Is my cat a Maine coon? This is not an uncommon question among cat owners. The Maine coon is a semi-long hair domestic cat with many distinctive features and funny personality quirks. Who wouldn’t want their furry friend to be part of the coon family?
So, why is it important to know if my cat is a really a Maine Coon? Well, because of years of breeding pedigree cats means that the coon is at risk of certain genetic health conditions which they should be tested for. You may have got yourself a kitten and be wondering what to expect from them as they grow up. You may be about to get pet insurance and therefore need to know the breed of cat (see more about pet insurance on my article: How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost For a Maine Coon?) . Here I’ll talk you through all of the main characteristics so that you can try and answer the question, is my cat a Maine coon?
First of all, let’s look at their appearance. Apart from their obvious larger size, Maine coons have certain bodily features which distinguish them from other cats. Over the years this has helped them survive in cold climates out in the wild. Listed below are the common physical characteristics of a pure-bred Maine coon.
Semi-long haired breed which evolved to withstand harsh climates. They have a heavy, glossy two-layered coat which is resistant to water. There is a prominent ruff of fur which runs along it’s chest and becomes more developed with age. The hair is shorter around the shoulders. There is a long, shaggy coat which runs along the belly.
Maine coon colouring is extremely variable; there are over 75 possible colour combinations! They traditionally come in all colours with the exception of white. Solid colouring is common (black, grey, ginger, blue-grey), as are those with tabby and tortoiseshell patterning. White Maine coons are specially bred for their appearance but they are unable to pass on their colour to their progeny.
In younger cats and Kittens the shape of the head is one of the easiest features to spot. The head is slightly longer than it is wide, with prominent cheekbones and a firm chin. The side profile appears smooth and continuous. A Maine coon stud will have a big, strong, prominent jaw whereas a cat that was neutered at a young age will have much softer features.
Maine coons have large ears which are set high on the head. They are wider at the base and tilt slightly outwards. The ears are only moderately pointed but the point is exaggerated by distinctive lynx tips.
The eyes are one of the most distinctive features of a Maine coon. They have big, expressive eyes which are wide-set and at an angle. They are oval in shape but can appear to be round when the eye is wide open. The colouring of the eyes shows no relation to the colour and pattern of the fur coat, except in those with white fur. In general eye colouring is green, gold, blue or coppery in colour. You can also find Maine coons with eyes of two different colours and this is more commonly seen in those with a white coat.
The Maine coon has a large, muscular frame with a broad chest. The legs are powerful and medium-height to form a rectangle with the body. Their paws are large and round and have tufts of fur between the claws. Some Maine coon cats exhibit a polydactyl trait which causes the development of extra toes and claws on the feet.
Maine coons have a large, bushy tail which is as long as their body. It is wider at the base and tapers at the tip.
The Maine coon is the largest of the domestic cat breeds. They do not reach their full size until they are 3-5 years old. The males are noticeably larger than the females. If you look across the internet there are numerous values quotes for the average weight. In truth a male can be healthy anywhere up to about 20lbs in weight and a female usually less than this at around 10-15 lbs. Similarly they can vary in length substantially. The average height is somewhere between 10 and 13 inches.
Maine coons have a range of funny sounds which they will often choose over the usual meow. They can be very talkative creatures however it can be said that they are also very good at listening too. It is much more common to hear a trill or a chirp when your furry friend wants to communicate with you. A trill sound is a combination of meowing and purring at the same time so you will usually hear this sound when your cat is happy. The noise that your coon chooses to make may also depend on their size with smaller coons often making squeaky sounding noises and the larger ones making more of a lion-like roaring sound.
Now let’s look at the behavioural characteristics shown by Maine coons.
Maine coons are very smart cats. They exhibit dog-like behaviours such as following their owner from room to room and fetching small objects when thrown. They are also happy to try and learn tricks. Generally, they are not lap cats; they like to sit with you and next to you rather than on you.
They commonly have funny habits when drinking water. They will often put their paws in the water and flick it about. This may be because they don’t like to get their face wet. They also like to sleep on their backs with their belly on show which is not common of other cats. Maine coons are also great at hunting so you may find them leaving you little gifts on the doorstep.
I was talking to another experienced Maine coon owner online and they joked that the best indication of whether you cat is a Maine coon is by the food bill at the end of their first year. This particular breed of cat is hungry! This is probably somewhat due to their large size but even so can be disproportionate.
So, is my cat a Maine coon?
In conclusion, the only way to know for sure if you cat is really a Maine coon is by performing DNA testing. The features above are common to the Maine coon breed but other breeds of domestic cat can also exhibit some of these features. It is not until a cat reaches the at least the age of nine months that they start to exhibit their adult behaviours. If your furry friend has ticked all the boxes as you’ve read through this article then you’ve more than likely got yourself a coon-cross at they very least.
Have a discussion with your vet to find out about genetic testing as this may become important for health and insurance purposes. For more information about how much it costs to insure a Maine coon then please take a look at my article which contains specific examples which you may find helpful.