Maine Coons have many extraordinary features. One that really stands out and can vary greatly from one cat to the next is the hair on their ears. These obvious differences lead people to ask: Do Maine Coons always have ear tufts or lynx tips?
A Maine Coon’s ears actually have two rather distinctive characteristics which are often confused: pointed ear tufts (also known as lynx tips), and ear furnishings.
A Maine Coon kitten’s ears usually begin to develop pointed lynx tips at two weeks of age though some Maine Coons don’t develop these tufts until they are two years old.
Do all Maine Coons have lynx tips? Whilst some Maine Coons have exaggerated Lynx tips sprouting from the tip of each ear, others have such short tips they are barely noticeable. The fact is, some Maine Coons are bred to have longer lynx tips than others.
Ear Tufts or Lynx Tips vs Ear Furnishings
Maine Coon ear tufts (or lynx tips) are the long hairs that sprout from the tips of each ear whilst ear furnishings are the soft fluffy hairs that emerge from the inner surfaces.
Both types are always present in Maine Coons and are more exaggerated in some cats than in others.
Let’s try to determine why Maine Coon ears vary so much in appearance within the breed.
Maine Coon Ear Furnishings
Many people refer to the hair inside a Maine Coon’s ears as tufts when in fact, officially this fluff is known as ear furnishings. Why do Maine Coons have ear furnishings? Are they just ornamental? Most Maine Coons have a generous amount of long hair sprouting from within their ears and it
The tufts also stop debris from entering a Maine Coon’s delicate inner ears. On some cats, this fluff is so much thicker and longer than on others. The amount and length can depend on breeding and genetics.
Presumably, evolution has played a part in the diminishing amount too as Maine Coons no longer have to thrive outside in freezing temperatures, and
On close inspection you can see that the longer hairs in a Maine Coon’s ears sprout from the inner surface of the front of their ears:
Maine Coon Ear Tufts or Lynx Tips
Ears tufts or lynx tips are both names for the sprouts of long hair found on the tips of each ear. Why do Maine Coon’s ears have these lynx tips? Are they just for decoration and to add to the cuteness factor? They definitely do!
Unlike the fur on the inside of their ears, it’s hard to imagine that this fur on the tips serves a useful purpose. Some cats have very noticeable tips whilst on others, these are much more subtle.
My Maine Coons have about a half-inch tall lynx tips that are quite narrow whereas on some cats they are at least an inch tall and almost that wide. Again the size depends on genetics. If you really want a Maine Coon with exaggerated ear tips, look at the parents to see if they possess them.
Unlike ear furnishings, which seem to be gradually diminishing,
And in case you are wondering why they are sometimes called lynx tips …
Are Maine Coon Kittens Born with Ear Furnishings and Tufts?
Newborn Maine Coons have short fur. They have ear furnishings but no noticeable lynx tips. But as their body fur lengthens during the first month, their lynx tips become more obvious.
Here are my two boys at 5 months. As you can see, they have noticeable ear furnishings but only small lynx tips.
At 14 years old, their lynx tips are about the same size as they were 13.5 years ago.
Early Maine Coons
This is Cosey, a Maine Coon who won a New York cat show in 1895. The photo is not the best quality but hopefully, you can see she has ear furnishings on her inner ears but not very long lynx tips. Maybe lynx tips are a more recent development in Maine Coon cats.
Are Lynx Tips a Breed Standard
I can’t find Lynx tips mentioned anywhere in breed standards. They don’t seem to be something that a Maine Coon is judged on in a show. So if you were planning to show your cat and it is lacking in the lynx tip department, this shouldn’t affect its chances.
Ear furnishings and lynx tips are just two of a Maine Coon cat’s distinguishing features along with its gloriously long fluffy tail, lion-like mane, and luxurious body fur. Just like the overall size of Maine Coons can vary greatly from one cat to the next, their lynx tips can vary from barely there to outstandingly long.
The lack of lynx tips does not make a cat any less of a Maine Coon. They have no effect on the adorable and loving personality of these wonderful cats. And I can vouch for this having owned my two beautiful Maine Coon boys with their somewhat small lynx tips for 14 years – I only realized how much smaller they are in comparison to other Maine Coons since researching for this site.
For much more helpful information on Maine Coon features, have a look at Is My Cat a Maine Coon?