Maine Coon

One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine Coon is the official Maine State Cat. A number of attractive legends surround its origin. A wide spread (though biologically impossible) belief is that it originated from matings between semi-wild cats and raccoons, leading to the name "Maine Coon." Another theory is that the Maine sprang from six Norwegian Forest cats given to Marie Antoinette by a Swedish diplomat. She sent them along with other valuables to Wiscasset, Maine, when she was planning to escape from France during the Revolution. Interestingly, the breed closest to the Maine Coon is the Norwegian Forest Cat, which evolved in much the same climate, and this lends credence to yet another theory that some of the cats were brought over by the Vikings. Some say the Maine is descended from Persians and Angoras brought to New England by an English sea captain named Coon. It is also possible that the Maine descended from French domestic cats brought to the New World by French explorers to trade with the local Indians as valuable rodent destroyers.

Everything about the Maine Coon points to its adaptation to a harsh climate. Its glossy coat, heavy and water-resistant, its long, bushy tail which the cat wraps around itself when it curls up to sleep for protection from the cold, and the big, round, tufted feet that serve as "snow shoes." While Maine Coons are highly people-oriented cats, they are not overly-dependent. They do not constantly pester for attention, but prefer to "hang out" with their owners, investigating whatever activity they're involved in and "helping" when they can. A Maine Coon will be a companion, a buddy, a pal, but hardly ever a "baby."

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