Most states have official flags, official trees &  flowers and even birds, but not many can call a breed of cat their own. Maine however does have this distinction. It is the first cat breed to originate in America and also the breed to win America’s first cat show.

If you haven't guessed already, I am talking about the fluffy, personality plus, Maine Coon cat. It is known to be one of the largest, longest and some say, smartest cat breed the world over. These cats are known for making chirping noises and ours has an affinity for for fetching and returning drinking straws. Unmistakable with thick, long fur so they are well suited for Maine's cooler, unpredictable climate.

Interestingly, their origin is a mystery. According to Wikipedia, they are a ‘natural cat breed’, meaning humans did not selectively breed these cats. So, if this breed was not one that breeders sought to develop, where did this cat come from?

There are many theories, some suggest that the Maine Coon is half cat, half raccoon. Another suggestion is that the Maine Coon is half domestic cat and half bobcat. However, there is no evidence to support this interbreeding.

Another theory is back to cats that were taken on board ships for pest control. Variations on these themes seem to be more plausible, especially considering these felines are good mousers.

Wikipedia tells of a theory where the Maine Coon cat is descended from one of six Turkish Angora cats who were once owned by Queen Marie Antoinette. While she did not escape the French Revolution with her head intact, her cats were taken by Captain Samuel Clough to Wiscasset, Maine, where they spent the rest of their days.

Another variation suggests things could go back as far as the Vikings because of their similarity to the Norwegian Forest Cat. Unfortunately, no one to my knowledge has found the remains of domestic cats from the age of the Vikings here in Maine.

It's safe to say the true origin story of the Maine Coon is still up for debate, but it is clear that people did not directly determine how this cat breed evolved so the mystery remains.

What's your theory?

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