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.
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.
This is not a joke. First, examine its size. Maine Coons are one of the largest breeds – some experts say the largest breed –of domesticated cats there is. Quite frankly they are 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 most likely a Maine Coon.
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.
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 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. 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 will 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.
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. For example, you may want to speak with your vet and see if she can find you a Maine Coon. The local humane society is always a safe bet, but Maine Coons are so popular and cuddly that it is unlikely that your local HS is going to have one.
Or if they do, it will not have it for long. Still another way is to contact a cat breeder or a cat breeders’association. Chances are they may have or have access to several Maine Coons. If you opt to buy an animal, expect to pay as much as $1,000 down to $400 for one. This is a house cat best suited to being raised indoors by a loving family in a family environment. Therefore, make sure you don’t buy one where the breeder or family has kept the cat mainly outdoors.
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.
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.