One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Maine Coon is their unique, lynx-like ears. The long hairs on the ears of the Maine Coon are perhaps more pronounced than on any other cat breed, and add to their wild feline look.
Ear Tufts vs. Lynx Tips
Many people confuse ear tufts and lynx tips and usually use both to refer to the long hair on top of the ear. Ear tufts are actually the long hair growing inside the Maine Coon’s ear, while lynx tips are the long hairs on top of the ear, making them look pointy.
It’s important to distinguish these types of ear hairs because they serve different purposes and some Maine Coons might have longer hairs of either one.
The lynx tips on a Maine Coon are longer than that of most domestic house cats and other cat breeds and can grow up to 1/2 inches or longer!
Do All Maine Coons Have Ear Tufts?
Because it’s one of the breed standard for the Maine Coon, all of them should have some form of ear tuft and lynx tips. The length of hair on the ear will vary among Maine Coons, with some having shorter ear hair than others.
Why Maine Coons Have So Much Ear Hair
Having long ear tufts and lynx tips serves a similar purpose as having long hair all over the rest of their body; to keep them warm in cold environments. Because the Maine Coon originated from the area around Maine (and probably northern Europe before that), they had to contend with very rigid temperatures.
Cat’s have very fine, delicate ears that can develop frostbite or lose function if they get cold enough, so having those long hairs on them helps to stop their heat from radiating off.
Breeders also played a huge role in getting those ear tufts and lynx tips longer and longer. If you look at a photo of a Maine Coon from 30-40 years ago, you’ll notice they did not have as prominent lynx tips. Selective breeding that focused on long ear tufts and lynx tips has actually made them longer over time.
When Maine Coons Develop Their Ear Tufts and Lynx Tips
Maine Coon kittens have much shorter ear hair than their older counterparts, and it grows as the kitten matures. Maine Coons have a very long time to maturity, averaging between 3-4 years.
You can still make out the longer ear tufts and lynx tips on the kittens, though, they’re just usually a bit shorter and more difficult to recognize.