Once you lay eyes on a white Maine Coon cat, you’re not likely to forget them quickly. Not only are they likely to be one of the largest cats you’ll ever see, but their pure white coats and striking eye colors make quite the first impression. Take the time to get to know one and you just might fall hard for these famously sweet and gentle cats. If you’d like to know a bit more about the white Maine Coon that may have stolen your heart and your lap, here are some details about their history and origin, as well as some unique facts about the breed.
The Earliest Records of White Maine Coons in History
The exact origins of the white Maine Coon are a bit of a mystery. Because of this, many theories exist about their history, including that they are the result of cats mixing with bobcats or raccoons (scientifically impossible as it turns out). The most likely theory is that the ancestors of the white Maine Coon were long-haired cats who arrived to the state of Maine aboard ships.
In the mid-19th century, Maine was the center of the ship-building industry as well as a common destination for sailing ships. Most ships had cats aboard to help control the mice and rats. It’s believed that some of these cats came ashore and mingled with the local domestic shorthairs. From these pairings, the first kittens who would eventually become the white Maine Coon were born.
The cold Maine winters played a role in the development of the Maine Coon more than any human intervention, as the breed developed their signature thick coats and furry feet to keep warm.
How White Maine Coons Gained Popularity
White Maine Coons began to grow in popularity along with the beginning of organized cat shows in America. Because they were America’s first native purebred cat, they participated in local cat shows from the very beginning, starting around the end of the 1800s. The first major cat show in America happened in 1895 and a Maine Coon won Best in Show.
From that victory through the early 20th century, white Maine Coons were incredibly popular in America. However, once other long-haired breeds of cats like the Persian started arriving, white Maine Coons declined in popularity, until they were almost extinct by the mid-1900s. Thankfully, Maine Coon breeders never gave up on the breed and white Maine Coons were saved.
Today, white Maine Coons have regained and even surpassed their original popularity.
Formal Recognition of White Maine Coons
White Maine Coons were first recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1976. They were accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA), 3 years later in 1979. Today, Maine Coons are one of the most popular breeds in the world, currently ranked third according to the CFA. They are still one of the breeds most commonly spotted at cat shows, and often bring home top prizes as well.
Top 5 Unique Facts About White Maine Coons
1. Their color isn’t really a color.
White Maine Coons are white not because that’s their true color but because of something called a white masking gene. White Maine Coons appear white because this gene overrides the other genes that control color. Their “true” color is masked by the white, hence the name.
Some white Maine Coon kittens are born with a spot of the masked color on their head, although it disappears as they age.
2. They are often deaf.
The same gene that causes the white coat in the white Maine Coon is linked to some other traits, including cats being born deaf. White Maine Coons with blue eyes are the most likely to be deaf because the white masking gene is also responsible for this eye color.
3. They are one of the most popular varieties of Maine Coons.
Maine Coon cats can be found in over 75 different color and pattern types. Of these, white Maine Coons are one of the most popular. Not only is their long, pure white fur gorgeous, they often have unique eye coloring.
All Maine Coons are allowed to have green, green-gold, copper, or gold eyes. White Maine Coons can also have blue eyes or eyes that are two different colors.
4. They are the state cat of Maine.
Unsurprisingly, the state of Maine is very proud to be the original home of the Maine Coon. In 1985, Maine recognized the breed as the official state cat. Only two other states have named a state cat, making the honor even more special for the white Maine Coon.
5. They grow for a long time.
While there are several theories for why white Maine Coons are usually such big cats, one of the simplest is because they keep growing for so long.
Most cats are considered full-grown by 2 years or even a little younger. White Maine Coons, however, often keep growing until they are 4 or 5 years old!
Do White Maine Coons Make Good Pets?
As you probably guessed by hearing how popular they are, white Maine Coons make fabulous pets. They are known for being friendly towards all ages of people and other pets as well. The breed is often called the “gentle giant” because of their sweet nature.
Unlike other breeds that are more independent, white Maine Coons love to be near their people and are always ready to cuddle but don’t demand to be the center of attention.
Because of their size, Maine Coons can eat a lot more than some cat breeds. Their winter-ready coats do shed but not always as much as you might think. Regular brushing and the occasional trip to the groomer are needed to keep their coats in shape.
White Maine Coons are active and playful cats even when they grow out of their kitten phase. They need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and also help maintain a healthy weight.
White Maine Coons are beautiful cats with an even more beautiful personality. While they can be tough to find, their rarity only makes them more popular. Because of their interesting genetics, it’s important to make certain you buy a white Maine Coon from a responsible breeder. That way you can be sure that your gorgeous cat will be as healthy as possible and you can look forward to enjoying many years of white Maine Coon love!