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Have you ever heard of a cat that behaves like a dog? A cat with a long bushy tail more like a raccoon than a feline? A domestic cat that doesn't meow…

We're talking about Maine Coon cats. Although they share some features with other animals, such as their tufted ears (like a lynx), a ruff around their neck (like a lion), and a bushy tail (like a raccoon), they have several characteristics which are unlike any other cats. .

1- Their thick fur is unlike other cats. It is soft, silky, heavy, glossy, and water-resistant. Their ears are more heavily tufted inside and on the tips than other cats. These cats have adapted for harsh, outdoor weather. Their long hair protects them from the cold, while the shorter hair around their neck keeps them from being tangled in bushes. Their long tail is resistant to sinking in snow and can be wrapped around their backside or neck for extra warmth.

2- Larger than life. Although one of the largest breeds of domestic cats, the Maine Coon cat looks even larger because of its large boned, rectangular-build, and semi-long hair. There have been stories of these cats weighing 30 or more pounds. Typically, Coon cats weigh between 12 to 25 pounds.

3- Many original Coon cats had six toes (called polydactylism). These cats do have large paws, but the majority of the present-day cats do not have six toes. This trait almost disappeared because show rings disqualified cats with extra toes.

4- Named “Gentle Giants” for their affectionate behavior and large size. These cats are playful and silly even as they grow into adults, though they don't reach maturity until ages 3 to 5 years.

5- Their popularity has increased. In 1985, the state of Maine announced the Maine Coon as their official state cat. In the Cats Fancier's Association, the Maine Coon Cat is the second most popular cat.

6- They interact with behavior more commonly seen in dogs. They play fetch with their owners and prefer to chase objects on the ground rather than climb or jump to higher surfaces. They often follow family members around the house from room to room offering “help”. The cats can also be trained to accept a leash.

7- Their distinctive meow is more birdlike. Their musical chirp or trill is high and seemingly out of place for this large cat. They are talkative cats and often chirp to play with people, get attention, and to mate.

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