Difference between Maine Coon and Ragdoll cats

The Maine Coon and Ragdoll cats are both well-established and popular cat breeds. They are also both large domestic cats. The Maine Coon is the largest conventional i.e. non-hybrid, domestic cat while the Ragdoll is close behind and both are described as "substantial" in cat fancy language.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the coat and facial appearance. Maine Coons are recognised in all colours and divisions of the traditional category plus some more which have been added over time such as all-white cats and smoke. Most early Maine Coons were brown tabbys. In short, you will find them in a whole range of coat types whereas the breed standard of the Ragdoll limits this cat's appearance in respect of their coat. They are both sem-longhaired.

The Ragdoll is recognised in all pointed colours of the pointed category, in the following divisions: solid point, lynx point, tortie point; all pointed colours and white particolor point division (mitted and bicolour patterns). You might know that the word "mitted" means the white fur on the lower part of the legs as if wearing white gloves (mitts). The Maine Coon is known for its ruff around the neck whereas this is absent on the Ragdoll.  The Maine Coon has a shaggy coat whereas the Ragdoll coat is more silky and even.

Maine Coon versus Ragdoll
Maine Coon versus Ragdoll. Image: MikeB based on Pixabay images.

As to facial appearance, the Ragdoll has a more rounded wide-eyed appearance with smaller ears. Particularly, the muzzle is more less of a standard size whereas there is a modern trend for the muzzle of the Maine Coon to be very square and large as if replicating that of a lion. The Maine Coon ears are meant to be large and they appear to be pointed because hair grows out of the tip of the ear flaps which is also part of the breed standard. These sorts of "ear furnishings" are normal in domestic cats but exaggerated in the Maine Coon. The Ragdoll is prettier in general appearance than the Maine Coon.

Temperament is also contrasted but don't believe all that you read about the Ragdoll. The Ragdoll is said to go floppy when you pick them up and they have this reputation for being very laid back. I'm sure that breeders breed into these cats a character which perhaps tends to be more laid-back than is typical of domestic cats but the claim is probably exaggerated. Nonetheless, they are described as being calm, docile and quiet cats and, as mentioned, easy to handle.

By contrast, the Maine Coon's temperament is said, by Gloria Stephens, to be relaxed and outgoing, not demanding constant attention and preferring to "hang out" with their owners. They do not necessarily want to be held, she says. There is therefore a difference but it is probably fairly subtle in practical terms and in reality.

It is said that the Ragdoll's character lends itself to being a full-time indoor cat. If you're thinking about a full-time indoor cat this might be a good choice. Conversely, the Maine Coon is not necessarily by character suited to full-time indoor life but this breed is so handsome and eye-catching that it is likely that an owner will keep their Maine Coon inside at all times and perhaps take them outside on a lead. They will need supervision because the world is too dangerous to let such a beautiful creature wander around unsupervised.

Of the two, it is probably fair to say that the Maine Coon is slightly more popular because of its reputation as being the American cat with an interesting if not obscure history. Essentially they were brought over by European settlers in the 1600s but they weren't called Maine Coon cats at that time of course. The name was only developed at the turn of the 20th century.

The history of the Ragdoll is equally obscure because the founder breeder, Ann Baker, made it like that. She generated some mystery and myth together with opaqueness which surrounds the early history of this breed.

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