|"This page was originally a part of the Maine Coon Heritage Site, a site that was first created in 1998 by Cynthia Bowen (Coontopia), Ulrika Olsson (Ylletrollets), Astrid Straver (Tricks and Tails) and Janet Marr (Furkats). It was then taken over by PawPeds, and it is now split up to fit better with the structure of PawPeds' website."|
Since the 1960's Maine Coons have become increasingly popular, throughout the United States and all over the world. Recognition of the breed was first given by the Canadian Cat Association and the American Cat Association in 1967. Other registries soon followed suit, except for CFA, which waited until 1976.
Some of the earliest Maine Coon Catteries include:
There are three catteries, perhaps more than any others, that created the foundation of most of today's Maine Coons. In particular, there are 5 foundation cats that seem to appear in pedigrees more often than any others. The Top Five, in order of frequency of occurrence, are:
After these very prominent 5, it becomes more difficult to determine the frequency of other cats occurrence in pedigrees.
It is estimated by the breeders who created this site, that the genetic make-up of the average pedigree of the 90's, when traced back to foundation, contains:
Please note that these figures are estimates of the average pedigree. These percentages will vary somewhat in different countries around the world. Most importantly, it is a "starting point", as a basis for comparing pedigrees. The high percentage of Andy, Bridget, and Dauphin is probably due to the popularity and widespread use of the "clones", kittens from the matings of Heidi-Ho Sonkey Bill with Tanstaafl Polly Adeline. A pedigree of the clones is available on the Maine Coon Database, listed on our links page. Ulrika Olsson first created the system for determining the genetic percentage of Foundation ancestors and Clones in Maine Coon pedigrees, and this system was later adapted for use with the CompuPed pedigree program by Astrid Straver. Most of the analyses on this site were generated using CompuPed 4.
In 1978 Heidi Ho Sonkey Bill was born, a grand son and double great grand son of Andy and Bridget Katt of Heidi Ho. When bred to Tanstaafl Polly Adeline the amazing thing was that their offspring all looked alike, almost like clones... So when we nowadays speak of "clones" we are talking about the sons and daughters of Sonkey and Polly. The significance of the clones is, that they were used over and over, because they threw nice show quality cats and really added size. So many breeders decided that if a little was good, a lot was better. So although the clones themselves did not have a very high inbreeding coefficient (9.4%), there was done a lot of line breeding with them and their offspring. Nowadays many Maine Coons have pedigrees with 35% clones, sometimes even up to 50% clones. If you analyze pedigrees of today's Maine Coons then there is this very *one* couple that is so prevalent in our pedigrees.
The pedigree analysis below indicates the genetic relationship of the clones to their foundation level ancestors.
*BRIDGET KATT OF HEIDI HO F 32.031% *ANDY KATT OF HEIDI HO M 32.031% DAUPHIN DE FRANCE OF TATI-TAN M 15.625% TATIANA OF TATI-TAN F 7.813% SMOKIE JOE OF WHITTEMORE M 3.516% WHITTEMORE MYSTIQUE OF WAR-TELL F 2.344% WHITTEMORE BLACK JACK OF WAR-TELL M 2.344% WHITTEMORE GINGER F 1.563% TORTILLA OF WHITTEMORE F 1.172% PRINCESS SUE OF WHITTEMORE F 1.172% BONNIE LEE OF WHITTEMORE F 0.781% PENNY OF WHITTEMORE F 0.391%
The Clones include:
Offspring of the Dauphin de France with Tatiana matings include:
Offspring of Whittemore Smokie Joe include:
More detailed information on these cats is available in the Maine Coon database. Also are listed additional offspring from various other matings of the top five cats.
It is not where we are today that is the main problem - most MCs are still healthy - it is the direction of our breeding that is the problem. If we continue this way we know from other breeds (cats and dogs) that problems will appear in the future. The use of clone and top five percentages is to get an idea about how valuable (from the gene-pool point of view) are the genes a cat is carrying. Breeding will never be an exact "science", you will never be able to calculate exactly what should be done. But you can use statistics/mathematics as a tool when deciding what to breed from and how to breed these selected cats. Mathematics should not be over estimated here. Calculations will NEVER eliminate the need of a breeder's judgement. But we must not UNDERestimate the help that we can get from genetic calculations either! They are valuable tools, when used correctly and in a sensible way.
The time has come to strengthen our gene pool through outcrossing, to maximize genetic variability in the cats we produce, to insure hybrid vigor, and to maintain a healthy gene pool for the long term survival of the Maine Coon breed. No one, and no one cat is going to be able to expand the size and diversity of our gene pool in just a couple of generations. It's a long-term project requiring the input and co-operation of a large majority of breeders, not the small minority. It takes a conscious effort and agreement within a breed to value health and actively breed toward that goal. It's how we choose and what we choose to breed that's important. Making that effort will definitely improve the health, vitality and vigor of our cats and kittens. The immune systems of all animals are absolutely dependant on genetic diversity.
Many new breeders are surprised to find, when researching a pedigree, that by the time they reach foundation everything has gone back to just two cats. This is a homogeneous cat, there is no diversity. There are a great many cats out there with very few names at the foundation level. Exchanging pedigree information is very important as we look for unrelated cats to strengthen our genetic pool through outcrossing. This is especially important for the new breeder who is supplied with 5-generation pedigree and, because all of the cattery names are different, assumes that this cat is not inbred. You need to know the "old lines" to see how they are so inter-related. With a good pedigree program, some patience and the will to research back to foundation, you'll learn how outcrossed or inbred the cats are that you are dealing with. The better educated and knowledgeable you are, the better chance you have of finding and making good, intelligent, logical breeding choices and decisions.
With time, and the increased use of pedigree software, it may be possible to set a new and higher standard for the amount of pedigree information breeders can provide. New breeders may someday receive foundation level pedigrees, instead of only the first few generations. Advertising what Bloodlines you are working with is done all the time with many different breeds of animals. Maine Coon breeders can do the same. It requires the breeder to be very familiar with bloodlines and a common concern and cooperation for the future of the breed.
There are, or there were, hundreds of foundation MCs, where are they now? In which lines? It is possible to find suitable outcross cats within the existing group of MCs. Viable outcrosses do exist, and they are not off the standard, sub-standard or lacking. They are competitive cats and catteries.
On this site, we have provided a list of examples of lines and cats that are not particularly related to most Maine Coon lines in the world. For example, cats that have lower than average amounts of the top five cats at the foundation level, or fewer of the more common cats (such as the clones) in later generations, as a tool for breeders looking for outcrosses. Go to our Outcross Cattery List page for additional information.
Go to our links page for some worse case scenarios of what could very well happen in the Maine Coon. Very edifying and frightening examples of the health impact unchecked inbreeding can cause.
Of course looking at the amount of inbreeding in a pedigree is not all a breeder needs to consider. There are many other health related issues, HCM and HD for example, that also need to be taken into account.
You can do your own analyses on the Maine Coon Database!