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Tortie Maine Coon Cat: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cute Kittens Sweet Baby Cat Maine Coon Kitty Tortie

Tortie Maine Coon Cat: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Tortoiseshell Maine Coon cats, also called Torties, have just one of over 75 Maine Coon coat color variations. The pattern resembles that of a turtle, hence the name.

Despite their unique and beautiful coloration, however, Tortie Maine Coons possess all the same endearing traits as their non-Tortie counterparts. These friendly, fluffy, and gentle giants are among the most popular cats of all time, and there are several cool stories about their origins too!

divider-catclaw1 The Earliest Records of Tortie Maine Coon Cats in History

The Maine Coon is one of North America’s oldest natural breeds. They originated in Maine, where they are the official state cat. The breed goes back to the 18th century and quite possibly even earlier.

Maine Coons, including Tortie Maine Coons, are thought to be descendants of Norwegian or Siberian forest cats due to their thick fur coats. Some speculate that they were brought to America by the first settlers in New England. Others believe that they were brought over by Marie Antoinette when she was fleeing the French Revolution.

Still others say that they’re a cross between raccoons and domestic cats. That’s one of the most far-fetched (and impossible) theories out there, but it would certainly explain their bushy tails!

How Tortie Maine Coon Cats Gained Popularity

The Maine Coon was the star of countless cat shows in the 19th century, but when other long-haired cats started making their way to America during the 20th century, they lost some of their popularity. Fortunately, they eventually made a comeback and have remained one of the most beloved cat breeds ever since.

As for Tortie Maine Coons, they’ve always been viewed as an extra-rare and special variation of the already-popular breed. So, it’s no wonder that they’re so coveted by cat fanciers all over the world!

Tortie Maine Coon
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

Formal Recognition of Tortie Maine Coon Cats

The Tortie Maine Coon and the breed in general have had a long journey toward official recognition. In 1950, the first organized club for the breed, The Central Maine Cat Club (CMCC), was established by Maine Coon enthusiasts and breeders. With this club’s help, the Maine Coon slowly started to regain their previous status.

The CMCC was dissolved in the 1960s, but before that, they laid the groundwork for Maine Coons to be recognized as a documented and legitimate breed. Shortly after, in 1968, a new club called the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association was founded with similar goals to the CMCC: to protect, improve, and promote the Maine Coon cat breed.

Their efforts—and those of other Maine Coon clubs and enthusiasts—paid off. In 1975, the Cat Fanciers’ Association finally gave the Maine Coon provisional status. The breed received championship recognition the following year in 1976.

In 1979, Maine Coons were also formally recognized as a cat breed by The International Cat Association.

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Top 6 Unique Facts About the Tortie Maine Coon Cat

1. Tortie Maine Coons never have white patches on their coats

This is common for all tortoiseshell cats.

tortoiseshell maine coon
Image By: DenisNata, Shutterstock

2. Tortie Maine Coons usually have a combo of black and ginger-red fur

The “red” part can be orange, cream, gold, or yellow. The “black” part can be chocolate, gray, or tabby.


3. Tabby Torties are called “Torbies”

“Torbie” is a portmanteau of “tabby” and “tortie.”


4. Male Tortie Maine Coons are super rare

Only one in every 3,000 Torties is male!

tortoiseshell blue smoke main coon standing outdoors
Image Credit: N Roberts, Shutterstock

5. Maine Coons were first mentioned in a literary work in 1861

F.R. Pierce was a huge Maine Coon fan who owned several of them. He wrote a chapter for “The Book of the Cat” about the breed.


6. The very first cat show in the U.S. was in 1985

A Maine Coon cat named “Cosey” won the first cat show.

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Does a Tortie Maine Coon Cat Make a Good Pet?

Yes, Tortie Maine Coon cats make fantastic pets! They’re gentle, loving, and good-natured, and they have a tendency to form strong bonds with their humans. They’re also relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, though their thick fur does require extra TLC.

Maine Coons also have their quirks. Unlike with other cat breeds, expect your Tortie to love water! They’ll jump on any chance to play with it, whether that’s swatting at a running sink, dipping their paws into their water bowls, or trying to join you in the shower.

They’re highly intelligent and receptive to training, to the point that they’ve built a reputation for being dog-like. They’ll play fetch, walk on a leash, and even come when called—though they might not always do what you want them to.

Speaking of which, Tortie Maine Coons also have a bit of a mischievous side. They’re known for being “talkative,” and they love to play games that involve hiding and stalking. So, if you’re looking for a low-key lap cat, a Tortie Maine Coon might not be the best choice.

But if you’re okay with a bit of lighthearted chaos and you’re looking for a furry friend that will become a true member of the family, a Tortie Maine Coon is definitely the cat for you!

portrait of a tortie maine coon kitten
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

It’s hard to resist the Tortie Maine Coon’s fascinating history, amazing looks, and winning personality. If you’re looking for a fun-loving, intelligent, and devoted pet, this might just be the breed you’re looking for. Just be prepared for lots of cuddles, water play, and general hijinks!


Featured Image Credit: Lana Kud, Shutterstock

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