The first furry baby Jonathan and I adopted was a scraggly looking black adolescent thing – not quite old enough to be labeled a cat, but definitely grown out of what most would call kittenhood – that had legs and a tail far longer than would seem proportional to its lanky body. It all started when we were strolling through the City Pound “window shopping” a good month prior to kitten season. While I spent equal time with all of the cats, giving them love and then quickly walking away before I could feel the first tugs of attachment, Jonathan stayed glued to a single cage, where a lanky black paw was straining out to bat at him.
“He wants me.” Jonathan kept saying, his eyes locked onto the intelligent, piercing yellow eyes of the little kitten / cat with a meow far too mature for its tiny size. I remember looking across the room at Jonathan crouched down, his face soft, his whole body hunched over to hold on to that tiny reaching paw. He was locked away into a completely different world and I thought, “Hm. I think Jonathan chose his cat.”
Although, we’ve come to learn, it was really the cat that chose us.
With adoption plans in mind, we left town that weekend to attend the annual Pro-Life Walk for Life event in San Francisco, letting the staff know we’d be back. Then our car got broken into. Hundreds of dollars of possessions were stolen, including the cost to repair the damage done to the vehicle. Adopting a cat was completely out of the question. The adoption just wasn’t going to happen. So we did the exact opposite of what we said we’d do: we promptly drove home and picked up our first furry baby, Wraith. (Named after the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings, because of his smoky black color and wispy, straggly undercoat.)
We didn’t learn till weeks later, when he started to grow into his body, that he was a Black Smoke Maine Coon. Until then, I was only familiar with the brown tabby coated Classic Maine Coons. Suddenly the intelligent eyes, the irresistible pull of his intellectual meow – it all began to make sense. For those of you that don’t know, Maine Coons are one of the coolest, smartest, breeds of cat on the planet.
(Wraith at his 1 year birthday party. Yes. Yes we had an actually birthday party for our cat, with presents and cake and party hats and everything. DON’T JUDGE ME!!)
Jonathan with his cat. They really are best buds.
What prompted this whole post, is that some good friends of mine have a litter of Maine Coon mix kittens, and my dad got one for my mother for their 30th wedding anniversary this past Friday. The little kitten (that my mother has named Cosi), is a beautiful Classic Brown Tabby Maine Coon with slightly spotted / mackerel markings. She currently has two other Maine Coons – Merida and Thackary – and before them, she had her cat Inara, the one that introduced us all the the amazing Maine Coon breed.
I know there are a trillion odes to Maine Coons out there, because these manipulative, heart stealing little buggers excite a near manic devotion in their human-pets, but I thought what the hey? It’s my blog, I can crazy-cat-lady up the place if I wanna! So without further ado, here’s a rundown on this amazing breed:
HOW TO SPOT A MAINE COON CAT:
Unlike other breeds that are obvious in their rarity (Persians, Scottish Folds, etc.) and therefore blasphemously expensive, Maine Coon cats are less well-known, while still being common in the states and are often mislabeled as American Longhair Tabbies, which makes them easy, effortless and fairly cheap to find and adopt.
MASSIVE BODY – You can spot them by their large, muscular bone structure (they are one of the largest breeds of domestic cat out there), rectangular shape and long, flowing coat in various colors (commonly brown tabby, black and orange tabby). All Maine Coons, with the exception of solid Blacks and Black Smokes, share one distinguishing facet – their forehead has an evident M shape on the brow.
LUXURIOUS TAIL – The tail of the Maine Coon is its pride. Maine Coons have an extremely long, furry, plume-like tail, which can reach a length of 14 inches. When they curl up to sleep, their long, bushy tail is often curled around their face and shoulders, and when they walk (or strut, rather, proud bastards) their tail wafts majestically behind them, conveying emotions with subtle twitches.
THICK FUR – Maine Coons also have a lion-like ruff around their neck (this usually does not fill out till around a year old or later), with the fur often shorter on the head and back, and longer on the stomach and flanks. They also have very large paws with long wispy tufts of fur sticking out between the toes and heavily furred ears with extra long, almost lynx point tufts growing from the inside and sweeping outward.
My moms new Classic Maine Coon kitten, Cosi!
THE HISTORY (KINDA, WELL MAYBE) OF THE MAINE COON CAT:
ROYAL KITTIES OF AWESOME? – The ancestral origins of the Maine Coon are a little iffy, although the popular story runs that while Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, was attempting to escape France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough, she loaded the ship with her most prized possessions – including six of her favorite Turkish Angora cats. Although she did not make it to the United States, her pets safely reached the shores of Wiscasset, Maine, where they bred with other short-haired breeds and evolved into the modern breed of the Maine Coon.
VIKING KITTIES OF AWESOME? – If this story is more fable than fact, the only other explanation circulating is that the cats are descended from the pairings of local short-hairs and long-haired breeds brought overseas by 11th-century Vikings. (The connection to the Vikings is seen in the strong resemblance of the Maine Coon to the Norwegian Forest Cat, cats that commonly traveled with the Vikings.)
AMERICAS COOLEST CAT – One thing that is for certain: Maine Coons have pretty much been awesome in America from day one. On May 8, 1895, the very first North American cat show was hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City and it was a female Maine Coon Brown Tabby, named Cosey, that won the silver collar and was named Best in Show. They’ve rocked America as the coolest cats ever since.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE MAINE COON:
REDICULOUSLY INTELLIGENT AND REGAL – Maine Coons have a regal bearing and are known for their above average intelligence and gentle personality. They are known as the “gentle giants” and are one of the most easily trained domestic cats out there. They are often fiercely loyal and attached to their family, with female Maine Coons having a tendency to latch onto female humans, and male Maine Coons having a tendency to latch onto male humans. They are playful throughout their lives, somehow managing to be simultaneously clownish and regal with their antics, and always possessing a very tangible and unbelievable amount of dignity. Maine Coons are slow to physically mature, so they stay kittenish for a long time – they do not reach their full potential size and maturity till they are three to five years old, while other cats take about only one year to physically and emotionally mature.
ANNOYINGLY AFFECTIONATE AND PUSHY – They are also extremely affectionate to the point of being downright demanding for your attention and love. They want to be part of everything and they have massive stubborn streaks, sometimes refusing to take no for an answer. They are extremely manipulative in their attempts to garner your attention and distract you. They make it very clear that they own you, you don’t own them!
LOUD ALL. THE. TIME. – Maine Coons are also absurdly vocal. They are well known for yowling, chattering, chirping, and “talking” (especially “talking back” to their owners), and making other loud vocalizations, usually in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep. The craziest thing is, they will make very pointed eye contact while talking in their efforts to communicate with you. These really are not like the average cat. Out of all cat breeds I have come into contact with, I would have to say that Maine Coons are the most “communication savvy” cats. They actually try to consistently convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions through eye contact and vocalization.
Well, that’s my gushing post about Maine Coons! I’ll most likely shell one out for Scottish Folds down the road, one of my other favorite breeds. If you have a Maine Coon, or are familiar with the breed, let me know if I left anything out!