Maine Coon History history
In the 16th and 17th centuries, domestic cats brought over from Europe faced very severe winters in New England where only the strongest and most adaptable cats survived. Through natural selection (as opposed to selective breeding), the Maine Coon developed into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant, thick coat and a hardy constitution. The origin of the breed (and its name) has several, often fantastic, stories surrounding it. One comes from a legend that a domestic cat released in the wilds of Maine interbred with a raccoon, resulting in offspring with the Maine Coon's characteristics. Though this is biologically impossible, this myth, bolstered by the bushy tail and the most common coloring (a raccoon-like brown tabby) probably led to the adoption of the name 'Maine Coon.' Another popular story is that the breed sprang from the six pet cats which Marie Antoinette sent to Wiscasset, Maine when she was planning to escape from France during the French Revolution. However, most breeders today believe that the breed originated in matings between pre-existing shorthaired domestic cats and overseas longhairs (perhaps Angora types introduced by New England seamen, or longhairs brought to America by the Vikings). Maine Coons' long coats resemble their European counterparts, the Norwegian Forest Cats. Maine coons are known as the gentle giant.