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European Maine Coon vs. American Maine Coon: Main Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

European Maine Coon VS American Maine Coon

European Maine Coon vs. American Maine Coon: Main Differences (With Pictures)

Maine Coon cats are known for their massive size, heavy bones, long coats, and laid-back temperament. However, there are two varieties of the Maine Coon: European and American. The differences between them are slight and mostly physical but may help you determine which breed is ideal for you.

European Maine Coons are a little wilder looking and have distinctive physical characteristics, while the American Maine Coons are bred to look more refined. Keep reading for more about the differences between the European Maine Coon and the American Maine Coon so that you can pick the best one for your needs and lifestyle.

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Visual Differences

side by side European Maine Coon VS American Maine Coon
Image Credit: Left – Anzhelika Mar, Shutterstock | Right – madeinitaly4k,, Shutterstock

At a Glance

European Maine Coon
  • Average height (adult): 10–16 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 13–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–14 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, eager to please
American Maine Coon
  • Average height (adult): 10–16 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 13–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–14 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, eager to please

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European Maine Coon Overview

maine coon looking away
Image Credit: Pixabay

The European Maine Coon is distinguishable from the American version for their distinctive physical characteristics. They are bred to have wilder, more natural appearances and a lion-like look, giving them a stronger square muzzle and signature lynx-like ears with big tufts.

European Maine Coons also have higher cheekbones and look more feral, which is the intent of the breeding programs. Their eyes are typically almond-shaped and somewhat piercing, compared to the gentler look of the American Maine Coon’s eyes.

Though they’re generally the same size as the American Maine Coon, the European Maine Coon is more formidable in appearance. This could be due to the perception of their feral looks rather than an actual size difference. European Maine Coons also come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including solid black, white, gray, or red, calico, and tortoiseshell.

Like their American counterpart, the European Maine Coon is intelligent, curious, loyal, and loving. The breeder associations influence the different breed characteristics. European Maine Coons are affiliated with The International Cat Association (TICA), the world’s largest genetic cat registry, and the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFE), which spans South America, Asia, and Europe. These breed standards govern the breeding of European Maine Coons everywhere, not just in Europe specifically.

Personality / Character

The European Maine Coon is a loyal, friendly cat. They get along with other cats and dogs and are comfortable around new people. Though they like to have their own space, they can live in multi-cat households without conflict. Maine Coons are playful and affectionate to their owners and get attached to one person.

Training

The intelligence and laid-back nature of the Maine Coon make them easier to train than some other breeds. They aim to please, much like dogs, and can be taught tricks. Owners can teach their Maine Coon basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “fetch.” They must be trained using only positive reinforcement—never punishment.

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

Health & Care

Maine Coons are hardy, though they’re prone to some genetic health conditions. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common heart disease in cats, is prevalent in Maine Coons. This is due to a genetic mutation that can be tested before breeding, so it’s essential to look for reputable Maine Coon breeders that show genetic testing records.

Hip dysplasia is also common in Maine Coons, as well as spinal muscular atrophy. Both conditions can lead to mobility problems, but there are genetic tests to remove them from breeding lines.

Suitable for:

The European Maine Coon is a friendly cat that’s highly loyal and suitable for families with children and single owners. These adaptable cats can adjust to most living situations with proper care. The European Maine Coon has more of a feral-looking appearance that may appeal to some owners.

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American Maine Coon Overview

maine coon cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Remark_Anna, Shutterstock

American Maine Coons get their name from their purported origins in the state of Maine during the colonial period. However, their true origin is shrouded in mystery since it’s unclear how they arrived in Maine and where their ancestors came from. Because of that, the Maine Coon has a lot of legends and myths, including that they’re a hybrid of a cat and a raccoon or a descendant of a bobcat. These myths are genetically impossible, but give the cat a fun background.

Another prominent legend suggests that Maine Coons were brought from Viking ships to America by Captain Charles Coon, which is a bit more likely since sea captains often brought cats along to control the rodent population on long voyages. Regardless of how the Maine Coon arrived in America, they’ve been around since the late 1800s to early 1900s and remain a popular breed today.

The American Maine Coon differs from the European Maine Coon in their appearance. Though large and heavy-bodied, the American Maine Coon has a more refined look than that of the European variety. The ear tufts are absent, and the cat’s coat is smoother and less wild-looking. Their eyes are also more oblique and less striking than the European Maine Coon’s eyes.

The differences in appearance are governed by the American Maine Coon’s breed affiliation, The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). This association was established in 1906 and is currently the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. The American Maine Coon standards are consistent wherever they’re bred, even if they’re not in the US.

Personality / Character

Like their European counterpart, the American Maine Coon is a friendly and loyal cat that enjoys the company of humans and other animals. If the Maine Coon is given their own space, they can coexist with other animals without incident. They are also good choices for families with children since they are large, hardy, and tolerant of rambunctious kids.

Training

Maine Coons are known for their “dog-like” personalities and high intelligence, which makes them easy to train. Along with basic behavior modification, Maine Coons can be taught tricks and commands, just like a dog, and have a strong desire to please their owners.

Like the European variety, American Maine Coons must be trained using positive methods and consistency. Avoid punishing your cat with techniques like spray bottles or swatting, which aren’t effective.

maine coon american shorthair cat mix on the floor
Image Credit: BlurryMe, Shutterstock

Health & Care

American Maine Coons are an overall healthy breed, but they can suffer from hereditary health conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, and spinal muscular atrophy. Fortunately, breeders can test for genetic conditions and remove positive cats from the breeding line, lowering the risk of kittens developing them.

Suitable for:

The American Maine Coon is similar to their European counterpart and gets along well with other pets, people, and children. They can enjoy just about any living situation, provided they have the care they need. People who prefer a more refined look in their cat may enjoy the American Maine Coon.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

The European and American Maine Coons have more similarities than differences. They mainly differ in their appearances, which are governed by different breed associations and breeding standards. If you prefer a more refined cat, the American Maine Coon may be the better choice, but if you like more lion-like looks, the European Maine Coon is perfect for you. Otherwise, these cats share desirable personality traits like loyalty, intelligence, and friendliness.


Featured Image Credit: Left -Seregraff, Shutterstock | Right – Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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