Tabby Maine Coon cats are well known for having a distinctive ‘M’ on their forehead. But do all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead, or is this prominent patterned marking only present on certain Maine Coon colors? Keep reading to discover which Maine Coons carry this much desired feature, and the many popular stories retold over generations, which claim to know why the ‘M’ marking exists in the first place!
The ‘M’ on a Maine Coons forehead is a dominant patterned marking found on all tabby patterned Maine Coon cats. This prominent marking is not specific to the Maine Coon breed, but is visible on every color of Maine Coon cat that you can think of, provided the cat has tabby patterned markings.
The mysterious ‘M’ marking on most tabby patterned cats forehead will likely always remain a mystery. Keep reading to discover the varying myths and legends that have been created, to help account for this beautiful yet unusual marking.
Why Do Maine Coon Cats Have An ‘M’ On Their Forehead?
Some Maine Coon cats have an ‘M’ marking on their forehead. This prominent feature is not specific to the Maine Coon cat breed though, but instead present on all tabby patterned cats.
According to the Cat Fanciers Association, there are three tabby patterns (source):
a) Classic Tabby
Classic tabby Maine Coons have dense markings that are clearly defined, and broad. The ‘M’ marking on their forehead is formed by the cats frown marks.
b) Mackerel Tabby
The Mackerel tabby Maine Coon also has dense markings that are clearly defined. These markings look like narrow pencillings. The cats forehead is barred with an “M’ marking.
c) Ticked Tabby
Ticked tabby Maine Coons have ticking all over their body, with a darkening at the dorsal crest. They do not have any other patterns, spots, stripes or blotches, but do have the well known tabby facial markings.
Stories Of The Tabby Cat’s ‘M’
There are many stories claiming to know why Maine Coon cats have an ‘M’ on their forehead, but, it is safe to say that no one truly knows the answer to this popular question.
The following five myths have been particularly popular:
Let’s take a look at each of these legends in a little more detail.
1. Mark From Mary
One of the more popular myths used to explain where the ‘M’ marking on tabby patterned Maine Coon cats came from, has a religious Christian influence.
According to legend, Mary swaddled baby Jesus in multiple blankets in an attempt to keep him warm during the cold and biting Winter weather. Her efforts were in vain though, since Jesus continued to lay in his crib crying and shivering from the cold.
In an attempt to keep her precious baby warm, Mary asked the animals in the stable to move closer to her babies crib. She hoped that the body heat of many animals nearby would help to warm little Jesus, but sadly it did not.
Whilst this had been happening, an intelligent tabby cat had sat watching. The cat knew how to save baby Jesus from the bitter cold, so climbed into his crib and lay next to the baby, purring. Mary was full of gratitude for the tabby cats actions, since this animals body heat had warmed her cold babies body. Its gentle purring had also calmed baby Jesus, enabling him to sleep throughout the night.
Mary thanked the tabby cat for it’s help, by stroking its forehead. As she stroked the cat, she moved the fur on its brow to make the shape of an ‘m’. This ‘m’ represented her own initial, and is thought to have been her way of ensuring that humanity would forever remember that a tabby cat had been the saviour of baby Jesus.
2. Mark Of The Moon
Have you ever noticed your cats eyes reflecting the daytime light, whilst almost looking luminous during nighttime hours? If you have, you are not alone. In fact, Egyptians took this occurrence to mean that there was a actual link between a cats luminous eyes and the moon!
The ‘M’ marking on every tabby patterned cats forehead is therefore a sign of the relationship between a cats eyes, and the moon.
3. A Cat Named ‘Mother’
According to this website, a writer named Jim Willis wrote a story named ‘Beloved of Bast’. In this story, a cat named ‘Mother’ was visited by another cat named Bast. This other cat was owned by Sun Goddess Ra, who decreed that all tabby patterned cats must have a marking on their forehead in the shape of an ‘M’. It is thought this marking celebrated the kindness of ‘Mother’ the cat.
4. Muhammad And Muezza
This legend is from the Islamic religion, and claims the ‘M’ marking on tabby patterned cats foreheads come from Muhammad, the ‘protector of cats’.
The following two key stories have been retold over and over, of Muhammad and Muezza:
- The first story tells of how Prophet Muhammad passionately loved cats. It is thought that his love was so great, that on one occasion when he was called to prayer, he didn’t want to wake his cat ‘Muezza’. The cat was sleeping on Muhammad’s robe, so rather than waking his cat, he cut off the sleeve of his robe, so he could go and pray!
- The second story to gain popularity claims that Muhammad’s cat ‘Muezza’ saved his life, by killing a poisonous snake that had slithered into the prophets sleeve unnoticed. As a mark of respect for Muezza, Muhammad drew an ‘M’ marking on his cats forehead, to show the world how much he loved cats. He is also thought to have given cats the skill of landing on their feet (rather than their backs) in thanks to his cat for it’s act of kindness (source).
5. Ancient Egyptian Cat Name
According to this story, the Ancient Egyptians used to call cats ‘Mau’. It is unknown why they gave cats this specific name, though some specialists suspect there is a link between a cat’s ‘meow’ sound, and the word ‘Mau’.
The premise of this legend is that the ‘M’ marking stands for the name ‘Mau’.
What Does The ‘M’ Forehead Marking Look Like?
If you are struggling to picture what the ‘M’ marking on a Maine Coon cat’s forehead actually looks like, take a look at the various pictures below:
Adult Maine Coons With ‘M’ Marking
The ‘M’ marking on the adult silver/grey tabby Maine Coon is immediately visible (cat on the left of this picture):
The image below shows three Maine Coon cats. They all have tabby patterns, and you can see the ‘m’ marking sitting prominently on their foreheads. As you can see, the marking is present on multiple Maine Coon fur colors:
Maine Coon Kittens With ‘M’ Marking
Owners can quickly identify the ‘M’ marking on their Maine Coon kittens. Take a look at the photos below, to see how clear the patterned marking is at such a young age.
Below is a picture of a red and white Maine Coon kitten, with an adorable ‘M’ marking above it’s eyes and nose:
Does The ‘M’ Stand For Maine Coon?
Contrary to popular belief, the ‘M’ on a Maine Coons forehead does not stand for ‘Maine Coon’. Although this would have made a great story, it simply isn’t true. If it had been though, this would have been pretty useful, as individuals would have been able to quickly identify cats from the Maine Coon breed.
This cute, yet completely fictional myth has done the rounds for many years. Although I have been unable to establish how this false assumption originated, it is likely because ALL Tabby patterned Maine Coon cats have the distinctive ‘M’ on their foreheads.
Other Cat Breeds With An ‘M’ On Their Forehead
All tabby cats, whatever the breed, have the patterned ‘M’ marking on their foreheads. This marking is not specific to the Maine Coon cat breed.
Have you noticed an ‘M’ on your cats forehead, and are now wondering whether you are the lucky owner of a full-bred, or part-Maine Coon? If this is the case, take a look at our guide on how to identify a Maine Coon kitten.
When answering the question ‘do all Maine Coons have an M on their forehead?’, it is safe to say that they do not. Instead, this striking marking is only visible on tabby patterned Maine Coon cats. Tabby is not a color, but instead a pattern.
If you are keen to own a cat with this unique marking, don’t stress if the Maine Coon price is just too expensive. Many other more affordable cat breeds also have this marking as well. You simply need to source a tabby patterned cat of any breed, and the ‘M’ on their forehead will be clear to see.