Tabby Maine Coon: Complete Guide


With over 75 different shades of fur to choose from, it can often feel hard to decide which Maine Coon coloring you love the most.

Even if you do settle on buying a Maine Coon with tabby patterns, you then have to decide whether you are after a tabby Maine Coon with either a classic, mackerel, or ticked pattern.

Maine Coons are available in a large range of different colors and patterns, which can be solid, tabby, shaded, or tortie. The Tabby Maine Coon pattern is the most popular to own. These cats will have either a ticked, mackerel, or classic pattern across their fur, and are available in a wide range of different color classes e.g. brown patched tabby, blue-silver-tabby, cameo tabby, etc.

Whichever color class you prefer though, this extremely popular large cat has won the hearts of millions of owners worldwide.

Chances are that your Maine Coon will have an element of tabby patterns, even if you don’t realize they do!

Keep reading to find out why.

Maine Coon Cats

The Maine Coon cat originates from Wiscasset, in the United States.

They are the oldest natural living cat breed in North America and are well known for their large proportions, and docile gentle characteristics.

Loved by millions of people worldwide, this increasingly popular cat breed is now considered the third most popular cat breed to own in the United States.

This regal-looking breed is known for being one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in existence.

Their size is only rivaled by the Norwegian Forest Cat, which many suspect the Maine Coon cat is a descendant of.

Tabby Maine Coon

Despite their history is shrouded in mystery, the first Maine Coons to have appeared in Wiscasset (Maine) in the 1800s are thought to have had a tabby Maine Coon pattern.

Tabby Maine Coons are thus considered the original Maine Coon pattern.

The tabby Maine Coon is the most common pattern of Maine Coon kitten, or cat available, and also the most popular.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, Tabby Maine Coons have three different patterns:

  • Classic Tabby: Swirl markings over fur. Blotched markings.
  • Mackerel Tabby: Stripes are visible across their fur
  • Ticked Tabby: Known as agouti. Their fur has bands of color

Tabby Maine Coon Patterns

When selecting a tabby Maine Coon, owners will need to decide if they wish their cat to have stripes, spots, or swirl markings on their fur.

In order to help you decide, take a look at the table below which identifies the key differences between the three tabby Maine Coon patterns:

PatternDescription
ClassicClassic tabbies have clearly defined dense markings,
which are often broad. Blotches on side of the cat look
like ‘targets’ and butterfly wing patterns that cover
their shoulders. They have ‘M’ marking on their forehead
and swirls on their cheeks. Vertical lines on the back of
the head, extending to shoulder markings which are in
the shape of a butterfly. Legs are evenly barred with
bracelets coming up to meet body markings. Evenly
ringed tail. Unbroken necklaces on the neck and upper
chest. A vertical line down the cat’s spine, with a vertical
stripe paralleling it on both sides. ‘Target’ on both sides,
formed by solid blotch on each side, which has an
unbroken circle around it
MackerelMackerel tabbies have clearly defined dense markings.
All narrow pencillings. They have ‘M’ markings on their
forehead. Lines running down the cat’s head, meeting
shoulders. Narrow saddle visible, from spine lines running
down back. The tail is barred. Distinct necklaces around
neck and chest. Legs evenly barred with narrow bracelets
coming up to meet the body markings
TickedPronounced ticking on the body. Darkening at the dorsal
crest is apparent when viewed from above, but otherwise
free from pattern, or noticeable blotches, stripes, or spots.
Fur ticked with varying shades. Tabby markings are clear
on legs and face, but lighter on the underside
SpottedSimilar to the mackerel or classic pattern, except for the
fact that their swirls and stripes look broken into spots
of color. A great example of a spotted pattern, are Ocicats
Tabby Maine Coon Patterns

How To Identify A Tabby Maine Coon

Many people assume the phrase ‘tabby Maine Coon’ refers to the color of a cat, when in fact the word ‘tabby’ actually refers to the pattern of stripes, spots, and swirls visible on a cat’s fur.

There are four classifications of tabby Maine Coon:

  • Classic
  • Mackerel
  • Ticked
  • Spotted

Each of these classifications has a large number of color variants under its banner, meaning that tabbies can come in a wide number of color variations, from silver to orange.

There is a tabby Maine Coon color for everyone.

With such a large number of tabby color variations though, it’s not the least bit surprising that the majority of Maine Coon cats are considered to be tabbies.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, tabby Maine Coon can be found in the following color categories:

To get a better understanding of the tabby color variants, we will now look at the color classes separately below.

1. Brown Tabby Maine Coon

The first Maine Coons to arrive in Northern America were thought to have had brown tabby fur. The brown tabby is thus considered to be the classic Maine Coon color.

Brown tabby Maine Coons are very common, easy to breed, and commonly mistaken for non-Maine Coon tabbies due to their similar colorings.

According to the ‘Cat Fanciers Association’, brown tabby Maine Coon cats are included within the following color classes:

  • Brown
  • Brown Patched
  • Brown and White
  • Brown Patched and White

The table below summarises these color classes in greater detail (source 1):

Color ClassDescription
BrownBrown tabbies can have classic,
ticked, or mackerel patterns. They
have a brilliant coppery brown ground
color, with dense black markings.
They have white trims around their
chin and lips, and black or brown nose
leather and paw pads. The back
of their legs are black from their paw
to their heel
Brown
Patched
Brown-patched tabbies can have
classic, ticked, or mackerel patterns.
They have a brilliant coppery brown
ground color and densely black
markings with patches of red. Their
nose leather and paw pads are either
brick red, black, or brown
Brown
and White
Same markings as a brown patched
tabby, apart from all four paws, belly
and bib may have white the fur on
them. Some brown and white tabbies
have fur on their faces that is white
Brown
Patched
and White
Brown-patched tabby cats have a
brilliant coppery brown ground color.
They have a black tabby pattern,
with patches of red
Tabby Maine Coon Color Classes

Here is a picture of our Maine Coon called ‘Pippin’.

I regard him as a brown patched tabby. If you look closely, you will see his cute little red nose leather:

Brown Tabby Maine Coon
Brown Tabby Maine Coon

2. Silver Tabby Maine Coon

The silver tabby looks very noble like they are the King or Queen of the Maine Coon breed. Their beautiful features are mesmerizing, whilst their fur can often look like soft dappled snow.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the silver tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classes (source 1):

  • Silver Tabby
  • Silver Patched Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Patched Tabby
  • Cream Silver Tabby
  • Silver Tabby and White
  • Silver Patched Tabby and White

The table below summarises these colors classes in greater detail (source 1):

Color
Class
Description
Silver
Tabby
Has a classic, mackerel or
ticked pattern, with dense black
markings. Pale, clear silver ground
color. White trim around chin and
lips. Ideally has brick red nose
leather and black paw pads
Silver
Patched
Tabby
Has a classic, mackerel, or ticked
pattern, with dense black markings
that are patched with red and/or
cream. Pale, clear silver ground
color. White trim around chin and
lip, with brick red nose leather,
and black and/or pink paw pads
Blue-Silver
Tabby
Has a classic, mackerel, or ticked
pattern, with deep blue markings
that contrast well with pale, clear
silver ground color. White trim
around chin and lip, with old,
rose-colored nose leather and
rose paw pads
Blue-Silver
Patched
Tabby
Classic, mackerel, or ticked
pattern, with deep blue markings
that are patched with cream. The
the white undercoat, with pale,
clear silver ground color. White
trim around chin and lips and old
rose nose leather and rose and/or
pink paw pads
Cream
Silver
Tabby
Classic, mackerel, or ticked pattern,
with a white undercoat and
off-white ground color. Cream
markings, and pink paw pads, and
nose leather. Chin and lips are the
same shade as the rings around
the cat’s eyes
Silver
Tabby
and
White
Classic, mackerel, or ticked pattern.
Will have white on all four feet, belly,
and bib. Coloring as defined for the
silver tabby, with/without white on
the face
Silver
Patched
Tabby and
White
Classic, mackerel, or ticked pattern.
The same color as silver patched
tabby (also known as torbie),
with/without white on their face.
Belly, bib and all four feet must
have white on them
Silver Tabby Maine Coon Color Classes

Here is a picture of a beautiful silver tabby Maine coon.

As you can see, the cat’s eyes are outlined in black, and their nose leather is a gentle rose/red color.

They also have a mixture of black markings across the cat’s face, with a white chin.

3. Red Tabby Maine Coon

When you think of a ‘red’ tabby Maine Coon, you are likely envisioning a cat that looks red like the traditional English postbox, or a fresh red berry ready to be eaten, or tasty bright red juicy tomato.

Before I get carried away with myself, I best set the record straight! …

The fact of the matter is that the ‘red’ Maine Coon coloring refers to cats that have a mixture of ginger and orange coloring in their fur.

Since the majority of cat owners do not know the difference, they tend to call their ‘red’ Maine Coon, and ‘orange Maine Coon’.

For more information on the ‘Orange Maine Coon‘, take a look at my complete guide here.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the ‘red’ tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classes (source 1):

  • Red Tabby
  • Red Tabby and White

Please note that a number of other Maine Coon colors include ‘red’, but these have not been listed above, since the color ‘red’ is not listed within their primary name.

The table below summarises the key differences between these red Maine Coon classifications (source 1):

Red Tabby
Color

Class
Description
Red
Tabby
These cats have a classic, mackerel,
or ticked patterns, with deep rich
red markings. They have a red ground
color, with white trim around their chin
and lips, and brick red paw pads ad
nose leather
Red Tabby
and White
These cats have classic, mackerel,
or ticked patterns. Their color is as
defined for the red tabby, but
with/without white on their faces.
All four feet, bib, and belly must
have white on
Tabby Maine Coon

Here is a picture of an adorable red tabby. This gorgeous Maine Coon has clear stripe patterns across its entire body, and a clear ‘M’ marking on its forehead.

If you look closely you will see their rose-colored nose leather and paw pads.

Red Tabby Maine Coon
Red Tabby Maine Coon

4. Blue Tabby Maine Coon

Whilst some blue Maine Coons do actually look blue in color whilst resting, many other cats included within this official color classification do not.

Instead, they are commonly mistaken for being ‘grey’.

But, ‘grey’ isn’t actually an official Maine Coon color at all. If you are interested in finding out more, read my article “Grey Maine Coons Don’t Actually Exist!“.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the blue Maine Coon is included within the following color classes:

  • Blue-Silver Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Patched Tabby
  • Blue Tabby
  • Blue Patched Tabby

The table below looks at these color classifications in great depth (source 1)

Color ClassDescription
Blue-Silver
Tabby
The blue-silver-tabby has a classic,
mackerel or ticked patterns, with
deep blue markings. Their ground
color is pale, clear silver. Their chin
and lips have white trim, and their
paw pads are rose-colored, and
nose leather old rose
Blue-Silver
Patched
Tabby
The blue-silver patched tabby has
a classic, mackerel or ticked pattern,
with deep blue markings and
patches of cream. They have a pale,
clear silver ground color, and a white
undercoat. Their chin and lips have
white trim around them, and their
paw pads are rose and/or pink. They
often have an old rose-colored nose
leather
Blue TabbyThe blue-tabby has a classic,
mackerel, or ticked pattern, with very
deep blue markings that contrast
well with their pale bluish ivory ground
color. Cats’ fur has warm fawn
overtones or patina over their entire
body. They have white trim around
their chin and lips, an old rose-colored
nose leather, and rose paw pads
Blue Patched
Tabby
The blue patched tabby has a classic,
mackerel, or ticked patterns, with very
deep blue markings that have patches
of cream running through them. They
have a pale bluish ivory ground color
and warm fawn overtones or patina
over their entire body. Their chin and
lips have white trim, whilst their nose
leather is an old rose in color and their
paw pads are rose and/or pink
Blue Tabby Maine Coon Color Class

Here is a picture of a stunning blue Maine Coon kitten.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down a suitable picture of the blue Maine Coon tabby for you. When I find one, I will insert the picture into this article for you.

What you can appreciate in this picture is that the cat whilst in repose looks extremely blue in color.

They have cream/white shades through their coat, cheeks, and all four paws. This cat also has a pale bluish silver ground color.

Blue-Maine-Coon-Flickr-Credit-for-photo-goes-to-Maine-Coon-Castle
Blue Maine Coon – Flickr – Credit for the photo goes to ‘Maine Coon Castle’

5. Cream Tabby Maine Coon

The cream Maine Coon tabby is a very eye-catching feline. If you look at their entire body, you spot multiple patches of solid cream coloring, often intermingled with other colors such as white, silver, or grey.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the cream tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classifications:

  • Cream Tabby
  • Cream Silver Tabby

The table below summarises these two color classifications in greater detail (source 1):

Color
Class
Description
Cream
Tabby
The cream-tabby has a classic,
mackerel or ticked patterns,
with buff or cream markings
that are adequately darker
than their pale cream ground
color, to contrast well. They
have white chin and lip trim,
and pink nose leather and
paw pads
Cream
Silver

Tabby
The cream silver tabby has a
classic, mackerel or ticked
patterns, with cream markings
and off-white ground color.
They have a white undercoat,
and their chin and lips are
the same shade as the rings
around their eyes. Often
have pink nose leather and
paw pads
Cream Tabby Maine Coon Color Classes

Do All Maine Coons Have An M On Their Forehead?

Tabby Maine Coons have ‘mascara-like’ markings across their faces, which make them look very distinctive.

If you look a little closer though, you may have noticed an ‘M’ shape marking across their forehead, which is distinctive because the fur in this area is darker.

This ‘M’ shaped marking only appears on the tabby patterned Maine Coon cats.

If you look at the picture below, you can see a clear ‘M’ which is darker in color, than the rest of the cat’s body.

Tabby Maine Coon Genetics

The Maine Coon cat’s genetics are often considered to be very complex since there are a number of variables to consider.

What is clear though, is that this breed has a varied and wide-ranging group of both recessive and dominant genes (source 1).

a) High Level Terms

Before we get into the details, let’s cover the high-level terms that are referred to when people talk about cats genetics:

  • Pattern: When a breeder says the word ‘pattern’, they are simply referring to whether the Maine Coon is a tabby, smoke, or shaded, etc.
  • Color: This refers to the cat’s solid color e.g. whether the Maine Coon is cream, red, blue, or black.
  • Color/Pattern: A term used when both pattern and color are affected.

b) Male and Female Genetics

The next important factor to cover is the difference between a male and female cats genetic differences:

  • Male: A cat’s mother is also known as ‘the dam’. She gives her kittens both of their color genes. This effectively means that the male offspring in every litter will “always be either the color of the dam, or one of the colors in the case of parti-colors, or the dilute form of the dam’s color’ (source 1).
  • Female: Your female kitten receives their color genes from both of their parents, which means that they always have a combination of the sire’s and dam’s colors or a diluted form of both.

c) Kitten Colors

A kitten’s color is only determined by its parent’s coloring, not its family’s genetics.

The only gene to buck this rule is the colorpoint gene which can be passed down through family genetics, for a number of generations.

d) Kitten Pattern

A kitten’s pattern is inherited from either of its parents.

Should one of their parents have a dominant color or pattern, like tabby, smoke, bi-color, or shaded, etc, the kitten will also have these colors/patterns.

This is because dominant characteristics are not able to skip a generation.

e) Tabby Maine Coon

All domestic cats have an underlying genetic tabby pattern because they are descendants of a mackerel tabby-patterned cat.

If you cannot see any tabby markings, this is simply because the cat has a masking gene that prevents the tabby pattern from showing.

All cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes, which determine every aspect of them, including their color, pattern, and size.

The dominant genes are expressed in capital letters, and the recessive genes are represented by lowercase letters.

The tabby Maine Coon (and Agouti) have mixed genes that are expressed as A and a. The dominant gene in these cats will always show.

However, whilst they appear to be tabby (Agouti), cat-like this is still able to produce non-Agouti or solid cats that do not have any tabby patterns.

This is only possible when they mate with another cat carrying an ‘a’ or recessive gene though (source 1).

Tabby Maine Coon Kittens For Sale

If you are interested in buying a tabby Maine Coon kitten, read my article “Registered Maine Coon Breeders You Can Trust“, to find your nearest registered Maine Coon breeders.

Whilst a quick Google might show you multiple places to buy your perfect tabby Maine Coon kitten, I strongly recommend that you do not rush into a decision quickly.

Instead, contact your local Maine Coon registered breeder first, to see what kittens they have available.

Although registered breeders cost more, they are the recommended channel for purchasing a pedigree Maine Coon kitten, since they are often cat fanatics themselves, and care very deeply about the cats they sell.

It is also less likely that you will be scammed, since these breeders usually only sell purebred Maine Coons, rather than mix-breed Coons.

The breeding cats will also have been scanned, to make sure that they are not carriers of genetic defects associated with this particular cat breed.

For a full guide to buying a Maine Coon cat, take a look at my article: “Buying A Maine Coon Cat: Complete Guide“.

Avoid buying a tabby Maine Coon kitten from the following sources:

  • Pet Shop
  • Gumtree
  • Craigslist
  • Backyard Breeders (BYB)

Grey Tabby Maine Coon

Yes, I accept some Maine Coons might look like they are ‘grey’ in color, but they aren’t really!

In fact, did you know that they are instead called ‘Blue Maine Coons’?! Yes, it’s hard to believe!

Find out why there is no such thing as the grey tabby Maine Coon in my article “Grey Maine Coon Cats Don’t Actually Exist!“.

Conclusion

Tabby Maine Coon cats can be found in a wide range of different patterns, such as striped and spotted. They also come in a variety of colors, ranging from red to blue.

The choice is endless!

The tabby pattern is very common in the Maine Coon cat breed, since all cats carry the tabby pattern genetics, whether they are visible or not.

Tabbies have mixed genes Aa, and the tabby gene is considered dominant.

Tabby Maine Coons are one of the most popular patterns to own, most likely because their distinct markings are extremely eye-catching, and beautiful.

Why not discover more about the other Maine Coon colors

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self-confessed CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 9 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend!

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