Black Smoke Maine Coon Color: 

An Interesting Genetic Marvel!

by: / Author, Mainer, Maine Coon Mama!

The Black Smoke Maine Coon color is significantly different than pure Black in both appearance and genetics. It is also one of the most visually stunning!

beautiful black smoke maine coon catHunley the Black Smoke Maine Coon

This striking, majestic and distinctive coat pattern results from specific genetic mechanisms.

This coloration arises from the interplay of genes that control fur color and pattern.

Is it the most alluring of the Maine Coon colors? Perhaps!

Let's talk about this rare and enchanting color, exploring the genetics, care, and community that celebrate the Black Smoke Maine Coon’s dazzling allure. Get ready to be swept off your feet by these majestic furballs!

The Maine Coon Magazine
The Maine Coon Magazine

The Many Colors of Coonie

Maine Coons are celebrated not only for their impressive size and friendly dispositions but also for their breathtaking variety of color patterns.

This friendly, beautiful breed comes in an array of hues and patterns.

From the Classic Tabby to the elegant solid colors, and from the mystical tortoiseshells to the shimmering silvers, the Maine Coon's coat is a naturally gorgeous in any color.

This diversity in appearance is part of what makes Maine Coons so irresistible to cat lovers everywhere!

What Does a Black Smoke Maine Coon Cat Look Like?

There is some variation possible even within Black Smoke colored cats. Sometimes it seems that no two are exactly alike!

Even though there isn't a one description to fit all, we will try. They have dark, almost ebony tips cloaking a silvery-white undercoat that gleams when exposed. This spectacular effect is a testament to the wonders of genetics at play!

black smoke maine coon cat on wood floor

When the cat is at rest, it may appear solid black (depending on the cat!), but as soon as it moves, a shimmering white or grey base is revealed, creating an ethereal, smoke-like appearance.

This striking pattern is not only a feast for the eyes but also a symbol of the intricate and fascinating genetics behind the different colorations.

The Black Smoke Maine Coon color is a bit more unusual, making an experience with these beautiful cats even more memorable and captivating.

Black Smoke Genetics

This stunning coloration is the result of a fascinating interplay of genes that come together to create this unique look.

At the heart of this magical transformation are three key genes: B, I, and a.

The B Gene:

This gene determines the base color of the cat’s coat. The dominant B gene produces black pigment, while its recessive counterpart, b, would result in a chocolate hue.

A Black Smoke Maine Coon sports the dominant B gene, ensuring a luxurious black pigment as the foundation.

The I Gene (Inhibitor Gene):

The true star of the show, the I gene, works its magic by suppressing pigment in the hair shaft, but only partially.

handsome black smoke maine coon catMidas the Black Smoke Maine Coon

This gene is dominant, meaning even a single copy (I) will create the enchanting smoke effect.

It leaves the tips of the hair black while turning the base a striking white or light silver, resulting in that smoke-like appearance.

The a Gene:

The "agouti" gene (A) plays a role in determining whether the cat will have a solid or tabby pattern.

Black Smoke Maine Coons are typically non-agouti (aa), meaning they do not have the banded fur pattern characteristic of tabby cats.

This allows the smoke effect to be more pronounced, as the undercoat is not disrupted by agouti banding.

Genes Working Together

When these genes come together in harmony—B for black, I for the smoke effect, and aa for a solid pattern—they create the mesmerizing black smoke Maine Coon.

The result is a cat whose coat appears almost mystical, with a depth and allure that captures the essence of feline elegance. The black smoke Maine Coon is truly a genetic wonder, a masterpiece of nature’s artistry!

black smoke maine coon in the grass

Insights into Selective Breeding Practices

Breeding Black Smoke Maine Coons is an interesting process! Breeders carefully select cats with the desired genetic traits—specifically the B, I, and aa genes—to produce the enchanting black smoke coloration.

purebred black smoke maine coon lounging on back of couchShiloh

The goal is to combine a dominant B gene for black pigment, a dominant I gene for the smoke effect, and two recessive a genes for a solid pattern.

To ensure success, breeders may pair a Black Smoke Maine Coon with another Black Smoke or a cat known to carry the necessary genes.

As always, they meticulously track lineage and genetic history, in this case aiming to enhance and preserve the striking smoke pattern.

This selective process involves genetic testing and expert knowledge to maintain the health and beauty of the breed.

Challenges include the rarity of the I gene and maintaining genetic diversity to avoid inbreeding. Despite these hurdles, dedicated breeders continue to perfect this magical coloration.

black smoke maine coon in a boxAlways Part of the Family

A Closer Look at The Inhibitor Gene

The inhibitor gene (I) plays a crucial role in producing certain coat color patterns in cats, including the striking smoke and silver variations. Here's a detailed look at this gene and its effects:

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Function of the Inhibitor Gene

Pigment Suppression:

The inhibitor gene (I) suppresses the production of pigment in the hair shaft, specifically in the lower portion of each hair. This results in a two-toned hair structure where the base of the hair is lighter (often white or very light gray), and the tips retain the darker pigmentation.

Dominant Gene:

The inhibitor gene is dominant, meaning that only one copy of the gene (I) is needed to produce the smoke or silver effect. Cats with one or two copies of this gene will exhibit the inhibited pigmentation pattern, whereas those without the gene (ii) will not.

Effects on Coat Color

Smoke Patterns:


In smoke-colored cats, such as the Black Smoke Maine Coon, the inhibitor gene results in a black-tipped coat with a contrasting white or light undercoat.

The effect is more visible when the fur is parted or during movement, creating a dramatic and eye-catching appearance.

Silver Tabby Patterns:

In silver tabby cats, the inhibitor gene causes the base color of the coat to be white, but the tabby markings (stripes or spots) remain dark. This results in a striking pattern where the dark markings contrast sharply with the light background.

Genetic Combinations

Homozygous Dominant (II):

Cats with two copies of the inhibitor gene (II) will have a very pronounced smoke or silver effect.

Heterozygous (Ii):

Cats with one copy of the inhibitor gene (Ii) will also display the smoke or silver pattern, although the effect might be slightly less pronounced than in homozygous cats.

Homozygous Recessive (ii):

Cats without the inhibitor gene (ii) will not display the smoke or silver pattern and will have a solid or non-inhibited coat color.

Breeding Considerations

Selective breeding for the inhibitor gene can produce specific and desirable coat patterns.

Breeders aiming for Smoke or Silver cats will pair individuals known to carry the inhibitor gene to increase the likelihood of offspring displaying these unique colorations.

However, because the gene is dominant, even one parent with the inhibitor gene can pass it on to their kittens, making targeted breeding strategies effective.

The inhibitor gene is a fascinating aspect of feline genetics, responsible for some of the most beautiful and unusual coat patterns seen in domestic cats.

high black smoke tortie maine coon kitten

Pinto Butterfly, from Yellowstonecoon Cattery, is a High Black Smoke Tortie!

So, what is the difference between Black Smoke and a pure Black Maine Coon cat? When a kitten is small it is usually all black. Then the soft undercoat fills in.

Black Maine Coon sitting on a backpack

A classic Black Smoke Maine Coon Cat will have a smoky, gray colored undercoat. It will usually be only apparent when you ruffle the fur.

Some cats are clearly a Black Smoke Maine Coon, it even shows in their chest, like a smoky tuxedo look. On others, like my Alice, you have to look more closely.

To look at her, you would assume she is just black. But then she has pure white hairs coming out of her ears. And random white strands of fur.

But the way to really tell is to part her fur under her belly, or even on her legs. It looks like she has gray "roots"! The fur is totally gray near the skin, becoming darker all the way to the ends. Pretty neat effect.

Another interesting fact about black cats is that many have an accompanying gene that causes their fur to "rust" or become brownish in the sunlight.

We saw this on Alice, even though she only received sun from sitting in windowsills. It almost looked like she has a brown mane. There is special shampoo for this, though.

black smoke maine coon on a ledge

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's):

Are Black Smoke Maine Coon Cats Rare?

This coloration is relatively uncommon compared to other coat colors and patterns. Several factors contribute to its rarity:

Genetic Complexity: The black smoke coloration requires a specific combination of genes.

The cat must have the dominant B gene for black pigmentation, the dominant I gene for the smoke effect, and two recessive a genes for a solid pattern.

This particular genetic combination is less likely to occur naturally.

Selective Breeding: Breeding for specific traits like this coloration requires deliberate selection by breeders who focus on maintaining and promoting this rare and striking coat pattern.

Not all breeders prioritize or specialize in producing this particular color, further limiting their prevalence.

Inhibitor Gene (I): The I gene, responsible for the smoke effect, is not as commonly found in the general cat population.

Its presence is essential for producing the smoke pattern, and without it, the cat would have a solid or tabby coat instead.

Market Demand: While Black Smoke Maine Coon cats are highly prized for their unique and beautiful appearance, the demand for this specific coloration may not be as high as for more common colors and patterns.

This influences breeders' choices in focusing their efforts on more popular traits.

Due to these factors, this is considered a rare and special variety within the breed.

Their striking appearance and the genetic specificity required to produce them contribute to their uniqueness and desirability among cat enthusiasts and breeders.

How Much is a Black Smoke Maine Coon?

Just like other colors, you can expect to pay in the thousands for a healthy purebred Maine Coon kitten.

Certain factors, including rarity of color as well as location, polydactyly, size and pedigree (champion lines, for example) just to name a few, may affect cost.

  • Fun Fact: Can two non-Black Smoke Maine Coons have a black smoke kitten? (Yes, they can!)

black smoke maine coon laying belly upSmokey Belly

All Maine Coons are different, in their own way, and no matter what their color.

But it's their wonderful, special Maine Coon characteristics that keep us hooked!

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