There are many theories regarding the exact origin of the Maine Coon Cat. These large (they are the largest domestic breed – hybrid cats get larger but do not count), robust, muscular balls of fur are native to the Northeastern United States.
The truth is that they are descended from the Norwegian Forest Cat (a very similar looking, but somewhat smaller breed found in Norway) and Native American domestic cats. When Leif Erikson arrived in North America in the 11th Century – and yes you read that right – Christopher Columbus was NOT the first European to reach “The New World”. Vikings had done it centuries before… he brought with him several Norwegian Forest Cats – for they kept the ship free of disease carrying rats.
These cats once loose on the mild shores of North America (mild compared to Norway), they bred with the domestic breeds and the Maine Coon Cat was born. Being descended from Viking Cats, the Maine Coon is a proud and somewhat touchy cat… easy to offend and ready to go to battle at the drop of a hat.
One of the more popular – but false – legends about the origins of the Maine Coon actually tell the story of the biggest ongoing feud in the cat world. The legend is that when Marie Antoinette was attempting to flee France (she was caught and beheaded) she sent a ship with several of her most prized possessions ahead of her to the New World. The ship landed off the coast of Maine and the captain sent Marie Antoinette’s belonging ashore. Included in the jewels and art were 6 prized Turkish Angora cats.
The legend is that these cats were bred with the local cat population and the Maine Coon was born. This is a lie that was created and told to further insult the greater Maine Coon population. The truth is that the Maine Coon was well established in North America for hundreds of years before Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Angora Cats landed off the coast of Maine.
What happened when the proud Nordic Maine Coon Cats were introduced to the Prissy, French, Turkish Angora Cats is now the basis for the longest running blood feud in the history of the cat world.
When these two cultures were first introduced, the high society European cats (even though they were Turkish Angora Cats, they came from a long line of French born and bred cats… all the pets of royalty for many hundreds of years and they knew nothing of their proud ancestry or beautiful home lands) were snobbish and arrogant to the less sophisticated but very proud Maine Coons. The French Royal Cats only drank their milk through straws… their faces and fur too groomed and perfect to actually touch the milk in the bowl.
The Maine Coons had never seen such a thing. When they were amazed at how odd it seemed to them, the French Cats saw an opportunity to ridicule and make fun of the brutish Maine Coons. The Maine Coons were so insulted and offended that one, Rickard The Black, a large solid black Maine Coon, swiped his massive paw across one of the Angora Cat’s faces… he didn’t bare his claws, which was seen as a greater insult in the eyes of the Maine Coon Cat.
Immediately the situation broke down into full-out fisticuffs. The Maine Coons were about to be victorious when a cowardly Angora named Simony threw sand into the Maine Coons eyes. The Angoras quickly scratched each Maine Coon present deeply on their backs and they disappeared into the night, never to be seen again (it was rumored they shaved their coats and headed to New Orleans – a French territory at the time).
Back in those days, before antibiotics, a deep cat scratch would become infected quickly and abscess. Many cats never survived such wounds. 3 of the 5 Maine Coon Cats sent into that delegation didn’t survive, Rickard the Black was one of the fallen.
Since that time the straw has become a symbol of cowardice and betrayal in cat societies around the world. Black Maine Coon Cats especially are greatly offended by straws and their use. They have sworn a blood oath to mutilate any straw they come across and punish any human caught using a straw by turning over the drink that the straw is being used in.
It’s all true and now you know why Maine Coon Cats hate straws...