Wednesday 20 April 2011

Why the Maine Coon cat is the most popular

Miss Kate a famous Maine Coon
Photo copyright Helmi Flick

I explain why the Maine Coon cat is the world's most popular cat breed. You might argue that this is the world's most popular cat, period, full stop. I am not saying that this is the most registered cat (with cat associations), by the way. That accolade might go to the Persian. I am saying that the Maine Coon is the most popular with people who keep and care for cats - you and I.

I have broken things down into sections.


I know of no better vote-for-your-favorite-cat-breed-poll than the one on my own website, Pictures of (PoC). It is a great poll because:
  • it has been running for several years;
  • the site is visited by people from all over the world. It is very much an international website;
  • Americans make up most of the visitors and therefore most of the voters but America is by far the biggest cat breed market.
At one time the Abyssinian led the way. Then the Siamese but for the last 18 months or more the Maine Coon cat has been placed firmly and I think immovably on the top of the list of 66 mainstream cat breeds. Below are the current standings:

As you can see there are over 4,000 votes and the Maine Coon cat is well ahead of the pack.


The Maine Coon cat is an American cat - it is said. I agree with that. It epitomizes the United States. The origins of the Maine Coon are also closely linked to the founding of the United States of America. Although it is not absolutely clear how the Maine Coon started in the US, it appears most likely that the long haired moggies that came with the first settlers and who landed at Cape Cod in Maine were the cats that founded the Maine Coon. There are alternative theories and I have just found out that the wild cat (probably an Andean cat) was domesticated in South America some 3,500 years ago but for the USA it seems that the Maine Coon's long path of development and evolution went hand in hand with the American people - a nice touch and very fitting. Particularly so as the United States is the most developed country for cat breeds after England.

So a major factor why the Maine Coon is the most popular cat breed is because it is an American cat, the American cat and if as someone has argued that it can't be because the founding cats were English and European, they are wrong! That was almost 400 years ago.

Longest History

With the American Shorthair, this cat has the longest history of all the breeds of America if you take into account the natural evolution and development before this cat was recognised as a cat breed. That counts I think. Americans think so. It all started at least in the early 1600s and perhaps much earlier with the visit by the Vikings. Of course the actually deliberate development of this breed by selective cat breeding didn't start until the late 1960s but over hundreds of previous years the long haired immigrants were developing naturally as barn cats. That counts too in my book.

Incidentally the oldest cat breed is probably the Egyptian which goes back to ancient Roman times.


America is big, bold and imposing, long and sweet in character. There are wide open spaces (getting smaller!). The Maine Coon cat mirrors that image of successful America. It is the largest cat breed, excluding wildcat hybrids and the largest registered by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA).

Size counts in today's world. Americans like big cats and Americans have the lion's share of the vote, which is far. The Maine Coon is large, yes but it is also long and slender under all the fluffy raggedy fur.  They are quite rangy cats. The world's longest domestic cat is a Maine Coon.


The Maine Coon has the widest of ranges of colours and pattern types. The types are almost infinite. To put it into cat fancy language, the Maine Coon is recognised in all colors and divisions of the traditional category.

This allows people to chose their favorite color/type coat. Some cat breeds can only be in a single color dictated by that breed's breed standard. An example is the color grey - see grey cat breeds. You gotta like grey in that case.

Perhaps the brown tabby and white is the best color and pattern combo and if that true it makes sense because the tabby coat is the type most usually encountered and tabby and white is popular, it appears at cat shows.

Tail and Ears

Cat breeders like to develop ear and eye size. Tails are important for the long haired cats. One distinguishing feature of the Maine Coon is the large ears with the gorgeous ear tufts that come out of the top. They are lynx like. The tail is a spectacular plume of floppy, flying, flowing fur!


I have played Zak, a gorgeous Maine Coon who lives with Ken and Helmi Flick. He loved to play but was quite shy too - a nice combination.

Ken and Helmi Flick's Maine Coon Cat - ZAK
Zak - Blue and White Maine Coon - photo Michael@PoC

Maine Coons are generally relaxed and easy going and they get along with children and dogs. They are people orientated. That group of characteristics is about as good as it gets in the modern busy world. It is what people want and they get it in the Maine Coon.

They don't necessarily want to be held but they do form close relationships with their primary carer. You will have to be around to return that affection.


A cat's voice is part of its character and the voice of this cat is generally quiet. They are said to have a tiny voice and a special voice - a chirp-like sound. The voice is endearing and charming, another reason why this cat breed is the most popular.


Is it fair to say that the Maine Coon is more likely to become the alpha cat in a multi-cat household? Probably, yes. This is because of size and presence, I would speculate. This characteristic would generally prove popular with people.

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