Many Maine Coon cats have a distinct M on their forehead but do all of them have this marking? And if a cat has an M on its forehead, does that mean it’s a Maine Coon?
The answer is categorically no to both of these questions yet many people think the opposite. The confusion arises because the Maine Coon tabby pattern does include a rather pronounced “M” on the cat’s forehead and many Maine Coons are tabbies.
The fact is, any tabby cats can have an M on their forehead, not just Maine Coons. This debunks the myth that if your cat has this marking, it’s a Maine Coon. You only have to inspect a short-haired tabby cat to notice it also has an M and is obviously not a Maine Coon.
Do all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead? No, not all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead, only the tabby variety. The forehead M is an out and out tabby cat trait seen on a variety of tabby cats, including Maine Coons. But there are many Maine Coon solid colors and patterns that do not feature an M on the forehead.
Do All Tabby Cats have an M on their forehead?
All tabby cats have distinct markings on their foreheads which often form the shape of the letter M. However, not all are an obvious M as you can see on Harry below. He’s a classic red tabby Maine Coon who gets a bit fed up with his mum using him as a model. Just look at those tufty toes!
There is not just one tabby Maine Coon pattern – there are three and they are quite easy to distinguish between.
Mackerel (Striped) Tabby
The Mackerel tabby is the most common tabby Maine Coon pattern. It has narrow stripes that begin at a stripe along the cat’s spine and fall vertically towards its belly. As lines are parallel to each other and evenly spaced, they look like a fish skeleton hence the name mackerel.
The classic tabby is often referred to as a blotched tabby. It has well-defined swirls on the sides of the body and butterfly patterns over its shoulders.
Ticked (Agouti) tabby
A ticked tabby Maine Coon has several bands of different colors on every hair on its body and head. This pattern is often referred to as the Agouti tabby pattern.
How Maine Coons Got the M on Their Forehead
Believed to be the marking of a true tabby cat, there are many legends surrounding how Maine Coons and other tabby cats came to have an M on their foreheads. Which one do you believe?
The Mark of the Moon
Ancient Egyptians believed a cat’s eyes literally absorbed moonlight to shine like bright pieces of the moon. Therefore Khonsu the god of the moon must have adorned them with an M on their foreheads.
The Mark of Mafdet
Egyptians worshipped cats and believed they could protect them from the many snakes, rats, and scorpions that made their homes unsafe. Many Egyptians believed cats were put on Earth by the goddess, Mafdet, who sometimes took a feline form and was worshipped as the protector of the home. Did she put an M on the foreheads of tabby cats?
The mark of Mary
Another legend has it that a tabby cat snuggled up with the baby Jesus in the manger to keep him warm. To show her gratitude, Mary used her finger to draw an M on the cat’s head and from then on, all tabby cats had the M for Mary on their foreheads.
Muhammed and his cat, Muezza
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam held cats in high esteem. Legend says His favorite cat, Muezza (which means cherished), saved Muhammad from a deadly snake bite and in return was marked on the forehead with an M.
What Else Could the Maine Coon M Stand For?
Drawing on 15 years’ experience of owning a tabby Maine Coon, here are our thoughts on what that M on a tabby Maine Coon’s forehead could really represent.
Master of the house
Yes, that M could definitely stand for Master of the house. Our red tabby Maine Coon definitely acts this way. We never forget that he owns us – we are the staff!
Mischievous is a word we often apply to Harry. He often gets up to no good even at age 15. He gets up to the most mischief by stripping the Christmas tree of decorations as soon as we’ve finished putting them on.
Maine Coons are majestic and Harry knows exactly how to pull off this look when he needs to. He is the king of cats, especially with that tail.
Many Maine Coons are good hunters. Only this morning, Harry awoke us with a strange meowing. Other owners will know the exact sound I mean – one that is emitted whilst carrying a mouse in your jaws. That was the end of our Saturday lie-in.
This morning we were lucky – because the mouse wasn’t and was already deceased. On other occasions, Harry has freed the mouse to run around our bedroom – he only ever chooses to do this at about 3 am.
This is the true meaning of that tabby M on the forehead. It means cat with a wide vocabulary of meows. Harry has about 99 different meow pitches and lengths. We know what they all mean, of course.
M also stands for mysterious behavior. Examples are zooming around the house in the small hours, urgently needing to be let out of the bathroom the moment you step under the shower and teleporting.
OK, I ought to explain that last claim in more detail. We all swear Harry is sitting in one position and we literally blink and then he’s somewhere else. We don’t know how he does this – we probably never will.
Harry cannot eat without spilling his food. That’s it, in a nutshell. I move the dish and there’s a clear spot surrounded by food.
That M could stand for mucky. Harry often has stuff stuck in his fur – leaves, grass, sticky seeds. He refuses to let me groom him so I have to randomly pluck things from his fur as I stroke him.
M is for Meddlesome Maine Coon. Harry meddles around in my makeup basket, looking for hairbands to steal. He brings them to us for a game of fetch. I can never find one when I need it.
Do All Maine Coons Have An M On Their Forehead? – Conclusion
Not all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead – only the tabby variety! The M can be quite pronounced or not so obvious. What does it stand for? Maybe it’s M for Maine Coon. Or you can pick your favorite legend from the selection available. Or just for fun, invent your own meaning.