Tabby Maine Coon: Complete Guide – Maine Coon Central

Tabby Maine Coon: Complete Guide


Tabby Maine Coon

With over 75 different shades of fur to choose from, it can often feel hard to decide which Maine Coon coloring you love the most. Even if you do settle on buying a Maine Coon with tabby patterns, you then have to decide whether you are after a tabby Maine Coon with either a classic, mackerel or ticked pattern. Whichever color class you prefer though, this extremely popular large cat has won the hearts of millions of owners worldwide. And, chances are that your Maine Coon will have an element of tabby patterns, even if you don’t realise they do! Keep reading to find out why.

Maine Coons are available in a large range of different colors and patterns, which can be solid, tabby, shaded or tortie. The Tabby Maine Coon pattern is the most popular to own. These cats will have either a ticked, mackerel or classic pattern across their fur, and are available in a wide range of different color classes e.g. brown patched tabby, blue-silver tabby, cameo tabby, etc.

Maine Coon Cats

The Maine Coon cat originates from Wiscasset, in the United States. They are the oldest natural living cat breed in North America, and are well known for their large proportions, and docile gentle characteristics. Loved by millions of people worldwide, this increasingly popular cat breed is now considered the third most popular cat breed to own in the United States.

This regal looking breed is known for being one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in existence. Their size is only rivaled by the Norwegian Forest Cat, who many suspect the Maine Coon cat is a descendent from.

Maine Coon Personality
Maine Coon Personality

Tabby Maine Coon

Despite their history being shrouded in mystery, the first Maine Coons to have appeared in Wiscasset (Maine) in the 1800’s are thought to have had a tabby Maine Coon pattern. Tabby Maine Coons are thus considered the original Maine Coon pattern.

The tabby Maine Coon is the most common pattern of Maine Coon kitten, or cat available, and also the most popular. According to the Cat Fanciers Association, Tabby Maine Coons have three different patterns (source):

  • Classic Tabby: Swirl markings over fur. Blotched markings.
  • Mackerel Tabby: Stripes are visible across their fur
  • Ticked Tabby: Known as agouti. Their fur has bands of color

Tabby Maine Coon Patterns

When selecting a tabby Maine Coon, owners will need to decide if they wish their cat to have stripes, spots, or swirl markings on their fur. In order to help you decide, take a look at the table below which identifies the key differences between the three tabby Maine Coon patterns:

PatternDescription
ClassicClassic tabbies have clearly defined, dense markings, which are often broad. Blotches on side of cat look like ‘targets’, and butterfly wing patterns that cover their shoulders. They have ‘M’ marking on their forehead, and swirls on their cheeks. Vertical lines on back of head, extending to shoulder markings which are in the shape of a butterfly. Legs are evenly barred with bracelets coming up to meet body markings. Evenly ringed tail. Unbroken necklaces on neck and upper chest. Vertical line down cats spine, with vertical stripe paralleling it on both sides. ‘Target’ on both side, formed by solid blotch on each side, which has unbroken circle around it
MackerelMackerel tabbies have clearly defined, dense markings. All narrow pencillings. They have ‘M’ markings on their forehead. Lines run down cats head, meeting shoulders. Narrow saddle visible, from spine lines running down back. Tail is barred. Distinct necklaces around neck and chest. Legs evenly barred with narrow bracelets coming up to meet the body markings
TickedPronounced ticking on body. Darkening at dorsal crest apparent when viewed from above, but otherwise free from pattern, or noticeable blotches, stripes or spots. Fur ticked with varying shades. Tabby markings clear on legs and face, but lighter on underside
SpottedSimilar to the mackerel or classic pattern, except for the fact that their swirls and stripes look broken into spots of color. A great example of a spotted pattern, are Ocicats

How To Identify A Tabby Maine Coon

Many people assume the phrase ‘tabby Maine Coon’ refers to the color of a cat, when in fact the word ‘tabby’ actually refers to the pattern of stripes, spots and swirls visible on a cat’s fur.

There are four classifications of tabby Maine Coon (source):

  • Classic
  • Mackerel
  • Ticked
  • Spotted

Each of these classifications has a large number of color variants under its banner, meaning that tabbies can come in a wide number of color variations, from silver to orange. There is literally a tabby Maine Coon color for everyone. With such a large number of tabby color variations though, it’s not the least bit surprising that the majority of Maine Coon cats are considered to be tabbies.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, tabby Maine Coon can be found in the following colour categories:

In order to get a better understanding of the tabby color variants, we will now look at the color classes separately below.

1. Brown Tabby Maine Coon

The first Maine Coons to arrive in Northern America were thought to have had brown tabby fur. The brown tabby is thus considered to be the classic Maine Coon color.

Brown tabby Maine Coons are very common, easy to breed, and commonly mistaken for non-Maine Coon tabbies due to their similar colorings.

According to the ‘Cat Fanciers Association’, brown tabby Maine Coon cats are included within the following color classes:

  • Brown
  • Brown Patched
  • Brown and White
  • Brown Patched and White

The table below summarises these color classes in greater detail (source):

Color ClassDescription
BrownBrown tabbies can have classic, ticked or mackerel patterns. They have a brilliant coppery brown ground color, with dense black markings. They have white trims around their chin and lips, and black or brown nose leather and paw pads. The back of their legs are black from their paw to their heel
Brown PatchedBrown patched tabbies can have classic, ticked or mackerel patterns. They have a brilliant coppery brown ground color, and densley black markings with patches of red. Their nose leather and paw pads are either brick red, black or brown
Brown and WhiteSame markings as brown patched tabby, apart from all four paws, belly and bib may have white fur on them. Some brown and white tabbies have fur on their faces that is white
Brown Patched and WhiteBrown patched tabby cats have a brilliant coppery brown ground color. They have a black tabby pattern, with patches of red

Here is a picture of our Maine Coon called ‘Pippin’. I regard him as a brown patched tabby. If you look closely, you will see his cute little red nose leather:

Brown Tabby Maine Coon
Brown Tabby Maine Coon

2. Silver Tabby Maine Coon

The silver tabby looks very noble, like they are the King or Queen of the Maine Coon breed. Their beautiful features are mesmerizing, whilst they fur can often look like soft dappled snow.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the silver tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classes (source):

  • Silver Tabby
  • Silver Patched Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Patched Tabby
  • Cream Silver Tabby
  • Silver Tabby and White
  • Silver Patched Tabby and White

The table below summarises these colors classes in greater detail (source):

Color ClassDescription
Silver TabbyHas classic, mackerel or ticked pattern, with dense black markings. Pale, clear silver ground color. White trim around chin and lips. Ideally has brick red nose leather, and black paw pads
Silver Patched Tabby Has classic, mackerel or ticked pattern, with dense black markings that are patched with red and/or cream. Pale, clear silver ground color. White trim around chin and lip, with brick red nose leather, and black and/or pink paw pads
Blue-Silver Tabby Has classic, mackerel, or ticked pattern, with deep blue markings that contrast well with pale, clear silver ground color. White trim around chin and lip, with old rose colored nose leather, and rose paw pads
Blue-Silver Patched TabbyClassic, mackerel or ticked pattern, with deep blue markings that are patched with cream. White undercoat, with pale, clear silver ground color. White trim around chin and lips, and old rose nose leather, and rose and/or pink paw pads
Cream Silver TabbyClassic, mackerel, or ticked pattern, with white undercoat and off-white ground color. Cream markings, and pink paw pads and nose leather. Chin and lips are the same shade as the rings around the cats eyes
Silver Tabby and WhiteClassic, mackerel, or ticked pattern. Will have white on all four feet, belly and bib. Coloring as defined for the silver tabby, with/without white on face
Silver Patched Tabby and WhiteClassic, mackerel, or ticked pattern. Same color as silver patched tabby (also known as torbie), with/without white on their face. Belly, bib and all four feet must have white on them

Here is a picture of a beautiful silver tabby Maine coon. As you can see, the cats eyes are outlined in black, and their nose leather is a gentle rose/red color. They also have a mixture of black markings across the cats face, with a white chin.

Silver Tabby Maine Coon

3. Red Tabby Maine Coon

When you think of a ‘red’ tabby Maine Coon, you are likely envisioning a cat that looks red like the traditional English postbox, or a fresh red berry ready to be eaten, or tasty bright red juicy tomato. Before I get carried away with myself, I best set the record straight! … The fact of the matter is that the ‘red’ Maine Coon coloring refers to cats that have a mixture of ginger and orange coloring in their fur. Since the majority of cat owners do not known the difference, they tend to call their ‘red’ Maine Coon, and ‘orange Maine Coon’.

For more information on the ‘Orange Maine Coon‘, take a look at my complete guide here.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the ‘red’ tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classes (source):

  • Red Tabby
  • Red Tabby and White

Please note that a number of other Maine Coon colors include ‘red’, but these have not been listed above, since the color ‘red’ is not listed within their primary name.

The table below summarises the key differences between these red Maine Coon classifications (source):

Color ClassDescription
Red TabbyThese cats have classic, mackerel, or ticked patterns, with deep rich red markings. They have a red ground color, with white trim around their chin and lips, and brick red paw pads ad nose leather
Red Tabby and WhiteThese cats have classic, mackerel, or ticked patterns. Their color is as defined for the red tabby, but with/without white on their faces. All four feet, bib and belly must have white on

Here is a picture of an adorable red tabby. This gorgeous Maine Coon has clear stripe patterns across their entire body, and a clear ‘M’ marking on their forehead. If you look closely you will see their rose colored nose leather and paw pads.

Red Tabby Maine Coon

4. Blue Tabby Maine Coon

Whilst some blue Maine Coons do actually look blue in color whilst resting, many other cats included within this official color classification do not. Instead, they are commonly mistaken for being ‘grey’.

But, ‘grey’ isn’t actually an official Maine Coon color at all. If you are interested in finding out more, read my article “Grey Maine Coons Don’t Actually Exist!“.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the blue Maine Coon is included within the following color classes:

  • Blue-Silver Tabby
  • Blue-Silver Patched Tabby
  • Blue Tabby
  • Blue Patched Tabby

The table below looks at these color classifications in great depth (source)

Color ClassDescription
Blue-Silver TabbyThe blue-silver tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with deep blue markings. Their ground color is pale, clear silver. Their chin and lips have a white trim, and their paw pads are rose colored, and nose leather old rose
Blue-Silver Patched TabbyThe blue-silver patched tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with deep blue markings and patches of cream. They have a pale, clear silver ground color, and a white undercoat. Their chin and lips have white trim around them, and their paw pads are rose and/or pink. They often have an old rose colored nose leather
Blue TabbyThe blue tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with very deep blue markings that contrast well with their pale bluish ivory ground color. Cats fur has warm fawn overtones or patina over their entire body. They have white trim around their chin and lips, an old rose coloured nose leather, and rose paw pads
Blue Patched TabbyThe blue patched tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with very deep blue markings that have patches of cream running through them. They have a pale bluish ivory ground color, and warm fawn overtones or patina over their entire body. Their chin and lips have white trim, whilst their nose leather is old rose in color and their paw pads are rose and/or pink

Here is a picture of a stunning blue Maine Coon kitten. Unfortunately I have been unable to track down a suitable picture of the blue Maine Coon tabby for you. When I find one, I will insert the picture into this article for you.

What you can appreciate in this picture is that the cat whilst in repose, looks extremely blue in color. They have cream/white shades through their coat, cheeks and all four paws. This cat also has a pale bluish silver ground color.

Blue-Maine-Coon-Flickr-Credit-for-photo-goes-to-Maine-Coon-Castle
Blue Maine Coon – Flickr – Credit for photo goes to ‘Maine Coon Castle’

5. Cream Tabby Maine Coon

The cream Maine Coon tabby is a very eye catching feline. If you look at their entire body, you spot multiple patches of solid cream coloring, often intermingled with other colors such as white, silver or grey.

According to the Cat Fanciers Association, the cream tabby Maine Coon is included within the following color classifications:

  • Cream Tabby
  • Cream Silver Tabby

The table below summarises these two color classifications in greater detail below (source):

Color ClassDescription
Cream TabbyThe cream tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with buff or cream markings that are adequately darker than their pale cream ground color, to contrast well. They have white chin and lip trim, and pink nose leather and paw pads
Cream Silver TabbyThe cream silver tabby has classic, mackerel or ticked patterns, with cream markings and an off-white ground color. Their have a white undercoat, and their chin and lips are the same shade as the rings around their eyes. Often have pink nose leather and paw pads

Here is a picture of a cream tabby Maine Coon, with a pink nose leather, and a white chest.

Cream Tabby Maine Coon

Do All Maine Coons Have An M On Their Forehead?

Tabby Maine Coons have ‘mascara-like’ markings across their faces, which make them look very distinctive. If you look a little closer though, you may have noticed an ‘M’ shape marking across their forehead, which is distinctive because the fur in this area is darker. This ‘M’ shaped marking only appears on the tabby patterned Maine Coon cats.

If you look at the picture below, you can see a clear ‘M’ which is darker in color, than the rest of the cats body.

‘M’ Marking On Maine Coon Face

Tabby Maine Coon Genetics

The Maine Coon cats genetics are often considered to be very complex, since there are a number of variables to consider. What is clear though, is that this breed has a varied and wide ranging group of both recessive and dominant genes (source).

a) High Level Terms

Before we get into the details, lets cover the high level terms that are referred to when people talk about a cats genetics:

  • Pattern: When a breeder says the word ‘pattern’, they are simply referring to whether the Maine Coon is a tabby, smoke, or shaded etc.
  • Color: This refers to the cats solid color e.g. whether the Maine Coon is cream, red, blue or black.
  • Color/Pattern: A term used when both pattern and color are affected.

b) Male and Female Genetics

The next important factor to cover, is the difference between a male and female cats genetic differences:

  • Male: A cats mother is also known as ‘the dam’. She gives her kittens both of their color genes. This effectively means that the male offspring in every litter will “always be either the color of the dam, or one of the colors in the case of parti-colors, or the dilute form of the dam’s color’ (source).
  • Female: Your female kitten receives their color genes from both of their parents, which means that they always have a combination of the sire’s and dam’s colors, or a diluted form of both.

c) Kitten Colors

A kittens color is only determined by their parents coloring, not their families genetics. The only gene to buck this rule, is the colorpoint gene which can be passed down through family genetics, for a number of generations.

d) Kitten Pattern

A kittens pattern is inherited from either of their parents. Should one of their parents have a dominant color or pattern, like tabby, smoke, bi-color or shaded etc, the kitten will also have these colors/patterns. This is because dominant characteristics are not able to skip a generation.

e) Tabby Maine Coon

All domestic cats have an underlying genetic tabby pattern, because they are descendents of a mackerel tabby patterned cat. If you cannot see any tabby markings, this is simply because the cat has a masking gene that prevents the tabby pattern showing.

All cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes, which determine every aspect about them, including their color, pattern and size. The dominant genes are expressed as capital letter, and the recessive genes are represented by a lowercase letter.

The tabby Maine Coon (and Agouti) have mixed genes that are expressed as A and a. The dominant gene in these cats will always show. However, whilst they appear to be tabby (Agouti), cat like this are still able to produce non-Agouti, or solid cats that do not have any tabby patterns. This is only possible when they mate with another cat carrying an ‘a’ or recessive gene though (source).

Tabby Maine Coon

Tabby Maine Coon Kittens For Sale

If you are interested in buying a tabby Maine Coon kitten, read my article “Registered Maine Coon Breeders You Can Trust“, to find your nearest registered Maine Coon breeders.

Whilst a quick Google might show you multiple places to buy your perfect tabby Maine Coon kitten, I strongly recommend that you do not rush into a decision quickly. Instead, contact your local Maine Coon registered breeder first, to see what kittens they have available.

Although registered breeders cost more, they are the recommended channel for purchasing a pedigree Maine Coon kitten, since they are often cat fanatics themselves, and care very deeply about the cats they sell. There is also less likelihood that you will be scammed, since these breeders usually only sell purebred Maine Coons, rather than mix-breed Coons. The breeding cats will also have been scanned, to make sure that they are not carriers of genetic defects associated with this particular cat breed.

For a full guide to buying a Maine Coon cat, take a look at my article: “Buying A Maine Coon Cat: Complete Guide“.

Avoid buying a tabby Maine Coon kitten from the following sources:

  • Pet Shop
  • Gumtree
  • Craigslist
  • Backyard Breeders (BYB)
Buying A Maine Coon 2
Buying A Maine Coon Kitten

Grey Tabby Maine Coon

Yes, I accept some Maine Coons might look like they are ‘grey’ in color, but they aren’t really! In fact, did you know that they are instead called ‘Blue Maine Coons’?! Yes, it’s hard to believe!

Find out why there is no such thing as the grey tabby Maine Coon in my article “Grey Maine Coon Cats Don’t Actually Exist!“.

Blue Tabby Maine Coon

Conclusion

Tabby Maine Coon cats can be found in a wide range of different patterns, such as striped and spotted. They also come in a variety of colors, ranging from red to blue. The choice is literally endless!

The tabby pattern is very common in the Maine Coon cat breed, since all cats carry the tabby pattern genetics, whether they are visible or not. Tabbies have mixed genes Aa, and the tabby gene is considered dominant.

Tabby Maine Coons are one of the most popular patterns to own, most likely because their distinct markings are extremely eye catching, and beautiful.

Why not discover more about the other Maine Coon colors

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My names Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self confessed CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 8 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the names ‘Pipsteroo’, and ‘Pippikins’! Our enormous, kind hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog, and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend!

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