Maine Coons are known for many things, including their larger than life personality and physical size. Their most distinguishing feature, however, may be their ear tufts. Some people will even doubt the pedigree of a Maine Coon if they don't see these irresistible fluffs on a cat.
When do Maine Coons get their ear tufts? Most Maine Coons show signs of ear tufts as young as a few weeks old, but they don’t get their full coat until they're about two years old. It should be noted that every breed within every species has variations in individuals, meaning any one animal can look different from the accepted standard.
Along with the popularity of any breed comes excessive and illegitimate breeding, and unfortunately the Maine Coon is no exception. As a result, there are many Maine Coon owners curious of their cat's actual genetics.
Aside from buying a DNA test, there are a few ways you can tell if your cat is a Maine Coon or not.
Ear Tufts and Lynx Tips – The Difference
One of the oldest known American breeds, the Maine Coon has a coat to protect it from the harsh Maine winters. Ironically, the first Maine Coon cats had less defined ear tufts than our modern-day house cats due to selective breeding.
What is often called an ear tuft is actually two different fur structures. Ear tufts are actually fur growing from the inside of the cat’s ear, while “lynx tips” are the pointed, and often colored, lengths of fur sticking up from the top of his ear.
The ear tufts on your Maine Coon are not just adorable, but also functional. The adorable wisps of fur that make this breed so identifiable actually keep debris out of their sensitive ears.
Scientists also suggest that the fur helps filter and direct sound to their earways.
If your cat doesn't have these long furs in their ears by the time they're a few weeks old, they may never develop, but there's still a chance! Maine Coon coats are not complete until they reach about two years of age!
Also read: When will my Maine Coon get fluffy?
How To Identify a Maine Coon
Obviously one of the easiest ways to spot a Maine Coon are their signature ears. The fluffy inner ear combined with the pointed lynx tip is hard to miss, but that's not all that makes these fancy felines stand out!
In fact, Maine Coons are often mistaken for wild cats like bobcats due to their size! Males are typically 13 to 18 pounds but often reach the mid-twenties.
Maine Coons are the largest domestic cat breed aside from Savannah cats, which aren't counted as “domestic” by all cat enthusiasts.
Not only are Maine Coons large, but so are their paws. Used for improved mobility in snowy conditions, their feet are large and full of fur. The larger the paw, the more surface area to resist sinking in snow.
Many Maine Coons are polydactyls, meaning they have an extra paw pad, giving them even better mobility in the snow. Read more on that in our article here!
Yet another practical feature of the Maine Coon is their bushy tail. These cats can keep themselves warm by wrapping their tail around their faces like a scarf. The light and fluffy tail can also help prevent the cat from sinking deeper into snow.
One common myth about Maine Coons is that they all have an “M” design on their forehead. While they may have this mark, it is not on all, nor is it exclusive to the breed. The marking described is actually just a feature of tabby patterns, which Maine Coons may have.
Because of cross-breeding in the early history of the breed, there are many accepted color variations aside from tabby.
Keep in mind that genetics are not fully controllable. While most cats of one breed look the same, one can suddenly be different. This makes this cat no less a member of his “breed”; After all, genetic mutations are what have given us our most beloved breeds!
If you really want to know if your cat is a Maine Coon but you are just not sure, take our test that helps you to identify a Maine Coon.
How to Care for Maine Coon Fur
While the fur is one of the first things that draws people to these cats, it can also be more work than they're prepared to put in. Be sure you're ready to take care of one of these beautiful cats before bringing them home.
- Brushing – Maine Coons have three different coat types. While the undercoat and guard coat are relatively low maintenance, the silky main coat can become tangled and matted if not regularly maintained.
- Diet – Believe it or not, your cat's diet can affect their coat quality. Providing food or supplements with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will help improve the overall quality of their coats. If you find that your cat's fur is dull or otherwise unhealthy looking, there may be an underlying health issue, so it's best to check with your vet.
- Bathing – Most cats do not require regular baths, but may get into something that results in a mess! Luckily for Maine Coon owners, most love water, making them much easier to bathe than their feline cousins. Just be sure to use lukewarm water, a small amount of pet-friendly soap, and set aside a lot of time for drying!
- Mats – As thoroughly as you may groom your cat, their dense paw fur can become matted and collect debris that needs to be cleared. Be sure to check your Maine Coons paws on a regular basis.
Other Distinct Breeds
If you’re attracted to cats with special fur features, here are some other breeds to check out.
- Lykoi – The Lykoi, or werewolf cat, is mostly hairless but has a shaggy silver coat on top, providing its signature wild look.
- Devon Rex – The Devon Rex is known not only for its extraterrestrial-looking bone structure. These cats also have a distinct silky, yet curly coat that lays close to their bodies.
- American Curl – The American Curl has a beautiful silky coat, but what makes him stand out is his ears. The name “Curl” doesn't refer to his fur, but actually the shape of his ears, which are also tufted.
- Sphynx – This regal breed isn't known for its fur, but rather, its lack of fur. The breed only has “peach fuzz” on occasion but is otherwise completely furless.
If you've just bought a Maine Coon cat, you can expect to see some beautiful ear tufts and lynx points within the first few months. Keep in mind, however, that not all cats meet their breed standards even if they are purebred.
Regardless of the cat you choose, make sure you're ready to take proper care of their coat!
Do all Maine Coons have ear Tufts? The vast majority of Maine Coons will have their distinct ear tufts, but it is possible for a cat to be different. A Maine Coon mix will usually have not as strong ear tufts as a purebred Maine Coon from a reputable breeder.
Do all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead? No. This is a common myth about the breed, but the “M” shape actually comes from the tabby coat type, which appears in other breeds. Many Maine Coons have tabby coats, but there are plenty of other coat types that would not include an “M” shape.
How can you tell a Maine Coon cat? The first and easiest way to identify a Maine Coon is their size and their strong body. These cats are up to twice the size of your average house cat. You may also notice their tipped ears and extremely bushy tails.