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Identifying Mixes

Many people want to know if their cat is a Coon cat. We have a whole section on it. But some have asked here how to discern for themselves.

Here are our archived questions and answers regariding identifying mixes. Just scroll down to read more about:

  • "How do you know?"
  • "Identifying breed/type of kitten"
  • "Maine Coon And Maine Coon Cross Differences?"
  • "My New 'Maybe Coonie' Baby!"

How do you know?

(Charleston SC)

Maine Coon cats seem to have an endless array of physical traits. How can you tell if a cat is truely a Maine Coon cat?


Hi Sandy,
Good question, and the answer is, the only way to definitively know for sure is for the cat to have a pedigree.

This is a subject we address quite regularly, and that's because the Maine Coon cat, due to its natural physical traits and "outdoor" heritage is commonly perceived as a breed that "pops up" in the general cat population.

Truth is, there is no more chance that a stray or abandoned cat is a Maine Coon than a Persian. A purbred cat must have come from a breeder, with a pedigree. That breeder did everything in their power to make sure the kitten went to a good home (and the new owner who bought the kitten gets the pedigree.)

Of course, (and unfortunately) purebred cats get abandoned too. But rarely do kittens. So a new kitten from the shelter will rarely- very, very rarely (almost never) be a purebred one. They are valuable kittens who came from a responsible home. Plus, they would have been paid for.

As for whether a cat has the physical traits to surely be a Maine Coon, again without a pedigree he will always be a bit of a mystery. You can't know for sure. Some cats look so very much like a Maine Coon that their owner feels comfortable just referring to him as a Maine Coon. What would be the most telling trait? Probably the ears. If a cat has those tufts coming out of the top of his ears, that's not something that just happens. (Along with the rest of "the look" too.)

To put it another way, if he's a Coon, he'll have them.

We have a couple of pages here on the site about this topic, and a good read is Maine Coon Traits, where visitors check out the characteristics to look for, and pictures of other people's "maybe Maine Coons".

The other page I would recommend is Maine Coon Mix, which really dives into how and why it happens that a cat would be part purebred.

Long story short, the old days of Maine barn cats are gone. They are now a registered, purebred cat, no different than say, a Himalayan. The only way to know for sure is to have that pedigree.

That said, many folks are just sure that their rescued cat is a Coon or part Coon. It's their decision to introduce their cat as a Maine Coon, in that case.

Whew, long answer to a short question! But, it's an important one!

Identifying breed/type of kitten

by: Dawn
(Wilmington, DE)

I recently adopted two kittens (brother and sister) who were abandoned around the age of 3 weeks old.

There were 6 kittens, 2 yellow tabby colored, 1 black/white tuxedo, 1 grey/white tuxedo and 1 solid grey. I have not seen the other siblings since adopting my two.

My question is how can they look so unbelievably different?? My black/white girl is tiny, short haired and obviously a "regular" domestic kitten.

The male yellow tabby looks like and seems to fit the exact description of a Maine Coon. Since the mother and other siblings (with possibly the exception of the other yellow tabby which I have never seen) are definitely NOT Maine Coons, is it accurate to call the one exception kitten a Maine Coon?

It really doesn't matter except I am just very curious and wonder how this works. I have read that there could be multiple sires which would explain the differences, but are Maine Coons often found feral as other cats are?

I picture them as being more domestic and less likely to be involved in a wild litter found outdoors on a construction site...........

Obviously I don't know a lot about cats. I have been a dog person my whole life until finding these little cuties.... Thanks.


Hi Dawn,
Congratulations on your two new kittens! It's great that you have a brother and sister, they will be bonded for life :)

Well, you are asking a question of genetics. But, that's ok, I love genetics! This is a great question that many new cat owners wonder about.

Lets look at it like a typical American (human) family. Mom is blond, blue eyed, and dad has brown hair & brown eyes.

Their five kids can be any combination of these. Straight hair, curly, you name it. So say 4 have brown hair and medium skin tone & one is very fair.

Someone meeting the fair child later on might ask if they have any Swiss ancestors. That's because of their physical appearance. But, it's just a coincidence.

Only about 3 percent of Domestic Housecats are 'purebred' or of a specific breed. And even fewer are Maine Coon particularly.

As for one kitten having a different father, it's possible (as it is with human multiples!) but rare.

You were right to wonder about a male Maine Coon wandering the streets. The chances of a purebred Maine Coon male to be let outdoors and un-neutered, and then fathering one kitten in a litter are slim indeed.

It's much more likely your boy has the same parents as his siblings, but has the (recessive)genes for longer fur.

He may even have a personality just like a Maine Coon. In that case, you have a Maine Coon look-a-like on your hands!

All The Best,


I have the same situation
by: Blaze's mom

We have the same situation, our is yellow/orange as well. I knew nothing about the breed of Maine Coon until watching a special on Animal Planet.

I looked at my cat, who is huge, has long hair, the tufts on the ears, and many of the other traits. I am thinking maybe now he isn't as some of the other cats from the litter looked nothing like him, his mother was a calico with long hairs, but much smaller.

So maybe I just have a look alike as well?

Maine Coon And Maine Coon Cross Differences?

by: by Matt Hyland
(Nottingham, UK)

Maine Coon and Persian Mix Kitten:

I wonder if you can help me. I have seen a Maine Coon kitten and was about to buy him but he looked a little different than I expected.

I have now found out that his mum is a Persian and his dad is a Maine Coon. What difference is this likely to make?

I would like a kitten that will grow into a large cat. Will the cross effect this? His mum seems very small.

Is it likely any other personality traits will be different from a pure Maine Coon also?

Thanks in advance
Matt Hyland


Hi Matt,
Yes, there will be quite a few differences, and a few things for us to think about...

First: Physically, he will not look like a typical male Maine Coon. If his mum had been a "regular" tabby cat, he would have a shot at this, but the Persian breed is unique unto itself. So he will display both, with the dominant genes showing the most.

Much like humans who have parents of two different ethnic backgrounds. Some things you might see would be a somewhat shortened muzzle (not the strong, long muzzle of a pure Maine Coon), long, flowing fur, rather than the medium shaggy coat of a Maine.

And as for the ear tufts and mane, it's wait and see. Size-wise, he will not be the big Maine Coon cat you are looking for. That comes from proper Maine Coon cat breeding, and usually such a cat has two parents of good size.

Personality: Well, my specialty is Maine Coon cats! The Persian is different, with it's own set of unique traits. They are know for being somewhat independent. I would think a mix could have just about any personality.

Does it matter?: This is the next thing to consider. If you are quite enamored with him, he might be the perfect cat for you, bringing you years of love and enjoyment.

Ask any cat owner, and they will tell you it doesn't matter if their cat is a purebred or not, they are still awesome!

As for paying: I'm not sure a kitten without a pedigree is one I would pay for. That does get into tricky territory. First, was it an accident?

Then it's a mixed breed kitten, who would usually be free to a good home. But the fact that they are charging makes me think this is an intentional litter. Or, designer kittens.

Designer kittens and designer puppies are a cross between one breed and another. Some have become quite popular, such as the LabraDoodle (Labrador & Poodle) In this case, the breeder strives to bring the best qualities of each out. Such as the hypoallergenic Poodle fur and the wonderful Lab personality. Even the LabraDoodle is still controversial among some circles.

Basically, it is intentionally taking two purebred lines, and diluting them. Is it a big deal? Probably not, but the are concerns. As it becomes more and more popular, it becomes harder to preserve the breed.

There are certain physical and personality traits that a breeder strives for, which would be lost. Then, you have to consider who is it that is creating these designer kittens. An experienced breeder?

Are they an expert in the field of breeding, understanding the genetic Persian health problems and Maine Coon cat health problems?

Are there any potential health concerns by crossing the breeds? (That would be something you would ask the breeder) Do they screen for HCM, Hip Dysplasia, Polycystic Kidney Disease, and/or Spinal Muscular Atrophy?

You were presented with a kitten who you were about to buy. But he looked different, then you found out his mum is a Persian. That's not quite the way I would do business if I were selling kittens. Maine Coon kittens for sale have a pedigree, papers. But if you really want him, that's a different story...

Last thought: Have you seen the dad? Did the mum get out one day? If these are not designer kittens, (meaning the breeder had a purebred Persian and a purebred Maine Coon together), that's yet another story. perhaps the owner is not a breeder at all, but just an owner of a Persian who is not spayed. Perhaps it was an accidental litter, and seeing that the kittens are tabbies, it was assumed that they were half Maine Coon. (or maybe they thought it sounded good). In that case, they are Persian mixes. Very cute, and free to a good home, I would think. If I were you I would verify the dad, since you aren't getting all your info up front.

So to answer your question, Matt, the kitten will not be just like a purebred Maine Coon cat, or like a purebred Persian. He'll have traits from both, and it's up to you as to whether he's the perfect kitty for you. You could always get a Maine Coon as his playmate!

All The Best,


Thank you
by: Matt

Thanks for your reply. It explains exactly what I wanted to know. This is a great resource that I am sure I will use again and definitely recommend you. I will not be buying the kitten. They are asking for £400/$600 so I dont think its a fair price.

Buying a Mix Kitten
by: Maine Coon Cat Nation

Hi Matt,
I'm very glad to have helped. There are so many variables in a situation like this. I can't know for sure that the kittens shouldn't be sold at that price. But there were enough hints in your original question that it made me wonder. If someone likes a kitten, they should definitely research where it's coming from.

It sounds like this one won't have the physical traits you are looking for (large) and probably not the distinct personality, either.

All the best on your search for a kitten,

Maine Coon Persian cross
by: Soph

I bought a cross bred four years ago. Dad Maine Coon/ Mum Persian. I can only say my cat Sushi is an absolute treasure! Very beautiful with mostly coon traits...and very affectionate with a hilarious personality... But then again I am biased :o)

PAWSitive Passages!

PAWSitive Passages!

My New 'Maybe Coonie' Baby!

by: Lacresia
(Arkansas, US)

I just adopted the most beautiful, sweet cat from a local shelter. I was told he was a Maine Coon and was 18 months old.

He has gorgeous golden eyes and the hair between his toes however, he is only about 10 to 12 lbs and has almost invisible ear tufts.

I know he greatly resembles the Coonie pictures I have seen but is there a way if I can tell for sure?

Also, he he was previously declawed before the shelter got him. Would it be unsafe to get a cat pole with ledges for him? I don't want him to fall.


Hi Lacrecia,
Did you send a picture? If so, it didn't come through. Feel free to use my contact page and we'll get it added.

As for telling if he's a purebred, there really is no way, without papers. Since you rescued him as a "teenager" (good for you!) it will be up to you to get to know the breed and decide for yourself if he's a Maine Coon, a mix, or a look-alike. Either way, I'm sure he has stolen your heart :) Whatever title you give him, or how you introduce him to guests will be up to you.

It happens that I'm currently working on an Ebook about the subject, called "You May Have A Maine Coon If..." There is just so much interest in this subject! If this is something that interests you, you could sign up for our newsletter, Tattle Tails, to be one of the first to know when it's released.

Till then, though, I would just get to know him as much as you can, and get to know the breed, too!

As for the cat perch, I'm sure he'd love it. Lots of owners of declawed cats report that their cat goes up a cat tree just fine. You may want to get one that is not ceiling high, though. And choose one that seems quite sturdy, with nice big ledges. Something that he won't have to scale and climb straight up, but with levels he can hop to. You might want to visit our page on Cat Furniture Tree Top Picks to see some nice choices.

All the best to you and your new boy! May he bring you many years of enjoyment :)

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