TheMaine Coonis one of the largest domesticatedbreeds of cat. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldestnatural breedsin North America, specificallynativeto the state ofMaine, where it is the officialstate cat.
No records of the Maine Coon's exact origins and date of introduction to the United States exist, so several competing hypotheses have been suggested. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the more popular cat breeds in the world.
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, "the gentle giant." Maine Coons can also be named Coon Cat, Maine Cat, Maine Shag, Snowshoe Cat, American Longhair, American Coon Cat and American Forest Cat. It is characterized by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, triangular body shape, an uneven two-layered coat with longer guard hairs with a silky satin under layer undercoat, and a long, bushy tail. The breed's colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality, the Maine Coon is often cited as having "dog-like" characteristics.