Where Are We Going?
By Helen Wohlfort, ROSELU Maine Coons
Where is our breed going? Are we headed for obscurity again because we can’t make up our minds? Do we want the traditional Maine Coon Cat? Do we want the supposedly ‘feral look?» What do we want?
From all indications, no one person can answer all of those questions. Take a look at pages seven and eight in the Summer 1992 Scratch Sheet. Are all these types of cat supposedly one breed? They certainly don’t look like it. No won der judges in all associations are com plaining that we aren’t consistent. I agree!
I know that my opinion will not be the deciding factor on where the Maine Coon is going. I also know that my personal preference would be to go for the tradi tional Maine Coon Cat with a sweet ex pression.
I don’t have a photo the first Maine Coon Cat I saw back in about 1939. We do have a photo of Karen Jacoby’s Maine Coon Cat from 1948. He was a lovely boy with a shaggy (I prefer ‘graduated’) coat, large ears, a convex forehead and convex nose. He had a square muzzle. (As one old time breeder put it, the muzzle should look like a little box on the front of the face.)
Many standards now allow copper eyes in Maine Coon Cats. The old stan dards, written at the time MCBFA origi nated, did not allow copper eyes and even whites were allowed only green-gold or blue eyes. The beautiful green-gold eye required by the original standards and consisting of a green center surrounded by a gold ring has practically disappeared from the breed. Most Maines now have gooseberry green eyes.
The standard calls for a coat that is short on the shoulders and gets longer as it goes toward the cat’s rear. Nevertheless, we are seeing more and more cats with an overall even coat, which should disqualify them but doesn’t. For that the judges are also responsible since they put up cats that don’t meet the standard. By that I mean cats with short bodies, no snow shoes, no ear furnishings, receding chins,etc. They are quick enough to disqualify for lockets or spots, but not in any other area.
Whose decision was it that Maines should have fat whisker pads, the ruff around the face instead of on the shoul ders, and a grouchy expression that would be called ‘feral? A local breeder has begun calling them the ‘Mumps’ cats.
Why are the Maines now supposed to look grouchy? They didn’t originally! Is it so both the breeders and the judges can tell them from the Norwegian Forest Cats? Who decided Forest Cats should look sweet and Maines grumpy? Do we want our Maines to look like that? Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not!
Has anyone, anywhere done genetic testing to verify that the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat are separate breeds? Kay Hanvey, an ACFA judge and one of our top geneticists says that ge netic testing would not answer anything as all Northern European cats have the same number of chromosomes. Is it just a matter of selection for head and body type and coat type? And what about the Sibe rian and now the Plume? All of these cats appear to be very similar. I believe it is time for some scientific profiles.
I don’t begin to know the answers to all of these questions, and I will probably have everyone mad at me for bringing them up. My reason for doing so isn’t for a popularity contest; my reason is that I am afraid that if we don’t do something to standardize our breed it will go back to obscurity as it did from the early 1900’s through the 1960’s.
One possible solution is for everyone to keep the type they like and develop a new standard. For example, a Forest Cat breed with divisions for Maine Coons, Norwegians, Siberians, and whatever else turns up under the class.
How many of you out there have many years of Scratch Sheets? I have them back to 1977, and it was enlighten ing to look at the pictures through the years. All the cats looked alike in 1977; in about 1982 a few different looks began to appear, and now we have a large vari ety of appearances. By the way, if anyone has Scratch Sheets from 1968 through 1976, I’m interested in buying them (but remember, I’m not rich!)
As I said, I just don’t know the an swers, but I do know that we must do something, and soon. Maybe we should take a vote?
THE SCRATCH SHEET- WINTER 1992