How can I tell if my cat is a Maine Coon?

You can tell for sure if your cat is a Maine Coon through a written pedigree, a formal document, which you should have.  The fact that you are asking the question makes it pretty certain that your cat is not a Maine Coon. 

Nearly everyone who lives with a genuine Maine Coon knows it because they bought the cat from a cat breeder and they acquired a document which is evidence that the cat is a Maine Coon. The bottom line is that there is written evidence.

PrairieBaby Maine Coon cats. One of their Maine Coons
PrairieBaby Maine Coon cats. One of their Maine Coons. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

The said document will set out the pedigree of the cat concerned for at least four generations. All the cats in the pedigree will be a Maine Coon. This might be referred to as 'MCO' which stands for Maine Coon.

Every purebred cat should be registered with a cat association aka cat club. If a Maine Coon is registered with The International Cat Association (TIC), for example, they will issue this document showing the pedigree. I presume that the breeder will have a copy of it and give that copy to the purchaser. Wrong? Tell me please.

All bona fide cat breeders are registered with recognised cat associations. In America, the Cat Fanciers' Association is big as is the one mentioned. In the UK the premier association is the GCCF. For Europe it is the WCF.

When a litter of Maine Coons or other cats of another recognised breed are born the breeder records the parents (Maine Coons) and registers the litter of kittens.

The registration papers are sent to the new owner of the kitten. The new owner can register their name as the owner and receive the documentation from the cat association.

I have never bought a pedigree cat so I have answered the question using common sense and some research. There has to be a document because although Maine Coons have a distinctive appearance you can't be 100% certain that a cat that looks like a Maine Coon is a Maine Coon. 

There are many Maine Coon mix cats. These are half Maine Coons. Not purebred and no pedigree. You see them for sale on the internet.

Sometimes you can adopt a Maine Coon from a shelter because they have been given up because, perhaps, the owner died. You may be told that the cats are Maine Coons and they may look like typical Maine Coons but if you don't have the pedigree you can't prove the cats are Maine Coons. 

You normally won't need to prove it so this is not an issue most often.

Click here to read about this cat breed and here to read about the key features of this breed if you want to cross-check the cat that you have with what the breed looks like.

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