MAINE COON TEMPERAMENT & PERSONALITY
The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat reputed for its gentle personality, hence its nickname "the gentle giant." They are known for being loyal to their family and cautious around strangers, independent and not clingy. The Maine Coon is generally not known for being a "lap cat" but their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats, and children. They are playful throughout their lives, with males tending to be more clownish and females generally possessing more dignity, and both are equally affectionate.
They love water, and will play with the water in their drinking bowl - be prepared for puddles on the floor! Some will just splash about in it a bit, but others will "dig" it all out of the bowl, splashing it everywhere.
It's a good idea to get them used to having a regular bath from a young age, and to being brushed & combed. The coat of an adult can be very long & heavy, requiring a light brush daily & thorough groom once every week or fortnight (depending on the time of year).
Being a giant breed, Coonies keep growing until 3-4yo for females and 4-5yo for males. At times I've had people tell me they're a bit disappointed with the size of their 1yo Coon, thinking it'd be full-grown by then, not realising it's still far from being full-grown. Growth has slown down a lot after 1yo though, so you don't really notice it. I remember thinking my girl Annwyn was full-grown at 3yo. Then she went back to her breeder's house for 6 mths, and when she came back home I was struck by how much she'd grown while away. I could see at a glance that she was noticeably bigger.
The breed is characterized by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, an uneven two layered coat with long silky guard hairs and a soft undercoat, a long, bushy tail, and "Lynxing" on the ears - that is, long tufts of hair that extend beyond the top of ear leather.
HISTORY OF THE BREED
The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated breed of cat (excluding those cats that are still out-crossed with wild breeds like the Bobcat, eg the Savannah). In 2010, the Guinness World Records accepted a male purebred Maine Coon named "Stewie" as the "Longest Cat" measuring 123 cm from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Large Maine Coons can overlap in length with Eurasian lynxes, although with a much lighter build and lower height.
It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, native specifically to the state of Maine, where it is the official state 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 generally accepted hypothesis among breeders is that the Maine Coon is descended from pairings between local short-haired domestic cats and long-haired breeds brought overseas by English seafarers (possibly by Captain Charles Coon) and 11th-century Norsemen. The connection to the Norsemen is seen in the strong resemblance of the Maine Coon to the Norwegian Forest Cat.
The breed was first shown at local fairs in Maine in the late 1860s, and in 1895 won Best In Show at the first North American cat show, held in Madison Square, New York. It's existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century, becoming almost extinct by the 1950s.
The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the more popular cat breeds in the world.