The Maine Coon cat originates from North Amerika and the state of Maine. Their exact origins are unknown, but many theories have been proposed.
A legend says that the breed originates from matings between domestic cats and racoons, which is genetically impossible.
Another idea is that the Maine Coon originated between the matings of domestic cats and bobcats. This could explain the tufts of hair that are coomonly seen on the tips of the ears. There have been reports of domestic cats breeding with bobcats.
It is assumed that the Maine Coon descends from the matings of local short-haired domestic cats and the long-haired breeds brought overseas by seafarers or the Vikings. The connections to the Vikings is seen in the resemblance of the Maine Coon to the Norwegian Forest Cat, another breed said to be a descendant of cats that travelled with the Vikings.
The first Maine Coon was registered in 1861. It was a black and white male named "Captein Jenks of the Horse Marines". Even in 1800s Maine Coons was a popular show cat. A brown tabby females called "Cozie", won best in show at the Madison Square Garden Show.
To begin with, only the brown tabby cats were called Maine Coon. Other variations of colors were called "Maine Shagged". In the beginning of 1920s the breed vanished from the shows. Persians and other exotic cats were more poular. Thus the breed faced hard times. In 1959 it was declared extinct, and in 1973 a newspaper wrote that it did not even exist. It did however exist, and in 1968, thanks to enthusiastic breeders hard work and belief in the breed, The Maine Coon Breeder and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) was founded. This resulted inrecognition with the clubs, and once again Maine Coons were registered and had the rights to earn titles.
The state of Maine has declared the breed a state cat. At shows Maine Coon represents the largest amount of cats after the Persian.
Many of the original Maine Coon cats that inhabited the New England area possessed a trait called polydactylism (having on more extra toes on the feet). This is thought to have occured in approximately 30-40% of the Maine Coon population. A whole colony of them can be found in Ernst Hemingways house in Key West, Florida.The polydactylism is unacceptable by competition standars, so it is rarely seen. Several breeders still breed polydactyl cats.