Breeds and colors
A series of in-depth technical
breed descriptions
The Maine Coon
Most probably the Maine Coon originated a little over two centuries ago. From their long voyages seamen of New England brought semilonghaired Angoras home with them.
These mixed with the local shorthaired cats. The resulting semilonghaired Maine Coons were hefty and hardened. Their long dense coat protected them against the rough winters.
They lived as working cats in the rural areas, destroying rats and mice.
The farmers of Maine, the state on the upper northeast coast of the USA, were proud of their own feline breed. There were Maine Coon shows held in Maine, dating back to the sixties of the nineteenth century, ten years before the world's first official general cat show in London of 1871. During the nineties of the nineteenth century the Maine Coon was the breed represented in the greatest numbers at any show in northeast America.
However, for unknown reasons the popularity of the Maine Coon dwindled sharply. In 1904 they had all but disappeared from the show stage. Perhaps the reason must be found in the rise of the new "de luxe" breeds that came into fashion at that time.
In 1953 the Central Maine Cat Club, a local club in the state of Maine, took the recovery of the breed into its hands. It organized shows exclusively for Maine Coons. On September 21st 1968 six fanciers of the breed founded a national organization: the "Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association". Nowadays its members are active in nearly all states of the USA and a great number of Canadian provinces. They aim at restoring its former popularity to this old breed.
More organizations in the USA followed, the last one being the "International Society for the Preservation of the Maine Coon Cat, ISPMCC", founded October 1976. Shortly before, on May 1st 1976 the breed was officially recognized by America's biggest organization in the Cat Fancy, the Cat Fan-ciers' Association, CFA. Herewith a long row of recognitions found its end, because the CFA was the last organization to officially recognize the Maine Coon. It is one of those strange states of affairs, abounding in the Cat Fancy, that a long battle of countless fanciers all over the USA has been necessary to have one of America's oldest feline breeds officially recog-nized.
Shortly after the "resurrection" of the Maine Coon in the USA the breed was also introduced in Europe, in 1978 in Germany. There the Maine Coon was immediately immensely popular. Nowadays a presence of over fifty Maine Coons at even a small show of two hundred fifty to three hundred cats is not uncommon.
Confusing multiplicity
Judges are supposed not to judge according to their own taste and preferences, but to stick loyally to the show standard of the breed. What this means in practice not many fanciers seem to realize (see: ICFJ@Q Show Standards 2.1.14-6). First of all there is a confusing multiplicity of standards; for the Maine Coon alone those of AACE, ACA, ACFA, CCA, CFA, CFF, GCCF, FIFe, NCFA and TICA, and there are many, many more. If only the ten mentioned by name above would be cited here, scores of pages would be needed. That in it self would not be the greatest difficulty, but even if one would learn them all by heart, it would not be of much help. Like one cannot learn to appreciate classical music by just reading its staff-notation without training one's ear, one cannot learn to evaluate a feline breed just by studying its standards, but one must train and keep training one's eye in practice. The breed description following below must be conceived as a summary and general description.
General impression
The semilonghaired Maine Coons show substantial boning, are muscular and make a strong impression of power alto-gether. It should never be forgotten that they developed basically as working cats, able to fend for themselves in rough, woody terrain and under extreme climate conditions. In all respects they make a natural impression (which does not imply that they still are a natural breed, because making a natural impression is quite something else than being natural).
Although the standard speaks of a medium to large cat, type goes over size. First of all, like with so many breeds, females are proportionally smaller than males and may weigh 2 to 2.5 kilograms less. The myth of having to be big has not done the breed much good. Maine Coons having been bred for size in first instance are not automatically good specimens of the breed. Often they are just big lumps of a cat, your mind's eye cannot possibly conceive them earning their keep on a farm as indefatigable hunters of vermin but sees them lying on the couch all day, eating chips, looking Tom & Jerry on TV.
Big is O.K., provided the cat is not obese but well balanced, shows a hard muscle tone, head in proportion to body, tail as long as the body. We see good Maine Coons weighing twelve kilogram and more once in a while, but the majority is in the medium to large range, 5.5-8.5 kilogram for males, 4-5.5 kilogram for females. And what if they are even smaller? Like a small country-lad can be distinguished immediately from a small city boy of the same age, there are some Maine Coons that fit in the "petite" size class that are nevertheless 100 per cent Maine Coon, typey as can be but just on a smaller scale. Big or less big, Maine Coons look like working cats.
Here follows the latest TICA Maine Coon Standard, mainly because it is the only one to my knowledge that penalizes a drop-off at the end of the nose, a fault that I see more and more at European continental shows and which for me spoils the entire head type, whatever other qualities it may present. Those Birman noses ruin the Maine Coon "look", despite the only one point for the nose in the Scale of Points. Even if I "smuggle" in say half the points dedicated to the profile, the total of deductible points is only 3.
Personally, I would very much like to see a drop-off temporarily revalued to 6 points. Shape 8 points (minus 2), ears 8 points (minus 2), profile 3 points (minus 1) make room for those 6 points, deductible for a drop-off, thus preventing any title higher than a CAC for such a hideous fault that is more and more common at that.
TICA Maine Coon Standard, 2001
Head in frontal view and in profile. Excellent proportions with the exception of the muzzle, which is too short.
Correct proportions of forehead and nose line, as seen in profile. From the base of the ear to the beginning of the bridge of the nose (i.e. where the slight concavity of the nose line starts), and from the beginning of the bridge of the nose to its tip is about the same length, 1:1.
Exemplary head. The length of the ear from tip to base is the same length as of base of ear to brow, and from brow to tip of nose = 1:1:1. One ear width between ears. One eye width between eyes.
Shape: Modified wedge with a distinct muzzle break. The cheekbones are high and prominent. There is a gentle curve to the forehead.
Ears: Large, wide at base, moderately pointed. The height of the ear is noticeably greater than the width of the ear at the base. Allowance MUST be made for wider ear set in matur-ing males and tighter ear set in growing kittens. The outside edge of the ear connects with the head at a point set on or just above the level of the outside corner of the eye. The inside edges of the ears are ideally set at a distance apart equal to one ear's width at the base. Lines following the outside edge of each ear shall be nearly parallel. Furnishings are desirable, and extend horizontally from along the inside edge of each ear beyond the outer edge of the ear. Lynx tips are desirable, and extend vertically from the top back of the ear.
Ear set. Left: ears too close. Right: ears too far apart and too short for the head size.
Ear shape. A: too short and rounded. B: Too pointed. C: Excellent. A gentle rounded point.
Lynx tips. A: too sparse. B: too thick. Visually, one's eye goes to the ear and stays there. C: just right. A graceful extension of the ear.
Eyes: Large, slightly oval, obliquely set, and expressive; round when wide open, but without a flatness to the tops or a hooded look. Any shade of green and/or gold allowed, with brilliance of either green or gold preferred over muted shades of either; blue and odd-eyes accepted in solid whites and particolors. No relationship between coat and eye colors.
Eye shape. A: too round, not slant. B: too slanted, too almond shaped. C: flat on top. D: Excellent. Slight almond, slight slant.
Eye set. A: too close. B: too far apart. C: just right.
Muzzle: Strong and square. When viewed from above the head, looking down, the lines that describe the left and right side of the muzzle are parallel. When viewed head on, the left and right whisker pads together with the chin suggest three equal and proportional segments.
Chin: Strong, deep, and in line with nose and upper lip. In profile, the distance from the tip of the nose to the point of chin is divided 60 percent top muzzle and 40 percent chin.
Chin too wedged; pointed chin
Chin massive and too square; gives a dogface appearance.
Whisker pads too prominent, chin appears too receded.
Good muzzle, whisker pads in balance with nose leather. Chin a gentle box.
Profile: Gentle concave curve.
Nose: In profile, a smooth and continuously flowing concave curve is preferred.
Muzzle length same as from brow to ears. Nose in line with chin; high cheekbones. Good ruff.
Muzzle length longer than from brow to ear.
Muzzle length too short, head too rounded. Nose scoop too pronounced.
Profile too straight. Chin is receded; should be checked for overbite.
Picture shows perfect proportions of neck, torso, legs & tail but the muzzle is too short, see under Head.
Torso: Long, rectangular, but not slender. Large, and in overall balance and proportion with the head. The line of the back is level. The chest and hindquarters are of equivalent breadth..
Legs and Feet: The legs are medium to tall, to form a rectangle with the body . The feet are large, round, with the toes well tufted. The structure of the legs, especially the hindquarters exhibits sound conformation. The feet should neither toe in nor out. The rear legs shall not be cowhocked.
Tail: Wide at base and tapering to tip with full, flowing hair. The distance from the base to the tip is at least equal to the distance from the base to the shoulder.
Boning: Medium to large boned.
Musculature: Substantial, well toned and powerful.
The body, when viewed from the side is a rectangle; when viewed from above, the body is a rectangle. The head and muzzle are "a box on a box". The head shows a muzzle break because the muzzle box is smaller than the "head box"; the term "modified wedge" by no means allows for a V-shaped head as seen with Orientals. The muscular neck is medium long. The space below the body is a rectangle of equal size as the body rectangle, which helps to determine the correct leg length. Tail length should be the same length as from tail base to shoulder bone.
The chest should be broad, but not like a bulldog. When the cat is standing, there should be at least a leg width between the two front legs. If two fingers can fit between the shoulder blades, the chest is usually the correct breadth.
There should be a definite squareness to the rump. The fur is thick and shaggy above the ankles, giving the appearance of britches.
Coat, color, pattern:
Length: Semi-long, uneven, shaggy with a slight undercoat shorter on the shoulders, gradually lengthening down the back and sides. There is a frontal ruff, longer and shaggy britches and belly fur. Tail fur is long, full, shaggy and flowing.
Texture: Coat has distinct silky body, falling smoothly along body with a slight undercoat.
Color: Traditional category, all divisions, and colors.
General description:
The Maine Coon is America's oldest native breed of longhaired cat. The breed (…) developed through a natural selection process in the woods and on the farms of New England. The Maine Coon became a hardy "working cat", able to thrive in the rough, woody terrain and the extreme northeastern climate. As such, the Maine Coon gives the appearance of vigor, health and overall excellent condition. The Maine Coon is a large breed with big ears, broad chest and hindquarters, medium to large boning, a long, hard, muscled, rectangular body, a full shaggy coat, and a long flowing tail. Good muscle tone and density give the cat the appearance of power. Overall balance and proportion are essential to the Maine Coon, and no feature should dominate the eye's attention over any other.
Females are proportionally smaller than males. Broader and larger heads in mature males. Wide ear set in mature males; tighter ear set in young kittens. Shorter and/or less dense summer coat.
Penalize: Pronounced whisker pads. Undershot chin. Nose break or severe bump or pronounced drop-off at end. Lack of or slight undercoat. Straight nose profile. Wide set, flared ears. Long stilty legs. Slanted almond-shaped eyes. Flat tops on eye openings. Lack of belly shag. Short tail. Rounded head. Overall even coat. Short cobby body. Fine, light boning. Overall small cat. Cowhocking or feet that toe in or toe out.
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