Maine Coon breed standard - illustrated, comprehensive summary

You may have noticed that I refer to the breed standards of purebred, pedigree cats all the time because they are the guidelines under which breeders create cats. The breed standards describe the appearance of the cat breed in question. This is a summary of the breed standard mainly in layperson's terminology. The standards can be quite technical because they use cat fancy language.

Maine Coon breed standard - illustrate comprehensive summary
Pic: copyright Helmi Flick. A superb tabby Maine Coon

Most valuable pieces of anatomy!

The first point to note is that the most valuable part of the Maine Coon anatomy in terms of scoring points at a cat show when competing with other Maine Coon cats is the coat. The judges score out of 20 the quality of the coat to which you can add 15 points in respect of "body colour and pattern". The shape of the body accrues 15 points in maximum. And the shape of the head accrues 15 points as well if it's a perfect head as per the breed standard!

Rugged working cat

The standard makes it clear that as the Maine Coon cat is originally a working cat should be "solid, rugged, and capable of enduring a harsh climate. This is reflected in the shaggy coat. The body should be well proportioned and balanced. No part to be exaggerated. Quality is more important than size". The cat should have an "amiable disposition".

Maine Coon breed standard - illustrate comprehensive summary
Miss Kate. Glorious. Image copyright Helmi Flick


The head should be medium in width and slightly longer in length with a squareness to the muzzle.


The muzzle and chin should be visibly square to emphasise the point. It is "blunt ended" when viewed in profile. It should not be "tapering or pointed". This is one factor which distinguishes the Maine Coon cat from the Norwegian Forest cat which has a tapering muzzle.

The muzzle should be in proportion to the rest of the head, meaning in balance. The chin should be strong and in line with the upper lip and nose. If the chin is lacking in depth, it is not considered to be strong or desirable.

Maine Coon breed standard - illustrate comprehensive summary
This is Boswell. Grey/silver tabby. Image copyright Helmi Flick


The head profile should be "relatively smooth" and free from pronounced bumps and humps.


Ears should be large and well tufted i.e. there should be hair sticking out the top of the ear flaps. They should be wide at the base and tapering. The lynx tipped ears are a hallmark of the Maine Coon.


The eyes should be large, expressive and oval-shaped.

Maine Coon breed standard - illustrate comprehensive summary
Maine Coon 'Bullet'.


The neck should be medium long. The body shape should be muscular and the size medium-to-large. That last description may surprise some people bearing in mind that you see some enormous Maine Coon cats on the Internet. Females are normally smaller than males. The body should be long with all the parts of the body in proportion to create a well-balanced looking cat. The breed standard consistently insists that the Maine Coon cat should be a balanced cat with no exaggerations or extreme breeding. The extreme cats you see online would not win cat shows!

RELATED: The extreme Maine Coon face.


The legs of the Maine Coon cat should be "substantial". This means that they should be large and strong.


The tail should be long and tapering. The fur should be long and flowing meaning 'plumed'.


The coat should be heavy and shaggy. The fur should be short on the shoulders and longer on the stomach and "britches". The last word describes the upper part of the hind legs which are covered by longer fur which gives the impression that the cat is wearing medium length trousers in the style of days gone by in Britain. This should be a rough and the texture should be silky.

Maine Coon breed standard - illustrate comprehensive summary
Image copyright Helmi Flick. 7 tabby kittens.


I discussed kind of things we disqualify a cat from a cat show which you can read about by clicking this link.


The breed standard then goes on to describe the colours which are allowable. It is a very long list. Gloria Stephens in her book Legacy of the Cat, states that this cat breed is recognised in all colours and divisions of the traditional category and add that "most early Maine Coon brown tabbies. Over time other patterns and colours have been added, including smoke and dominant white."


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