon and a cat mate?
Racoon × cat (or a raccoon and cat mating) is a possibility but no young can be conceived. Therefore a raccoon-cat or cat-raccoon does not exist.
This can be explained by examining their taxonomy or classification.
- Kingdom – Animal
- Phylum – Chordata
- Class – Mammalia
- Order – Carnivora
- Family – Felidae
- Genus – Felis
- Species – Catus
- Kingdom – Animal
- Phylum – Chordata
- Class – Mammalia
- Order – Carnivora
- Family – Procyonidae
- Genus – Procyon
- Species – P. Lotor
Though cats and raccoons belong to the same kingdom, phylum, class and order, the differences in their family, genus and species prevent them from successfully breeding.
A raccoon is physically capable of mating with a cat of a similar size, such as a Maine Coon. But bear in mind, mating and successfully breeding are two completely different things!
It is biologically impossible for a cat and a raccoon to breed and produce young so no fertilization of eggs can occur even if they do mate. Hence cat raccoon mixes have never been born.
The cat-raccoon hybrid
Rumor has it that a cat-raccoon hybrid exists and suggests that a Maine Coon and raccoon cross or Maine Coon-Raccoon hybrid is known as a Cacoon.
Some people truly believe the cacoon exists – a hybrid created from a Maine Coon and a raccoon. There is no recorded evidence that such a creature has ever been bred – just google it and you will discover a distinct lack of proof.
Hybrids are created from similar species in the same family and several cat hybrids do exist. Just to clarify there is a world of difference between a hybrid and a mixed breed cat.
A hybrid results from breeding two different species of animals within the same taxonomic family, whereas a crossbreed results from mating two animals that are different breeds within the same species.
Maine Coons are also not part-Lynx, are not hybrids and have not been used to produce a hybrid cat.
Popular cat hybrids are:
- Bengal – Asians Leopard Cat and domestic cat
- Savannah – African Serval and domestic cat
- Chausie – Asian jungle cat and domestic cat
Why a Maine Coon cat cannot be part raccoon
There’s a barrier that prevents different species from reproducing which means it is impossible for a Maine Coon to be part raccoon.
The raccoon is a nocturnal mammal from the Procyonidae taxonomic family whereas the Maine Coon cat belongs to the Felidae family.
Being two different species from different taxonomic families, biologically a Maine Coon and raccoon cannot breed and produce healthy, fertile babies because of the barrier known scientifically as the mechanism of reproductive isolation.
The mechanism of reproductive isolation keeps species distinct. If two different species do ever manage to produce offspring they either don’t survive or are always infertile because of their mismatched chromosomes.
A good example of this is the mule – the infertile result of a female horse mating with a male donkey.
The Origin of the Maine Coon
Maine Coon cats are not part raccoon and part cat. Though this breed’s origins have long been the subject of speculation, it has been scientifically proven that they are not descendants of a cat and raccoon. The only thing that’s known for certain is that Maine Coons are descendants of other cats!
Aside from the cat and raccoon cross suggestion, there are many other theories as to how the Maine Coon arrived in North America. The following are the most popular.
1. Maine Coons descended from Captain Coon’s cats
One theory is that a sea captain named Coon had longhaired tabby cats aboard his ship. He regularly stopped off at Maine and his cats roamed freely, mating with the local shorthaired cats.
The resultant crossbreeds from these couplings became known as Coon’s cats and were popular with local farmers because of their sociable natures. They were bred to become the Maine Coons we know and love today.
2. Maine Coons are related to Marie Antoinette’s cats
In the late 18th Century at the time of the French revolution, Marie Antoinette is believed to have placed her treasured Turkish Angora cats aboard a ship heading for Maine with the plan to follow them soon after.
Marie Antoinette was executed before she could escape France and her beautiful longhaired cats took up residence in Maine where they mated and produced kittens that were bred to become the Maine Coon breed.
3. Viking cats are the Maine Coon’s ancestors
In Norse mythology, the Skogkatt (Norwegian Forest Cat) pulled the chariot of the goddess Freyja. Between the 9th and 11th Centuries, Norwegian Forest Cats are believed to have voyaged with Viking warriors.
To this day, there is no definitive evidence that Vikings ever settled in North America yet you will find plenty of claims that they did and that their Norwegian Forest cats mated with local cats to produce Maine Coons.
Many people believe that Norwegian Forest cats and Maine Coons are related because of their similar appearances. Could this be the answer to the mysery that is the Maine Coon’s origins?
Is a Maine Coon Part Raccoon? – Conclusion
The science of genetics proves that a Maine Coon cat cannot be part raccoon. However, this cat may have been named the Maine Coon partly because of the raccoon-like tail of its early ancestors.
The fact is, we will never know the true origins of the Maine Coon but my favorite idea is that they are closely related to Norwegian Forest cats. What do you think?
Can a raccoon mate with a cat? Conclusion
A raccoon can mate with a cat but the pair can’t reproduce. Therefore, it is not possible for a cat to be part raccoon.
The raccoon is a nocturnal mammal from the Procyonidae taxonomic family whereas cats are from the Felidae family. As this article show, the two species are biologically unable to reproduce.
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