The Breed Standard
The breed standard, or the Standard of Points, is the written description of how the breed should look.
The table below details the Standard of Points for the four different registries in the UK – GCCF, FIFe, and TICA/LCWW.
The Standard for Maine Coons hasn’t changed since 1969 and the descriptions were made in comparison with Persians. This distinction is vital as modern interpretation uses the Standard to excuse extreme breeding. When reading each registry’s Standard, always keep in mind how the description compares against the Persian and not against other Maine Coons.
Following the table are images of cats from the TICA Breed Seminar in 2004 which demonstrates how the breed should look. The Standard has not changed since 2004, therefore the breed should not have changed. Jump to the images here.
|General||The Maine Coon is a semi-longhaired cat of medium Foreign type and is distinguished by its large size, bone structure, rectangular appearance and flowing coat. |
The Maine Coon evolved as a working domesticated cat in a rural environment; the role is reflected in the muscular cat of rugged outdoor appearance with a characteristic weatherproof coat and the demeanour of a capable hunter
|Appearance: The breed of the Maine Coon is large framed with a square outline of the head, large ears, broad chest, solid bone structure, a long, hard muscled, rectangular body and a long flowing tail.|
Good muscle tone and density give the cat the appearance of power and robustness.
|The Maine Coon is America’s native longhaired cat.
The breed, with its essentially amiable disposition, developed through a natural selection process where only the fittest survived. It should always be remembered that the Maine Coon developed basically as a “working cat” able to fend for itself in rough, woody terrain and under extreme climatic conditions.
The Maine Coon is a large breed with big ears, broad chest, substantial boning, a long, hard-muscled, rectangular body and a long, flowing tail, and large feet with tufts.
|Head||Medium in length, the nasal bridge being equidistant from the ear line and the tip of the nose, with the width being slightly less than the length of the head. |
Cheeks fairly full, with high cheekbones. Allowance should be made for additional breadth or jowls in mature males.
|Medium in size; square outline. |
Face and nose of medium length with a square outline of the muzzle.
Distinct transition can be felt between muzzle and cheekbones
|Broad, modified wedge.
Size in proportion to body. Slightly longer than wide.
Distinct muzzle break can be seen under high prominent cheekbones.
(forehead to nose)
|Nose of uniform width with shallow concave curve at the nasal bridge when viewed in profile, and without a sharp break or stop.||Profile with a gentle concave slop. Forehead is gently curved||Gently curving forehead. Gentle concave curve at bridge of nose flowing into a smooth nose line. Slight nose bump allowed in kittens.|
|Chin & muzzle|
(nose to chin)
|The muzzle should be square with firm chin: chin, upper lip and nose leather should fall in a perpendicular line.||Firm, in vertical alignment with nose and upper lip||Wide and deep enough to complete square look of muzzle. Firm, in line with upper lip.|
|Ears||Large, tall ears, wide at base and tapering to appear pointed at the tip; set high but well apart.||Large, wide at the base. Moderately point. |
Lynx tufts are desirable.
Tufts of hair in the ears extend beyond outer edges of ears.
Set high on head with a very slight outward tilt, ears should be placed one ear’s width apart. The width extends slightly in older cats.
Lower base set just slightly further back than upper base.
|Large, wide at base with outer base set just slightly farther back than inner base. Outer base just above the level of the top of the eye.
Outside edges have a very slight outward tilt that is not past eleven and one o’clock. Set fairly high on head with inner edge of bases no more than one ear’s width apart. Taller than the width at base but still in balance with head length.
Moderately pointed ears appear taller due to lynx tips.
Furnishings extend beyond outer edge of ear.
|Eyes||Full and round, spaced wide apart with a slightly oblique aperture and set. |
Shades of green, gold or copper; coat and eye colour may be unrelated.
Odd or blue eyes are permissible in white cats.
|Shape: Large and widely set. Slight oval, but not almond shaped, appear round when wide open.|
Set: Slightly slanted towards the outer base of the ear.
Colour: Any colour is permitted. There is no relationship between eye- and coat colour.
Clear eye colour is desirable.
|Large, slightly oval, appear round when wide open.
Outer corner of eye points toward outer base of ear. Wide-set.
Colour: Any shade of green and/or gold. No relation to coat colour.
Blue and odd-eyes accepted in whites and particolours.
|Body||Body large to medium size, solid and muscular with breadth of chest. |
Long body with proportionate limbs to create the characteristic rectangular appearance; square rump.
|The body should be long, substantial bone structure. Hard muscled, powerful, broad-chested. |
Large framed, all parts of the body in proportion to create a rectangular appearance.
|Torso: Large, long, substantial, rectangular, equal in breadth from shoulders to hips. Broad chest. Level back. Females may be noticeably smaller than males.
Musculature: Substantial, powerful.
Legs: Medium length to form a
rectangle with the body.
|Legs and paws||Substantial legs with large round paws; toes carried close, five in front, four behind.||Substantial, medium length to form a rectangle with the body|
Paws: Large, round and well tufted between the toes
|Maine Coon: Large, round and well-tufted.
Maine Coon Polydactyl: Large, well-tufted. Additional toes allowed on either fore or hind paws or both. Paws may be mitten or patty foot.
Symmetrical expression preferred.
Maximum of 7 toes on any one foot.
|Tail||Long, at least the length of the back, wide at the base and tapering towards the tip. Fur long, profuse and flowing; not bushy.||At least as long as the body from shoulder blade to base of tail. Wide at the base tapering to the tip; with full, flowing hair. The hair on the tail is long and always remains flowing.||At least as long as the body. Wide at base and tapering to tip with full, flowing fur.
|Coat||Waterproof and virtually self-maintaining, consisting of an undercoat covered by a more substantial glossy topcoat. |
Fur shorter on the head, neck and shoulders increasing in length down the back, flanks and tail. A fluffy appearance is undesirable.
Breeches and belly fur full and shaggy.
Frontal ruff beginning at the base of the ears; heavier in males than females.
Ears feathered and preferably tufted at the tips; the ear feathering should extend beyond the outer edges of the ear.
Paws tufted, with long tufts emanating from under the paws, extending backwards to create a snowshoe effect.
|All weather coat. |
Short on the head, shoulder and legs, becoming gradually longer down the back and sides, with long, full shaggy baggy trousers on the hind legs and belly fur. A frill is expected.
Texture silky. Coat as a distinct body, falling smoothly.
The undercoat is soft and fine, covered by the coarse smooth outercoat.
|Uneven; shorter on shoulders, gradually lengthening down the back and sides. Long, full, shaggy belly fur and britches.
Frontal ruff becomes more developed with age.
Texture: All-weather coat. A slight undercoat gives the coat body but coat still falls smoothly. Not cottony.
|Colour||The Maine Coon is recognised in a variety of solid colours (including white in all eye colours); tortoiseshell; tabby colours (classic and mackerel patterns) with or without silver; shaded and smoke colours; bi-colour and parti-colour (e.g. solid/tabby/tortoiseshell/shaded/smoke colour and white).||All colour varieties are permitted, including all colour varieties with white, except pointed patterns and chocolate and lilac, cinnamon and fawn.|
All colour varieties are permitted, including all colour varieties with white, except pointed patterns and chocolate and lilac, cinnamon and fawn.
Any amount of white is allowed, i.e. a white blaze, white locket, white chest, which on the belly, white on the paws, etc.
|Particolors must have some white on all four feet.|
|Faults||Blue or odd eyes in cats of a colour other than white|
Van Patterned Cats
Cobby body shape and/or fine bone structure
Bi-Colour or Parti-colour cats that do not exhibit some white on all four paws, belly and chest
Definite nose break or stop
Straight profile or pronounced nose bump
White markings (including buttons, lockets or spots) anywhere other than those referred to in the SOP
Overall even coat length
Persian like coat texture
Serious colour or pattern faults
Overall small cat
Straight or convex profile
Pronounced whisker pads
Round or pointed muzzle
Wide set, flared ears
Slanted, almond shaped eyes
Fine, light bone structure
Short cobby body
Long stilty legs
Lack of belly shag
Coat of overall even length
Lack of any undercoat
|Eyes: Slanted, almond-shaped Flat tops on openings.
Ears: Very close, set straight up.
Narrow bases. Wide-set, flared.
Chin: Weak or receding, narrow, lack of depth.
Muzzle: Prominent whisker pads.
Profile: Straight. Roman nose. Pronounced bump.
Tail: Short tail.
Feet: Toes (excluding dewclaws) not touching the table.
Coat: Lack of slight undercoat or belly shag. Overall even coat.
Colour: Obvious lockets.
TICA Breed Seminar 2004
Below are images of Maine Coons that either meet or don’t meet the Breed Standard or Standard of Points.
Although the seminar is nearly 20 years old, the Standard of Points has not changed since 1969 and so the breed should not have changed either. These images are true reflections of what the Maine Coon should look like.
Maine Coons that have gained popularity on social media are not indicative of what the breed should look like.
Chin & muzzle (nose to chin)
Sources & further reading
GCCF, Maine Coon Breed Standard.
Available at: https://www.gccfcats.org/Portals/0/MaineCoon.SOP.Template.pdf?ver=2019-09-09-165545-020
FIFe, Maine Coon Breed Standard
Available at: http://www1.fifeweb.org/dnld/std/MCO.pdf
Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association, The Maine Coon: Cat Breed FAQ.
Available at: http://www.fanciers.com/breed-faqs/maine-coon-faq.html
Maine Coon International, 2012. The commentary of the authors of the FIFE-Standard of 1992 with additions by the Breed Councils as of 2012.
Available at: http://www.mainecooninternational.com/A-clarifying-Commentary-on-Standard-by-its-Authors-and-a-Pictorials-Link/
MCBFA, Scratch Sheet – Fall 1971.
Available at: http://www.mcbfa.org/1971%20Fall.PDF
Meuller-Rech, H., The Breed’s History in 9 Small Chapters.
Available at: http://www.mainecooninternational.com/The-breeds-history-in-9-small-chapters/?fbclid=IwAR12Cgs1UR3aBRkWiARm6B1-hPR4sAyxoECH64PuMKvLPZDZ4e5N4mHMne8
The Maine Coon Cat Club, The History of the Maine Coon.
Available at: http://www.maine-coon-cat-club.com/about/history/history.html
TICA, Maine Coon Breed Standard.
Available at: https://www.tica.org/phocadownload/mc.pdf
TICA, Maine Coon Breed Seminar.
Available at: https://www.tica.org/images/Breed-Seminars/mc.pdf