With so many people questioning the Maine Coon’s mysterious origins, it’s not surprising that bizarre queries like, ‘Is a Maine Coon Part Raccoon?’ have been asked! Let’s take a closer look at all the facts, to determine the answer.
Maine Coon cats are not part raccoon. Their heritage is considered very mysterious, however, scientists have now proven this more bizarre historical myth to be biologically impossible. It is more likely that Maine Coon cats are descendents of the Norwegian Forest Cats kept on Viking ships, to catch mice.
Are Maine Coon Cats Related To Raccoons?
Maine Coon cats are one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world. They are a massively loved cat breed, especially in the United States. Coons are thought to have originated from Maine, United States, where they are known as the official state cat! They have a very distinctive physical appearance, and are known for their impressive hunting skills and love of human company.
However, their origins have remained a mystery for many years. To this day speculation over their lineage remains rife, with various different myths being purported to be true.
The three key myths to have stood the test of time are:
- Maine Coons are part Raccoon
- Maine Coons are descendents of Marie Antoinette’s cats
- Maine Coons descend from Norwegian Forest Cats
Let’s take a look at the three main myths in greater detail, to determine which myths can be taken seriously.
Maine Coon Cat Myths
The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural breeds of cat in North America. They have won the hearts of so many with their dog like personalities, loyalty, intelligence, and affectionate nature. Maybe their popularity also stems from their mysterious heritage, which has led many to view them as mythical creatures, or even mythical beasts!
Myth 1: Maine Coons Are Part Raccoon
If you’ve ever owned a Maine Coon cat, or taken an interest in this big boned, muscular cat breeds heritage, you will likely have stumbled upon this bizarre sounding myth.
The myth claims that the Maine Coons lineage is linked to the raccoon. It argues that the Maine Coons very existence is as a result of a semi-wild domestic cat mating with a raccoon, many decades ago.
This particular myth has gained considerable momentum over the years. Many consider the undeniable similarity between the raccoon’s brown tabby colouring, and the Maine Coon cat to be key evidence in support of this myth. They also argue that the Coon’s distinctive long bushy tail is too similar to the raccoons, to be ignored (source). To learn more on this theory, jump straight to our ‘Are Maine Coon Cats Related To Raccoons?‘ summary below, for more details.
To this day many argue that this is the true history of the Maine Coon cat. However, thanks to advances in modern science, scientists have now categorically proven this myth to be biologically impossible.
Myth 2 – Marie Antoinette
One of the more viable myths to have gained popularity over the years relates to Marie Antoinette, the former Queen of France. This myth tells of a love story between Marie Antoinette and her six treasured Turkish Angora cats, whom she kept as pets.
History tells of Marie Antoinette’s desperate attempt to escape from France during the French Revolution. It is thought that she boarded a ship lead by Captain Samuel Clough, headed to the United States. Unable to abandon her precious cats in France however, she loaded her six treasured Turkish Angora cats safely onto the ship with her. Despite Captain Samuel Cloughs assistance, Marie Antoinette was captured, and executed in 1793. Whilst Marie Antoinette never made it to the United States safely, her prized cats remained on the ship she was taken from, and arrived safely in Wiscasset, Maine.
The premise of this myth is that these Turkish Angora cats were then set free from the ship, and went onto breed with the domestic short-haired cats already resident in Maine.
This myth appears plausible, especially when you consider the similarity between these cat breeds physical form, long hair, and character traits. It would also be nice to think that Marie Antoinette’s love of their Turkish cats was so strong that she couldn’t bare to be separated from them.
Myth 3: Maine Coons descend from Norwegian Forest Cats
The final myth links the Maine Coon’s true lineage to the Norwegian Forest cat. This is another more likely myth that has gained traction. The myth has gained considerable popularity over the years due to the clear physical similarities between the two cat breeds.
So what was this myth about? Basically, it is thought that the Vikings kept cats aboard their ships to help control the mouse population. Whenever the Vikings docked their ships these cats were let off the ship onto dry land. It is thought that the Vikings overseas long haired ship cats then mated with pre-existing short haired domestic cats. Ultimately, this myth argues that Maine Coon cats are descendents of long haired ship cats.
Are Maine Coons Related To Raccoons?
It’s not surprising that people wonder if Maine Coons form part of the raccoon family. These animals have the following physical similarities that cannot be explained.
- Look Similar: Maine Coons come in over 84 different colourings, however the tabby coloured Maine Coon shares the same colouring as a raccoon.
- Black Ring On Tail: Some Maine Coons are born with a black ring around their bushy tail, similar to the raccoon.
- Bushy Tail: Both animals have large bushy tails.
- Great Climbers: The raccoon is a great climber. The Maine Coon also loves to climb, and is highly skilled at this.
- Size: Maine Coons are physically large cats, and a similar size to the raccoon.
- Love Water: Both animals love playing in water. Some Maine Coons even enjoy taking a bath!
- Semi-Prehensile Paws: Maine Coons and raccoons both like to dip their food in water, using their semi-prehensile paws which help them grasp food more easily.
Can Cats And Raccoons Breed?
Domestic cats and raccoons are roughly the same size, though in general the raccoon is likely to be larger. When answering the question ‘Is a Maine Coon part Raccoon?’ it is important to review a few questions:
1. Is it physically possible for cats and raccoons to breed?
You may be surprised to hear that the answer is YES! According to Macro Evolution, tame male raccoons will mate with cats. Wild coons and cats are also thought to mate (source).
2. Do domestic cats and raccoons get on?
If you take a look at Youtube you will immediately find lots of videos of cats interacting with raccoons. Although this might immediately seem like an odd pairing, the two animals get on pretty well! This interaction helps to support the theory that cats and raccoons could breed with each other.
According to Macro Evolution, some domestic cats have even nursed baby coons, who have then likely imprinted on these nursing cats, making the baby coons in question sexually attracted to cats when they grow older (source).
To support the fact that raccoons and cats can get on with each other, take a quick peek at this short video of a raccoon cuddling a cat!
3. Is the Maine Coon cat a product of a cat breeding with a tame male raccoon?
Scientists argue that the Maine Coon cat that we know and love today is not a result of a semi-wild domestic cat breeding with a tame male raccoon. They argue that science proves this to be biologically impossible. They do not support the theory of the cat-raccoon hybrid.
There is limited research studying the possibility of a cat-raccoon hybrid. Some people do claim they have breed a domestic cat with a raccoon. However, there is not enough literature or evidence to support the theory that Maine Coon cats arose from the mating between a semi-wild cat, and a raccoon. Scientists argue that this is biologically impossible.
According to Macro Evolution there are no evident limitations, be them physical or behaviour, that would prevent a cat breeding with a raccoon (source). But what just isn’t fully understood is whether the two animals are even physiologically compatible enough to create a cat-raccoon hybrid.
As you can see, the heritage of the Maine Coon cat breed is hotly debated, even to this day. Without clear evidence though, this mythical beast’s roots will continue to be shrouded in mystery. Even if they were accurately known, the truth is unlikely to detract away from the love that millions of people have for this magnificent cat breed.
For those wanting a definitive answer to ‘is a Maine Coon part raccoon?’, it is safe to say that the Maine Coon is not part raccoon. Scientists have proven this myth to be biologically impossible.