Is my cat a Maine Coon?

by Erin
(Oakland, CA)

Introduction: the question in the title was asked by a visitor to this website many years ago. The article was written many years ago which is why I have decided to refresh and update it and republish it because it is a good question. I just written an article on another website about organisations calling themselves “Maine Coon Rescue”. The one on Facebook that I have just visited cannot genuinely be rescuing purebred Maine Coon cats. They might do so once or twice in 12 months but on a day-to-day basis, no. There simply aren’t enough Maine Coon cats that require rescuing. I discussed this point on another article which you can read by clicking this link.

The question in the title is important because it comes down to 2 factors appearance and documentation e.g. certification which proves that a cat is a purebred Maine Coon cat. If you don’t have the latter you cannot rely on the former. You might be able to rely on the former to a certain extent if you know exactly the appearance characteristics of this very popular cat breed.

Is this a Maine Coon?
Is this a Maine Coon? Answer: you need papers to prove it. Visials alone are not enough.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

She turned up on my door step about a year ago, and after trying but failing to find her owners, I decided to keep her.

She was a little thin when she turned up, but weighed 9lbs at the vet. Now, after being well taken care of, she weighs a lot more!

She was fixed and cared for by someone, but who knows how or why she became homeless.

She has all the characteristics, tufts in ears and paws, a long water proofed coat with three layers of fur, the huge tail, she chirps at me all the time and follows me around like a dog.

I am very curious please take a look and let me know what you think 🙂


The text below was written about 13 years ago. Below that section I have updated this page to add my current thoughts. I would be very pleased to hear from other people in a comment.

Hi Erin… thanks for visiting. You ask a question which is almost impossible to answer on the basis of appearance alone.

Even a first-class Maine Coon show cat that is retired and become a bit overweight could be difficult to assess as a purebred Maine Coon. All you can say, on looking at appearance only, is that a cat looks like a Maine Coon or a Persian or whatever. I would think that you want something more certain and black-and-white than that.

Your cat has some Maine Coon characteristics but does not look like a purebred Maine Coon. I am comparing her appearance with the Maine Coons that I have seen at shows or that have been photographed by Helmi Flick (cats at cat shows in the USA).

That said, I have seen Maine Coons in other countries that looked like your cat. The breed standard is quite flexible so you will see a range of types of Maine Coon, which makes it more difficult to assess a cat on appearance alone.

My guess is that your cat is more likely to be a Maine Coon Mix, meaning one removed from purebred. But that is a pure guess! To me she looks a little bit too cobby (stocky) and round of face to be a purebred Maine Coon in the USA.

There are a lot of Maine Coon mix cats around. You only have to look on to see that.

Of course, everything I have written might not please breeders. Breeders breed Maine Coons and many of them will not meet the breed standard (the official guide provided by cat associations as to how the cat should look). They will be purebred but not show cat quality etc. Maybe the breeders don’t bother to register them at cat associations. Once again, these cats blur the boundaries in assessing a cat by appearance only.

This page may help a bit as well. Sorry I can’t be more decisive or helpful.

She is a lovely looking cat by the way.

Update January 16, 2022: I’ve mentioned this in the first paragraph. To be brutally honest, if you are not sure whether the cat that you rescued is a Maine Coon cat or not then it is not a Maine Coon cat. That sounds very blunt but it is 99.9% true. Sometimes a genuine Maine Coon cat will come along that requires rescuing because the owner has passed or something like that. But nearly all Maine Coons are bought from a breeder.

They follow the cat association’s breed standard. The better the quality the Maine Coon, more precisely they follow the breed standard. People don’t voluntarily relinquish i.e. hand over their Maine Coon cat to a cat or animal shelter. It might happen very rarely but you can’t run a rescue organisation on the back of these very rare instances of Maine Coon abandonments.

Therefore, in the story above, this is a random-bred or moggy rescue cat. I have a page on the appearance differences of Maine Coon cats versus Siberian cats and Norwegian Forest cats which may help. But, as I said above, you can’t be 100% sure that a cat is of a certain breed unless they have documentary evidence supporting it.

In fact, you can take a genuine Maine Coon cat without documentary evidence and not be qualified to state that you have a genuine Maine Coon cat. The point I’m making is that you need that paperwork from the breeder and registration papers from a cat association to prove that what you got is what you say you’ve got. Appearance alone is not good enough although it will guide you to an 85-95% certainty if the cat is in line with the breed standard.

Here are some comments. They were written about 13 years ago. There is a comment box below the comments if you’d like to add to the discussion today.

Comments for
Is my cat a Maine Coon?

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 17, 2012Love the coloration
by: Katie

I also think your beautiful girl appears to be a Maine Coon mix. And, she’s more unusual and very beautiful because of that mix, I suspect. I’m certain you wouldn’t trade her for a full bred MC anyway, especially since she chose you!

Mar 12, 2012Is my cat a maine coon?
by: erin

thank you for your comments!
maybe she is a Norwegian forrest cat, I should check up on their personalities and see if she fits. I love her no matter what kind of cat she is, but because she had a whole life before she came to me, i am curious. she seems too beautiful and special a cat to just get abandoned. I tried really hard to find her previous owners before deciding to adopt her, and now I’m so glad that i did.

Mar 11, 2012Maine Coon, maybe
by: Mary o

I think your beautiful kitty also looks somewhat like a Norwegian Forest cat, because of the shape of her face!

Mar 06, 2012She so pretty!
by: Leah England


Thanks for sharing your beautiful Kitty she dropped lucky when she found you methinks!

I have a Maine Coon and the face tends to be wider across the nose and a little longer also little tufts grow off the tips of the ears as well.

My boy does chirrup a lots as well.

All I can say is Maine Coon or not she’s beautiful; very very sweet.

Mar 05, 2012Is my cat a Maine Coon?
by: erin

thank you Michael,
I didn’t think it was totally possible for a purebred to show up on my doorstep 🙂 but she was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen! I was curious to post pics and see what a trained eye might think, as I have only seen main coon pictures online. thank you so much for responding. I couldn’t love her more and she is a very special cat,

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

5 thoughts on “Is my cat a Maine Coon?”

  1. My first introduction to the Maine Coon breed was when visiting a bookstore over two decades ago in Kennebunkport, Maine. Sprawled on the floor of the bookstore was a gigantic and striking tabby cat with sizable paws and a distinctive muzzle. He was so large and serious-looking that I was afraid to touch him. According to the staff, he was a Maine Coon named Hunter (a fitting name, I felt) who was found wandering the streets of town before he was taken in as the bookstore cat. As far as I’m concerned, Hunter WAS the gold standard of all Maine Coons — especially considering his home state — even though he most certainly did not have papers to prove his breed.

    Before then, I never really even thought about cat breeds. At the time, I had a black juvenile cat at home named Buddy who had gigantic paws, lynx-like ear tufts, a more square-shaped muzzle, and an extremely long tail. Once I saw Hunter, it was clear that he and Buddy were VERY similar, especially as Buddy grew bigger and bigger. Back in the days when I adopted Buddy from a shelter, I don’t get the sense the Maine Coon breed had yet been “discovered”, so it was probably not unusual to find cats with Maine Coon characteristics at shelters. It’s not so true these days, unfortunately.

  2. I’m very interested in a maine coon I have 2 hymalain cats that is very large I would love to have or adopt a large maine coon

    1. John, I hope that you are successful in adopting a large Maine Coon cat. They are my favourite cat breed and they are the most popular domestic cat breed in the world, I would say. Although, the cat association registration details might not support that.

  3. I found your picture of your female “Maine Coon”. She was the 1st one that had the same markings as my male cat. He also ended up on our doorstep without a home, starving & needing some aide.

    I had him fixed at approx. his 7-8 month, where he weighted 11.4 lbs. The Vet tech said he probably wasn’t a Main Coon due to the coloring, but a big boy. He probably weighs 16 lbs now, after 2 additional months that have passed, & he acts like a dog. He has learned how to play “dead” when I point my fingers at him & say “Bang!” & a few additional tricks. Then there are the doors he opens; the trouble he starts & instantly turns his back on us when he knows he is in trouble. Besides being a good “Watchdog/cat; he is very funny!

    I believe we may have a mixture in our cats. I Know my cat has all the elements of feet, hair, tail, language, intelligence, ears, etc…, so I will claim that he is Main Coon.

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