My wife and I have two cats, a male and a female, named Sushi and Sake. Both were adopted from the animal shelter a dozen years ago when they were tiny kittens, so small you could hold the two of them in your cupped hands.

The male, Sushi, is a gray tabby, fat and affectionate. A lap cat. He looks exactly like a billion other cats, so common looking I dubbed him “cat ordinaire.” Sake is a more select breed. She is a Maine coon.

When our cats were small balls of fur, they were almost interchangeable. Cat 1 and Cat 2. But as Sake grew older, her distinctive Maine coon features became apparent: the long, silky fur, bushy raccoon-like tail, large paws and “chirping” voice. She also has unusually round eyes that give her face a constant “startled” expression. The superior hunter of the two, she seems to possess the instincts of a wild animal.

A little research tells us that Maine coons — our official state cat — are one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, known for their intelligence and gentle personality. Their true origins are a mystery, but one theory has their ancestors sailing to this country with the Vikings. Apparently they have a strong resemblance to the Norwegian forest cat.

Dog owners supposedly often look much like their pets. A good case can be made that Maine coons possess many fine traits for which Mainers (the human variety) are well known.

For example, Maine coons possess above-average intelligence. I find this to be true regarding most of my Maine acquaintances. Many Maine coons have a fascination with water, and I’ve hardly met a Mainer who isn’t crazy about fishing, skiing, skating or swimming, often in extreme conditions. Our state cats are known to be independent, friendly but not clingy. Can you think of a better description of a Maine native?

It seems to me that if Maine coons are one of the world’s most popular cats, they are fine ambassadors and exemplars of the Maine mystique. We are a gentle people, though strong and independent. Intelligent folk, loyal to family but cautious toward strangers. Both species are well adapted to harsh winter climates. We wear coats, caps, earmuffs, boots and mittens, while our feline counterparts have dense, water-resistant fur, snowshoe-like paws and heavily furred ears.

I find it fascinating that the most feral creature in my house is also the sweetest. Most every night Sake waits patiently for me to come to bed, like a feline lover. Of course, I want to read and she, a dutiful cat member of the “reading police,” does everything in her power to distract me from my Kindle or New Yorker magazine to pay loving attention to her, which of course I do.

How could I resist? I’ve had dogs, and they can be great pets (one even saved my life, a true Lassie story), but my heart belongs to one of Maine’s best natives.

Steven Price is a resident of Kennebunkport.