facial image of a maine coon cat

How To Identify A Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon is one the most well known of all the cat breeds in the world.

So famous in fact, that Mrs Norris from Harry Potter is a Maine Coon.

With worldwide fame at the Maine Coons fingertips you think they’d be instantly recognizeable.

The real world is far from straight forward.

New cat owners can get there new friend from a variety of different sources.

Not everyone gets there cat from a professional breeder. Amateurs, friends, strangers with kittens for sale, and even adopted strays might have some Maine Coon qualities.

Alita the Maine Coon face close up

So, if you’ve picked up a new cat and think it has some Maine Coon qualities then you might be inclined to check the basic features of a Maine Coon.

So, how do you identify a Maine Coon?

Maine Coons are a large cat breed with long legs and a double layered coat. They have long hair with rounded paws and lynx like ears. The face is a wedge shape with large round eyes. A Maine Coon will chirp (called trilling – very unique) rather than meow as well as follow you around the house. They possess a brush like tail.

Simple words don’t do these amazing animals any justice, and owning one is amazing.

The Maine Coon Overview

If you want to know how to identify the Maine Coon breed of the cat, you probably know a good bit about cats and Maine Coons already.

You probably know that its coat resembles the stripes found on a ringtail raccoon, hence its name: Maine Coon cat.

It is generally recognized as the only small cat native to America and specific to Maine, yet its exact origins are not known.

Only speculated upon.

You know, of course, that Maine Coons represent the oldest natural breed of domestic cats between Canada and Mexico; and because it is native to the state of Maine, it is naturally the official state cat.

But let’s assume you know nothing about Maine Coon cats and you want to know how to ID one.

The quickest way to do that would be to ask for its driver’s license.

But jokes aside, let’s systematically examine the task using a more methodological approach.

a maine coon on a balcony

Maine Coon Size

This is not a joke. First, examine the cats size.

Maine Coons are one of the largest breeds – some experts say the largest breed –of popular domesticated cats there is.

Quite frankly they can be huge, so much so, that when you see one for the first time, its colossal size takes you aback.

Males continue to grow up to four years, reaching sizes as large as 9 to 17 inches in height, with a weight from 14 to 26 pounds, and up to 41 inches long.

That’s a lot meow.

Females are about 9 to 14 pounds and reach a height of 8 to 15 inches with a similar length as the males.

It has a powerfully built frame to support its sturdy shoebox-like body shape. If you see a domesticated cat that meets these physical characteristics, it’s possibly a Maine Coon.

The Ragdoll and the Norwegian Forest Cat can grow quite large, but they aren’t as common or have other identifiable features.

a maine coon on a bed

Maine Coon Appearance

After getting over the sheer size of this husky cat, the next most distinctive feature to examine is its overall appearance.

It is easiest to start with its shaggycoat that contains two layers of fur.

One is a protective layer that guards against the elements and other aggressive cat’s paws.

The other is a satin-soft undercoat. Also noticeable is its very bushy and fluffy tail that is nicely tapered from tail post toits tip.

It uses its big tail to keep itself warm and cozy when lounging around.

It has beautiful long and shaggy hair, usually in a neutral shade of brown with an overcoat of ringed black stripes.

Don’t rely on this color pattern exclusively though, because Maine Coons have a color range of 75 shades and hues.

The black stripes are in the pattern of those found on a raccoon, giving it a raccoon-like appearance.

The cats fur has an easily recognizable ruff in its chest region that is tangible to the touch. Large eyes are another prominent feature that leaps out at you upon a casual glance.

Also, its ears are heavily covered with fur.

a maine coon falling asleep

Maine Coon Personality And Demeanor

Everyone is familiar with the fact that cats exhibit an elusive temperament, and with the exception of feeding time, they prefer to be left alone.

However, Maine Coons don’t behave in that way.

Many experts describe their personality as more similar to that of a canine rather than a feline. Maine Coons are friendly towards people.

They like to be near and around people.

They are quite likely to follow you around the house. Not out of necessity but from curiousity.

As you wander from room to room, don’t be surprised if a Maine Coon follows you to see what you are getting up to.

They like to play with their owners and have been known to run and greet their owners at the door when they come home from work or errands.

All cats like to be petted and treat your affection towards them as if you are giving them a well-deserved massage.

But, big Maine Coon’s try to give something back by proactively letting you know that they not only like it, but they appreciate the affection.

Alita the maine coon lying on me

This breed is also very intelligent, so good luck trying to keep the lid on the cat food or keep it in its temporary enclosure; and be sure to unplug the computer or it may send you an email.

Another personality trait that sets this breed apart from other felines is that they are attracted to water.

They can jump, play, and splash in water wherever they find it, including your pet fish’s aquarium (Oh, no) or the toilet.

So keep that cover down.

In short, they are very outgoing and playful.

Finally, this breed is known for getting along well with small children and other pets, even those not of the feline persuasion like dogs and pet rabbits.

As such, they are a favorite with families. Having a Golden Retriever (another gentle-natured pet) and a Maine Coon would be heaven if I ever start a family.

Alita the Maine Coon asleep near laptop

Other Means of Identification

Fortunately, there are a few more means of identifying a Maine Coon cat breed that don’t involve using a lot of human brain cells, investigation, interpolation, interpretation, and unscientific guess work.

Lets run through them:

Facial Structure – The Maine Coon has a wedge shaped face with particularly high cheekbones. They have large eyes

Trilling and Chirping – A Maine Coon does not just ‘meow’. It exhibits a trilling sound and a chirp when it makes sounds. It’s very unique to a Maine Coon.

Take a listen below:

Mane – Around the neck a Maine Coon will have a ‘mane’ of hair that is a bit fluffier than the hair around it.

Ears – The ears are large and lynx like. They are prominent features on the head that taper to a point. Tufts of hair are quite visible on the interior.

Alita the Maine Coon dressed up

Forehead M – As seen in the above photo, Maine Coons that are tabby can have what looks like an ‘M’ pattern between the ears.

Some Maine Coons are polydactly as well, meaning they have 6 toes.

Getting a DNA test to ID your pet selection is becoming more and more popular as the prices are becoming more affordable and the waiting time for the results is becoming more tolerable.

You may wish to order a DNA test even if you acquire your cat from a recognized and respected source, such as your vet.

In that way, you will know if you have a purebred Maine Coon, a mixed Maine Coon or just a Maine Coon imposter.

Keep in mind, however, that this type of DNA test is only 90% accurate. Finally, my number one recommended means of properly identifying a Maine Coon is to take its finger/paw prints.

a maine coon with large ears


I hope this is enough to assist you in identifying a Maine Coon cat.

They are absolutely adorable, lovable, kissable and huggable.

So if you see a big friendly cat with raccoon-like stripes swimming in a backyard pool while typing on an iPad or reading a French novel, you have probably found yourself a Maine Coon.

Introduce yourself using a Brigitte Bardot accent and take him home.

About the Author


My name is Ann and I have been looking after and breeding cats since 2013. I am currently the proud ownder of Alita, a female Maine Coon to whom I've dedicated this site. She has had 2 litters and is around 3 years old. We share adventures and stories together.

13 thoughts on “How To Identify A Maine Coon Cat

    • Author gravatar

      I have a kitten my husband brought home to me, l think she is Main Coon but people keep telling me no . Know how can I find out and can I send you a picture of her?

    • Author gravatar

      Are the foot prints actually different in a Maine Coon as a kitten? You made reference to checkng foot prints in your article.

      • Author gravatar

        Where in a America can I find one? I am a cat lover an fell head over hills with this main coon kittens an cats. So affectionate

      • Author gravatar

        We rescued a kitten and this little girl is so different and I wonder if she’s part mane coon. She was ill when we got get so she’s on the mend. Was this she was 10 weeks but she only weighs 1.15lbs. Her hair is soft yet messy. Has the ear hair and rings on her legs. She acts like a dog, doesn’t meow much but chirps at bugs. She follows is all over but doesn’t demand anything. The very didn’t know, said calico cat and under weight. She is such a sweetheart and lives all the dogs and other cats within a day. Purrs non stop and is beautiful.
        If I send you pictures would you be able to tell?

      • Author gravatar

        My son found an abandoned kitten. I feel she is a mixed breed Maine coon. I’m sending you her pics. Appreciate if you could help me with the identification.

    • Author gravatar

      I rescued 3kittens they resemble the Maine coon bred the mom cat seemed to be around 9lbs and they are brownish with black rings all the down there bodies and all 3 have a distinction M on there fore head’s

    • Author gravatar

      I belong to several Maine Coon groups. In one of them, just for fun, a breeder posted pictures of a Maine Coon, a Siberian, a Norwegian Forest Cat and a large domestic long hair. She asked people in the group to guess which was which and the results were that even breeders couldn’t tell.
      The only way to tell if you have a Maine Coon is the pedigree.

    • Author gravatar

      I’m planning on purchasing a couple of kitten’s for my autistic daughter I’ve never had a maincoon but have had Persian cats & they are still only very young only 7 weeks could I possibly send you a picture so you can tell me if they are Maincoon I’m asking simply for their demeanor as my daughter absolutely loves animals & will be giving them lots of love & attention & obviously I am wanting to get them chipped & keep them indoors but I do have other animals 3 shih tzu’s a snake a rabbit & also giant African land snails & obviously want them to get on any help in identifying these little beauties would be very much appreciated.

    • Author gravatar

      I rescued a stray the lady who had her thought might be part Maine Coon…this is her personality to a T! (I have to wear her in a baby carrier when I work from home bc she wants to be held). She paws furiously at the patio door when she can see me coming…and she’s sooooo long. Sh weighs 13 lbs and isn’t quite a year yet. She is a Calico with Tabby markings and has shorter hair so she isn’t too fluffy, but she is an adorible delight! Thanks for the info!

    • Author gravatar

      I have an question about my cat, so I send for you on e-mail , I’m waiting for your answer..

    • Author gravatar

      We got our Maine Coons at a shelter. I had no idea about cats at the time. The cats belonged to my kids, so I just was like hello kitty, not really interested. One day, Simba just jumped from the floor, right into my arms. He was not going to be ignored. Well we had him for 15 years, and when when we knew he was going to pass, I wrote a letter to him telling him how much he meant to me. And I recalled all his zany antics. Obviously it was to help me heal, not to mail. Lol Loved your article.

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Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One