If you’ve landed on this article, you likely love cats – giant fluffy ones, to be exact! Maybe you’re wondering if a cat is a good pet for you or whether this is the right breed to bring into your home. Maybe you are just really interested in learning more about this giant, gorgeous breed.
Whatever your reason, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the Maine Coon, with a bit of emphasis on the black color variation. Maine Coon cats, in general, have attracted a lot of attention in recent years due to their large size and gentle personalities.
This guide will walk you through the different colors and types of Maine Coon, and discuss their size and key aspects of their temperament. If you are preparing to bring one home, we have also explained how to care for and keep a Maine Coon healthy. Finally, we delve into their origin and dispel the common myths that surround them.
Get ready to learn everything you need to know about the Maine Coon!
History & Origins
Let’s start with a rundown on Maine Coon cats in general. The Maine Coon cat is native to North America, and it is one of the oldest breeds that still exists today. As you may have guessed, the Maine Coon cat is specifically native to the state of Maine. It is actually the Northeastern state’s official state cat.
It seems to be related to the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian domestic cat, but no one is quite sure of the cat breed’s official origins. The Maine Coon cat was a popular breed during the late 19th century. A female Maine Coon cat called Cosey won the first North American Cat Show, held in New York in 1895.
After 1911, the breed started to decline, following the introduction of other long-haired breeds, including the popular Persian cats. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Maine Coon cats began their comeback, which saw their popularity rise to the third most popular cat breed today. Way to go, Maine Coons!
Colors of Maine Coons
Maine Coon cats don’t all look the same. Sure, they have similar builds and fur patterns, but they come in quite a few different fur colors and combinations.
The Maine Coon can come in solid black, white, red, cream, and blue. Red Maine Coon cats tend to be more of a gingered, orange color rather than actual red, and blue tends to resemble gray or silver.
With the smoke pattern, the cat’s fur starts very light at the root and gets progressively darker as it reaches the tip.
The classic tabby tends to have a butterfly pattern that spans across the shoulders and wide stripes that swirl around the cat’s coat.
The mackerel tabby has narrow stripes, resembling a tiger, in a fishbone pattern that runs along the spine, while additional stripes fan outwards.
The ticked tabby differs from the above as it tends to have less of a striped coat and more of a flecked color pattern. This is a result of each individual strand of hair being multicolored.
A key feature of tabby cats is the “M” that can be seen on their foreheads. Religious tales claim that this “M” is the result of either Muhammed touching a cat’s forehead in Islamic legend, or Mary doing the same in Christian legend, while Egyptian legends state that the “M” stands for “Mau”, the Egyptian word for cat. Whether it originated by one of these legends or simply due to a DNA pattern, it is a clear marker for tabbies.
This variation is the combination of white and another color. Although there are a lot of secondary color options, bi-color cats almost always have white on their chest and tummy areas and all four paws, giving them a sleek tuxedo look.
Black Maine Coon Cat Variations
What color combinations and patterns could apply to a black Maine Coon cat? There are a few different variations we explain below.
Solid Black Main Coon
This type has a coal-black colored coat, and every single hair is black from the root through to the tip. These cats will have inherited the dominant black color gene from both parent cats, as well as a recessive “non-agouti” gene, which means they will not have the tabby pattern, nor will their fur be diluted.
Smoke Black Maine Coon
The smoke-black Maine Coon cats will have at least one parent cat who carries the smoke gene. These cats tend to look black while they are stationary, but once they start moving around, they look more silvery because you get more of a glimpse of their white undercoats.
Other Types of Black Maine Coons
Additional types of black Maine Coon cats include:
- black and white (also referred to as tuxedo cats)
- black silver Maine Coon cats (which is a particularly rare breed)
- black tabby (which has brown colorings)
- black silver tabby
- black tortoiseshell or tortie Maine Coons (which have black coats with patterns of red colors)
One of the first things we notice on a Maine Coon cat is its distinct eyes. They tend to have wide-set almond-shaped eyes. The eyes are either amber or green in color, which could often also appear as copper, orange, gold, yellow, or green amber.
You may be surprised to find a black Maine Coon kitten with blue eyes. This is just a temporary feature of young kittens. Their eyes, more often than not, will change color to the amber/green spectrum as they grow. Black Maine Coons that also dote some white fur might end up with blue eyes, but this is a rare occurrence!
Black Maine Coon cats predominantly have black features beyond just their coats. Their whiskers, noses, and paw pads all tend to be black too. While they don’t have eyebrows, they do have long vibrissae hairs above their eyes that are also black.
As you might have guessed, black Maine Coons also have black ears and tufts. One of the most distinguishing features of the Maine Coon breed is the lynx-like fur that pokes out the top of their ears, which is a wild and desirable trait adored by many cat lovers.
Without a doubt, one of the most noticeable features of the Maine Coon is its size. They are one of the biggest breeds of domestic cats out there, and some can seem astonishingly big. For this reason (among others we discuss below), they have been nicknamed “The Gentle Giant” and have been cited as “dog-like.”
Although they all tend to be quite large, there is a wide range of sizes within the Maine Coon family. Females tend to weigh 8-12 pounds (3.5-5.5 kilograms), while males weigh 13-18 pounds (6-8 kilograms).
In terms of height, Maine Coons tend to fall between 10-16 inches high (25-40 centimeters), and they often reach nearly 3 feet in length, including the tail. Their tails are quite distinctive, as they are long, tapering, and very furry – quite similar to a raccoon’s tails (hence the name). Their tails can be 14 inches in length or nearly 40 centimeters.
To get an idea of how grand this breed can be, the Guinness World Records declared that Stewie, a purebred male Maine Coon, was the longest cat in the world in 2010, measuring 48.5 inches (123 centimeters) from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.
The longest cat living today is currently another Maine Coon, named Barivel, who measures 47.2 inches, or 120 centimeters. When Barviel stands on his back feet, his front paws can almost reach the shoulders of a short human! Now that’s one big house cat!
The large size of the Maine Coon does not equate to them being overly ferocious or aggressive. These cats are quite the opposite. They are known for having a playful, almost kitten-like, disposition throughout their lives.
Maine Coon cats are sociable creatures who are energetic, affectionate, and very comfortable around children and other animals. One thing to consider before welcoming a Maine Coon into your family is that this breed requires daily activity, and they do not do well on their own for long periods. These are some of the other reasons the Maine Coon is comparable to a dog.
Many people tend to think that black Maine Coons are more mysterious or serious due to their regal, almost haughty appearance. However, their smokey fur does not reflect their personalities. Black Maine Coon cats have the same loving and lively personality as any other cat of their kind.
To keep your Maine Coon healthy, you should consider letting them play outside daily unless your home offers enough space for them to be physically active. If they spend most of their time indoors, you must purchase some sort of large indoor cat tree so that they can climb, scratch, and flex their muscles.
Black Maine Coon cats, or black cats in general, are still often associated with being unlucky. This is the remnant of ancient myths and superstitions and really holds no bar for these majestic creatures. Their black fur is a treasure and should not deter you from adopting one of your very own.
Health and Care
Many people believe that cats take care of themselves and don’t need any care. While it is true that cats are more independent than most pets, they do still require a high level of care from their owners. That is certainly true with the Maine Coon cat. Food, water, companionship, and enrichment are a few of the key things potential owners should be aware of prior to adopting!
The long coat of the Maine Coon can easily become matted, tangled, or dirty. As such, you must groom this breed at least once a week, if not more. It can be quite a difficult and lengthy task, so the best thing to do is create the habit from a very young age.
Be wary that as a long-haired cat, Maine Coons tend to shed their fur and whiskers frequently, so be prepared to vacuum regularly.
Oral hygiene is another form of grooming that should be on your radar, as this breed is prone to gingivitis. You will need to invest in a cat toothbrush and special cat-safe toothpaste, and then aim to clean your cats’ teeth every day or, at the very least, twice a week. Again, building this habit when they are a young kitten will make the process easier when they are an adult.
In terms of diet, Maine Coons don’t need anything special beyond quality food to help keep them healthy and fuel their energy. Look for cat food containing a taurine supplement, which helps protect cats from sunburn and retain their color.
Related Read: 7 Types of Maine Coon Cat Coat Colors: An Overview
There you have it. We’ve been through this gorgeous breed’s typical size and weight, the different color variations that you can find, their origin history, and typical temperament. So, the only thing left to decide is if this friendly Maine Coon is the one for you! If you’re not yet convinced and want to check out another excellent cat breed choice, we really like the Orange Tabby Cat!
Featured Image Credit: Veda Wildfire, Shutterstock