maine coon cat vs tabby cats

Maine Coon Cat vs Tabby Cats [how to tell the difference]

Two popular types of cats are the Maine Coon breed and the common tabby cat. In light of this, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on each of these cats.

The Maine Coon cat is a breed of cats that is recognized as a purebred. A Tabby cat is just a collection of cats sharing certain characteristics in their coat pattern. The Maine Coon cat is a certified breed. A Tabby cat is not a breed.

To learn more about the two types of cats and how to tell them apart please continue reading.

What Is a Maine Coon Cat
What Is a Maine Coon Cat?

What Is a Maine Coon Cat?

Maine Coon owners love their cat’s sweet and friendly personality. They have a heavy coat of silken fur. These cats are known to adapt to most climates and environments with relative ease. 

The Maine Coon cat is recognized as a purebred cat by the International Cat Association. Be aware that purebred Maine Coons can only be obtained from a reputable breeder. Breed standards do not allow for mixing with other breeds. 

Belonging to the domestic longhair cats family, the Maine Coon is special in that some believe it is the only one native to the United States.

It is one of the most popular breeds in the country and the Cat Fanciers Association calls the Maine Coon cat a “national treasure”.

Maine Coon cats are also known as the Maine Shag, the Coon Cat, and simply the Maine Cat. And as you may have already guessed, the Maine Coon is the official cat of the state of Maine.

Maine Coon Cat Origin

As their name suggests, Maine Coon cats originate from the state of Maine in the northeastern part of the United States. They are believed to be descendants of cats that came over on the ships of European settlers.

Maine Coon Cat History

There is an old legend that the Maine Coon cat came directly from six cats that were once owned by the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette
Maine Coon Cat History

As the story goes, Marie Antoinette’s life was not spared during the French Revolution but her cats were and sailed to Maine for a new life!

Norwegian Forest Cat

Not to be outdone by the intriguing Marie Antoinette fable there is another story of how the Maine Coon came to be.

According to ancient lore, the Norwegian Forest Cat, which is similar to the Maine Coon in many ways was brought over to North America by Viking explorers thousands of years ago!

What Does a Maine Coon Cat Look Like?

A Maine Coon cat is a large cat with a big bushy tail (sometimes called a raccoon’s tail) that can wrap its tail around its entire body. They have a distinctively different look and size from normal cats. 

Their long and straight, thick coat comes with a remarkable array of colors and patterns. In other words, they look like a “big and fluffy” cat. The Maine Coon’s long fur makes them well equipped to take on the harsh cold climates of New England.

Another distinctive look for some Maine Coon cats is what is called Lynx Tip ears. These are elongated pointed tips on the top of their ears. Not every Maine Coon has Lynx Tip ears though.

Maine Coon vs Ragdoll

Some people confuse these two cats because of their similar physical features. Ragdoll cats do have pretty fluffy coats and are very friendly and make great pets.

However, they are generally smaller than a Maine Coon Cat. One distinctive way to tell them apart is the eyes. All Ragdoll cats have blue eyes while Coon Cats can have a variety of different colored eyes including green, copper, and gold.

How Big Is a Maine Coon Cat?

Often called gentle giants, Maine Coon cats are taller than other domestic cats reaching heights from 10 inches to 16 inches (other breeds are usually in the range of 9” to 10”). 

On average male Main Coons reach a length of about 40 inches. The world record holder is a Maine Coon cat that reached four feet in length! They are the world’s longest cats!

How Big Is a Maine Coon Cat
How Big Is a Maine Coon Cat? Big!

Maine Coon Cats also have large paws and interestingly, it is not unusual for them to have extra toes. In fact, it is estimated that about 40% of Maine Coons have this condition which is called Polydactyly (being born with extra fingers or toes).

Maine Coon Cat Weight

The average female Maine Coon cat weighs from 8 to 12 pounds. The average male Maine Coon cat weighs from 12 to 18 pounds.

Maine Coon Cat Colors

These cats come in a vast assortment of colors. The most common Maine Coon Cat color is brown with white Maine Coon cats being the rarest and most sought after. An interesting side note is that white Maine Coon’s eyes are often bright blue!

Maine Coon Cat Colors:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blue Cream
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Silver
  • Tortoiseshell
  • White

Rarest Maine Coon Color

One of the rarest Maine Coon Cat colors is orange (also known as “ginger”). Other rare colors include blue and white.

As we mentioned above, white is generally rare or uncommon. Blue, is actually a mix of smokey blue and grey.

Maine Coon Personality Traits

Maine Coon cats are well-known for having pleasant personalities. They are usually gentle in temperament, quite sweet, and personable.

The Maine Coon also gets along well with most other animals like dogs and they fit in quite well with most human families including those with small children.

Are Maine Coon Cats Friendly

Maine Coon cats are very friendly. They are friendly to their family, including the children, and they are even friendly to strangers. Although, they are large cats and may seem a bit intimidating they are actually all cuddles and warmth.

Are Maine Coon Cats Good Pets

In terms of personality, they are intelligent cats, silly, and friendly. They do make good pets.

What might be of concern, though, is the amount of care they demand. Generally, they need moderate or even great attention, mostly because of their long silken coat or fur.

Average Maine Coon Lifespan

The average Maine Coon cat should have an expected lifespan of from 9 to 13 years.

Do Maine Coon Cats Shed

Maine Coon cats are known for having a high tendency to shed so they are not hypoallergenic.

Do Maine Coon Cats Like Water

Many Maine Coon cats are quite fond of water, at least in comparison to most other cat breeds. They seem to enjoy splashing around and playing in puddles, ponds, and swimming pools.

As long as the water isn’t too hot, they should adapt to it quite well. As a result, they are generally regarded as good sea companions. So, if you have your own boat, this is the breed you want to take with you on it.

Maine Coon Cat Health Issues

There are a few health concerns potential owners of Maine Coon cats should take into account.

Maine Coons have some hereditary health issues especially if you aren’t cautious about who you buy from. They include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, and spinal muscular atrophy.

These medical issues are as follows:

  •  Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease that leads to a thickening of the muscles in the heart.
  •  Hip dysplasia is a problem with the hip socket (hereditary) of varying degrees of severity. Severe cases can lead to lameness.
  •  Spinal muscular atrophy is a problem with dying neurons in the spinal cord that can result in muscular degeneration and weakness.

Maine Coon Cat Names

Maine Coon owners all seem to have a flair for naming their cat. If you get one then you must give him a fitting name as well!

To help you out, here is a shortlist of some of the more common names people give their Maine Coon cats.

  • Blizzard
  • Cloudburst
  • Fluffy
  • Grizzly
  • Majestic
  • Olympia
  • Pillow
  • Popcorn
  • Princess
  • Queeney
  • Snowflake
  • Thunder

Maine Coon Cats Price

Maine Coon cats are not cheap! You may expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1500 or more for purebred Maine Coon kittens from a good breeder. Adult Maine Coons prices vary on the size of the cat and amount of long hair they have. 

What is a Tabby Cat

It may come as a surprise to you, but a Tabby cat is not a particular breed. Any cat of any breed can be a tabby cat. They come in many sizes and colors.

The word tabby refers to the pattern of colors in the cat’s coat of fur. And even there, there are multiple cat coat patterns that can be referred to as tabby. Tabby markings are defined by the presence of an “M” shaped pattern in the fur on the forehead of the cat.

Tabby Cat Origin

The physical ancestry of the tabby cat dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt and the domesticated cats that lived there.

As for the word itself, “tabby” is a derivation of the French word “tabis” that referred to a type of silk taffeta whose pattern was similar to the coat of the tabby cat.

Also, of interest to the origin of the tabby cat is the coat of the mackerel tabby cat which looks very much like the skeleton of that particular fish. This, it is commonly believed, was the pattern originally recognized as tabby for the first tabby cats.

What Does a Tabby Cat Look Like?

Tabby cats come in several different groups. One of the most often recognized is the variety whose fur is filled alternating stripes of just a few colors (black and grey, light and darker orange, etc…). However, there are other varieties with different patterns such as the presence of whorls and spots and what have.

As mentioned above, the most important characteristic to look for—the one that denotes a true tabby cat is the presence of a “M-shaped” pattern on their foreheads.

True to the mystique of cats in general, this M-shape has inspired a number of interesting myths like that of the “tabby cat that snuggled up to the Baby Jesus.”.

Tabby Cat Size

As any breed of cat can be a tabby cat, the size of tabby cats vary with the size of general domestic cats. Most newborn tabby cats, for example, weigh around 3.5 to 3.75 ounces. At full maturity, some domestic cats can measure in height anywhere from 8” to 16” although on average they will measure from 9.1” to 9.8”. I

In terms of weight, tabby cats average from 8 to 12 pounds. Females tend to weigh a little bit less. Also, the breed of the cat can skew these averages.

Tabby Cat Colors

Not only do tabby cats populate many breeds, they also come in a large variety of colors. Brown and brown/grey are probably the most common. There are also grey, cream, buff, and orange tabbies as well as silver.

Rare Tabby Cat Colors

The rarest color for a tabby cat is generally considered to be lavender since lavender is recognized as the rarest color for cats in general. That particular color is most common in Siamese as well as Colorpoint Shorthair cats.

Tabby Cat Patterns

The first on the list of tabby coat patterns is the previously mentioned mackerel pattern which has parallel stripes running down both sides that look like the skeleton of a mackerel fish.

Next up, is the classic tabby which, of all the varieties, is the most common. These consist of wide curving stripes with three additional stripes going from shoulder to tail. It is often said to resemble a marble cake.

Additionally, there is the spotty tabby that carries distinctive dark circular spots against a lighter background. Sometimes, these also exhibit a light necklace-like pattern.

Finally, the ticked tabby cat might be misidentified without a closer look. The stripes on its coat are very thin and not the deciding factor, rather, it is the hairs of the coat that actually bare the stripes.

Tabby Cat Personality

Many owners of tabby cats believe they have distinctive personality traits and characteristics.

Some think their tabby is exceptionally outgoing, playful, and curious. Others think them to be more intelligent than other breeds.

Similarly, since are naturally quite cuddly, they are quite popular with both kids and parents. Finally, the red tabby is often regarded as a feisty handful of a cat.

What is an Orange Tabby Cat?

An orange tabby cat or “red” tabby cat is a tabby cat with orange fur. They are also called a ginger cat or a marmalade cat. Remember, all “Tabby” cats are just a coat pattern and color.

The following table lists a number of cat breeds in which the red tabby most commonly appears:

  • Abyssinians
  • American
  • Bengals
  • Bobtails
  • British Shorthairs
  • Egyptian Maus
  • Maine Coons
  • Munchkin
  • Persians

Average Tabby Cat Lifespan

A tabby cat generally lives to between 12 and 18 years of age, possibly longer. A lot of factors influence this, including the cat’s diet, their exercise regimen, and innumerable genetic factors.

Generally speaking, fur markings and colors in themselves do not influence how long a cat will live. Outdoor cats, as a general rule, might live shorter lives due to the additional dangers that lurk outside be it from predators to speeding cars.

Tabby Cat Longhair

Although most tabby cats are of the short-haired variety, there are long-haired specimens as well. The most prominent difference between short-haired cats and long-haired cats consists in grooming practices and how often they shed.

Short-haired cats tend to shed more than long-haired cats. But long-haired cats should be brushed and bathed more often largely to prevent matting of the fur.

Tabby Cat Spiritual Meaning

There is a rich history of spiritual lore related to cats in general reaching all the way back to antiquity. Indeed, in Ancient Egypt many cats were treated like royalty and even worshipped as gods. Those who killed a cat were often executed.

In modern times, the New Age movement has adopted many cat themes in its philosophy. A cat that appears in a dream is supposed to indicate that someone/something is trying to tell you something important.

As such, you have the responsibility of getting that dream interpreted. This is no less true when the cat involved is a tabby cat.

According to, “… a tabby grey feline in your dream is a message about direction. Therefore, you must also analyze the rest of your vision. In other words, there are choices that you have to make, and the tabby is pointing you to the right one.”

Tabby Cat Names

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is deciding on what to name your Tabby cat! To help, we’ve collected a list of popular tabby cat names:

TabithaTiggerZig Zag
Tabby Cat Names

Do Tabby Cats Shed

As mentioned above, short-haired tabby cats are more likely to shed more than long-haired tabby cats. The trade-off, of course, is grooming.

Long-haired tabby cats require more brushing and bathing. In general, tabby cats are known to be a little over-enthusiastic in their own grooming habits. Still, they do require significant care from you.


You now have an extensive list of characteristics and answers to questions about the Maine Coon Cat vs Tabby cat. 

The biggest thing to remember is that the Maine Coon is a pure breed of cat while a Tabby is a color pattern and can apply to all breeds of cat. 

We hope this was informative and will help you should you decide to purchase a Maine Coon, or a Tabby, or even a Maine Coon Tabby mix.

maine coon vs tabby

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