Here are the differences between the average dog and the average cat—explaining plainly why cat shows have never been as big a thing as dog shows.
The average show dog does not mind a bath and an hour of grooming on its special grooming table. Nor doe a dog mind traveling to and from the show—just so long as it gets to be near its beloved owner. A dog will endure being put in a small cage and arrives at the show excited to see all his other dog friends. Being put on exhibit and having a strange judge put their hands on them is just part of the fun. Once home, win or lose, the dog feels he has had a nice, exciting day out with the owner and is ready for a nap.
The cat, on the other hand, would, if physically able, murder you on the spot when you cautiously approach the bathtub for the pre-show bath. The resulting yowling and screaming will continue through the brushing up and nail trimming, and the owner is quite lucky to escape a trip to the ER before the cat is groomed and ready to go. Being put in a cage is only slightly less devastating than the actual car travel, which generally results in the cat being in the very foulest of moods upon arriving at the cat show. Being carried into a room containing several hundred other cats will result in either icy contempt or hissing contempt, depending on the cat. Cat judges are some of the most foolhardy or else insanely brave people around. In they reach, to pull out a cat who wishes nothing less than death for the entire human race. Somehow the cat is inspected and replaced. When at last the cat is released from the show to go home, repeating the ride in the vehicle he or she loathes and then out of the cage and into the living room, said cat—win or lose—will, if you need him for anything, be under a back bed somewhere for the next two weeks.
All this explains why the concept of “purebred cats” is not as big a deal as it is in the dog world. Not to mention dogs work for humans and so have been shaped into many forms in order to better serve us. Since we serve the cat, there is no real necessity for “types” of cats.
However, there are those brave and hardy souls who do labor to produce unique breeds of cat—which is much harder than producing breeds of dogs, due to a difference in the elasticity (so to speak) of their genes. That is why cats are all pretty much the same size and shape. There have been a few unique mutations, resulting in things like hairlessness (the sphynx), folded ears (the Scottish fold), and short legs (the munchkin).
The Maine Coon cat, like most animal breeds, have had their exact history lost in the mists of time. All that is known for a fact is that the first officially recorded Maine Coon cat was a 22-pound male named Captain Jinxs of the Horse Marines. The breed was rather popular at the turn of the last century but then fell out of favor, surviving only in the state of Maine, where they were declared the official State Cat.
The usual colorful tales wrapped around any animal’s history and breed are not missing from that of the Coon cat. One of the most exotic is that when she knew she was to killed, Marie Antoinette asked ship’s captain Samuel Cough to load her most prized possessions onto his boat; this included six long-haired Angora cats. Although Marie never made it to America, her cats disembarked at Wiscasset, Maine, where, it is assumed, they bred with local American cats.
Another tale has the Vikings delivering their large, furry forest cats to the New World, but dates don’t match up terribly well. Yet another has the crusaders bringing Turkish long-haired cats back to Europe and then hence on to America. However the Maine cat breed developed, it is pretty clear through DNA and other sources that the Norwegian Forest cat played a sizeable role in the breed’s developed. The Norwegian cats are known for massive size and thick, long fur.
At the turn of the last century, the Maine Coon cat was quite popular; however, after about 1912 it was rarely heard of or seen as new, exotic breeds began to find their way to America’s shores. So rare, in fact, that it was erroneously declared extinct by certain cat clubs in the 1950s. In the 1970s there began a revival, and by 1976 the breed was welcomed into the world of purebred show cats. Since that time, it has undergone a slow but steady increase in popularity until today it is the third most registered purebred cat in America.
Maine Coons come in just about any color that other cats come in, only lilac and chocolate and seal point being prohibited. Their medium to long hair does not require the grooming necessary for most other long-haired cats. In size they are the largest cat breed; females weigh from 8 to 12 pounds, and males range from 13 to 18 pounds. The Guinness Book of World Records has so far listed three Main coon cats as the World’s Longest Cat.
It is the personality as well as the size and beauty that attracts people to Maine’s state cat. They are a friendly, gentle breed, not known to be temperamental. They love their people but are not clingy and don’t tend to be lap sitters. They have an almost dog-like ability to learn tricks. They are also “talkers,” with a wide variety of sounds, both loud and soft which they use to communicate.
Like all domesticated animals, the Maine Coon cat has a list of health concerns unique to the breed. One is hip dysplasia, most often associated with dogs, but not unknown in humans and cats. Another concern is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). As with dogs, the best guarantee to get a healthy, purebred Maine Coon is to go to a reputable breeder who does health tests for these diseases before breeding.
You can find information on the breed and locating breeders at: CFA.org.