a maine coon at portland lighthouse

Are Maine Coon Cats From Maine?

It’d be the ultimate irony, wouldn’t it?

The Maine Coon might have actually got its name from the State with which made it famous.

Or is it the other way around?

Were Maine Coons about before the States were named, and it was named from it’s most famous resident.

So, are Maine Coon cats from Maine?

Once you disregard the fanciful and the impossible, the likely origins of the name revolve around European or Persian cats being brought to the eastern seaboard of the USA. It could have been vikings, seafaring trade captains, or the Marie Antoinette’s rescue ship, as they all docked near Maine.

Currently the Maine Coon is the State cat of Maine, an honor that was bestowed upon it in 1985.

It seems somewhat fitting, especially as the three most likely stories about the Maine Coons heritage are nearly all linked to the Eastern seaboard of the US.

There are some discountable origin stories like them being European seafaring cats bred with wild racoons as that’s genetically impossible.

Still, there are two stories that might suggest the Maine Coon actually does come from Maine.

Plus one that’s eerily close.

a maine coon at arcadia national park

Three Theories On The Maine Coon Origins

There are three theories that tie in with the Maine Coon story and potentially making the breed native to Maine.

Vikings

It’s now an established fact that the Vikings from Norway landed on the American continent near Newfoundland.

What this means is that early European settlers discovered America  about 5 centuries before Columbus.

The Vikings’ discovery of the American coast in 1000 CE, on their quest to conquer the world, also brought cats aboard their ships.

The cats in question – the Norwegian Forest cat.

A cat with striking resemblance to a Maine Coon.

It’s within the realm of possibility that the Vikings explored more of the coast, and some of the cats escaped to breed with the domestic breeds.

Marie Antionette

During the time of France just prior to the French revolution, Louis the XVI and Marie Antionette were living the decadent lifestyle.

She is known to have had, and been fond of, some Turkish and Persian Angora cats.

Marie Antiontte and her family were arrested in 1793, and Samuel Clough, a sea captain, was said to repatriate refugees and their belongings to new territories.

The regular trading routes were from France to the State of Maine.

The idea was to take Marie Antionette and her belongings, including her cats, to the new land.

While the rescue attempts all failed, Samuel Clough is said to have sailed with the goods, and of course, the cats.

The captain’s wife, who was stationed in Maine since his last visit, was meant to greet the royal family into a grand home.

Marie Antoinette’s elegant mansion was furnished with her immense possessions and expensive decorations.

The “Marie-Antoinette House” still exists today.

What happened to the cats is a mystery, but if they bred with the local population then Maine Coon cats are indeed from Maine.

Charles Coons cats

The last plausible theory is the tale of seafaring legend Charles Coon.

He used to travel and trade with a longhaired breed of cat that kept the mice and rodents at bay in the ship’s food pantry.

These cats were popular in England, and when docked in Maine harbor he used to take his cats ashore with him.

These obviously bred with the local population, presumably to produce what is now known as the Maine Coon.

Although they started out, as the legend goes, as Coon’s cats because of their distinctive coat.

Again, if this is true, and it does seem likely that this would have been the case, then Maine Coon cats are likely to have started in Maine.

a tortoiseshell Maine Coon lying down

Why Are Maine Coons Called Maine Coons?

When Maine Coons eventually became a recognized breed, the Maine Coon name was already famous.

It seems that Maine Coon cats were using Maine as their brand name before they were even formally recognized as a breed.

The truth is no one can say definitively what the route of the name for Maine Coon is.

The three likely scenarios all revolve around Atlantic passages from cats of European or Persian descent.

It’s very likely that these cats were brought to the eastern seaboard of the US and the resultant breeding caused the Maine Coon.

face of Alita the Maine Coon

Conclusion

Maine Coon cats are known to be intelligent and loving animals that have made their way into many households in the US including families with small children or other pets.

Maine’s climate is harsh and wild for Maine Coon cats but it also makes them one of the most beautiful and sturdy breeds of cats around!

Whether they originate from Maine is difficult to say, but there are three prevailing theories that lend credence to that conclusion.

Their striking resemblance to Norwegian Forest cats might persuade many that vikings brought their forefathers over, but it’s equally possible similar cats came over on the trade routes.

Not one can quite say for sure, and that’s part of the Maine Coon charm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Maine’s state cat?

Maine’s state cat is the ever popular Maine Coon, which was recognized by the state legislature in 1985. It had been in Maine for over a century at this time and is considered one of the oldest surviving breeds.

Are Maine Coon cats part bobcat?

There’s no truth in the rumors that Maine Coons are related to bobcats. They have a few similar physical appearances like tufted ears, but bobcats and racoon mixes with Maine Coons are genetically impossible.

Are Maine Coon cats related to the Lynx?

The Maine Coon does not descend from the lynx cat. They have a similar look, particularly with the ears, but Maine Coons and lynx’s do not breed together as it’s genetically impossible.

About the Author

MaineCoon

My name is Ann and I have been looking after and breeding cats since 2013. I am currently the proud ownder of Alita, a female Maine Coon to whom I've dedicated this site. She has had 2 litters and is around 3 years old. We share adventures and stories together.

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