Educational Material / How can you tell if your cat really is a Maine Coon?

How Can you Tell if Your Cat Really is a Maine Coon?

by: Sarah Crosier

The Maine Coon cat has been called "the king of the domestic cat world". The breed is visually stunning with its beautiful long ruff, bushy "raccoon like" tail and large tufty paws. The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat and visitors to our house are shocked to discover our 2-year old male kitten has another 2-3 years to grow before he is classed as an adult. As well as the Maine Coon's striking physical appearance, the breed has an inquisitive, friendly and lively personality.

I've had many people ask the question, "I think my cat is at least part Maine Coon, how can I tell?"

This is how the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) answer the question on their website:

The Maine Coon is America's native longhair cat; it evolved naturally in response to the New England climate. Your cat's ancestors might be similar to the cats that founded the Maine Coon breed. However, it's impossible to tell from just looking at your cat if it is related to the Maine Coon or any other breed. Because the Maine Coon is a natural breed and hasn't been bred to the extremes, there are cats all over the world that resemble the Maine Coon. The only way to tell for sure if your cat is a Maine Coon is to look at the pedigree.

Ok, that may not help much because most people do know when they have a pedigree Maine Coon because they have papers verifying the pedigree.

So, if you don't have papers how can you tell if you have at least a part Maine Coon?

Firstly, these cats are not normal! They have distinctive personality traits and unique Maine Coon features. If your cat has some or all of the following, you can be sure you have a cat with dominant Maine Coon breeding:

Physical Features:

1. Head: Round in shape when viewed from the front, medium in width and longish in length. The muzzle is square and can look broad in more mature male cats.

2. Ears: Set high and well apart. They are large, and well tufted tapering to a point, in common with the Bobcat and the Lynx. The tufts on the ears are one of the classic signs of a Maine Coon.

3. Eyes: Large and wide set with a slightly oblique slanting to outer base of ear.

4. Body: Full maturation can take 4 to 5 years and allowances should be made when judging size of the cat. Overall, the body is muscular and broad chested. The body is well proportioned throughout, and there are no unusual "oddities" in relation to size proportion.

5. Legs and Feet: The legs are sturdy and substantial, and proportionate to the body. The paws are very large and well tufted. Tufts in between the toes are an essential feature for a Maine Coon. There are five toes on the front paws and four on the back.

6. Tail: This is the probably the most unmistakable feature of the Maine Coon. The tail is long and should run the length of the body when at least as long as the neck. Originally, when Maine Coons lived as farm cats, the tail would cover the whole body and act as a kind of furry sleeping bag in the winter. The fur is also thick and long. It has been said that the name "coon" comes from "raccoon" because of the similarities of the tails of the two animals.

7. Coat: Heavy and shaggy, medium to longhaired and uneven in length. The fur is shorter on the shoulders and longer on the stomach. A frontal ruff is desirable although there is a marked variation in the length of ruff, depending on the particular line.

Unique Personality Traits

Here are 3 classic Maine Coon characteristics:

Dog like behavior: Common behavior is they will follow you around, they will sit at your feet, will come to greet you (whenever you've been out), they will fetch and retrieve if trained, they will also carry favorite objects such as a toy stick in the mouth and drop it at your feet. Like a dog, it is usual for the Maine Coon to stretch up on its back legs resting its front paws above the waist to demand a stroke from the owners.

Protective of his home: Can be rather suspicious and extremely curious, a little bit like a police "sniffer" dog checking bags for illegal substances. Although, this is an obvious exaggeration, we have found that non-cat loving visitors are not completely at ease with persistent investigations into their personal belongings.

Supervisor role: This is what we call the constant shadowing behavior of the Maine Coon, when something is happening in the house, such as computer work, housework, assembling furniture, or just about anything where people are moving about. The only way to discourage him/her from joining in is to finish the task when he goes off for a sleep!

In summary, if your cat looks like a Maine Coon and acts like a Maine Coon, you definitely have a part or even full Maine Coon.

Copyright 2006 Sarah Crosier

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