Maine Coons are a very unique breed, both in their physical appearance and personality. And it might seem like an easy task distinguishing whether a particular Maine Coon is a mix or a purebred. After all, you can’t miss their large size, lynx-tipped ears and lion-like face.
However, sometimes a mixed breed cat can look just like the purebred, and you must look for very subtle signs to tell otherwise.
Types of Maine Coon Mixes
There are a lot of possible ways a Maine Coon can be a mix, from mixes with other breeds to mixes with stray cats.
Sometimes breeders like to mix a Maine Coon with another cat breed to bring out the unique characteristics in both. Some examples of this might be Siamese and Maine Coon mixes or Persian and Maine Coon mixes. Although this might not be the most common way Maine Coons end up as mixes, it can certainly be one of the most exotic.
Most of the Maine Coon mixes you’ll find are probably going to be with just a regular house cat. This is because Maine Coons are one of the most common breeds in the United States, and sometimes our pet cats will come in contact with other cats that haven’t been neutered, like stray cats.
Another aspect to consider is how many times has the Maine Coon line been interbred with other cats. Just one mixed breeding with a Maine Coon and another cat might not make much of a physical difference from that of a purebred Maine Coon, but many successive breedings between the Maine Coon mixes will dilute the Maine Coon’s genes, and the litters will become less and less like Maine Coons.
How to Tell if Your Maine Coon is a Mix
At first glance it might seem easy to know for sure whether a cat is a Maine Coon, but that’s because we can oftentimes be fooled as long as the most distinct signs (the lynx-tipped ears and lion-like face) are present. There are more subtle characteristics to look out for to help identify a mixed breed Maine Coon.
Obvious Signs of Maine Coon Mix
There are a few big pointers that can indicate with high certainty that your Maine Coon is not a purebred. Maine Coons are big cats, averaging between 12 to 18 pounds when fully grown. While it’s possible for a Maine Coon to be slightly smaller than average (a runt of the litter), most will be larger than the average house cat.
Another characteristic to look out for is the big, fluffy coat. Maine Coons are considered longhair cats, so a Maine Coon with short to medium-length hair is very likely not a purebred Maine Coon.
Maine Coons have a very distinct face that resembles that of a lion and pointy, lynx-tipped ears. Any cat that does not have the distinctly recognizable Maine Coon head is likely not a purebred Maine Coon.
Less Obvious Signs of Maine Coon Mix
Aside from the big characteristics that most people can identify, there are more subtle signs of a Maine Coon mix that only well-versed Maine Coon experts would be able to notice. Some of these aren’t necessarily surefire indicators that a cat is a mix, but combined together can help make an overall judgement call.
Colors and Patterns
Although Maine Coons can come in a very wide variety of colors and patterns, there are a few that are not recognized by breed standards such as the ticked pattern tabby. Unusual coloration in general might be a sign that a Maine Coon is a mix as there are some colors and patterns that are just far less common in purebred Maine Coons.
Some Maine Coons can be polydactyl, meaning they have extra toes on some of their feet. Although most Maine Coons do not have extra toes, ones that do are almost a sure sign that the cat is a purebred Maine Coon. This is because both Maine Coon parents must have a gene mutation called the “Hemingway mutation” in order for polydactyly to happen, and Maine Coons are one of the very few purebred cats to have this gene.
Aside from just having longer hair in general, Maine Coons specifically have a ruff of hair around their neck that’s longer than the hair on the rest of their body. It almost looks like a mini lion’s mane, and a lot of regular domestic house cats do not have this.
Maine Coon Registration Papers
The only way to really tell for sure whether a cat is a purebred Maine Coon is to have their registration papers from the breeder certifying that both parents and the kittens have been registered as Maine Coons.
These papers usually show at least three generations of Maine Coon parents and their cattery names, and are required to show a Maine Coon at a cat show.
Many times you won’t get these papers if adopting a Maine Coon, so you won’t know for sure whether or not they’re a mix or a purebred. Regardless of their official status, though, they’re most certainly deserving of all the love and attention you can give as a cat owner.