Differences between American and European Maine Coon Cats

American vs European Maine Coon Cat

By Jennie @ Maine Coon Cats World

May 17, 2023

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When you think of Maine Coon cats, their majestic appearance and friendly temperament may immediately come to mind. However, what you may not know is that there are distinct differences between the American Maine Coon and the European Maine Coon cats. Both types of Maine Coon cats boast unique features and characteristics that distinguish them from each other.

The American Maine Coon has a more refined look, with a smoother coat and less wild appearance than its European (and Russian) counterpart, as well as a narrower, natural-looking muzzle. Comparatively, the European Maine Coon features higher cheekbones, a larger squarish muzzle, and more upright lynx-like ears, lending it a powerful and distinguished air. It’s essential to understand these differences to appreciate better the unique charm and appeal of each variety of this incredible breed.

As you delve further into the world of Maine Coon cats, you’ll come across fascinating facts about their origin, history, and physical attributes. By uncovering these captivating differences, you’ll undoubtedly become an expert in recognizing the nuances between the American and European Maine Coon, broadening your understanding and appreciation for these beautiful creatures.

European Maine Coon

European Maine Coon


Origins and History

The Maine Coon is a naturally occurring breed that originated in the harsh climates of the northeastern United States, specifically the state of Maine. These majestic cats first appeared in recorded literature in the mid-19th century. The European Maine Coon and American Maine Coon have some differences you might want to be aware of.

European Maine Coons exhibit certain distinguishing traits setting them apart from their American counterparts; they tend to have a more regal appearance. American Maine Coons, on the other hand, possess milder, softer features, resembling more typical domestic cats. In terms of eye shape, American Maine Coons have oblique-shaped eyes, while European Maine Coons have almond-shaped eyes.

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The International Cat Association (TICA) and the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) recognize both the American and European Maine Coon as the same breed. However, the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFE) specifically recognizes the European Maine Coon, giving it more prominence and attention on the European show circuit.

When comparing the muzzle of the two varieties, the American Maine Coon has a narrower and more natural-looking muzzle than the often exaggerated, squarish muzzle found in the European Maine Coon. This contributes to their distinct appearances.

In summary, while the American and European Maine Coon cats share common origins as a breed, you can identify differences primarily in their facial features, eye shapes, and muzzle structure.

American Maine Coon

American Maine Coon


Physical Differences

Size and Weight

When comparing the American and the European Maine Coon cats, you will notice some variations in size and weight. European Maine Coons tend to be larger and heavier than their American counterparts. While both are considered giant cat breeds, the European variety’s extra weight contributes to their imposing appearance.


One significant difference between the American and European Maine Coons lies in their muzzle size and shape. The American Maine Coon has a narrower, more natural-looking muzzle, whereas the European Maine Coon often has a squarish and more pronounced muzzle.

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Coat and Colors

Both the American and European Maine Coons have long, lush coats that serve as protection during cold weather. The American Maine Coon has a smoother coat with less of a wild appearance than the European variety, which boasts a thicker, shaggier coat. Both types come in various colors and patterns.

Eyes and Ears

The shape of the eyes varies between the two breeds. European Maine Coons have almond-shaped, piercing eyes, whereas American Maine Coons have slightly oblique-shaped eyes. When it comes to ears, European Maine Coons often have taller and tufted ears akin to a lynx, while American Maine Coons display less pronounced ear tufts.

Tail and Paws

Both types of Maine Coon cats have long, bushy tails and large paws. The tails serve as extra insulation and protection against cold temperatures, while their sizable paws allow these cats to handle rough and rugged terrain. European Maine Coons tend to have slightly shorter legs than their American counterparts, though the difference is subtle.

European Maine Coon

European Maine Coon


Personality and Temperament

When considering the personality and temperament of both American and European Maine Coon cats, you’ll find that they share several similarities. Both types are known to be affectionate, intelligent, and loyal, making them excellent companions for various households.

You’ll notice that these cats are quite playful and friendly, showcasing their outgoing nature and making them sociable with other pets and family members. Their high level of intelligence also makes them curious creatures who love to explore and learn new things.

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  • Affectionate: Both the European and American Maine Coons are known to be loving and gentle pets, forming strong bonds with their human companions.
  • Intelligent: These cats are known for their quick thinking and problem-solving abilities, often surprising their owners with their cleverness.
  • Loyal: Maine Coons are devoted pets, remaining loyal to their family members and developing strong attachments.
  • Playful: Both varieties have a playful side, engaging in interactive games and showing a love for toys and activities.
  • Friendly and Sociable: Maine Coons tend to get along well with other pets and enjoy being around people, making them great additions to houses with diverse pet populations.

While there may be slight differences in their appearance, the personalities of both European and American Maine Coons are generally quite similar. They possess a regal and lion-like demeanor, combined with a loving and adaptable nature. As you get to know your Maine Coon cat, you’ll likely notice their charming, gentle, and outgoing personality shining through, endearing them to everyone in your household.

American Maine Coon

American Maine Coon


Health and Lifespan

When comparing the health and lifespan of American and European Maine Coon cats, you’ll find that they share similarities concerning their general health and average lifespan. Both the European and American Maine Coon cats have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. This similarity extends to their general health, with both cat breeds being relatively healthy and not prone to major hereditary health problems.

However, there are a few health concerns that are relatively common in Maine Coon cats, which you should be aware of:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This heart disease can affect both American and European Maine Coon cats. It is a genetic condition that results in the thickening of the heart muscle and can cause heart failure. Regular check-ups and genetic screening can help identify early signs of HCM and allow you to take preventative measures.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Maine Coon cats, whether American or European, can develop hip dysplasia, which is an abnormality in the hip joint. This condition can lead to arthritis, mobility issues, and pain. To prevent hip dysplasia, ensure proper nutrition and monitor your cat’s weight, as obesity can exacerbate the issue.
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy: Both American and European Maine Coon cats can be affected by spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neurological disorder that results in muscle weakness. Although there is no cure for this condition, early diagnosis and proper care can help maintain your cat’s quality of life.

To ensure your Maine Coon, whether American or European, maintains good health and a long lifespan, it’s crucial to provide them with a balanced diet, regular exercise, grooming, and veterinary check-ups. Being aware of the common health concerns and taking preventative measures can help keep your cat happy and healthy for many years.


Breeding and Breeders

US and European Breeders

When it comes to breeding Maine Coon cats, there is a noticeable difference between American and European breeders. Breeders in the US focus on producing cats with a more refined appearance, whereas European breeders aim for a wilder look. This difference is evident in the physical attributes of the two types of Maine Coons.

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European Maine Coons typically have a more imposing physique compared to their American counterparts. Conversely, the American Maine Coons have a smoother coat and less wild-looking appearance.

Registries and Associations

Several organizations are responsible for maintaining breed standards and supporting breeders in both the US and Europe. Among them are:

Both TICA and CFA are well-established associations based in the US, but their work extends internationally. On the other hand, FIFe is focused on European cat breeds, including European Maine Coons.

These associations ensure adhering to breed standards and providing guidance for breeders, contributing to the Maine Coon breed’s overall quality.

Selecting a Reputable Breeder

When looking for a Maine Coon, it’s essential to choose a reputable breeder who is committed to preserving the breed. A good breeder will prioritize the health and longevity of their cats over personal preferences. As you search for a breeder, be sure to do your research and ask questions about the cattery’s history, bloodlines, and breeding practices.

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Additionally, visit the cattery in person and observe the living conditions, the cats’ health, and the breeder’s dedication to the Maine Coon breed. Reputable breeders will be registered with one or more of the previously mentioned associations (TICA, CFA, or FIFe). Don’t hesitate to ask for references from previous customers to ensure you are choosing the right breeder for your future Maine Coon companion.

European Maine Coon

European Maine Coon


Pricing and Availability

When looking for a Maine Coon kitten, you may wonder about the differences in pricing and availability between the American and European variants. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision when choosing your new feline companion.

The cost of a European Maine Coon tends to be higher than an American Maine Coon. European breeders often acquire cats from abroad, which can influence the price. Their price can also vary greatly depending on factors such as breed, color, and health.

On the other hand, American Maine Coons may have different pricing, and their cost is influenced by similar factors like color and health status. Availability of American Maine Coons is likely to be greater within the continental United States as they are bred locally, compared to the European Maine Coon, which is mainly bred in the UK and Russia.

When searching for a Maine Coon kitten, consider the following options:

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  • Local breeders: Look for reputable Maine Coon breeders in your area for both American and European variants. You can check their online presence, reviews, and kittens for sale.
  • Online ads or classifieds: Keep an eye on online platforms for available kittens. But always verify the credibility of sellers on these platforms.
  • Feline associations and cat clubs: Reach out to associations and clubs for appropriate breeder contacts and kitten availability.
  • Adoption centers or rescues: In some instances, Maine Coon cats could be available in adoption centers or rescue organizations. Adopting a cat is a noble gesture that can give a cat a forever home.

Please note that regardless of the type of Maine Coon you choose, prioritize finding a reputable breeder to ensure your furry companion is healthy and well-cared-for.

American Maine Coon

American Maine Coon


Caring for an American or European Maine Coon

Regardless of whether you have an American or European Maine Coon, caring for these cats is generally similar. This section will provide you with some guidance on taking care of these majestic felines.

Space and Environment

Maine Coons are known for their impressive size and bushy tails, making them one of the largest cat breeds. Because of their size, it’s essential to provide them with enough space to explore and climb. Ensure that you have tall scratch posts or climbing shelves for them to reach their desired height. They also enjoy playing and training in their environment. Both American and European Maine Coons are highly intelligent and easy to train, so incorporating tricks and exercises into their playtime can keep them engaged.

Grooming and Maintenance

Maine Coons have long, silky coats that need regular grooming to avoid matting. Take the time to groom your cat’s coat at least weekly to keep it looking healthy and shiny. This can also be an excellent opportunity for bonding. Additionally, regular check-ups with the veterinarian should be part of their care routine. Remember to keep an eye on their paws since they have large tufts of fur between their toes, which may require trimming from time to time.

Lion-Like Look Maintenance

Both American and European Maine Coons are often noted for their regal appearance and wilder, lion-like look. If you want to maintain this characteristic look, focus on grooming the ruff around their neck and head, giving them a feral yet majestic aura. Regular grooming, as mentioned above, will help achieve this appearance by keeping their coat in top condition.

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By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your American or European Maine Coon is well taken care of, allowing them to thrive in your home.

Why Do Maine Coons Have Ear Tufts?
European Maine Coon

Myths and Legends

In the world of Maine Coon cats, there are several myths and legends surrounding their origin and features. It’s essential to understand these interesting stories to appreciate these fascinating felines better.

You might have heard the legend that Maine Coons are descendants of Norwegian Forest cats. This tale traces back to the idea that they arrived in North America with the Vikings. It’s a captivating story, but there’s no historical or genetic evidence to back up this claim.

Another prevalent myth in the Maine Coon community is the notion of an “Asian Maine Coon.” While some people believe this to be a distinct subspecies, it’s important to note that there is no scientific basis for such a classification. Instead, the term likely refers to Maine Coons bred in Asia, rather than denoting a separate sub-breed.

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Maine Coons also have a health history that has generated some misguided beliefs. One common misconception is that European Maine Coons are generally healthier than their American counterparts. While it’s essential to be aware of any breed-specific health issues, the overall health of a Maine Coon depends on factors like genetics and care provided by the breeder or owner, rather than geographic origin.

Finally, let’s address the refined look that some breeders strive for in their Maine Coon cats. You may come across the term “lion-like” to describe the feline’s appearance, especially for European Maine Coons with larger ears, fuller tails, and prominent cheekbones. While it’s an appealing characterization, it’s crucial to remember that these traits can vary significantly between individual cats and should not be considered the defining factor of either the American or European varieties.

As you can see, both the European and American Maine Coon have some differences, but these beautiful and affectionate creatures share many traits with other cat breeds. The choice between a Euro Coon, an American Maine Coon, or another breed depends on your personal preference and the qualities you’re seeking in a feline companion.

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Written by Jennie @ Maine Coon Cats World

I'm Jennie, the creator of Maine Coon Cats World and Ragdoll Cats World. I have been owned and loved by Ragdoll Cats for almost twenty years and have recently introduced a Maine Coon Cat into our family, Eddie, who we think it the best cat in the world but shhhhh ... don't tell our Ragdolls that! We love sharing our knowledge of all things related to Maine Coon Cats with you at Maine Coon Cats World!

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