Famous Friday: Marie Antoinette and the Maine Coon Cat Breed

by Paws on Your Heart on May 17, 2013

"Marie-Antoinette par Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun – 1783". Image is in the public domain and was retrieved from the Wikimedia Commons.

Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France from 1774 to 1792, is typically thought of as more of a dog person, but her six cats are part of the legend surrounding the origin of the Maine Coon breed. Many pets lived in the Palace of Versailles, and among them were six white Turkish Angora cats belonging to the royal family. The cats were, unsurprisingly, treated like royalty and even allowed to roam the tables during court gatherings.

When the French Revolution broke out, Marie Antoinette made plans to escape to the USA aboard a ship belonging to Captain Samuel Clough. All of her most valuable possessions were loaded aboard, including her six cats, but she was taken prisoner before she could escape from France.

The ship still sailed to the USA and docked in Wiscasset, Maine. Her cats were set free here. According to legend, this is how the Maine Coon breed originated – the Turkish Angora cats bred with the local short-hair population, and the offspring evolved into what is today known as the Maine Coon.

This story of the Maine Coon cat’s origin is only a folk tale, but it’s fascinating to both history lovers and cat fanciers alike. So if you know a Maine Coon cat, be sure to treat them like royalty!

Image Source: “Marie-Antoinette par Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun – 1783”. Image is in the public domain and was retrieved from the Wikimedia Commons.

Is there a famous feline you’d like to see featured in one of our Famous Friday posts?
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