As far back as 12,000 years ago, it is believed that the first Native American people migrated to North America across the Bering Strait. From Alaska down to South America, these people settled and formed a variety of diverse tribal cultures, which included the Apaches, Navaho, Innuit (or Eskimo), Cherokee, Mohawk, Hopi, and Comanche. Each tribe had a unique set of legends and religious observations, yet each felt a deep respect for the earth and the animals they encountered. Native Americans believed that the Great Spirit existed in all things, bothliving and inanimate.
The wild cats that Native Americans would most likely have encountered were: bobcats (above), lynx (top right), and the mountain lion (also known as the cougar or puma).
As recently as 1970, the mating of a bobcat or small wildcat with a domestic cat has been proven to be possible. The kittens of such matings are sturdy and heavily furred with large tufted ears and oversized furry feet. Adding to the credibility of this theory is the fact that today the bobcat is more prevalent in the northeastern United States than is commonly realized. Presumably, their population was even more dense in the forests of earlier times.
Note the similar physical attributes of the bobcat and the Maine Coon (bottom right)?