The Maine Coon is a beautiful cat, and there are countless possible Maine Coon colors and patterns. Many people assume that Maine Coons only come in brown or black, but this actually isn’t the case! In fact, the Maine Coon comes in a lot more colors and patterns than many other cat breeds.
The Maine Coon cat comes in a total of over 75 different color and pattern combinations. It is possible for a Maine Coon to come in every possible coat color, as well as most patterns, including tortoiseshell, calico, tabby, smoke, shaded, and many others.
The amount of Maine Coon colors and patterns might seem overwhelming, but they can actually be categorized quite simply.
Read on to find out more about the genetics behind a Maine Coon’s patterns and coloration!
Maine Coon Colors
The Maine Coon is a popular cat breed that is famous for being the largest domesticated cat breed in the world. They are also known for their wide variety of colors.
The main three colors that Maine Coons can come in are black, red, and white. White on a cat is actually the absence of pigmentation, while red and black can be “diluted” through genetic mutation to produce other colors.
In Maine Coons, the color black can be diluted to chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac, and fawn. Meanwhile, the color red can also be diluted to cream.
Have you ever heard someone ask, do Maine Coon cats change color?
This might sound like a rather bizarre question, yet, it is definitely a fascinating one since Maine Coon cats do change color! Before you get excited though, please keep in mind that a Maine Coons fur may change in color, but the Maine Coon pattern will stay the same.
Maine Coon Patterns
The Maine Coon can also come in a variety of different patterns.
Here is a comprehensive list of all the possible Maine Coon patterns.
- Solid: Solid colored cats have even coloration of a single color throughout their body.
- Shell: Shell cats have a white undercoat with very light tipping of another color on the back, tail, flanks, and head, as well as possibly on the face and head.
- Shaded: Shaded cats have a white undercoat with moderate tipping of another color on the sides, face, and tail.
- Smoke: Smoke cats have a white undercoat with deep tipping of another color on the sides, face, and tail.
- Bi-Color: Bi-color refers to a combination of any two colors on a cat’s coat.
- Tortoiseshell: A tortoiseshell cat has brindled patches of red and black (or their respective dilutes). Note that this coat pattern is only possible for females.
- Red or Black and White: Another possible bi-color pattern for Maine Coons is an underlying white coat with patches of either black or red (or their respective dilutes). This is where you can get Van or Tuxedo patterns.
- Tri-Color: Tri-color refers to a combination of any three colors on a cat’s coat. Tri-color coat combinations, however, are only possible in females.
- Calico: A calico cat has a base color of white with unbrindled patches of red and black (or their respective dilutes).
- Tortoiseshell and White: A tortoiseshell cat has a base color of white with brindled solid or tabby patches of red and black (or their respective dilutes).
- Tabby: Tabby cats have banded hairs which result in stripes. There are five different kinds of tabby markings.
- Agouti: The Agouti tabby, also known as the ticked tabby or Abyssinian tabby, appears solid at first glance. However, the individual hairs on the cat’s body are banded like a tabby, and the cat will still have distinctive tabby markings on its face.
- Spotted Tabby: Spotted tabbies will still have distinctive stripes on their face, but the tabby markings on the rest of their body are spotted.
- Classic Tabby: The classic tabby, also known as the marbled tabby, has thick stripes that form swirls or a bulls-eye on the cat’s sides.
- Mackerel Tabby: Mackerel tabbies have parallel stripes running down the sides of their body, but they can be broken into spots, as well. Mackerel tabby cats most closely resemble tigers.
- Patched Tabby: Patched tabbies can come in any of the above patterns, but will have a combination of two colors throughout the coat. This pattern is only possible in females (source 1).
Maine Coon Markings
Many people mistakenly believe that the distinctive “M” shape on a Maine Coon’s forehead is unique only to Maine Coons. However, this isn’t actually the case. This “M” shape is actually seen on all tabby cats.
Maine Coons are known for having a different kind of distinctive marking, however. Many Maine Coons have several dark rings around the base of their tail, which often makes them resemble raccoons.
Cat Coat Genetics
The genetics behind a cat’s coloration and pattern is actually quite complicated.
In cats, the main three possible colors are white, red, and black.
White coloration is actually caused by a lack of pigmentation in a cat’s fur and is determined by the KIT gene. A cat can only have as much white as one of its parents. For example, an entirely white cat must have at least one parent who is also all white.
Black and its dilutes are caused by a pigmentation known as eumelanin. Black dilution is caused by a recessive version of eumelanin. A cat whose parents both had recessive eumelanin genes can result in a diluted version of black.
Red and its dilute, cream, are caused by a pigmentation known as pheomelanin. This gene is different from eumelanin because it is sex-linked on the X chromosome. This means that a cat can only receive the red gene if its parent of the same sex also has that same gene.
Another interesting thing to note about the red gene is that red cats are always tabby. Even if a red or cream cat appears solid in color, that means it is a ticked tabby. Furthermore, red cats are more likely to be male than female, with about 75% of red cats being male.
Calico or tortoiseshell cats are cats who have both black and red coloration. However, this is only possible in female cats. The reason behind this is that the color is determined by a cat’s X chromosome, and since females contain two X chromosomes, they can receive one copy of each color.
Most Common Maine Coon Color
Surprisingly enough, the most common color in Maine Coon cats is black.
The classic image of a brown tabby Maine Coon causes many people to assume that the most common Maine Coon color is brown, but what a lot of people actually don’t know is that brown tabbies really are black!
The reason behind this is simple: a tabby cat’s true pigment is determined by the color of its stripes. Even though brown tabbies appear to be mostly brown, because their stripes are actually black, that means that, genetically, they are black in color.
Rarest Maine Coon Color
The two rarest Maine Coon coat colors are silver and gold.
These colors are caused by a rare gene known as an inhibitor gene, which allows the top part of a cat’s fur to be pigmented, while the bottom part of a cat’s fur is non pigmented, or white. This results in a white undercoat and a lightly tipped dilute of black or red on the top part of a cat’s fur, resulting in a color that often looks very much like silver or gold.
These colors are very difficult to produce, and while many breeders specialize in these colorations, they are very rare and highly sought after.
Popular Maine Coon Colors
While black Maine Coon tabbies are certainly the most common coloration, that doesn’t mean they’re the most popular. Here are the most sought-after colorations in Maine Coon cats.
- Silver: The silver coloration can come in either shell, shaded, or smoke. Shell is the lightest coloration, while smoke is the darkest. All of these color combinations are quite difficult to produce, however, and Maine Coons of these colors are very popular.
- Gold: Gold Maine Coons, like silver Maine Coons, can be either shell, shaded, or smoke. The gold coloration is more common than silver.
- Tortoiseshell or Calico: Tortoiseshell or calico Maine Coons are more difficult to breed than solid colors, and they look very beautiful. However, these color combinations are only possible in female cats.
- Cream: Cream cats are a dilute of red, which is a difficult yet beautiful color to produce.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a very rare yet gorgeous color that is a light dilute of the color black. A cinnamon cat appears light brown in color.
Maine Coon Color Calculator
Many breeders will use a Maine Coon color chart or color calculator to determine what two cats’ offspring may look like.
Using what you know about both parents’ coat and color genetics, you can then determine all of the possible outcomes for their offspring. While you can’t determine exactly what two cats’ kittens will look like, you can get an idea of all the different possible outcomes.
Color calculators are most reliable when you also know the parentage of each parent cat. A cat’s genotype isn’t always the same as its phenotype, meaning that there are some genetic factors that are outwardly visible, whereas there are others that aren’t.
For example, a cat might look black, but it carries the recessive allele that causes blue dilution. If two black cats both carry that same allele, their offspring could be blue.
For breeders who have a comprehensive ancestry of both breeding parents, this isn’t as much of a problem. If you’re doing it on your own, however, with no known information about either parent, then it’s important to note that your color calculator will have some limitations.
What Is A Blue Tabby Maine Coon?
A blue tabby Maine Coon is a kind of tabby cat (either ticked, mackerel, classic, or spotted) that is blue in color.
The color blue is the most common dilute of black, and while it technically appears dark grey in color, the official term amongst breeders is “blue.”
What Is A Tortie Maine Coon?
A tortie (or tortoiseshell) Maine Coon is a female Maine Coon cat that is both red and black (or their respective dilutes). The red and black colors will be brindled, meaning the colors will streak together. It is also possible for a tortoiseshell to have white markings.
Many people confuse tortoiseshells and calico cats. There are two main differences between tortoiseshells and calicos.
Calico cats are always tricolor, which means that they always have varying amounts of red, black, and white. Tortoiseshells, meanwhile, can either be just black and red, or they can be black and red with patches of white.
Secondly, calicos are unbrindled, which means that the patches of red and black are distinct from one another, and do not bleed together. The tortoiseshell, on the other hand, has brindled patches of black and red that bleed together.
One common myth among cat owners is known as “tortie-tude,” which suggests that tortoiseshell or calico cats are more likely to be feisty, independent, or rude. However, a cat’s temperament is not at all determined by its coat color or pattern.
One possible explanation for “tortie-tude” is that it’s the fault of the owners. Tortoiseshell and calico cats are seen as beautiful and highly sought after and are often the first to be adopted in shelters. As a result, many tortoiseshell and calico cats are pampered from a young age, and develop quite an attitude as they get older!
What Is A Shaded Maine Coon?
A shaded Maine Coon will have a white undercoat with moderate tipping of either silver or gold coloration throughout the body, typically on the sides, face, and tail.
It is caused by a rare inhibitor gene that makes the very base of the hair white, while the tip is colored.
What Is A Red Smoke Maine Coon?
A red smoke Maine Coon has a white undercoat with deep red tipping throughout the body.
A smoke Maine Coon is similar to a shaded Maine Coon, but the colored tipping reaches deeper into the fur, so that more of the hair is red than white, resulting in an overall darker appearance.
What Is The Difference Between A Tabby And A Maine Coon?
Many people mix up a cat’s coat pattern with its breed. It’s important to recognize that a cat’s coat color or pattern does not determine what kind of breed it is.
For example, there’s no such thing as a “tabby” breed of cat.
Maine Coon cats can be tabbies, but not all tabbies are Maine Coons. Furthermore, not every breed of cat can be a tabby.
For example, breeds with strict color and pattern standards, such as the Russian Blue or the Bombay, are incapable of being tabbies.
What Color Do Maine Coon Mixes Come In?
Maine Coon mixes can come in virtually any color. They can either be one of the dozens of color and pattern combinations of its Maine Coon parent, or any of the possible color combinations of its other parent.
For example, a Maine Coon and Siamese mix could either be one of the many Maine Coon colors, or it could be a colorpoint like its Siamese parent.
What Color Eyes Do Maine Coons Cats Have?
All cats are born with blue eyes that change color as they grow older, typically about eight weeks of age, and Maine Coons are no exception.
Most Maine coons have green, gold, or green-gold eyes. However, it is possible for white or parti-white cats to have blue or odd-eyes (where one eye is blue and the other is green, gold, or green-gold).
It is important to note that white cats with blue eyes are more likely to be deaf. If a cat is white with odd eyes, the ear on the same side of the blue eye is more likely to be deaf, as well.
This is because the gene responsible for white fur is pleiotropic, which means it is capable of having multiple effects on a cat. Sadly, one of those effects is that it can cause deafness.
There are countless beautiful Maine Coon colors and patterns! A lot of cat breeds have very rigid color and pattern criteria, but the Maine Coon comes in virtually every possible color and pattern combination available.
While tabbies and solid color cats are a lot more common, shaded silver and gold cats, as well as tortoiseshells and rare dilute versions of black and red are much rarer, and highly sought after.
While a cat’s markings and coloration may seem simple on the outside, however, they are actually determined by a lot of complicated genetics.
Do Maine Coons Change Color?
Maine Coons do not significantly change color, but it is possible for a kitten’s fur pigmentation to darken or lighten before it is fully grown.
Maine Coon Colors Australia
The breed standard of Maine Coon cats is stricter in Australia, as Maine Coons cannot be chocolate or lilac in color (source 1).