(Saint Paul, MN)
I cannot tell if my 13 year old Francis that I have had since he was a kitten is a Tiffany or a Black Maine Coon? Or both? Is there a difference?
Hi…thanks for visiting and asking.
Bakground info...Sometimes you do get subtle differences between cat breeds. This is certainly the case with respect to appearance because the breed standards are quite flexible allowing cats of one breed to encroach upon the appearance of cats of another cat breed. But these cats are still a different cat breed because their pedigree is different. Pedigree is something you can't readily see as it will be in a document. It is the parentage of the individual cat going back sufficient generations to satisfy the cat association that the cat is of the cat breed concerned.
Cats of a cat breed are purebred cats.
Most cats are not purebred. They are called random bred cats or sometimes mixed breed cats. Sometimes random bred cats can look like purebred cats. In fact all purebred cats originate in random bred cats and before that in the wild cat. Sounds a bit complicated but the point I am making is that there is an overlap and a lack of clear demarcation sometimes, particularly when the cat is almost a purebred cat e.g. Maine Coon mix.
There is a lot of confusion (for me at least) surrounding the Tiffany and I am not sure about registrations with cat associations for this breed. The Maine Coon is well known and accepted by all cat associations.
Answering your question.. the truth is, and don't take this the wrong way, you would probably know if your cat was a Maine Coon. You'd have registration papers etc. As the Tiffany is rare it is likely that Francis is a very handsome random bred cat.
From the point of appearance only, Francis does have some Main Coon-like qualities: ruff, long hair etc. The Maine Coon breed standard says that the cat should have a coat (if black) that is "dense coal black, sound from roots to tip of fur". The Tiffany can be black but I am unable to see a breed standard. Francis has brown in his fur. His ears are not tufted as is often the case with Maine Coons and desirable. Francis has nice standard ears. Maine Coon ears are larger. Maine Coons are large cats. The largest domestic cat outside of wildcat hybrids. The Tiffany is a standard sized cat. If Francis is standard size that would point to not being a Maine Coon. The Maine Coon face is quite particular too. Although Francis does have a face that has Maine Coon characteristics.
I have waffled a bit trying to write a decent answer. My answer to your question is that Francis, handsome that he is, is neither a Maine Coon nor a Tiffany but a really nice random bred cat. Random bred cats are in many respects better than purebred cats.
Update April 2013:
The large picture of him on the bath, is my favorite. Would you guess Maine Coon or Chantilly background?
First, I'd like to celebrate a very handsome cat. He has a beautiful ruff and a gorgeous deep, chocolate coloured coat.
Secondly, you are never really going to be sure of his background. Sammy definitely has a Maine Coon look about him. The ruff is classic and I think he has a hint of the Maine Coon lynx tip ears.
His muzzle is not the classic Maine Coon muzzle, which is very square and strong.
Chantilly is another name for Tiffany. My personal opinion is that there is some Tiffany in Sammy. But it is probably is not as straightforward as that. The genetics of the Maine Coon are all over the USA and there is probably a lot of Maine Coon in the Tiiffany. The truth is we don't know and that does not just mean me, but people who are more expert than me.