Maine Coon kittens look very different than when they are adults, but do Maine Coon kittens change color?
While most people know that cats’ eyes change color as they age, what about their fur? Read on to find out if your Maine Coon kittens will undergo a fascinating transformation!
Maine Coon kittens may become lighter or darker as their fluffy coat develops, typically once they are eight weeks old. Maine Coon kittens rarely change color drastically, but a condition known as fever coat can occur if the kitten’s mother is sick or distressed while pregnant.
A lot of things change as kittens grow older, but for the Maine Coon, this change is often more dramatic.
So, just how much do these cats change before they become adults? Keep reading to find out!
Do Maine Coon Kittens Change Color?
The Maine Coon is a regal breed that has become immensely popular for its enormous size and long, luxurious furry coat.
They come in almost every color and pattern possible, and a few rare colorations like gold and silver make this already beautiful breed look absolutely majestic!
Maine Coon fur color is one of the most exciting things to think about when a new litter is born, but breeders cannot determine a kitten’s coloration immediately after they are born.
So, do kittens change color after birth?
While a Maine Coon that is born with a black coat cannot suddenly turn orange, or vice versa, their fur does change color a bit as they age!
Even though Maine Coons have long, thick fur, their coat is short and fine when they are first born.
Newborn kittens look much darker because they are still wet from being born and cleaned by their mother.
As they grow, their coat becomes fluffier. This is the age Maine Coons get fluffy!
Once a kitten is about eight weeks old, their fluffy undercoat begins to develop.
If you are wondering do Maine Coons change color, a newborn kitten cannot completely change color unless they have fever coat, a condition that causes a kitten’s fur to turn silvery white.
However, they can become darker or lighter as their undercoat grows in.
For example, a black smoke Maine Coon will often look like a solid black cat at birth, but as its undercoat develops, the smoke pattern will become apparent.
Meanwhile, solid-colored cats tend to look much lighter as kittens, but their coats become darker as they grow up.
A kitten’s pattern can also change subtly. For example, many blue and cream cats are born with faint tabby markings that fade after a few weeks (source 1,2).
Why Do Kittens Change Color?
If a kitten’s coat color changes, it is usually pretty subtle, but some dramatic changes can occur, as well.
Here are some reasons why a kitten’s coat might change color (source 1,2):
1. Their Full Coat Has Not Grown In
When kittens are born, they have a very fine layer of fur.
As they age, they begin to develop their undercoat.
Before this undercoat develops, they might appear much darker or lighter than when they are fully grown.
While Maine Coon cats cannot be colorpoint, breeds like Siamese and Ragdolls are always colorpoint.
These kittens are born almost completely white, but color begins to form on the tails, ears, face, and paws as they age.
White cats sometimes have a smudge of color on the top of their head.
The color white masks a cat’s underlying color (either black or red).
When they are young, this underlying color can peek through for a bit but eventually turns white as they grow.
4. Fever Coat
Fever coat is a condition that can sometimes occur when a cat is sick or stressed while she is pregnant.
As a kitten’s coat pigment develops in the womb, it may change due to temperature.
Once they are born, their fur may look silvery or white at the tips, and darker at the roots. After a few months, though, their normal coat color will return.
5. Smoke, Shaded, Or Shell
Smoke, shaded, and shell cats have a white undercoat with various degrees of tipping at the end of their fur.
When they are first born, they usually look much darker because their lighter undercoat has not developed yet.
Sometimes, a cat may be born with tabby markings that fade as they age.
This is usually seen in blue and cream cats.
Maine Coon Colors And Patterns
If you are wondering what colors can Maine Coons can be, you will probably be delighted by the answer!
Maine Coons come in almost every color and pattern possible in cats! Read our full Maine Coon color and pattern guide, to learn more.
Fanciers of the breed are very particular about color and patterns, and use Maine Coon color codes to specify their coloration.
The Cat Fanciers Association also has a Maine Coon color chart, which details exactly which colors and patterns are acceptable in Maine Coons.
Here is a more thorough look at the colors and patterns that can be found in this stunning cat breed:
- White: This color is the absence of red or black pigment.
- Black: The color black is caused by eumelanin. Brown and silver tabbies are also black because the color is determined by their stripes, rather than the lighter base color.
- Blue: The color blue is a dilute version of the color black.
- Red: The color red is caused by pheomelanin, but usually looks orange despite its name. The color red is always some form of tabby pattern, even if it appears solid.
- Cream: The color cream is a dilute version of the color red. The color cream is always some form of a tabby pattern, even if it appears solid.
These are the Maine Coon pattern options (source 1):
A solid cat is one uniform color that is even throughout the body.
A mackerel tabby is a kind of tabby with parallel lines that run down the spine.
These lines can be broken or unbroken.
Unbroken lines can make the cat appear spotted, but are not true spotted tabbies.
Classic tabbies have bold, swirling stripes that often form a bulls-eye on the cat’s sides.
This kind of pattern can also be called a marble tabby.
Ticked tabbies may appear solid at first, but they will still have a distinctive m-shape on their forehead that marks them as a tabby.
But, don’t all Maine Coons have an ‘m’ marking on their head? Find out the surprising answer, in this article I wrote.
Tabby does not mean a cat has stripes; it means that each individual hair has some kind of banding on it.
In the case of ticked tabbies, their fur will not look as even as a solid color cat.
This kind of pattern is also called an agouti tabby.
A patched tabby is any kind of tabby cat that contains two colors (black and red, or a combination of their dilutes).
Bi-color cats contain a mix of white and one other color.
Bi-color cats can have any degree of white, so long as it is mixed with another color.
Parti-color cats have two different colors (red and black or a combination of their dilutes) or two different colors mixed with white.
A tortoiseshell cat has a mix of red and black (or a combination of their dilutes).
These colors streak together, forming a brindle pattern.
A patched cat has both red and black (or a combination of their dilutes), but they are unbrindled, meaning they do not blend together like tortoiseshell cats.
Calico cats have distinct, unbrindled patches of black and red (or a combination of their dilutes) as well as white.
Shell cats have a white, ivory, or gold undercoat with red, black, blue, or cream tipping at the end of each hair.
Also known as a chinchilla pattern, shell cats have the least amount of tipping, and often appear white with soft patches of color on the tail, flanks, back, and possibly the head or face.
Shaded cats have a white, ivory, or gold undercoat with a moderate amount of tipping on their:
Smoke cats have a white, ivory, or gold undercoat with a heavy amount of tipping throughout the body except the underbelly.
The smoke pattern appears much darker than the shaded or shell patterns.
What Is The Most Common Maine Coon Color?
While many people assume the most common Maine Coon color is brown, it is actually black!
There are many brown tabby Maine Coons, but despite their name, their coloration is actually black.
Black tabby cats have black stripes, but the rest of their fur either appears silver or brown.
Since black tabbies and solid black Maine Coons are both very common, black is the most common Maine Coon color overall.
What Is The Rarest Maine Coon Color?
Out of all the different Maine Coon colors, the rarest Maine Coon color is a combination of silver and gold.
However, these colors are not truly colors; rather, they are cream or blue with some degree of tipping.
The dilute colors cream and blue are much less common than red or black, and once you add the rare inhibitor gene that causes tipping, then that is the rarest Maine Coon there is!
Gold Maine Coons have a pale gold undercoat with a light, moderate, or heavy amount of tipping.
Silver Maine Coons have white or ivory undercoats with varying degrees of tipping.
Overall, there are six different combinations:
- Gold Shell
- Gold Shaded
- Gold Smoke
- Silver Shell
- Silver Shaded
- Silver Smoke
Most Popular Maine Coon Color
The most popular Maine Coon colors are silver and gold, or any other kind of smoke, shaded, or shell Maine Coon.
The inhibitor gene responsible for tipping is incredibly rare, especially since we do not even know what causes it yet.
Maine Coons are already a very expensive cat breed, so most people who want to get a Maine Coon tend to go all out.
After all, if you are already spending a few thousand dollars on a Maine Coon, why not get one in a rare and beautiful color?
However, the waitlists for these colors and patterns are much longer, so you will have to be patient if you want a Maine Coon with one of these rare colors!
Most Expensive Maine Coon Colors
The most expensive Maine Coon colors are silver and gold.
These colors are caused by a rare gene that results in white or golden fur that is tipped with black or red, respectively.
The more of the cat’s fur is covered in black or red, the more extreme the tipping is.
Cats with low tipping are called chinchilla or shell, cats with a moderate amount of tipping are called shaded, and cats with a high amount of tipping are called smoke.
While Maine Coons generally start at $1,000 to $2,000, silver and gold Maine Coons are usually $3,000 or more! (source 1,2).
Does Cats Fur Color Determine Personality?
The genes that determine a cat’s coat color are located in the part of a cat’s DNA that affect their coat, not their brain.
While there are a lot of stereotypes about cat color, such as orange cats being considered dumb or black cats being considered energetic and crazy, this is not true.
A cat’s personality and temperament can be affected by genetics, but this has nothing to do with the genes that determine its fur color and pattern.
Cat Coat Genetics
While cats can come in a dazzling array of colors, there are only three main coat colors:
Red and black pigments come from pheomelanin and eumelanin, respectively, while white coloration is the absence of melanin.
Black Maine Coons
So, can Maine Coons be all black? Yes! Maine Coons can come in any solid color.
Learn more about the black Maine Coon cat in this article, I wrote.
Black Maine Coon cats can also come in a variety of patterns such as bi-color, tortoiseshell, or tabby.
The mackerel tabby pattern is a dominant gene, meaning that a cat with just one copy of this gene will be a mackerel tabby.
The classic tabby gene is recessive, so a cat must receive two copies of the gene to express it.
Dilute colors such as cream or blue come from recessive genes that make the coat lighter in appearance.
A black Maine Coon with a dilute gene can have blue kittens, so long as their partner also has a dilute gene.
White Maine Coon Cats
The color white is actually the lack of color, which “masks” the underlying color of the cat.
For example, a white female cat could actually be masking the color red, and, as a result, give birth to a red male or female.
Kittens can only have as much white as their parents have.
A cat that is half white and half black could have a kitten that is half white or less than half white.
Maine Coon Color Calculator
Maine Coon breeders might use a Maine Coon color calculator to determine the possible colors and patterns a breeding pair might produce.
The colors red and black (and their respective dilutes) are carried on the X-chromosome.
Male cats receive a color from their mother, while female cats receive one color from their mother and one from their father.
For example, a tortoiseshell female cat that has both red and black coloration could have a male that is either red or black.
If she were to mate with a black male, her female kittens could be black or red and black.
Complex Coat Colors And Patterns
More complex coat colors and patterns usually result from a genetic mutation, which is preserved by breeding with other cats who have the same mutation.
For example, the inhibitor gene responsible for tipping is a rare, highly sought-after pattern, but since we do not yet know what gene causes this pattern, it makes breeding the following Maine Coon colors much more difficult (source 1):
When Do Maine Coon Kittens Eyes Color Change?
If you have seen a litter of Maine Coon kittens with bright blue eyes, you are probably wondering, do Maine Coons eye color change?
All Maine Coon kittens are born with blue eyes.
This is because the parts that cause eye pigmentation, melanocytes, do not begin to work until the kitten is between four and six weeks old (source 1).
If you have just had a litter of kittens, or you have seen pictures of a young Maine Coon you would like to adopt, you might wonder, do Maine Coon kittens change color?
While a kitten will never change color drastically, their coat may become lighter or darker as its undercoat develops.
Unfortunately, some of the best Maine Coon colors are also some of the most rare Maine Coon colors, but do not let that stop you from trying to find a beautiful silver or gold smoke!
Of course, no matter what color they come in, Maine Coons are always sweet and friendly, so do not worry too much about finding a certain color.
Can Maine Coons Be Orange?
It is possible for Maine Coons to be orange, though this is usually referred to as red by breeders.
Do Maine Coons Have Stripes?
Tabby Maine Coons have stripes, but some Maine Coons do not have stripes.
Do Maine Coons Have A Double Coat?
Maine Coons actually have a triple coat! The two under layers are for insulation, while the third outer coat protects them from snow and water.