A domesticated cross between a bobcat and a Yeti.

Mine is affectionate and mischievous (only two 'i's in that one, by the way), and much given to sleeping on his back. When there's too much light he'll throw one arm over his eyes. Yes, they are adorable. Stop me before I start posting pictures of the little beast.

They're big, by house cat standards: Fifteen pounds and up, more or less. They have very fine hair, like silk, fine enough to get in your eye and stay there for an hour or two before you notice. They also have tufts of hair at the tips of their ears and within their ears, and something very like a mane. They have very squared-off heads, with a much more imposing forehead than the average domesticated cat. They've got big feet too, like a puppy almost -- or maybe that's just mine.

In some places, if people see a cat carrier containing a large mound of gray silk with big circular eyes and ear tufts, they say "what the hell is that thing?"; but in New England they recognize it immediately. Around Cambridge at least, the common name seems to be "Coon Cat", "Maine" being left unsaid.

britishcoal: I've known few cats of any description who didn't do head-bumping, but the only Maine Coon I've known (mine) is certainly very interactive and affectionate. And adorable.

The Maine Coon can be recognized by a number of fairly distinct characteristics. (say, if your cat's a cross-breed... want to know if it might have some coon in it?)

Look for these traits:

Long Hair
A sort of "M" on the forehead defined by a darker hair color.
Often times the hair on the backside of the rear legs is particularly curly (like a poodles), because a) they clean themselves and b) the hair is of a certain texture/quality that it is easily "permed" by moisture and a cat's tongue ;)
Head-butting. The Maine Coon likes to head butt its owner/friends as a sort of "hello". I'm not sure if this is unique to Maine Coons though.

One of my Coon cats loves to have her head mauled... scratching her ears, head, neck sends her over the edge... But... she is a slobbering idiot.

Other distinctive breed-specific personality features of the Maine Coon:

Fondness for water
It is widely believed by cat experts that Maine Coons are a natural breed derived from selection in a sea-faring environment. Cats were frequently kept about trading vessels as pest control, and may have done some disembarking into fairly harsh climates, breeding, and returning shipboard. The thinking is that this eventually resulted in a domesticated but hardy breed of cat largely unafraid of water and possessed of a fine, silky coat of water resistant fur, the result of breeding between European longhairs and domestic North American shorthairs. The Maine Coon's unusual response to water is another distinctive feature of the breed.

My Maine Coon (Zoë) does not have any interest in swimming, but loves to play in water. She bats at the stream of water coming out of the sink tap, and will happily sit on the very edge of my bath and periodically dip her paws in, shake the water out, repeat. She also likes to splash in her water bowl. I have read that this business of playing in the water bowl is "scraping the leaves/scum/etc. off of the water's surface" behavior. She enjoys spending time in the bathtub and in the sink when they are dry.

The Maine Coon's Voice
Most Maine Coons speak in emotive trills and chirps rather than the usual vocabulary of meows, unless the cat feels the need to be emphatic, in which case he or she may loudly state "ME!"

Playing Fetch
Many Maine Coons will happily play fetch with their human, retrieving small objects (like small wads of crumpled paper) and carrying favorite toys around in their mouths. They can comfortably sit on their hindquarters and hold something between their paws, although I have personally seen this very rarely. However, Zoë does like to sit "human-style" on one of my chairs, sitting on her rump with her back legs out in front of her and her back to the back of the chair, front legs curled to her chest, dozing.

Getting Along With Other Animals
I was somewhat surprised, but not entirely so, to find out that getting along well with other kinds of animals is actually a common breed feature in the Maine Coon. Zoë is extraordinarily friendly with other cats (often to their dismay), and is very fond of my parents' Golden Retriever, with whom she plays and naps when we go for visits.

Constant Companion
Maine Coons like to be where their owners are, and will follow them nonchalantly from one room to another. This includes the bathroom. Many Maine Coons are not lap cats, but want to be in the tableau anyway. Having an extra chair or a place in your working area where the Maine Coon can curl up and keep an eye on you would be appreciated. Zoë, at the relatively advanced age of six, spontaneously developed a fondness for lying across my shoulders like a fur stole while I work. She curls her tail around my throat, drapes her legs off my left shoulder, and rests her head on her paws on my right. She watches me type, and periodically butts my chin when she wants some attention.

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