According to the world’s largest cat registry, The International Cat Association (TICA), 58 standardized breeds are currently recognized. Many of the existing breeds are genetic mutations, crossbreeds, and crossed hybrids of other breeds.
Maine Coon cats are a type of American Longhair which have a very distinctive body style and are easy to identify if one knows the traits to look for. On the other hand, some of them are mixed breeds and look very similar to the true Maine Coon.
To know if your cat is a Maine Coon or not, you have to be able to identify the defining characteristics of the breed as outlined below.
The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat, so its body size will be a good starting point to draw reference from.
A male usually weighs between 13 and 18 pounds while a female will weigh from 8 to 12 pounds. Adults can reach up to 10 inches in height ranging all the way to 16 inches.
Lengthwise, Maine Coons can reach up to 48 inches from nose to tail. The breed has a large, muscular frame, broad chest, and long torso.
Their body is rectangular in shape. A Maine Coon tabby mix or a Maine Coon shorthair mix would have a slightly smaller frame and shorter torso.
Therefore, one of the most typical signs of a mixed coon would be slightly smaller body dimensions.
Ears and Head
A purebred Maine Coon has large ears, not too pointy – set more on the top of its head rather than the sides. The tips and insides of its heavily furred ears are commonly seen with extra long tufts of hair, which serve to keep the cat’s ears warm in the cold Maine winter.
Its head is a little bit longer than it is wide compared to a mixed-breed Maine Coon. A purebred would also have a straight nose, whereas other longhair Maine Coon mix cats would display a tell-tale flat nose line.
Maine Coons are also said to have the eyes of a wild predator, as they seem to be more squinty – giving an air of cunning and connivance, although, this observation is probably based off of pure speculation.
The prominent feature of a Maine Coon is its long, soft, and silky coat of hair. Its coat is uneven and has two layers – a silky, self-maintaining undercoat and longer guard hairs.
The hair on its head and shoulders is considerably shorter than the rest of the body and longer on the stomach and flank.
Of significant prominence is a ruff of fur around the neck, similar in appearance to a lion’s mane, a feature that will be seen as full and fluffy in purebred Maine Coons, and somewhat wispy or thinned out in mixed-breeds.
You can easily tell a purebred Maine Coon by its long, bushy, and voluminous tail which can reach up to 14 inches in length. It’s so furry that it looks like a raccoon’s tail – making it just that much closer in appearance to its namesake.
It should be very full – another indication of a mixed Maine Coon is if the tail seems to have lost some of its fluff or isn’t quite as bushy as it should be. In some instances, the tail might even feature short hairs.
If you observe this phenomenon in your cat, chances are high that it’s a mixed-breed and probably has DNA from other long-haired cats.
Maine Coons come in a lot of different colors and patterns. The most popular ones are brown-tabby and tiger-striped.
But there are also chocolates, reds, and pretty much every other color that a cat can possibly be. Common solid colors include white, black, blue, and cream.
Since there are so many different varieties, relying on the color or pattern will not allow you to clearly determine whether the cat is a pure Maine Coon or has mixed ancestry.
Maine Coons are also well-known for being polydactyl. In case the word is foreign to you, polydactyl cats are born with extra toes – the result of an autosomal dominant Pd gene.
While this trait is not unique to Maine Coons, it was thought of at one point that around 40% of the cat population in Maine carried the polydactyl gene.
Personality-wise, Maine Coons are loyal, cautious, and gentle but at the same time independent, dignified, and playful. They possess above-average intelligence which makes them easy to train.
They’re known as “gentle giants”, and seem to have a fascination with water, which is very strange, as most felines do not like water.