Maine Coons are regarded as "gentle giants" and possess above-average intelligence, making them relatively easy to train. They are known for being loyal to their family and cautious—but not mean—around strangers, but are independent and not clingy. The Maine Coon is generally not known for being a "lap cat," but their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats, and children. Many Maine Coons have a fascination with water and some speculate that this personality trait comes from their ancestors, who were aboard ships for much of their lives. Maine Coons are also well known for being very vocal cats, using trills and chirps to communicate their physical and emotional needs like: hunger, thirst, desire to play. Their frequent chirping and trilling is often a sign of happiness and excitement.