Maine Coons have become one of the most popular cat breeds to adopt, buy or own, during the last few decades. This isn’t surprising considering their stunning looks, gentle character, and highly sociable nature. However, their popularity and expensive price tag has made unsuspecting buyers the target of backyard breeders (BYB), out to make a quick buck. So, how can you avoid being tricked? The best place to start, is by learning how to identify a Maine Coon kitten.
Maine Coon kittens can be identified in a variety of ways. Their rectangular body shape, larger size, medium-long thick fur, and lynx like ear tufts are all key physical factors to look out for when trying to identify a Maine Coon kitten. Maine Coon kittens also have unique personalities and temperaments, though these qualities will be harder to identify during a viewing. Nonetheless, buyers should consider whether the kitten has a sociable, affectionate, talkative and gentle nature.
What Does A Maine Coon Kitten Look Like?
Although not 100% full proof, buyers can swat up on what a Maine Coon kitten physically looks like, before going to view a kitten they have seen advertised online. Learning how to identify a Maine Coon kitten in advance is an important stage within the purchasing process, that buyers ignore at their own perrell.
The table below details how to identify a Maine Coon kitten, quickly:
|Body Style||Rectangular, long body|
|Size||Larger than average|
|Ears||Lynx-like ear tufts|
|Paws||Large paws, with tufts|
|Fur||Medium-long thick fur. Ruff of hair around neck|
|Eyes||Large, rounded eyes|
|Tail||Long and bushy|
Despite using the table above, it is still easy for novice buyers (or even experienced ones) to be fooled into thinking they are looking at a Maine Coon kitten. The sad fact of the matter is that backyard breeders have spent years fooling buyers into purchasing their kittens, and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. They have become savvy to the buyers anticipated questions, and their selling pitches are now well practised.
So, for buyers keen to avoid this, take a look at our more detailed assessment of how to identify a Maine Coon kitten, below:
1. Body Style
One of the key physical traits that sets the Maine Coon kitten apart, relates to their body shape. Look for kittens with rectangular, muscular looking body shapes, a long torso and a broad chest.
Maine Coon kittens have bodies that are completely in proportion. Therefore, if any one part of their body looks to be more emphasised than another, it is possible the kitten you are viewing is not a purebred Maine Coon.
Buyers should also look closely at the kittens length, and determine if the kitten is visually longer than other cat breeds. This is an important feature to consider, since both male and female Maine Coons have very long bodies, growing anywhere up to 40 inches in length.
Maine Coon kittens are known for being extremely slow growers, taking approximately 3-4 years to reach their full physical proportions. By comparison, other cat breeds tend to reach full size by 2 years of age.
For those of you thinking this means the Maine Coon kitten will be very small and easy to spot, you would be wrong! Instead, they are actually larger than other kitten breeds and ultimately grow into one of the largest domesticated cats in the world, only rivaled by the Norwegian Forest Cat.
For more information on these two cat giants, take a look at my article ‘Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat‘.
One of the distinguishing features of the Maine Coon kitten, is their ‘lynx-like’ ears. Also known as ‘lynx-tips’, a buyer can quickly identify a Maine Coon kitten, by assessing whether they have tufts of ear hair, tapering off to a point.
The strong physical similarity between the lynx, and the Maine Coon cat has led many to question whether the two cat breeds are related. For more information on where the Maine Coon cat really originates, check out my article: “Where Do Maine Coon Cats Originate From?“.
Do All Maine Coons Have Lynx Tips?
There will always be exceptions to the rule, so it is important to note that despite being a very common physical trait of the Maine Coon cat, there will be some kittens that don’t possess a set of lynx tips.
Another thing to consider when learning how to identify a Maine Coon kitten, is to look at the size of their paws. Needless to say, as one of the biggest cat breeds to roam this planet, you can expect all Maine Coon kittens to have a set of large paws to match.
Therefore, if the kitten you are viewing seems to have standard sized kitten paws, it is unlikely you are looking at purebred Maine Coon kitten, or even a Maine Coon kitten at all. If you aren’t too sure if the paws a large, or not, check for tufts of hair over the kittens paws, since this is a tell-tale sign of the Maine Coon cat breed.
Maine Coon cats are renowned for having fabulous, luscious, thick fur. Their impressive coats are made up of three layers, including two undercoats, and an outer guard coat. It is this coat that distinguishes the Maine Coon cat breed from others, and has earned them the title ‘American Longhair’.
Maine Coon kittens have medium-long thick hair, that is not of even length across their bodies. In fact, one of the key physical features of a Maine Coon kitten is the ruff of long hair around their neckline. This ruff is thought to resemble that of a lions mane, and can quickly look messy if not regularly groomed by an owner.
Some kittens have ‘silky’ outer fur, whereas others may look more ‘fluffy’.
This highly intelligent cat breed have large, expressive eyes, full of thought, intelligence, and adoration for their human owners. Additionally, though less easy to spot for novice buyers, Maine Coon kittens are also known for having a slightly rounded eye shape.
If you are still wondering how to identify a Maine Coon kitten, take a closer look at their tail. Maine Coon kittens are easily identifiable by their very long bushy tails.
Another physical feature to keep an eye out for, is a black colored ring around the end of the kittens tail. Although not present on all Maine Coons, this coloring is common amongst tabby Maine Coons, and has led many people to suspect that the Maine Coon cat is actually part raccoon! For more information on this interesting theory, take a look at my article “Is A Maine Coon Part Raccoon?“.
Maine Coon Kitten Personality Traits
Whilst not immediately obvious, there are a number of different Maine Coon kitten personality traits that will assist you when learning how to identify a Maine Coon kitten.
The table below shows the key Maine Coon kitten personality traits to look out for:
|Gentle||Known for being very gentle|
|Playful||Very playful cat breed|
|Friendly||Very sociable and friendly|
|Love Water||Fascinated by water|
Potential buyers are unlikely to spend enough time with any kitten, to determine if the personality traits listed in the table above are evident. However, having a good understanding of a Maine Coons key personality traits, will still prove helpful when identifying a Maine Coon kitten.
Often referred to as ‘gentle giants’, the Maine Coon cat breed is well known for being extremely soft natured. In fact, it is thought that this particular personality trait is one of the main reasons the Maine Coon cat breed has become so popular, in recent decades.
Characterised by an extremely laid back and non aggressive nature, this particular cat breed is an ideal family pet, especially for those with young children.
The short video below clearly displays the Maine Coon cats laid back temperament. Watch our young daughter interacting with ‘Pippin’, our 7 year old Maine Coon cat. As you will see, he remains very calm with her despite her encouragement to start licking her again!
One thing you can guarantee a Maine Coon kitten to be, is playful. They love playing with their family and will happily spend as many hours as the owner is prepared to give, chasing a piece of string, or catnip fish around your home!
You might expect their playful nature to pass as they grow up, however, the truth couldn’t be anymore different. Instead of calming down, the Maine Coons kitten-like playful behaviour actually continues late into their adult lives, unlike other cat breeds. It is this playful and fun nature that helps explain why this particular cat breed has become so popular.
Take a look at our Maine Coon playing with his catnip fish …
Maine Coons are extremely intelligent cats, known for being able to perform simple tricks, if taught whilst they are still a kitten e.g. playing fetch! Whilst this personality trait is not an immediately evident when viewing a Maine Coon kitten, see if the kitten responds to basic commands like ‘no’, ‘down’ or ‘off’. If they do, it’s possible you are looking at a purebred Maine Coon kitten.
Watch how this amazing Maine Coon chases after the toy, picks it up, then returns it back to their owner. Credit for the video goes to Youtube channel ‘Evelina’ (link here):
One of the most familiar personality traits of the Maine Coon cat breed, is their overly friendly nature. In fact, don’t be surprised if a male kitten immediately approaches you, then tries to groom you and have a cuddle! This is exactly what our Maine Coon did to us, when we bought him from a registered breeder.
If you are viewing a female Maine Coon kitten, it is important to be aware that the female of the species can be just as friendly as the male. The main difference between the sexes however, is that the females are often more reserved, so may not immediately approach a stranger.
5. Love Of Water
It would not be an over exaggeration to say that all Maine Coon kittens love water. In fact, the Maine Coon breed is well known for being absolutely fascinated with water, and can often be found patting their water bowl with their paws. Bizarre as this might sound, they also enjoy splashing water everywhere.
TIP: One of the most practical tips I can give you, is to always place your Maine Coon kittens water bowl in a corner, where you don’t plan on walking. You will quickly learn to do this, because on the times you forget, you will likely get wet feet accidently!
Loving water is one of the Maine Coons more unusual identifiers, so if it is raining outside, don’t expect your cat to rush straight back in. Nope! Instead, they make use of their partially water-repellent fur, and seemingly enjoy sitting out in the pouring rain whilst their human family frantically dash inside.
Maine Coon Taking A Bath!
If you introduce the concept of bathing to them whilst still a kitten, you will also find that they enjoy having a bath from time to time. Some Maine Coons even like to go for a quick swim! Admittedly, I personally didn’t introduce our now Adult Maine Coon cat to bathing whilst he was a kitten. Therefore, what do you think happened when I showed him a bath of water?! Take a look at my video, if you fancy a quick giggle:
Where Can I Buy A Maine Coon Kitten?
The safest place to buy a purebred Maine Coon kitten will always be from a registered Maine Coon breeder. For a list of these breeders in the United States, please contact the ‘Cat Fanciers Association’ to locate a breeder local to your home (link to website). If you live in the United Kingdom, you can liaise with ‘The Governing Board Of The Cat Fancy’ to obtain a registered Maine Coon breeder list (link here). Alternatively, you can take a look at the TICA breeder list.
Registered Maine Coon breeders are likely to command a higher price tag, for a Maine Coon kitten. Many buyers may therefore opt to source their purebred kitten from another source, such as Facebook, Craigslist, or a Pet Shop. Whilst this may seem like a sensible and more cost effective method, buyers should understand that this is not the most recommended route, since they will not be able to 100% vouch for the Maine Coon kittens true heritage.
Is My Cat A Maine Coon Mix?
It can often be difficult to determine if a Maine Coon kitten is purebred, or of mixed parentage, without having the kittens DNA tested. Even if you do go to these lengths, the tests available are often only considered to be 90% accurate. Not the kind of percentages you want to hear, when spending considerable amounts of money on a test!
Since purebred and mixed Maine Coons share many physical traits and personality characteristics, a level of common sense needs to be applied, if the parents pedigree status is not fully known. Therefore, if you can identify more than 4 of the physical traits that I specified, and the personality traits appear to match as well, then you may be looking at a purebred Maine Coon. However, if only 1-3 of the traits are evident, it is more likely that you are viewing a mixed Maine Coon kitten.
In order to overcome this hurdle, only buy your Maine Coon kittens from a registered Maine Coon breeder able to provide certification of the parents official pedigree status.
When it comes to learning how to identify a Maine Coon kitten, sourcing a purebred kitten will require considerable amounts of research. Therefore, buyers should never just buy the first kitten they view online. Instead, it is important that buyers research the local breeders thoroughly, and if possible, check other customers reviews, so as to establish the breeders authenticity.
Ideally, buyers should only purchase their kittens from registered breeders. However, if you fall in love with a Maine Coon kitten sold elsewhere, it is vital that you never just ‘assume’ the seller is trustworthy. Many less reputable sellers have made a fortune out of selling their mixed Maine Coons (or even non Maine Coon kittens) to unsuspecting buyers, desperate to own one of these magnificent cats.
Ultimately, whether your kitten is purebred, or of mixed parentage, the Maine Coon is an extremely loving and affectionate cat breed. These impressive cats are also very loyal and ‘dog-like’ in their nature, so you best be prepared for them to become your new best friend in life.
Maine Coon owner, of almost 8 years. Maine Coon cat specialist, with a passion for helping others discover the Maine Coon cat breed.