Did you recently become a parent to a fine feline or kitten that appears to be a Maine Coon? Or maybe it’s a cattery or another person claiming a cat is a mixed Maine Coon.
It’s unfortunate that unscrupulous people will sometimes misrepresent a cat’s breed. Even well-meaning people can make mistakes if they don’t have access to a cat’s full records. How can you know for sure?
A purebred Maine Coon is often easily recognizable using physical appearance and personality. Pedigreed Maine Coons are even easier to identify because breeders need to supply lineage paperwork.
As far as a mixed cat, the only way to confirm Maine Coon DNA 100% is with a genetic test. However, I have some other easy methods for how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon!
This definitive checklist of Maine Coon cat characteristics cuts through the fluff to get to the truth. Let’s learn how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon!
What Does a Maine Coon Cat Look Like – Physical Appearance
What do Maine Coon cats look like? Most people can instantly recognize a Maine Coon just by catching a glimpse of that signature shaggy fur.
However, this stunning breed offers so much more than just a remarkable coat. Let’s dive into the physical characteristics that make it clear you’re dealing with a pure Maine beauty.
Size and Weight
Maine Coons can be all over the map with their size and weight. The Maine Coon is actually the largest non-hybrid cat breed.
It was the largest cat breed of all before being knocked down by the Savannah cat during the 1980s. Let’s talk about weight, length, and height.
Male Maine Coon cats typically weigh between 13 pounds and 18 pounds. Most females range from 8 pounds to 12 pounds.
If you’ve been following along, you know that my own female Maine Coon now weighs 15 pounds. This propensity toward putting on weight is one of the reasons why we have to keep our Maine Coons active and properly fed.
These lovelies are also long. The average Maine Coon’s top-to-tail length can reach up to 40 inches. Maine Coon standing height ranges from 10 inches to 16 inches. Maine Coons look like large, majestic beasts, basically.
Maine Coons are generally known for their solid, muscular builds. It’s easy to overlook the Adonis-like build of a Maine Coon while being distracted by a fluffy, puffy coat.
In reality, Maine Coons have a rectangular shape. However, there’s a neat fact to know if you’re bringing home a kitten.
While most cat breeds reach full maturity in about a year, the Maine Coon is quite slow to psychically mature. They keep remnants of their “kitten” bodies for up to five years before turning into the physical specimens they are known for being.
A Maine Coon’s coat is its glory! A Maine Coon has a thick, luxurious coat that has a slightly shaggy look. You’ll notice that the mane is longer on the neck, belly, and hind legs. A purebred Maine Coon will not have short hair.
Most Maine Coons have something known as a double coat that consists of an undercoat and top layer. Known as a guard layer, the top coat is made up of oily fur that has natural water-repellent and dirt-repellent properties.
The undercoat is made from shorter, denser layers that provide insulation against cold temperatures by trapping air.
Coat Color or Patterns
You may be wondering how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon based on coat color. You can’t!
Coat color isn’t a reliable indicator for Maine Coons because this breed can take on more than 70 different color combinations and patterns. In fact, a prismatic coat is one of the most alluring characteristics of Maine Coon cats.
Maine Coons are known for wide-set, almond-shaped eyes that are downright mesmerizing. Like coat color, eye color can be complex with Maine Coons vs normal cats.
Their big eyes can be gold, green, yellow, blue, or an “odd” color made from a combination of blue, gold, or green. I personally find the expression within a Maine Coon’s eyes to be one of curiosity and quiet knowing.
Eye color isn’t settled just because your Maine Coon kitten has blue eyes. While all Maine Coons are born with blue peepers, most change eye color as they mature.
What’s so special about a Maine Coon’s ears? A Maine Coon cat’s ears are actually responsible for the “wild” look of this breed.
It just takes one look to realize that their ears closely resemble the tufted ears of a lynx cat, with fur sticking out up and on the sides.
Head and Face Shape
The Maine Coon has a broad, square head shape with just the right amount of elongation to create a sleek, strong profile instead of creating a boxy look.
You’ll also notice a slight curvature within the forehead. While the breed’s muzzle is also quite square, the concave shape of the profile helps to create a triangle effect.
The tail is one of my favorite characteristics of Maine Coon cats! This breed is known for its bushy and spectacular tail.
In fact, the “wild” tail on this cat once caused people to believe that the breed was actually the result of crossing domestic cats with raccoons! A Maine Coon’s tail can range from 11 inches to 16 inches in length.
Adding to the lynx-like appearance of the Maine Coon breed, the paws feature tufts of fur between their toes. These tufts help to protect the Maine Coon’s paw pads from cold snow and ice.
Maine Coons are also known to have a little something extra in the paw department. Maine Coons are noted for showing increased incidence of polydactylism compared to other breeds.
Polydactylism refers to having extra fingers or toes on the paw. While this isn’t a sure sign that you have a Maine Coon, seeing those extra digits could provide additional confirmation about your cat’s breed.
One of the easiest ways to confirm that your cat is truly a Maine Coon is that she will keep her kitten features for a long time.
While other breeds become full-grown cats within a year, Maine Coons evolve into gentle giants slowly over the course of three to five years. This is actually one of the best ways to identify a Maine Coon kitten.
How to Tell If Your Cat is a Maine Coon – Personality
A Maine Coon cat has a big personality to match her big body! While these cats are built like machines, owners of Maine Coons know that they’re gentle like a cloud.
Let’s talk about the personality signs to look for when confirming that your cat is a Maine Coon.
The Gentle Giant
Maine Coon cats have earned the title of “gentle giant” for good reason! While this breed has a fierce and mighty body, you won’t catch your Maine Coon throwing its weight around to intimidate others.
This breed has one of the sweetest dispositions of any cat breed. Mild and intelligent, Maine Coons love to be by your side, go for a stroll on a leash, or learn some fun games.
Friendly and Affectionate
A Maine Coon cat is a great family pet! My own experience with living with a Maine Coon cat has shown me that this breed loves to cuddle (sometimes).
However, I will say that the spirited, curious nature of this breed means that it’s important to fit in plenty of structured play time. A cat tree is a must for giving a Maine Coon their personal spot for scratching, climbing, and surveying the room.
Sociable With People
Maine Coon cats are generally very sociable and friendly. They tend to come around when people are are congregating. However, every cat develops a unique personality.
That means you can’t bet on getting a social butterfly just because this breed is known for being sociable.
Having a Maine Coon is a bit like having a cat that’s also a dog. What I mean by this is that this breed is extremely loyal. This dog-like level of loyalty is exactly why I can take my Maine Coon walking or traveling.
While it’s common for a Maine Coon to be sweet with every member of the family, they tend to pick one specific human in the household to bond with in a special way. This special human can expect to be followed from room to room!
How to Tell If a Cat is a Maine Coon Cat – Behavior
There are two behaviors that are specific to Maine Coons.
The first is that Maine Coons are water babies. Unlike most cat breeds, Maine Coons are captivated by water. So if your cat is built like this, it’s a good indicator!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught my cat staring at a dripping faucet, eyeing a glass of water, or joyfully playing with her water bowl. She’ll also jump into an empty bathtub and lie in it, expecting me to turn on the water. (Guilty!)
I’ve even heard from fellow Maine Coon parents that their cats attempt to turn on sink faucet or try to climb into the shower with them.
The second core Maine Coon behavior has to do with vocalizations.
Maine Coons actually have their own distinct language within the cat world. Something called trilling is the most distinct Maine Coon vocalization.
A social behavior, trilling is defined by its high-pitched, repetitive sounds that pop up in short bursts. My Maine Coon does it most while bird watching outside. I can’t tell if she is doing a bad job at luring them over or if she’s tell me “Look at the birds. Look at the birds!”
Trilling and chirping sounds both indicate that a Maine Coon is happy and excited. Maine Coons meow like all other cats too, of course but it might be less (and at a higher octave) than you’d expect.
How to Tell If a Cat Is a Maine Coon Mix (or Part Maine Coon)
Are you wondering “is my cat part Maine Coon?” after seeing that they have more than a few of the common characteristics of Maine coon cats?
Well, you may have a mixed Maine coon cat on your hands. Face and head shape, coat length, paw tufts, ear tufts and a decent size are some of the nonnegotiable features of a Maine Coon.
Purebred Maine Coon cats have a standard build that rarely deviates. While runts of a litter and small Maine Coons exist, the fact is most are larger and thicker appearing vs a regular cat. Yes, even females.
Another way to get tricked into thinking your cat is a Maine Coon is to rely solely on the coat to match the breed.
It’s easy to assume that any medium or long coat with a bushy tail makes your cat a Maine Coon. However, all cats share the coat and patterns of the Maine Coon, because they come in all colors and patterns!
Some cat breeds that are commonly mistaken for Maine Coons based on coat include the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Ragdoll, Siberian Cat, and Angora.
Why You Should Know If Your Cat Is a Maine Coon Mix
I get emails asking if a cat is part Maine Coon, but I was hesitant to make a post on this topic because I don’t want to come across as elitist when it comes to cat breeds.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with a Maine Coon mix. A mixed Maine Coon cat or any cat can offer the same beauty, intelligence, and personality as a purebred Maine Coon.
Wanting to learn how to tell if your cat is a “real” Maine Coon simply for prestige and status reasons is the wrong way to go. Any cat in your home can be an amazing companion that’s worthy of all the love in the world.
Why do I think it’s still important to identify if your cat is a true Maine Coon? There’s actually a practical reason.
Purebred and part Maine Coons are more susceptible to certain medical conditions. You might not know to look for symptoms of these conditions if you’re unaware of your cat’s breed.
In fact, I recommend having a chat with your cat’s veterinarian regarding three specific health conditions affecting Maine Coons. These conditions are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), hip dysplasia, and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
I’m Gary Hu, a proud cat dad to a 15 lb Maine Coon. Have taken care of outdoor and indoor cats for over 10 years, and learned tons on behavior, habits, health, and products. I help new Maine Coon (or any other cat) parents with common questions and issues based on real, practical experience.