M is for Maine

Does an M on the forehead mean Maine Coon?

Does an M on the forehead mean a cat is a Maine Coon? This comes up in our Monthly Photo Albums regularly. I am surprised at how many people have heard this, especially since I hadn't heard it! It's time to set the record straight!

Jenny in Vermont asks: I was under the impression that Maine Coons had the "M" on their forehead. Any truth to this?

Hi Jenny,

It's a very, very common myth that if a cat has the M, it's a Maine Coon. No, it's not true. The "M" does not indicate that there is any Maine Coon in a cat. But, there is some basis to this theory.

It's true that a Classic Tabby Maine Coon will have the "M" marking. It's a tabby marking and it's desirable in tabby purebred cats such as Maine Coons, or tabby cats of no particular breed.

But, Maine Coons can be virtually any color, including Tortoiseshells, "Torbies" even Solids or "Tuxedos." Those cats would not have the Tabby M, but are just as much purebred Maine Coons.

For example, up at the top of this page on the left is Leo, a Cameo Classic Silver Red Tabby. He has the M, although it's not as distinct as it is in some Tabbies. And on the right of him is Alice, a Black Smoke. No M in sight! There are quite a few Maine Coons throughout our pages with no M.

On the other hand, any cat at all can be a Tabby and have an "M" on their forehead. Many short haired domestic house cats have nice sharp tabby markings, complete with an M on their forehead.

This is a major way that cats and dogs are different. Whereas most dogs are "a breed" and few are "mutts," (I hate that word! Mixed breed animals are just as wonderful as any others!) Most cats are intermingled and intermixed to an extent that there isn't a particular breed dominating their DNA. Remember, this is a question of DNA, and not of style.

Historically, when a geographical region (think Maine Coons), or group of people (think Ragamuffin) produces a very unique style of cat, keeping the bloodlines monitored, this style may become recognized as a breed, then breeders keep track of the bloodlines through pedigrees.

Of course mixes happen, but this is the main difference between "style" and "breed."

At any given time, only about 2-3% of pet cats are specifically "a breed" such as Maine Coon, Russian Blue, Ragdoll, Siamese, Bengal, Sphynx, Savannah, Persian etc. As you can imagine, only a portion of this small percent happen to be part of the Maine Coon breed.

The vast majority of cats, some 97-98%, are considered Domestic Shorthair, Longhair, or Domestic Medium Hair - DSH, DLH & DMH. This simply means that they are very, very mixed! Imagine what people may be like in a thousand or more years, and that's the general idea with cats. In unusual circumstances a purebred cat intermingles with a DSH, DLH or DMH. The kittens would then be "mixes."

As for telling whether a cat is a Maine Coon, the only way to know for sure is to check their pedigree.

Somehow I don't think this phrase would have caught on if the breed developed in Connecticut or Rhode Island for example. It's just more catchy when the mark looks like an M and the breed start with an M.

Lots of folks are wondering about this, so thanks for bringing it up! Any tabby cat can have a beautiful M! A Tabby Maine Coon will have one, lots of Coonies don't have one.

Rather than "M means a cat is a Maine Coon" it would be more accurate to say "A Tabby Maine Coon has an M".


My Cat
by: Anonymous

This is my first Maine coon she can be lovable and the next minute she will bite and scratch you like no tomorrow.Then she will go attack my Russian blue cat and fight with her.

I love them both but the biting and scratching is aimed primarily toward me only and I am the one that takes care of her.

Maine coon and wegies
by: Sharron

We have a 5 year old Wegie, Chloe, she was a rescue and I just love her gentle ways. She is a torbie with huge eyes. Then my daughter gave us a Maine coon kitten, Ava, what fun she is.

There are definite differences especially in the head shape and broader nose on the kitten. A day or two of adjustment for Chloe as she became a bit irritated with Ava using her as a trampoline...now they play, and it helps my lazy wegie get some exercise. She weighs 13 lbs.

by: Anonymous

Based on my reading of the origin of Maine Coons, they originated in Maine as the first long-hair domestic cat bred in the States.

The "M" tends to show on their forehead along with other long-haired breeds, thus the "M" for Maine, not Maine Coon. I realize this could be "mythical" in nature, but I love that it actually exits on the foreheads of this breed! : )

Cats with M on their forehead.
by: Peter

I thought folklore had it that cats with the M on their foreheads indicated that they were related to "chosen" cats that had been blessed by the Prophet.

Maine Coons from a Mainer
by: Anonymous

I was born in Maine and still live here on the beautiful coast. I have never been without a cat. It is amazing to me that that the price of a MAINE COON is so high. Mine were given to me. Anyway, those you you who own one are really blessed.

by: Anonymous

It sounds like you and Chester need some bonding times together. I would suggest a short fishing rod (child size) and attach some type of fake furry or feathery toy. He will delight you with his antics.

The exercise will give him a great appetite and it's something you can both look forward to. Throw in a little catnip, and the benefits to you both will be enormous. Good luck to you!

fussy eaters
by: Mrs E

Some cats are fussy eaters. I suggest that you buy your food at a pet store that allows returns if your cat does not eat the food.

I have similar experiences with my four little darlings ranging in age from 20 years to four months. All rescued and all loved and enjoyed for their unique personalities.

Some insist on being on my lap while others come and go, and prefer a chair close by. Entice your cat with play to change their mood. One day a paper bag, another put a small toy in an empty tissue box, whatever you have around that can be turned into something to explore and catch a toy.

Box with catnip is also worth considering for your loner. Our cats entertain us all the time and we would not consider not having pets ever!

Jekyll and Hyde??
by: Animal lover

I can sympathize with you Dee.
We have a female cat, now 5 years old which was rescued from a shelter 3 1/2 years ago.

She is a grey smoke colour, looking identical to the middle picture in the title bar at the top of the website, with a huge mane and raccoon tail (about 5 inches wide all the way base to tip!)and tummy fur that hangs to the ground - and NEVER loses any of it, not even in midsummer (temps >100 degrees even.

This includes shedding - it just doesn't appear on clothes blankets or anything. This is wonderful. She didn't get the extremely long fur until several months after arriving - possibly due to not being in the best condition.

She is also a very big cat, we guess around 12-14 lbs, but cannot weigh her due to reasons below. She has the sweetest face and looks adoringly cuddly. But....

Sometimes she will allow a pat or to be picked up, but never enjoys it, never smooches. She will - on the odd occasion - sit next to us on the couch, but generally prefers her own chair to herself.

And if she doesn't get her own way - like getting picked up when not wanted, or not being allowed out a door for any reason, then watch out! Severe scratches & bites are the result.

It can be so unexpected, and the scars, both physical and emotional can take a while to heal! Sometimes we feel like we have to tippy toe around her, not knowing when the next attack may come.

Having seen the temperament descriptions, we attribute her anti-social behaviour to unknown happenings in her past life before we rescued her.

As for diet, she can only be described as extremely fussy. She will pretty much only eat dry cat food. No meat, fish or any type of canned cat food, and no pet milk either.Oh, she will eat a small piece of potato crisp(no bigger that an inch)and only one piece.

That is it for her diet. It is the strangest thing we have ever seen! However she is certainly not starving & looks very healthy, but not even our new kitten gobbling every bit of food in sight will not tempt her to try any of it.

The funniest thing is to see them run to each others dry food bowls - she loves the kitten food, and he loves any food left around!

I wonder if there are any others with similar experiences??

by: Dee

I have I think a Maine Coon, who knows? He is so sweet at times and then again he will lunge and bite, I mean bite like I am the prey.

If he doesn't like the treat I give him he just sits and looks at me for a long time then goes and hides under the bed for hours. He doesn't eat like I think he should.

He acts like he doesn't like any food, very picky. Sometimes he looks at it and walks away looks at me and then goes and hides for hours again. I got him for company, but there are days he wants to have an attitude.

I feed him Fancy Feast Dry Food, and every kind of treat you can imagine I have tried. I have spent a fortune on this cat to try and satisfy him. He is about 4 yrs old, got him from rescue.

This is my first time having a cat, and I don't understand them. Some days he acts like he wants to be with me all the time and loving and other days I never see him.

Those are the days he doesn't like anything. Oh woe is me! Any ideas. Sure would appreciate any advice. His name is Chester too.

Comments for M is for Maine

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Dec 17, 2021
Abusive Cats
by: Dr. Sherry L. K.

I am so sorry to hear about any cat that bites their owner. I tried for six years to tame such a cat; friendly one minute, unprovoked vicious biter the next. It does hurt emotionally and physically. My hand is still healing from the final bite of such a cat. My husband and I decided, in the interest of safety and mental health, to remove her from our home. Peace at last! Our 2 other cats are sweet and affectionate. We have a young Maine Coon that brings nothing but love and joy to us every day. Our other kitty, of mixed origin, hasn't a mean bone in his body. For whatever reason a cat continually bites, in my experience, it will not change. Too many loving cats are destroyed every year that could otherwise bring adopters joy. Why have a menace in your home? Don't keep a cat that you cannot trust. It is not worth the emotional and physical pain to do so.

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