Maine Coon cats are beautiful animals. Their looks are unlike any other cats, and as such, their genetic background has been a long debated subject. However, whether or not these elegant creatures really have any relations to the lynx is a subject I wanted to know more about.
Are Maine Coon cats part lynx? Maine Coon cats are not part lynx. Many people believe that the two are related due to the tufts on their ears, called lynx tips. However, it is impossible for domestic cats to breed with wild animals, as they are too genetically different.
Though the Maine Coon Cat is not part lynx, it has a very rich and interesting history as to how the cat got to look as it does today. The unique look of Maine Coon Cats has also lead to them being mistaken for wild animals.
Actual Origins of The Maine Coon
Maine Coon Cats are believed to have first appeared in the late 1700s in New England. Cats were a common pet in the time period and in the area.
Most breeders agree that the original Maine Coon Cats came from a mix of the domestic cats from New England and international long hair breed cats that were brought overseas from Europe by American sailors.
It is also possible that some of the Maine Coon’s ancestors were brought over to the Americas by Vikings and very early American explorers. These cats were probably long-haired and hardy creatures.
Some evidence for this theory is the Maine Coons closest relative, the Norwegian Forest Cat. The two are very similar and even hard to distinguish from one another, despite living in completely different parts of the world. (Also, read our article: Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat!)
Maine Coons now also have a certain set of adaptations that grew from living in the climate that they did. Their large paws helped them to navigate deep snow and to catch mice and rats better.
Maine Coons were very popular during this time period due to their excellent hunting abilities.
Maine Coons also have a very thick coat which helped to keep them dry and warm in the harsh winter climates on the East Coast.
Their tails often served a similar purpose and could have been wrapped around themselves to stay warm and protected. The famous lynx tips and ear tufts on their ears make it so that their ears stay warm and dry in the winters.
These adaptations grew from a survival of the fittest situation, in a time period where pets were not as pampered as they are today. The Maine Coon needed to evolve as it did to survive.
It is possible that the Maine Coon’s great, friendly attitude could have sprung from the need to survive during this time, as well.
If a cat couldn’t find food for itself, then it could have hung around a person long enough to charm them into a giving them a meal.
Many of these traits have continued through into current times and have made the Maine Coon an even more desirable pet, especially the breeds loving demeanor and ability to live with both children and other pets.
Owners also love the beautiful long fur and the adorable hugeness of their paws, as well as the tale tail tufts of fur atop their cat's ears; even without knowing the functional purpose of these adaptations.
Other Animal Look-Alikes
Maine Coon Cats huge bushy tails can make them look like raccoons, sometimes the cat's tails even have the black rings like a raccoon. Maine Coon Cats also have very large feet, like those of a bobcat and have big ears topped with the lynx tips.
Maine Coons are also a very large breed of cat. The male can weigh between 13 and 18 pounds, and the female can weight between 8 and 12. Their average length can be around 3 feet long, about the average height of a 3-year-old child!
Their size is another trait that many believe to be derived from a relationship with the bobcat, despite that information never being proven. These traits have caused many people to question their genetic origins.
Maine Coon Cats not only look similar to Racoons and Bobcats, but they share similar traits as well. Raccoons and Bobcats are both well known as great climbers, a skill that they share with the Maine Coon. (Read here how much Maine Coons love to climb and why it is important for their well being.)
Similarly, neither raccoons or bobcats shy away from water, and unlike most cats, neither does the Maine Coon. Many owners say that their Maine Coons love to play in their faucets and they will even figure out how to turn on the water to do so.
Bathing a Maine Coon is no problem at all. You can even play with your Maine Coon while she takes a bath. We explain that in more detail in this article.
Their fur is partially water repellent, which probably helped to keep them dry in the winters long ago.
Finally, like raccoons, the Maine Coon has semi-prehensile hands, meaning their paws have evolved into something that can grasp and hold objects, to some extent.
The cat's paws are less mobile than the human-like paws of raccoons, but Maine Coons have still been known to pick up pieces of food with their paws and move them. They even dunk the food in water using their paws, a common exercise of the raccoon while eating.
Despite all of these interesting facts, it is disbelieved that the Maine Coon has any wild animal genes. Anyone who has ever owned one of these cats can attest to the fact that they are very sweet and an excellent family cat.
Even the firmest of believers that the Maine Coon is part raccoon or bobcat could sit with a Maine Coon for a while and see that its personality couldn’t be further from that of a wild animal. Read our article “Are Maine Coons Wild?” for even more information.
Identification of a Maine Coon Cat
The Maine Coon Cat has a very unique look and is easy to identify once you are aware of its special characteristics.
- Uneven lengths of fur, unlike other long hair breeds
- Longer fur in the chest and shoulders
- Shorter hair in hips and stomach
- Thinner coat in the summer
- Thicker hair in the winter, especially in the chest
- Fur between their toes
- Long tail
- Smooth, thick fur
- Tail held high
- More boxy, rectangular build
- Very strong
- Not sleek looking
- Big boned animals
- Some are polydactyl (Have extra toes)
- Eyes are very bright, intelligent
- Some claim to identify Maine Coons by the look in their eyes
- Said to be an obvious characteristic as a kitten
- Big ear tufts
- Very big snouts (Especially males)
If you are not sure if you have a Maine Coon, you should read our article on identifying a Maine Coon.We have a lot of pictures combined with other information there which will help you to tell whether or not your cat is a Maine Coon.
How much do Maine Coon cats cost? Maine Coon Cats are on the more expensive side for cats and can cost around $1,000. Of course, they can be adopted from shelters for way less money, but every Maine Coon owner says that they are well worth the price.
Are Maine Coon Cats good pets? Maine Coon Cats are lovable and loving pets. This is a very large cat, which can cause problems for some but are otherwise very well adapted to family life. Maine Coons can even do well with other pets, including dogs. They do require some minor grooming, but much less than the grooming needs of other long hair breeds.
How long do Maine Coon Cats live? The average Maine Coon lifespan is 10 to 15 years. Most breeders report that their Maine Coon cats live for 11 to 13 years. However, the oldest Maine Coon in the world became over 20 years, which shows that they can live way longer with appropriate husbandry.