The world learned about the existence of Maine Coons from American breeders. The name of the breed is translated as “Manx raccoon”. And if everything is clear with the first term in this phrase (“Main” – from the name of the American state of Maine), then the second requires clarification. The unusual striped color and fluffy tails of Maine Coons gave rise to a legend among breeders that the breed was obtained by crossing a cat with a raccoon.
The most beautiful version of the appearance of gigantic cats in North America can be considered the legend of the failed escape of Queen Marie Antoinette. Expecting reprisals from the French revolutionaries, the wife of Louis XIV was about to flee to the American continent and, for safety reasons, sent a ship in front of her with things dear to her heart, including her beloved long-haired cats. The mustache-tailed cargo sailed to the coast of New England safe and sound and, freely interbreeding with local short-haired cats, gave rise to a new breed that soon settled throughout the entire state.
Modern experts tend to believe that the history of the origin of the Maine Coon breed is much more prosaic. Cats were brought to America a long time ago, but they were mostly short-haired individuals. Long-haired cats arrived on the continent much later, along with the first settlers from the Old World. As a result, having found themselves in favorable conditions for free crossing, the native inhabitants and the “visitors” representatives of the caudate-whiskered brethren became the ancestors of a new variety of large long-haired cats.
A real pioneer in the development of the Maine Coon breed was a cat named Captain Jenks from the Marine Cavalry. This fluffy giant caused an indescribable delight of the audience in 1861, being noted at cat shows in Boston and New York and eclipsing the then popular Angoras. But by the 20th century, the Manx giants had given up their positions and were driven out by the Persians and Siamese for almost half a century. After the end of World War II, the Kuns reasserted themselves, however, at that time only within the American continent. In 1953, the breed acquired its own official club, and in 1968 the first association of fanciers and breeders of “Manx raccoons” Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association / MCBFA was founded. As for Europe, the Kuns reached it only in the 70s of the last century.