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Maine Coon Cats

This past year, millions of people indulged in the hit tv show Tiger King (although many of us might not want to admit we watched it), and it has left many wondering what it would be like to own a giant feline such as a lion or a tiger. The closest you might be able to get to this experience without putting the lives of your entire household in danger is by adopting a Maine Coon cat. Maine Coons can grow to be as long as a large child is tall and, unlike lions and tigers, they are domesticated animals known for being gentle giants.

Origins

Maine Coons come in nearly all colors but are predominantly black and brown and typically have dark striations on their backs and tails. This interesting pattern is most likely what paved the way for the even more interesting urban legend that Maine Coons are descendants of a raccoon and cat love affair. Although this isn’t scientifically possible, the story is still a fun one to tell by the campfire.

Even more fantastic is the origin story that involves French Monarch, Marie Antoinette. Antoinette was executed in 1798, but prior to her death, she attempted to flee France. As the story goes, Captain Samuel Clough loaded his ship with the queen’s most prized possessions, including her six Turkish Angora cats. His intent was to sneak the queen away and bring her to America. Although Marie Antoinette did not make it to the New World, it is rumored that her beloved cats made it to Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with native short-haired cats.

One final, and most likely theory, is that Jon Smith and his fellow explorers brought European cats to the New World that bred with native cats to create the Maine Coon. Hundreds of years ago, ships were cesspools for diseases, and occupants were stuck in these dirty quarters for months at a time. Cats were often brought onto the ships to catch mice and rats, some of the leading carriers of diseases. They were not considered pets at the time, so it’s not unlikely that a few got loose and ventured into the Maine wilderness.

The Big Screen

Fans of Harry Potter will remember Argus Filch, the bothersome caretaker who continuously sought to get students into trouble. He was always aided by his cat Mrs. Norris, who was played by a Maine Coon cat on the big screen. This “catress” was named Pebbles, and she was adopted from a cattery (the British term for a cat kennel) in Southwest England. As far as show animals go, she wasn’t the most talented, but she was perfect for the role of wandering the halls of Hogwarts.

Breaking Records

Maine Coons are one of the largest domesticated cat breeds. They share this title with Norwegian Forest cats and Ragdolls. Females can weigh anywhere from 9 -16 pounds, and males can weigh 13-18 pounds. These cats are frequently born polydactyl, meaning they have more than the appropriate number of digits. These extra fingers and toes make their paws look massive, adding to their already impressive stature.

The record for the longest cat in the world goes to Stewie, a purebred Maine Coon cat. From nose to tail, Stewie measured 48.5 inches which is over four feet tall. Sadly, Stewie passed in February of 2013, but he still holds the world title for the longest cat. The longest living cat title belongs to Barivel, another Maine Coon.

Seeing Double

Maine Coons made the news yet again in 2004 when Little Nicky became the world’s first-ever commercially cloned pet. Little Nicky was 17 when he passed and his owner, known only as Julie, spent $50,000 to have him cloned. The new Nicky looks and acts just like the original, and Julie is reportedly a very happy customer. Anybody thinking to follow the same route should save their money, though. The California based company that performed the procedure closed only two years later due to financial reasons.

-Written by Stacy Oswald & Photo by Kovah