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Grey Maine Coon: Does It Even Exist?

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on July 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

blue maine coon cat lounging on the chair

Grey Maine Coon: Does It Even Exist?

Maine coons are among the world’s largest cats, with the current record holder—a Maine Coon named Ludo—measuring 45.6 inches long from tip to tail. The gentle giants make incredible pets and are available in several coat colors and patterns.

But what about grey? Do grey Maine Coons even exist? To casual observers, there are plenty of Grey Maine Coon cats in the world. Some are grey with hints of silver or smoke. Or even grey with streaks of white fur. And some are just a solid grey color all over.

But…they’re not grey. Well, not at least to the Cat Fanciers Association and other cat clubs. Instead, they’re referred to as “blue”.

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Blue Rare Maine Coon Cat

When referring to cat colors, grey or silver cats are called blue due to the bluish tint that their coats will have. The blue is a subtle hue similar to that which military cadets wear. Cats with grey-colored coats effectively have a diluted black coat—genetically speaking.

But what’s wrong with the term grey? Nobody knows. The running theory is that it just sounds fancier by judges at cat shows.

a blue maine coon cat
Image Credit: Willgard Krause, Pixabay

Understanding The Dilute Gene

A gene known as the dilute gene (or melanophilin) can be present within the genetic sequences of some cats. Not all cats have the gene, and even those who do are not guaranteed to have a diluted coat.

The dilute phenotype—or diluted color coat—only appears when the cat carries two copies of the dilute gene. This is only possible through the inheritance of the gene from both parents, making the effect autosomal recessive and rare.

The effect is produced because the melanophilin alters the distribution of melanin granules (pigment) throughout the cat’s fur. Cats without the dilute gene have normal pigmentation uniformly through the fur. However, cats with two copies of the gene don’t have uniform pigmentation. Instead, they experience pigment clumping that causes many areas in their hair to have no pigmentation at all.

If that’s the case, why are the colors diluted and not absent? The areas of clustering (both with pigment and without) are on a microscopic level. So, when you see them from your eye, the colors appear blended and diluted because we don’t have microscopic vision.

That means when you see a blue Maine Coon, you’re looking at a black cat with two recessive gene copies of melanophilin. Other dilute colors include lilac, which is from chocolate; fawn, which is from cinnamon, and cream, which is from red.

How Can You Tell What Color a Maine Coon Kitten Will Be?

Determining a kitten’s color is pretty easy regarding Maine Coons because of a fascinating set of genetic rules they follow. Male kittens will always obtain both of their color genes from their mother. So, by that logic, male kittens will always be the same color as their mother (or the diluted version).

That means grey male kittens are birthed from black or blue Maine Coon mothers. On the other hand, female kittens receive one color gene from each parent. This makes them more likely to have mixed colors or more unique combinations.

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What About Grey vs Silver Tabbies?

A tabby cat is any domestic cat with a pronounced “M” shaped marking on their forehead and any combination of striping, dotting, or other marking along their body. There are also several types of Maine Coon tabby cats.

The five main categories of tabbies are:
  • Mackerel – This is the most common tabby pattern. The pattern displays a dark stripe down the cat’s backbone with other stripes branching down like ribs on a fish skeleton—hence the name.
  • Ticked – Ticked tabbies have fields of agouti hairs, giving the cat a sandy or salt-and-peppered look.
  • Classic – These tabbies have the standard “M” marking on their foreheads; however, they exhibit a bullseye-like pattern on each side of their bodies.
  • Spotted – These tabby cats are covered in spot-like patches of pigment.
  • Orange – Orange tabbies are simply orange and white. Most orange tabbies are male cats.

However, you’ll probably hear blue Maine Coons tabbies get separated into silver and gray categories. But what’s the difference? Why is one silver and the other grey?

That has to do with the base color of their agouti hairs. They are the undercoat and ground color hairs of your cat. A tabby with grey/black stripes on top of a grey agouti coat will be referred to as a grey tabby.

If the cats have black or grey stripes/coloring on top of a light/white agouti coat, they’ll be referred to as silver tabbies.

How Rare are Blue Maine Coons?

When it comes to Maine Coon colors, blue is far from the most common. Typical colors for the breed are black, cream, and white. However, solid blue Maine Coons aren’t unheard of. It’s not that rare, but it’s not a popular choice.

Maine Coon cats are known to come in over 85 different color combinations. With so many different choices, it’s tough to settle on one.

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Conclusion: Grey Maine Coon

Regardless of their coat colors and patterns, Maine Coons make extraordinary pets. Although they’re larger than other breeds, they’re friendly and gentle. While the grey Maine Coon physically exists, they are not formally referred to that way. They’re called “blue” by the professional cat clubs and cat fancy organizations. Grey Maine Coons don’t possess a dominant gene colorway. They’re entirely recessive, but that doesn’t make them any less lovable.


Featured Image Credit: Okeanas, Shutterstock

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