Many large long-haired cats look like Maine Coons and owners often wonder if the cat they’ve acquired belongs to this popular breed. Is there a definitive way of determining if your cat is a Maine Coon?
Your cat is definitely a purebred Maine Coon if you have genuine registration documents that confirm it is. However, this does not mean cats without paperwork are not Maine Coons. There are unregistered Maine Coons and an equally large number of Maine Coon mixes. There are several ways to tell.
Breed standards state a purebred Maine Coon is a medium-to-large, long-haired cat. A Maine Coon tabby mix or a Maine Coon short-hair mix often has a smaller frame than a purebred of this breed. Therefore, if you think your cat is a Maine Coon but it’s small or has short fur, you might have a mixed Maine Coon.
If you’re about to buy a Maine Coon and want to be certain that you’re getting a purebred cat, only use a highly recommended registered breeder who can provide pedigree paperwork. There’s more about this further down.
Many cats are part Maine Coon. There are also many cats with long fur and other Maine Coon traits that have no trace of Maine Coon in their heritage whatsoever.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of whether you have a purebred Maine Coon or not.
How to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon or a Maine Coon mix
True Maine Coons are registered pedigree cats. Though Maine Coons have existed since the early 19th Century, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) only awarded them purebred status in 1976.
In expert circles, to be classed as a purebred cat, a Maine Coon’s ancestors must also be proven Maine Coons. A purebred cat is one whose parents are both officially registered Maine Coons.
All breeders of purebred Maine Coons will register their kittens and be able to prove their status with registration paperwork for parents and kittens.
These papers give their cats value so if a breeder doesn’t have them, you should seriously question why.
You can attempt to establish if a cat is a Maine Coon or Maine Coon mix by studying its appearance carefully and comparing them to those typical of the breed.
Standard Maine Coon features are:
- Ears with Lynx tips.
- A long fluffy tail.
- A neck ruff.
- A squarer rather than a triangular muzzle.
- Almond-shaped eyes set at an oblique angle.
- Tufty toes.
- A large frame in adult cats.
If your cat passes this initial sight test you can find more in-depth checks further down. Even with most or all of these features, a cat can still be a Maine Coon mix.
Remember, it doesn’t really matter if your cat is a Maine Coon, Maine Coon mix, or neither – all cats are gorgeous and it still deserves your love and affection.
Just for fun, compare your cat’s features to those of a Maine Coon described here and make an educated guess. We’ve included full descriptions and plenty of photographs to help.
By the end of this article, you might have a better idea of your cat’s origins.
Maine Coon or Maine Coon mix: a complete guide
If you have a cat and aren’t really sure of its breed it doesn’t matter – you still love it, don’t you?
If you bought it from a shelter without really knowing its history, you have given your cat a chance to have a long and happy life with you.
If your cat resembles a Maine Coon or other people have suggested it might be a Maine Coon what features does it have that lead to these conclusions?
The Physical Traits of Maine Coon Cats
If you look at photos of purebred Maine Coons you will see no two are the same. It is virtually impossible to establish a cat’s breed on looks alone.
Let’s play a little game. Look at the photos and descriptions that follow and see how many Maine Coon features your cat possesses.
Maine Coon Ears
A Maine Coon’s ears are usually taller than they are wide, but there are always exceptions to this rule. They are often tufty with lynx-like tips.
If you measure the width of the base of a Maine Coon’s ear this is about the same as the distance between each ear.
Look inside a Maine Coon’s ears and you will notice fine hairs sprouting. The tips will also have sprouts of hair, some much longer than others, which give them a lynx-like appearance.
A Maine Coon’s ears are designed to cope with extremely cold weather, though as most Maine Coons are pampered, indoor cats these days this feature could possibly start to fade with each generation.
Here are a few examples of the variations in appearance of a Maine Coon’s ears:
Are your cat’s ears like any of those above? If the answers yes then that’s one point scored. If not, don’t give up … move on to the next feature.
Maine Coon Eyes
A Maine Coon’s eyes are large, expressive, wide-set, and oval-shaped. They have a slightly oblique setting and slant towards the outer base of each ear.
Only pure white Maine Coons or those with some white fur will have blue eyes. So if you have a cat with no white fur at all and its eyes are blue then it is not a purebred Maine Coon.
Here are some examples:
How do your cat’s eyes compare? Is it still on track for being a Maine Coon? If yes, then add another point to your score. Don’t worry if it’s not. Have a look at the next trait.
Maine Coon Head Shape
A Maine Coon’s head is a medium width that’s slightly longer in length than it is wide. It also has prominent, high cheekbones.
Is your cat’s face a similar shape to this? Yes? Then score another point. Carry on to the next feature.
Maine Coon Muzzle and Chin
A Maine Coon’s muzzle is square-shaped with a definite blunt end. I’ve never seen a Maine Coon with a triangular or heart-shaped face. The length and width of the muzzle are proportionate to the rest of the head.
What do you think now? Is your cat similar around the nose and mouth to these? Add another point if your answer’s yes. Now on to the next feature…
Maine Coon Facial Profile
A Maine Coon’s profile should be proportionate to the overall length of its head and the nose. It should have a slight concavity and should be relatively smooth and free of bumps.
A profile that is straight from the brow line to the tip of the nose is not usually seen in Maine Coons – see the picture of my red tabby, Harry, below who just agreed to pose for this profile pic.
What do you think now? Could your cat be a Maine Coon? Add another point to your score if so. Next…
Maine Coon Body Shape
A Maine Coon has a long, medium-width neck that leads to a muscular, broad chest. The body of a Maine Coon is medium to large and is long and sleek. All body parts are in proportion with no part exaggerated in size.
This gives it a well balanced and rectangular appearance. Females are usually smaller than males. Maine Coons mature slowly and so often don’t reach their full size until they are 3 or even 4 years old.
If your cat matches this description add another point to your score. And on to legs …
Maine Coon Legs
A Maine Coon’s legs are sturdy, wide-set and of medium length. They are in proportion to the rest of its body. Its forelegs are straight and its back legs are straight when viewed from behind.
Do you have a cat with legs as described? Score another point if you do and carry on.
Maine Coon Paws
A Maine Coon’s paws are large, round and well-tufted. Some seem to have longer tufts than others. These paws are excellent for walking over snow, though many Maine Coons don’t get to test theirs out these days.
There are five toes on each front paw and four on each back paw. Occasionally Maine Coons can be polydactyl which is a congenital condition that means they can have extra toes.
Does your cat have these adorable tufts between each toe? Add one more to your score if your answer is yes. And on to tails…
Maine Coon Tails
A Maine Coon’s tail is long, wide at their base, and tapers to a pointed tip, though you’ll have to have a gentle squeeze to notice this under all the fluff! The fur is long and flowing along the whole length.
The tail is usually about the same length as the cat’s body and can be used as a wrap for extra warmth and protection in cold climates.
How does your cat’s tail compare? Can you earn another point? Finally, on to the coat …
Maine Coon Coat
A Maine Coon’s coat is long and shaggy. It is shorter over the shoulders, longer on the stomach and the back legs give the impression that the appearance of a pair of britches.
Most Maine Coons have a neck ruff, and on some
So add another point if your cat’s coat matches this description.
How many points out of 10 has your cat scored? If you have 5 or more you have a cat with many of the physical features of a Maine Coon.
Maine Coons With Coats of One Color
The following information might help you in your quest to decide if your cat is a Maine Coon if your cat has fur of one solid color.
If your cat is tabby, smoke-colored, or bi-colored then the following will not apply but may still be of interest, otherwise scroll down a little to Further Characteristics of Maine Coons.
The Five Solid Coat Colors
There are five recognized solid coat colors in purebred Maine Coons: White, Black, Cream, Red, and Blue.
If you have a solid
You still can’t be 100% sure but you may well be able to rule out the possibility of your cat being a Maine Coon if your cat’s nose leather and paw pads don’t match up to the colors that go with coat colors that follow.
Pure White Coat
If your cat has pure white fur it could be a Maine Coon if its nose leather and paw pads are pink.
If your cat’s coat is a dense coal-black color from roots to tips, with no tinge of any other
If your cat’s fur is a deep, rich, brilliant red without shading or any markings and its lips and chin are the same
Blue (Grey) Coat
If your cat has blue (the posh name for grey) fur of one tone from its nose to the tip of its tail and from the roots of each strand to the tips it may be a Maine Coon if its nose leather and paw pads are also grey.
If your cat’s coat is the same shade of buff cream all over and from roots to tips, without any markings, and its nose leather and paw pads are pink then it may be a Maine Coon.
Further Characteristics of Maine Coon Cats
Maine Coons have adorable personalities and most people experience the feeling that they are living with no ordinary cat. They are talkative and have extremely gentle, sociable ways about them.
Maine Coon Vocals
A Maine Coon is a particularly talkative cat as a rule. It will meow but also makes a variety of other noises. Some of these can sound quite high-pitched for such a large cat.
When a Maine Coon meows at you and you respond by speaking directly to it, it will often meow back and it will feel as if the two of you are having a conversation.
Maine Coons seem to have particular reasons for meowing:
- Hunger – A Maine Coon will meow at you until you remember to feed it.
- Trapped – If a Maine Coon finds itself trapped somewhere it doesn’t want to be it will meow loudly for you to come to its rescue. Equally, if you shut it out of the room you are in it will meow to be let in.
- Feeling ignored – Maine Coons love attention and will meow for you to notice them.
- Here I am – A Maine Coon will announce its arrival in a room, a bit like saying hello.
Maine Coons make high-pitched tuneful trills. My two do this regularly and they sound like they are rolling the letter R, a bit like “
Trills usually signal that a Maine Coon is excited, happy, feeling feisty, wants to show you something, or wants you to follow it somewhere.
I hear my two Maine Coons, who are brothers, trill at each other and this is usually followed immediately by a play fight which occasionally escalates into something a little more serious.
Maine Coon Personality
Let’s look a bit at the personality of the Maine Coon.
Maine Coons are Affectionate
A Maine Coon will demonstrate affection for you in a variety of ways. It will make eye contact and slow blink at you. You’ll find it likes to be near you or on your lap when you relax.
It will follow you around the house, even into the bathroom – if you shut the door it will probably sit outside meowing to come in.
If your Maine Coon lays on its back at your feet, displaying its belly, it is demonstrating its love and total trust in you. If it really loves you it will bump your head with its head whilst purring.
The Dog of The Cat World
Maine Coons are often referred to as the dog of the cat world because they exhibit dog-like loyalty to their owners. When you arrive home a Maine Coon often greets you like a dog. Some also fetch toys like dogs – one of ours retrieves a hairband.
Maine Coons are Sociable
Maine Coons don’t seem to exhibit the traditional aloofness that people associate with cats. They are quite happy among people and thought they may be cautious of strangers they don’t take long to relax with them.
Maine Coons are Gentle
If a Maine Coon is socialized properly with people and children from kittenhood and is treated gently and kindly then it will behave gently and kindly.
These cats are extremely tolerant of children which is why they make perfect family pets.
There are a number of companies online offering DNA tests to determine a cat’s ancestry. Some claim to be around 90% accurate. The average cost is $100. You are supplied with a DNA collection kit which you then send back to the company. Six to eight weeks later you are sent your results.
Your results may or may not prove your cat is a Maine Coon but one very good thing it can provide is a health profile. This could be particularly valuable in determining if your cat has the possibility of developing a genetic disorder.
If you’d like further information on DNA testing there’s plenty of information on the University of California Veterinary Medicine website.
Where you can buy a Maine Coon
It can be quite difficult to find a trusted Maine Coon seller. Searching on the internet returns many options and if you’re inexperienced, it’s best to do plenty of research before you choose who to buy from.
You can buy Maine Coons from registered breeders, unregistered breeders, pet stores, and rescue centers. Sometimes other owners offer their Maine Coons for sale for a variety of reasons.
We recommend buying a Maine Coon from a registered breeder who comes well-recommended. Don’t just look for the cheapest option but don’t assume the most expensive is the best.
Reputable breeders are always registered with a recognized body such as The International Cat Association (TICA) or Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).
They will follow an ethical breeding program that screens for genetically transmitted illnesses. They will have proof of the health of their cats and kittens and you should take the time to verify everything they claim before you consider buying from them.
You will also be able to visit their kittens to see the conditions they are kept in. When you purchase from a reputable breeder you will be given a pedigree certificate for your kitten.
Unregistered (backyard) breeders
If the breeder isn’t registered with a recognized body and doesn’t have evidence of pedigree then you can never be sure that their kittens are purebred or that they have been screened for genetic illnesses. These things will be reflected in the price you pay.
It is extremely unusual to find purebred Maine Coons in a pet store. They are usually only available from breeders who sell them directly to new owners because caring breeders care about their kittens and want to ensure they go to suitable homes.
Cat shelters or rescue centers
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a cat from one of these sources but just accept you will never really know for sure if it is a Maine Coon unless it comes with the correct paperwork to prove it.
Unless you know the seller, I would be wary about buying a Maine Coon cat privately. Even if they have paperwork, it could be fake or for another cat. In some cases, Maine Coons sold in this way are stolen pets.
Is my Cat a Maine Coon or a Maine Coon mix? – Conclusion
What do you think? Does your cat have all or some features of a Maine Coon? Does it walk like a Maine Coon? Does it talk like a Maine Coon? Then maybe it is a Maine Coon or a Maine Coon mix.
This article describes how you can guess if you have a Maine Coon, or not. Hopefully, you don’t really care what your cat’s origins are and love it for just being your beautiful, unique cat.
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If you have a strong suspicion that your cat is a Maine Coon then you’ll understand the 28 Best Reasons To Own a Maine Coon Cat wholeheartedly!