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Maine Coon vs American Shorthair Cats: The Differences (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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In the world of cats, the Maine Coon and American Shorthair are easily two of the most popular breeds around. The Maine Coon with its long fur, big body, and loving nature can enter any home and instantly become your new best friends. The American Shorthair will make your house a home and allow you the opportunity to love them when the time is right. With such strong personalities, it’s hard to choose between these beautiful cat breeds.

It is easy to see why the Maine Coon and American Shorthair are the feline world’s most beloved representatives for North America. While the Maine Coon may be known as the more intelligent of the two breeds, this doesn’t mean the American Shorthair doesn’t have tricks up their furry sleeves. Both breeds enjoy affection and love from their owner but aren’t the kinds of cats that require all your time. Take a look below to learn more about the Maine Coon and the American Shorthair to choose which cat should come home with you.

Visual Differences

Maine Coon vs American Shorthair side by side
Image Credit: (L) Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock | (R) Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Maine Coon
  • Origin: Unknown (many stories exist but none have been confirmed to be true)
  • Size: Females: 12 to 15 pounds Males: 18+ pounds
  • Lifespan: 12 to 13 years
  • Domesticated?: Yes
American Shorthair
  • Origin: Originated in Europe then brought to America where they became recognized first as the Domestic Shorthair in 1906 then as the American Shorthair in 1966.
  • Size: Female: 8 to 12 pounds Males: 12+ pounds
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Domesticated?: Yes

Maine Coon Overview

While the Maine Coon’s origins may be up in the air, it’s easy to see that they’ve found where they belong. This cat breed is very popular due to its high intelligence and gentle nature. Maine Coons are great at being family pets and have no issue offering everyone in the family a bit of love and attention. Read on below to learn more about these beautiful kitties.

three different colored maine coon kittens
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

One of the most noted characteristics of the Maine Coon is its size. These cats are quite rugged and have a build to match. With females weighing up to 15 pounds and the males exceeding 18 pounds at times, it is easy to see why they are considered such large cats. When a Maine Coon walks through your home, its large paws alert you to their movements, when they want you to know. Like most breeds of cats, size aside, they can still enter into predator mode and move silently.

Maine Coons have dense coats of long hair that originated thanks to their need to survive in the colder climates of Maine. They are known for shedding, but this should be expected with a long-haired cat. Their colors are most commonly red, silver tabby, and brown. You’ll also notice Maine Coon’s have lighter-colored bodies and darker colorings around their face, legs, tail, and ears. They also have pointed prominent ears and a great way of identifying the breed.

These cats are known as gentle giants. Often noted as having dog-like characteristics, Maine Coons are loving and affectionate with their families and even show certain notes of loyalty to their owners. They enjoy playing with children, greeting the family at the door, and cuddling from time to time. Most Maine Coons get along well with other animals and enjoy lots of playtime and exercise. They are also quite loud when they meow and don’t mind sharing their powerful voices with their owners.

white Maine Coon cat at home
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

The Maine Coon is a domesticated cat that expects to be loved and doted on. While any cat’s main use is as a family pet, this breed of cat may step in other ways as well. Maine Coons are always on the lookout. They are known for keeping an eye on people who visit their owner’s home and remind some of the watchdogs. They also have lots of energy and will gladly keep your home free of pesky invaders like mice, spiders, and other crawlers they feel don’t belong.

American Shorthair Overview

The American Shorthair is one of the easiest going cat breeds around. Do they like having your attention? Yes. Do they need it constantly? No. This cat breed is independent while also being affectionate. Let’s read on below and learn more about these adorable cats.

cream american shorthair
Image Credit: studiogala, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

The American Shorthair is an average-sized cat with strong bones and jaws. They have broad chests, thick legs, round faces, and short, pointy ears. While they may be smaller overall than the Maine Coon, their beauty is still easy to recognize. They can come in a large variety of colors and patterns which makes each cat unique in its own way. You’ll find that their hair is short and thick which makes them prone to shedding but not as much as their counterpart, the Maine Coon.

The American Shorthair doesn’t need to be the center of attention in their homes. Yes, they love their families and want affection from time to time, but mostly, these cats do great on their own. They aren’t overly loud cats who like playing with toys, chasing laser pointers, and relaxing on their cat tree.

One of the best things about the American Shorthair is their independence. If you work outside of the home or live alone, there’s no need to worry about your cat while you’re away. They have the tools needed to entertain themselves. When you come home, expect a few meows and leg bumps, but have no fear of them being too lonely while you’re away.

Two tabby American Shorthair
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Like the Maine Coon, the American Shorthair’s use is as a family pet. Luckily, however, for those who own these feisty cats, they have a high prey drive. The American Shorthair will make quick work of mice or other pests around the home. Yes, the Maine Coon enjoys these activities but with the American Shorthair, it is a necessity. One of their favorite pastimes is showing off their skills as hunters.

What Are the Differences Between Maine Coons & American Shorthairs?

As you can see, there are a few differences between the Maine Coon and American Shorthair, but there are also a lot of similarities. When trying to choose which breed is best for you, the differences may be the best aspects to keep in mind.

Size is possibly the biggest difference between these cat breeds. The Maine Coon is a giant in the cat world. They can become exceptionally long and weigh quite a bit. This can come into play when it comes to the space in your home. If you have adequate room, then a larger breed of a cat won’t be an issue. If you are limited on area, a smaller cat, like the American Shorthair could be your better choice.

Intelligence is also another avenue where these cat breeds differ. While the American Shorthair can’t be considered a dumb animal, it’s clear that, for the most part, Maine Coons are more intelligent. While not every cat is the same throughout an entire breed, you will most likely notice more responses, thoughts, and interaction from Maine Coons. If you interact and teach your American Shorthair often, you may see changes in their intelligence over time as well.

Which Breed Is Right For You?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between the Maine Coon and American Shorthair. Both cat breeds are beautiful, easy to love, and affectionate with their owners. While the American Shorthair may represent more of the diva lifestyle of cats, the Maine Coon is more than willing to snuggle or play when you take the notion. Before choosing a cat to bring home, keep several things in mind. How much time will you be able to provide them? Do you have enough room? And of course, are you ready financially to care for another being? When you have the answers to these questions, either of these cat breeds will make the ideal companion.


Featured Image Credit: (L) Dora Zett, Shutterstock | (R) chie hidaka, Shutterstock

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