If you are a fan of this beautiful breed, but find its name a bit confusing, then you probably want to know why is a Maine Coon called a Maine Coon?
There are a couple of different factors that contributed to the Maine Coon’s namesake.
Maine Coons were first discovered in Maine during the 1800s, and they went on to become the official state cat of Maine in 1985. The second part of this breed’s name has a murkier history, but it is believed to have originated from the wild theory that Maine Coons were the result of a cross between raccoons and domestic cats.
The Maine Coon’s history is mysterious, and the birth of its name is perhaps even more so.
Read on to find out where this breed got its name, as well as how these cats came to be in the first place!
Why Is A Maine Coon Called A Maine Coon?
The Maine Coon is an American cat breed that has been steadily gaining popularity for the last several decades.
The Maine Coon size is one of the hallmarks of this breed, as they are known to weigh between 8 – 25 pounds on average once they are fully grown.
Find out if female Maine Coons are as big as their male counterparts, in this article.
These cats are also exceptionally beautiful and known for being friendly and loving, which may be part of the reason why the Maine Coon price is so high.
For the latest Maine Coon kitten prices, read this guide.
Maine Coons are incredibly popular, but their mysterious origins mean they are often called by different names.
Here are some of the different names these cats go by, including some of the names people call them by mistake:
- Maine Coon
- Maine Coon cat
- Maine cat
- American longhair
- Mane Coon
- Main Coon
So, why is this cat breed called a Maine Coon?
The first part of the name is easy to answer since these cats first developed in the American state of Maine, a cold and snowy place with mild summers and fierce winters.
These cats were seen in Maine in the 1800s, and perhaps even earlier.
It was not until 1985, however, that this cat breed was named the official ‘state cat of Maine’.
How did the second part of this cat’s name arise?
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a concrete reason to explain the second half of this feline breed name.
The most popular theory is that the Maine Coon’s name comes from the old belief that these cats were the result of domestic cats and raccoons mating with one another.
This begs the question, are Maine Coon cats part raccoon?
While this is of course impossible, it perhaps makes some sense, considering that Maine Coons have bushy, ringed tails just like raccoons.
A more disturbing possibility is that this breed’s name comes from a racial slur.
In 1902, Frances Simpson published a book entitled Cats and All About Them. She mentions the Maine Coon breed in her book, but it is simply referred to as a Maine cat.
So, how did Maine Coons get their name changed?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find when and where exactly the name Maine Coon was first used.
This breed has such a rich and complicated history that the first records of why and when it got its name could be gone forever.
However, most people seem to agree that the name likely comes from the long-believed myth that Maine Coons are descended from raccoons (source 1)
What Breeds Make A Maine Coon Cat?
Today, the Maine Coon is accepted as a distinct cat breed, but DNA testing reveals that these cats may be descended from the cats of Vikings!
People have long wondered about the origins of Maine Coons, and most theories involved some kind of cat arriving in Maine via boat.
One wild theory posits that the cats of Marie Antoinette are the long-lost ancestors of the Maine Coon, but a more probable theory is that Maine Coons are descended from Viking cats.
Norwegian Forest Cats were kept by Vikings, who were known for sailing far and wide. These cats are also quite large, with wide paws and long, thick fur.
DNA evidence shows that Maine Coons are somewhat related to the Norwegian Forest Cat.
Thus the most widely accepted theory today is that these Norwegian Forest Cats were either brought to North America or escaped as their Viking owners traveled to Maine (source 1).
Read this article to gain an understanding of how the Norwegian Forest Cat Vs Maine Coon cats.
One popular question that I often hear, is ‘Are Norwegian Forest Cats bigger than Maine Coons?’. The answer might surprise you, so make sure you take a look!
Why Are Maine Coons So Big?
Maine Coons are generally much larger than the average cat, weighing between 8 – 25 pounds in most cases.
So, how is it that they are so much larger than most domestic cats?
Both their ancestry and their environment can explain their large, muscular statures.
Since Maine Coons are descended from the large Norwegian Forest Cat, it makes sense that they are also big.
Perhaps Norwegian Forest Cats are so large because they were selectively bred, but it could also have to do with the climate they live in.
Norwegian Forest Cats, like Maine Coons, originated in cold, snowy climates.
As a result, it is believed that Maine Coons who were larger and stronger were more likely to survive in such harsh conditions, while the smaller Maine Coons perished.
Their large, wide paws, often containing extra toes, also likely developed to make it easier to catch prey and walk on snow.
If you are interested in learning more about the size of Normal Cats Vs Maine Coons, read this guide.
How Were Maine Coons Created?
Most dog breeds are the result of selective breeding, meaning humans chose desirable traits in certain dogs and bred them with other dogs who had the same traits.
Dogs, however, have been historically used for many more jobs than cats.
While dogs have been used for hunting, tracking, herding, and guarding, cats are only kept as companions or as a means of pest control.
It is believed that, unlike most dog breeds, the Maine Coon developed naturally, evolving with its environment rather than being selectively bred for certain traits.
So, where did the Maine Coon cat come from?
The history of the Maine Coon cat is murky and mysterious.
The most probable theory as to how these cats came to be is that the cats of Vikings landed in North America, and reproduced with feral or domestic cats in Maine.
Over time, those cats who were better equipped to handle the cold due to their thick, semi-water-repellant fur and snowshoe-like paws, were more likely to survive and reproduce litters with similar features.
Farmers and sailors began to recognize these cats by their size and superior hunting abilities.
Consequently, they began to keep them around until they were eventually kept for their loving nature and steadfast companionship.
Here are a few of the Maine Coons other personality traits.
Today, there are two distinct styles of Maine Coon:
- American Maine Coon
- European Maine Coon
American Maine Coons have softer, gentler features, with larger eyes and a rounder muzzle.
European Maine Coons tend to have more square features, as well as a more serious expression.
These two distinct styles are most likely the result of selective breeding amongst fanciers of the breed.
Read more about these types of Maine Coon cats, in my article European Maine Coon Vs American Maine Coon.
Maine Coon Cat Life Cycle
Maine Coon cats are known for being healthy, hardy creatures that live, on average, between 12 and 15 years.
However, if you want a longer Maine Coon lifespan, indoor cats are much more likely to live longer.
The Maine Coon lifespan outdoor is significantly shortened by risks such as:
- Local Predators
One chilling study revealed that, while indoor cats often live between 10 and 15 years, outdoor cats’ lifespans only range between 2 and 5 years on average.
Since the Maine Coon originated in the wild, and they historically got most of their enrichment through hunting, many owners are concerned they will not be able to provide the right lifestyle for an indoor cat.
Many owners compromise by building outdoor catios, but you can even change the inside of your house to be more exciting for your cats!
Adding shelves and even obstacle courses along the wall will also give your cat an exciting challenge!
If you are worried that your cat is missing the outdoors, though, you could also consider taking your cat on hikes in a cat backpack, or you could even teach your cat to walk on a leash and harness! (source 1).
If you are wondering why is a Maine Coon called a Maine Coon, then you probably will not be surprised to learn that the first part of this cat breed’s name comes from its state of origin.
Maine Coon cats originated in the American state of Maine and eventually became so popular that they were named the official state cat of Maine in 1985.
The second half of this cat breed’s name likely comes from the once-popular myth that these cats were the result of raccoons and feral or domestic cats reproducing!
While this is not the case, one look at a Maine Coon’s bushy, ringed tail might make you sympathize a bit more with the original believers of this myth.
Do Maine Coon Cats Come From Maine?
It is believed that ship cats, possibly those of Vikings, arrived in the American state of Maine and bred with local domestic cats, eventually resulting in the Maine Coon.