how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon

If you’re wondering how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon, or even a HALF Maine Coon, then this article is for you.

The Maine Coon is very popular and one of the most sought-after Pedigree cats in the registry. There’s no refuting the reasons why everyone would want one in their home. They’re simply the best cat that you could ever want.

Maine coon breeders very commonly receive a message or a comment asking “Is this a Maine Coon?” Or “Do you think this cat has Maine Coon in it”? So I wanted to explain some very easy ways how to tell if you have a real Maine Coon or not.

The M on the Forehead – The Greatest Myth of All

For some reason, it has become a belief that Maine Coons will have an “M” on their forehead. The theory is that the “M” Stands for “Maine Coon. This is so far from the facts. For clarification purposes, the “M” on the Forehead of the cat that people refer to actually is indicative of a tabby pattern. The tabby pattern can be found on ANY breed of cat, including a Moggie. Even with a tabby pattern, the “M” isn’t always clear and visible.

in the photo gallery below, there are examples of 3 different cats or kittens. None of them are Maine Coon cats. They’re domesticated shorthair cats with the tabby pattern. As you can clearly see, they have what appears to be an “M” on their forehead.

FUN FACT: “tabby” isn’t a breed of cat, rather a Pattern that cats exhibit in their coat.

While there are at least 84 Maine Coon Color and Pattern combinations, there’s no pattern that is exclusive to a Maine Coon. So looking for an “M” on the forehead of a Maine Coon will never be evidence that the cat you’re looking at is a Pedigree Maine Coon. That is purely a myth.

Signature Maine Coon Trademarks

The Maine Coon cat is a very striking cat. It has specific physical attributes that are identifiers to the breed, but not exclusive. There are a few that we will talk about now.

The Ear Furnishings

The Maine Coon has a dense coat of fur. The coat is typically shorter on the back and shoulders and long and shaggy on the belly, britches and around the neck.

The ears of a Maine Coon should have ear furnishings in the inside of the ear that extends beyond the rim of the ear. The tips of the ears should have “lynx” tips. Depending on the bloodlines, these 2 features of the ears can be dramatic or subtle.

Long, flowing tail

The tail of the Maine Coon is very luxurious and beautiful. The length of the tail should be as long as the cat’s body, able to reach the back of the neck. The fur on the tail is very long and flowing. When the cat walks with its tail in the air, the fur bounces around blows in the wind and looks like a giant bottle brush. It’s thicker and fuller than MOST ponytails on a human. T t’s simply gorgeous.

Long, Thick Coat of Fur

The Maine Coon does have a nice thick coat of fur. It’s typically shorter on the top of their body and longer underneath. As they get older and mature, most will develop a beautiful mane that resembles a lion. A cat with long hair doesn’t represent a Maine Coon.

There are plenty of rescue facilities that will label the DLH (Domesticated Long Hair) cat as a Maine Coon. Don’t be deceived by the labels that are put on cats just because they have long or thick fur.

Tufts on their paws

To protect them from cold winters, the Maine Coon cat has extra thick fur on the bottom of its paws.

Maine Coons are Very Large Cats

The Maine Coon is the largest breed of a domesticated cat. On average males weigh between 19-22 pounds and females between 10-15 pounds. We’ve certainly seen males as small as 15 pounds and as big as 35 pounds. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t cats out there that are also large. Some people assume their cat is a Maine Coon because it’s 20 pounds. That’s a misconception.

Pictured below is a photo os HissyFit Coons Omega. As shown in the photo he’s just 2 years old, and a whopping 29 pounds! He’s a European Maine Coon, which is rumored to be a bit larger than the American Maine Coons.

big maine coon
Omega, pictured at 2 years old (Not Fully mature until age 4 to 5 Years!)

These trademarks are just a couple of the physical traits of the Maine Coon. There are certainly many more details that make up the “standard”. You can check out a few more Maine Coon Characteristics here. That’s not to say that a domesticated long hair cat can’t exhibit these traits, as well. They certainly can. That doesn’t make them a Maine Coon.

For an Entire look at the Maine Coon Breed Standard, read this article.

The Shelter or Rescue Maine Coon

Is it possible to rescue a Pedigree Maine Coon? ABSOLUTELY! I’ve seen multiple stories where Maine Coons have ended up in the shelter for various reasons and got adopted out.

One reason was the owner passed away and two Maine Coon sisters were survivors. Another was a Breeder who had dozens of Maine Coons confiscated for poor practices.

So it’s absolutely possible to adopt a Pedigree Maine Coon from the shelter or a rescue agency. I don’t think you can just walk in on any given day and pick out your favorite Maine Coon kitten from the shelter. That’s not going to happen. But if you’re patient or even “lucky”, you may come across the opportunity. And if you’re an enthusiast, then you’ll be able to spot the Maine Coon from 100 miles away.

Websites like advertise the rescue cats as being “Maine Coon” or “Maine Coon Mix”. This doesn’t mean that the cat is in fact a Maine Coon. They’re taking their best guess. I see a lot of incorrect labeling on websites like those. For example, they have “tabby” and “calico” as breed types when in fact, they’re patterns.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m NOT opposed to rescuing any cat ever!! I support all rescue agencies 100% and support anyone who rescues cats. I’m sure this article will bring out all of the #ADOPTDONTSHOP enthusiasts and they’ll start ripping me apart for even writing this article. That’s not what this about at all. I’m just educating the public on what a Maine Coon is.

The Only Way To Tell If You Have a Maine Coon

Even if your suspected Maine Coon has met some of these qualifications that are mentioned above, there’s still no real evidence that yours is a Pedigree. Here’s how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon.

FACT: The only way to tell 100% if you have a “real” Maine Coon is to have a Pedigree for your cat that shows the bloodlines for at least 4 generations. Every cat listed on the Pedigree should have “Maine Coon” as the breed type, or it can also have MCO (which is the code for Maine Coon”).

Every “Purebred” Maine Coon should be registered (or have the option to be registered) with a participating Cat Club. This will give you registration papers for your kitten showing that he/she is a Pedigree Maine Coon and the Pedigree has been verified with the association. When you buy your Maine Coon from reputable Maine Coon breeders, you can rest assured that you’re getting a Pedigree cat.

Registrations with Cat Clubs

The Two biggest cat clubs in the United States are TICA (The International Cat Association) and CFA (Cat Fancier’s Association). Every breeder should be registered with a cat club. All of the breeding cats get registered into the database, along with their certified Pedigrees. When a litter is born, the breeder identifies the parents and registers the litter of kittens. Then the registration papers can be sent to the new owners of the kitten at the breeder’s discretion. At that time, the new owner can register themselves as the owner of their Pedigree Maine Coon and receive official documentation from the appropriate cat club.

If the kitten arrives intact, the breeder will typically wait until proof of spay/neuter is performed before you receive the registration papers. Otherwise, you should receive them at the time you get your kitten.

Every kitten that leaves the Sassy Koonz Maine Coon Cattery is registered with TICA, and a Pedigree is provided to all new owners.

Before you leave, be sure to see our Maine Coon Kittens for sale. Also, check out how to avoid being scammed on a Maine Coon website.

Example of a Maine Coon Pedigree

Now you know how to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon. Check here if you want to find out more about European Maine Coons specifically. The Maine Coon is a very special and unique breed of cat. It encompasses everything that you could imagine to make the perfect addition to your family, as your friend for life. Please don’t see this article as an effort to reduce the value of ANY cat, regardless of breed or pattern.

All cats are very beautiful, unique, and special in every way. It was meant purely as an educational effort to bring to light the myth about how to identify a Maine Coon and educate the public about a Pedigree Maine Coon. If you’re visiting my site, then I assume you’re looking for information about this breed. Here’s some information on the cost of a Maine coon kitten.

MUCH LOVE TO YOU! Here are some tips on how to tell if you’re getting a healthy Maine Coon kitten.

Black smoke Maine coon male
SIRE: Illuminati

maine coon colors
Full Color Directory of Maine Coon Colors and Patterns

There are over 80 Maine Coon Colors and Patterns to admire when you’re considering adding a Maine Coon kitten to your family.

Some of the most common colors are a black classic tabby, a red tabby, and black smoke. These Maine Coon colors seem to be the crowd favorite, although people certainly have their favorites.

Sassy Koonz does give a preference to classic, traditional colors of blacks and reds. We do not work with any shaded cats at this time. We can refer you to a reputable breeder if you’re interested in that color.


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  1. I recently joined a Facebook group called Maine Coon Lovers or Maine Coon Addicts…. I forget which. In any event, EVERYONE and their cousin likes to post asking if their random house cat (especially the DLH) is a Maine Coon. It drives me bonkers. I love this post and all the great information you provide to clear up any confusion. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for writing such an informative article! I have been hoping to one day breed my own Maine Coons. I have been dreaming about it since I was a child and planning since my children were young. The day is approaching. I appreciate such clear decisive information as I prepare.

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