The Maine Coon cat originates from Maine, United States. Their popularity has soared over the last few decades due to their dog-like personalities, gentle nature, and playful attitude to life.
Unfortunately, a rise in their popularity and the high market price has resulted in a rise of backyard breeders (BYB) trying to make a quick buck out of less savvy buyers, keen to own a Maine Coon.
Luckily for us, there are a number of Maine Coon characteristics that buyers can look out for when trying to identify if the kitten they love is really a purebred Maine Coon, or not.
The Maine Coons physical characteristics distinguish them from other cat breeds. Maine Coons have a physically large body frame, reaching between 19-40 inches in length. They have large paws, long thick luscious hair, big expressive eyes, and playful nature. Many Maine Coon cats have large tufts of hair around their neck and ‘lynx’ like ear tufts.
How To Identify A Maine Coon Cat
It’s not always easy to determine if the Maine Coon you are viewing is definitely a purebred Maine Coon, or not.
Sadly, as the Maine Coons popularity has increased, so has the rise in backyard breeders out to make a fast buck. Thus, many mixed Maine Coons are sold to unsuspecting buyers under the pretense that they are purebred Maine Coons.
If you are set on owning a purebred Maine Coon cat, how can you make sure that the Coon you are viewing is definitely purebred? The simple truth of the matter is that you cannot, without having documentation that proves the parents of the Maine Coon in question are certified purebred Maine Coon cats.
Purchasing a Maine Coon from a registered breeder should ensure that the cat in question is a purebred Maine Coon. Cats from registered breeders are expensive though, and not everyone can afford to buy a Maine Coon cat via this channel. Thankfully, there are some clear Maine Coon characteristics, both physical and behavioral that will help you identify whether you are viewing a Maine Coon, or not.
In order to cover this subject matter correctly, I will divide Maine Coon characteristics into three subject areas:
Physical Characteristics Of A Maine Coon Cat
The table below summarises eleven key Maine Coon characteristics, which physically set this cat breed apart from other cats:
|Large Cat||If the cat looks unusually large, they maybe a Maine Coon|
|Mane Of Hair||Does the cat have a mass of hair around its neck, like a lion?|
|Long Thick Fur||Maine Coons are recognized for their long, thick, shaggy fur|
|Muscular Frame||If the cat has a large muscular, rectangular shape frame, this may be an indication that they are a Maine Coon cat|
|Big Eyes||Captivating large eyes, full of emotion. Slightly slanted eyes.|
|Ear Tufts||Check the cat’s ears for ‘lynx’ like ear tufts|
|Rough Tongue||Their tongues are extremely rough|
|Large Paws||Maine Coons have large paws, often with tufts of hair covering their paws|
|Long Bushy Tail||Their tails are thick and bushy|
|Voice||Do not ‘meow’, but ‘chirp’ and ‘trill’ instead|
|Growing Cycle||Reach full size between 3-4 years|
|Maine Coon Colours||From black to orange. There are over 74 different Maine Coon colorings to choose from|
The Maine Coon Characteristics table above does not prove a Maine Coon’s purebred status (you will need certification for this). However, it will narrow your search and help you determine if you are viewing a purebred Maine Coon, or not.
Let’s consider the 11 Maine Coon characteristics (physical) in greater detail, below.
- Large Cat
- Mane Of Hair
- Long Thick Fur
- Muscular Frame
- Big Eyes
- Ear Tufts
- Rough Tongue
- Large Paws
- Long Bushy Tail
- Long Growing Cycle
- Maine Coon Colour
1. Large Cat
This fabulous cat breed is one of the largest domesticated cats in the world. They are so big and gentle that they have even been nicknamed ‘gentle giants’, and ‘dog of the cat world’, due to their large size. They look sturdy and strong and have often been linked to bobcats, due to their large physical frame.
If you are keen to own a Maine Coon cat, look for the Maine Coon sizes stated below:
Maine Coon Size (Male)
One of the key Maine Coon characteristics is their large muscular frame. Their size sets them apart from many other cats because it would not be uncommon for your male Maine Coon to reach anywhere up to 40 inches (101cm) in length, 10-16 inches (25-40 cm) in height, and 15-25 lbs (6.8 – 11.3 kg) in weight!
Maine Coon Size (Female)
The female Maine Coons are smaller, only reaching 8-14 inches in height (20-35 cm) 8 – 12 lbs (3.6 – 5.4 kg) in weight. They do however match their male counterparts, reaching up to 40 inches in length.
Guinness World Records
The largest Maine Coon cat on record was a cat named “Stewie”, who reached a massive 48.5 inches when stretched out (source 1). Sadly though, Stewie died in 2013, after fighting cancer.
2. Mane Of Hair
If you are keen to buy a purebred Maine Coon, look for a mane of shaggy hair around the cat’s neck. Many people nickname Coons as ‘the little lion’ because the mane of hair around their neck resembles that of a lion.
3. Long Thick Fur
Maine Coons are known for their long luscious coats of fur. This hair is often described as ‘shaggy hair’ and is made up of two thick dense undercoats of hair, with a third longer coat of hair over the top.
Their thick dense fur helps to make them a very hardy cat breed, able to survive the harsh winter chills of New England. If you touch it, you will notice that it feels oily and fluffy.
4. Muscular Frame
Maine Coon cats grow very slowly, not reaching their full physical size until 3-4 years. This is particularly unique to the breed because ‘normal cats’ reach full size around the two year mark.
Maine Coons are very large, and have a very long rectangular body frame.
Their muscular legs are considered medium length, and should be proportional to their body.
5. Big Eyes
Maine Coon cats have large beautiful eyes, full of emotion. Their eyes are slightly slanted, and usually green or gold in colour, though you may also come across Maine Coon cats with blue eyes.
6. Ear Tufts
Ear tufts are one of the key Maine Coon characteristics to look out for. Check the cat’s ears for tufts or wisps of hair on the end of their ears, which resemble that of a ‘lynx’. A Maine Coons ears will also be covered in thick fur, which helps keep them warm.
7. Rough Tongue
Maine Coons have extremely rough tongues. When they lick you it can feel like they are exfoliating your skin!
Male Maine Coons are known for being particularly sociable around strangers, so allow the cat to lick your hand. If the tongue feels far rougher than you would have expected, it may be a Maine Coon.
8. Large Paws
Maine Coons have extremely large paws, even whilst they are kittens. This physically sets the Maine Coon apart from other cat breeds, which have small paws.
A Maine Coons paws are unique because they are quite furry, with tufts of hair over the paws. These are often referred to as being their “snow boots”, and helps them be prepared for the harsh winter climates in North America.
Historically, some Maine Coons had an extra digit on their paw, though this Maine Coon characteristic is no longer common.
9. Long Bushy Tail
Maine Coons have very long bushy tails that are wide at the base, then gradually narrow as they get to the tip. Their tails are often thought to resemble that of a raccoon, and are one of the key reasons why so many people still believe in the old folk tale claiming that Maine Coons are related to raccoons!
For more information on this theory, read my article “Are Maine Coons Part Raccoon?“.
I’ve heard many people describe the Maine Coon as, “a tail, with a cat attached“. This may sound comical, but their tails really are massive, when compared to other cat breeds, and the rest of their body size!
To help identify if the cat you are viewing is a Maine Coon, see if you can get the tip of their tail to reach their shoulder. If the tail reaches, it is possible that the cat may be a Maine Coon.
Maine Coons use their big bushy tails to help keep them warm during the harsh Winters of New England. They do this by wrapping their big tails around their body.
One easy way to spot a Maine Coon cat, is by their voice.
Maine Coons do not make a ‘meow’ sound, but instead, tend to ‘chirp’ and ‘trill’ at their owners. They do not tend to hiss at people unless provoked. However, they will make their feelings known to their owners via a selection of annoying chirps, if you try to move them when they are comfortable and do not want to be moved!
11. Growing Cycle
Maine Coon cats are known for growing very slowly, not reaching full size until 3-4 years old. This is different from other cat breeds, who reach full size by roughly 2 years.
If your cat seems to be growing at an incredibly slow rate, you may have a Maine Coon cat.
12. Maine Coon Colouring
The Maine Coon cat comes in a wide range of colors, from black to white, or tabby to orange. In total, there are over 74 different Maine Coon colorings, the black Maine Coon is one of the most popular.
Maine Coon Behaviour
Owning a Maine Coon is not like owning any cat. Just as their physical characteristics differ from other cat breeds, so do their behavioral characteristics. It is these differences that you should take note of however since they make a Maine Coon cat easier to spot.
The table below summarises the Maine Coon behaviours that you should expect to see:
|Love Of Water||Unlike most cat breeds, the Maine Coon is known for loving water|
|Friendly Nature||Maine Coons are known for their friendly nature. They adore human company and are not aloof|
|Intelligent||If the cat can perform tricks or seems more intelligent whilst playing, it may be a Maine Coon cat|
|Dog Like Behaviour||Does the cat seem to act more like a dog? If it does, you may have a Maine Coon|
|Playful Nature||Maine Coons are very playful and enjoy playing with their human family|
|Talkative||This cat breed loves to communicate with their human family, via chirps and trills|
Maine Coon Personality
Let’s look at these six Maine Coon behaviours in greater detail, below:
1. Love Of Water
Maine Coon cats and kittens are very unique because they love playing in the water. The more they can splash and spill water everywhere, the better! They are also great swimmers, and have been known to go for a cheeky swim in the lake! Some Maine Coons also enjoy having a bath!
It is not uncommon to see a Maine Coon patting the water in their bowl, with their large fluffy paws. Whilst they are known for enjoying playing with water, this particular Maine Coon characteristic occurs because the Maine Coon wants to ensure that their drinking water is ‘fresh’.
Does your cat seem a little too obsessed and fascinated with water? If they do, you may have a Maine Coon.
2. Friendly Nature
Maine Coon cats are well known for their friendly, outgoing, and relaxed personalities. Often described as ‘gentle giants’, these large impressive cats make great family pets. They are also extremely gentle and calm around young children, even if the kids are being really loud and noisy.
If your cat loves spending time with their human families and gets on well with the other household pets, you may have a Maine Coon.
Another amazing Maine Coon characteristic to look out for is their high level of intelligence. They are clever little beings, and can even be taught basic tricks, such as fetching the ball!
Our cat also follows simple commands, like a dog e.g. “no”, “down” or “come”.
4. Dog Like Behaviour
The Maine Coon is nicknamed “the dog of the cat world’, due to its large size, and dog-like behavior. For instance, they love spending time with their human family, and can even be taught simple commands, as a dog can.
There are further similarities between Maine Coons and dogs, for instance, they are both extremely sociable in nature. It is also not uncommon to see your Maine Coon cat come to greet you when you return home from work!
5. Playful Nature
Maine Coons are one of the few cat breeds that remain playful, well into their adult lives. They adore playing with their human family and are often described as being the life and soul of the party.
This particular cat breed loves to talk!
If you feel like your cat is constantly communicating with you, and maybe even trying to hold an actual conversation with you, it is possible that you own a Maine Coon cat.
Watch this amusing video of a Maine Coon talking to their owner:
Another way to identify if your cat is a Maine Coon, or not, is via genetic testing.
You can request your locally trained Veterinary professional (or medical professional) to take a DNA sample from your cat, whereby they will swab the inside of your cat’s cheeks to obtain a sample of the cat’s skin cells.
An additional blood check will also be required, for the genetic testing process. Please note that genetic testing is only 90% accurate.
If you aren’t too keen on genetic testing, vets can compare your cat’s genomes, with the DNA of a purebred Maine Coon, by simply taking a sample of your cat’s fur. The vet will determine if there is a match between the two samples.
Maine Coon Characteristics Video
If you’re in a rush, watch this video on Maine Coon characteristics. Discover more about the Maine Coon breed, from a child’s perspective. One comment towards the end of this video will definitely surprise you!! … It took me by surprise, anyhow!
There are many Maine Coon characteristics that distinguish this particular cat breed from others, including their long shaggy hair, beautiful ‘lynx’ like ears, and impressive physical build.
If you are not too sure whether you own a Maine Coon, or not, take a look at the various Maine Coon characteristics that I have mentioned throughout this article, to identify similarities. Should your cat display all (or most) of these common characteristics, personality traits, or behaviors, then you may have a Maine Coon cat.
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