The Maine Coon, as the name implies, hails from Maine, where the breed was known as a popular mouser, farm cat, and ship's cat, as far back as the early 19 th century. They're a natural breed and little is known of their origins. Some say the Vikings brought them to North America, centuries before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Others say that they're the descendants of longhaired cats belonging to Marie Antoinette, sent to America in advance of the doomed queen, who had hoped to escape there. Sea captains may have brought back longhaired cats that then mated with local shorthaired cats. One thing is for sure--the Maine Coon is not the result of a mating between a cat and a raccoon, even if their brown tabby coat and furry ringed tail suggest that biological impossibility. The resemblance is, however, how the cats got the "Coon" part of their name. In fact, Maine Coons who didn't have the brown tabby coat were called Maine Shags. The first published reference to a Maine Coon comes from 1861 and was about a black-and-white cat named Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines. A female Maine Coon was named Best Cat in 1895 at a cat show held in Madison Square Garden. Today these big, beautiful cats are among the world's most popular breeds.