Thursday, October 21, 2010

World's longest cat!

Stewie, a Maine Coon Cat now officially annointed as "World's Longest Cat" by the Guiness Book of World Records, is going viral on the Internet. Stewie, who hails from Reno, Nevada, is indisputably a feline whopper, at 48 and one-half inches in length. Main Coons are known for their large size, and great dispositions.

When I saw the photos of Stewie, I was struck by his similarity to my cat, Oscar, above. Oscar is a Norwegian Forest Cat, and this breed is thought by some authorities to be the originator of the Maine Coon. Forests Cats have a long and interesting history. They apparently evolved from cats brought to northern Europe several thousand years ago, developing physical characteristics that would enable them to withstand long, cold, snowy winters.

Forest Cats - "skoggcats" - have incredibly luxuriant coats. The dense and woolly underfur is cloaked in long, non-tangling silken guard hairs, and the pelage is longer on the cat's lower side - the better to shield it when plodding through deep snow. Whiskers up to four inches long project from a rather large face, and the head is tipped with big lynx-like ears. These ears are also protected with tufts of fur, the better to keep them warm and free of blowing snow.

The tail of a Forest Cat - and nearly all of these descriptors apply to Maine Coons - is a marvelous appendage. Huge and brushlike, the cat uses it to keep its face warm. When lying in repose, a Forest Cat can wrap the tail over its face like a blanket. They also use the tail to express their moods and feelings, and with some experience an owner can read the cat like a book based on how it holds it tail. Their feet are nothing short of miniature snow-shoes. When fully opened and flexed, the paws of a big cat can nearly equal the palm of your hand in circumference. This is a great adaption for moving through deep snow.

Vikings used the Norwegian Forest Cat to police their ships, and rid them of rats and mice. Thus, this breed has a terrific history of high seas exploration, and it's likely it was the first domesticated cat to set paw on North American soil. Some think that the Maine Coon Cat - a completely American breed - evolved from pioneering Forest Cats brought here by Vikings.
Oscar doesn't match Stewie in length, but he isn't far behind. I grabbed him a bit ago, and tried to snap a few photos to illustrate his size. This photo shoot brings out another excellent trait of the Norwegian Forest Cat - they have outstanding temperaments. Calm, tolerant, intelligent and peaceful are all good words to apply. Oscar didn't object to being muscled around, although I'm sure he thought I was a buffoon for doing so.

One more. I'd bet my cat, if stretched taut and measured from stem to stern, or nose to tail tip, would be well over three feet. Not as big as new Guiness record-holder Stewie, but plenty big enough.


Dave said...

I had a Maine Coon when I was in high school. He was HUGE! He also beat up a noisy terrier in our neighborhood...what a good kitty!

Jim McCormac said...

Yes, jumbo Maine Coons have little use for yapping terriers and will deal with them accordingly! Cats rule!

WildnOhio said...

Gorgeous cat. Where did you find him?

Russell Reynolds said...

That is one cool kat.. huge!!! Thanks for sharng this. A couple years ago there was a supposed bobcat sighting right down the road , turned out to be a coon cat.

Jim McCormac said...

Oscar found me, and accepted me as his servant :-) Yes, more than a few bobcat sightings can be attributed to large Maine Coons or Forest Cats, I suspect!

Cape May Wren said...

Okay, this is just plain weird: I was on and just watched the video where they were measuring Stewie. Jump over to here and whom do I find?

Yay, yay, YAY--more Oscar pics!!! It's about time... *lol*

I've a NFC/MC mix; he has the looks but not the temperament. If I had tried that photo shoot with him, you would have no cat and a very bloody CMWren in the picture. (Some thanks for saving his life when he was a scrawny, beat-up little kitten.) But I love him anyway.

Buford Nature said...

Thanks for that bit of history on northern domestic cats. I read that the original wildcat didn't live as far north as Norway - too cold for their size and coat. Interesting that humans bred them until they could do so.