No breeder can guarantee a kitten will or will not have certain highlights or intensity of a color or shading as an adult. Kittens go through many coat changes. Look at parents for best possible guess.

Reds or Orange: Reds are sometimes called orange. There is NO true solid reds. Reds are all striped to some extent. Reds have dark red along with lighter peach colored areas. Muzzle is usually this light peach color. They call a Maine Coon SOLID RED when it has no white on muzzle or anywhere else, and lynx tips are red. If parents are from non-agouti carriers and so have solids in their pedigree, kitten will be solid red and not considered a “tabbie”. Only 20% of red kittens are female. To get a red female, the father has to be red and the mother has to be red or Tortie. Or diluted form of those. Red Tabbie kittens have white on muzzle.

Cream: dilution of red.

Black: This is a rich deep black but can have reddish brown tones from dead undercoat hairs that need to be brushed out.

Blue: dilution of black.

White: White is actually the lack of color. It has a dominant marker gene that covers up all its true colors and markings. Sometimes you can see a spot of the true color when it’s a very young kitten but that usually goes away with age. Whites can have blue, copper, green, or odd eyes. If blue eyed check for deafness. Only cats with some white on them can have blue eyes, or one blue eye, (Odd Eyes).

Tortie: Most often, Torties are black and red or orange, and oddly, they are almost exclusively female. It turns out that the genes that determine coat color are also responsible for determining sex. You have to have 2 X chromosomes to be a Torbie, so any male this color would be sterile. Torbie cats are considered solid base colored. If it has stripes at all then it is considered a “Torbie” which is a Tortie tabby.

Calico: A calico Maine Coon is actually a tortoiseshell “tortie” cat expressing an additional genetic condition known as piebalding. A piebald cat is simply one with patches of white fur. A tortoiseshell Maine Coon is black with brindled patches of red or red shaded fur intermingled.

Bi-Color: Is a piebald cat. So it has white on its coat. Types of bi-colors are named from the amount of white they have. Locket is a small patch on neck. Tuxedo is white on chest, belly, and paws, and sometimes face to. Mask and Mantle is white all under neath and on face and looks like a cat wearing a mask and cape. Cap and Saddle is a progression from the mask and mantle pattern in which the pigmented mask shrinks into a cap over top of head, and mantle shrinks into a saddle on lower back area. The tail may be white. Harlequin cat is loosely defined as a predominantly white cat with small, random spots of another color, commonly on the body and legs. Tail is usually colored as well. Van pattern is a small amount of color on a white cat where color is usually on head and tail. Only cats with some white on them can have blue eyes, or one blue eye, (Odd Eyes). They can also have the typical colors of Copper, Gold, or Green.

Eye color: Maine Coons can have eyes with yellow, orange or copper tones as well as green and gold. If the cat has any white at all on it, he/she can also have blue or odd eyes. Odd eyes mean each eye is a different color from another, example is one blue and the other copper.

ALL COLORS BELOW: This is taking it that at least parents carry a dilution gene in pedigree. If no dilution gene then Black X Black will never have blue. Most cats carry a dilution gene. After these color gene examples, I have photos of different colors showing how each may express in different ways.

Red male and red female

Red can very from dark to lightest cream.

Males and females: d, ds, e, es = red, red smoke, cream, cream smoke

Black smoke male and red female

males: d, ds, e, es = red, red smoke, cream, cream smoke

females: f, fs g, gs= Tortie, tortie smoke, blue tortie, blue tortie smoke

Red male and Black smoke female

males: n, ns, a, as = black, black smoke. Blue, blue smoke

females: f, fs, g, gs = tortie, tortie smoke, blue tortie, blue tortie smoke

Black smoke m and black smoke f: SAME IF BREEDING: NxNS

males/females: n, ns, a, as= black, black smoke. Blue, blue smoke

Black male and black female

males/females: n, a = black, Blue

Many blacks can have a brown tone to their coat. In Europe blacks are sometimes called browns. This is the closest possible color to a chocolate coloring in this breed.

Example of brown or red tones on a solid black cat:


When the Inhibitor gene fails to completely block pigment (it is more effective at blocking black-based pigment than blocking red-based pigment) and there is a breakthrough of reddish color known as “tarnishing”. Tarnishing is common on the muzzles of random-bred silver tabbies, but rare on pedigree silver tabbies due to selective breeding and refinement.

“Wide Band” Effect

For convenience, breeders talk of Wide Band as a single gene, but there appear to be multiple interacting genes that determine the width of the pale band between the pigmented tip and the follicle. The presence or absence of the Inhibitor (silver) gene does not affect the Wide Band effect. Golden Shaded lacks the Inhibitor gene but has a shading pattern comparable to Silver Shaded cats.

  • Non-agouti + Wide Band = Solid Color
  • Non-agouti + Wide Band + inhibitor gene= Smoke Pattern
  • Agouti + Wide Band = Golden series
  • Agouti + Wide Band + inhibitor gene = Silver series

The extreme wide-banding effect is very rare and at first, the look will appear to be “Shaded” instead of “Smoke” due to the high level of white. A solid color nose is indicative of non-agouti (Smoke), this can be confirmed by DNA testing.

Inhibitor Gene

Melanin inhibitor gene is a dominant gene. This means a non-expressing cat can not carry this gene . Offspring can receive this gene from either parent but only if one or both parent has the gene. The Inhibitor gene has a greater affect on the yellow pigment phaeomelanin than on black pigment eumelanin.

Smoke / Shaded / Shell/ ?

Maine Coon Color Diagram: Smoke, Shaded, Shell

The silver coat in a solid-colored Maine Coon is referred to as smoke. In a tabby cat, it’s referred to as silver. It’s the same gene that produces this color. It’s called the silver inhibitor.

What color is your cat?

  • 1/8 of hair length colored at tip – shell
  • 1/4 hair length colored at tip – all shaded
  • 1/2 hair length colored at tip – all smoke

Smoke Maine Coons are a solid color cat that carries the inhibitor gene which suppresses the color in the hair shaft. This means that the cat’s hairs are dark (usually black) at the tips but have much lighter colored bands near the bottom. All solid colors can be affected by the inhibitor gene which labels them “Smoke” plus the underlining solid color. A young non-smoke cat has a kitten coat that is often a lot lighter than the base color of the cat. The cat can look like a smoke, but because neither parent cat has a white undercoat, the kitten cannot be a smoke. The kitten coat will darken as the cat gets older.

Silver Maine Coon (Silver is a Smoke with Stripes)

Silver Maine Coons have dark “eyeliner”, that is the black outline that surrounds the eyes, and sometimes the nose. A silver kitten’s nose will always be a rosy pink or wine color.

White Maine Coons will have soft pink noses and no eyeliner. White kittens paw pads will also be light pink in color.

Blue Maine Coons their shimmering coat appears almost silver and they’re considered to be a long-haired variety of the Russian Blue.

Colors and patterns can be expressed in many different ways. Much like there are no two zebras with the same exact stripe pattern. Main Coons with the same base color and pattern can look different. There are tiny differences in absolutely every animal’s genetics that make each unique to himself. I’m just starting in the breed, so many of the photos seen here are from others that have pets and post them online. So these cats are not MY breeding cats. To see my breeding cats please visit the King/Queen Page of this website. Take a look at these different colors, shading, and patterns:

EMS color coding

To make it easy for people to remember the codes, EMS (Easy Mind System) encoding system was adopted.

Maine Coon (MCO) cats are semi-long – haired (SLH-Semilonghair).

There are really only two colors in the Maine Coon, BLACK AND RED. The rest of the variety of colors are a dilution, mixture, of these two colors, with or without shading and stripes. In fact, the white color or cat that has some white is actually one of the colors above with that color being hidden by a gene and so that area is white.

When determining the color scheme, three factors are taken into account:
  • coat color
  • white spotting
  • type of pattern and or shade
The color of the hair is indicated by letters:

n — black
a — blue
d — red
e — cream
f — black tortoiseshell
g — blue-cream tortoiseshell
w — white
s — silver or smoke (with a pattern-silver, without a pattern-smoky)
y — not officially recognized in the breed-gold

White spotting is indicated by the following code:

01 — van (almost white individual with several spots)
02 — harlequin (larger colored spots are located on the main white background)
03 — bicolor or two-color
09 — white spots on the legs and / or chest

The PATTERN of a cat is called tabby. Its type is indicated by numbers:

11 — shaded (only 1/4 of the hair is colored)
12 — chinchilla (only 1/8 of the hair is colored)
21 — agouti Agouti (A) – the natural “wild” gene that is the basis of the tabby cat. The base agouti pattern is bands of black on a yellow background; in the cat this is overlaid with one of the tabby patterns. (is assigned if you’re not yet clear what the pattern is.)
22 — marble or classic pattern
23 — tiger drawing
24 — spotted pattern
25 — ticked color

The Maine Coon is allowed to have any eye color that matches the coloring:

61 — blue (blue eyes are only found in cats with some or all white coloring)
62 — all shades of yellow from lightest yellow to darkest Copper.
63 — eyes of different colors, (Odd Eyes.), only seen if cat has white or is all white.
64 — green

Classification of colors

All the colors of Maine Coon cats can be divided into categories: with a pattern or tabby; without a pattern or solid; tortoiseshell; smoky and silver.

Tabby Pattern

The Maine Coon tabby has the following features:

  • stripes on the forehead in the shape of the letter «M»
  • eyes and nose mirrored and are outlined with dark
  • on the muzzle on the sides there are dark stripes
  • on the chest the stripes make up a «necklace»
  • on the paws horizontal stripes
  • on the stomach small spots
The pattern itself can be of 4 types:
  1. Marble or classic (blotched/classic). There are rounded streaks on the sides, a «butterfly» is possible between the shoulder blades. And solid lines along the spine.
  2. Tiger (mackerel). There are solid vertical stripes on the sides and a dark stripe along the spine.
  3. Spotted. Pattern in the form of small spots or dotted stripes.
  4. Ticked. The Pattern is only on the muzzle. Each hair ends in a dark color. The ticked color of Maine Coons is not typical and is inherent in eastern breeds.

Below is not a Maine Coon, but it does give you an idea of the different colors and patterns that can be in a litter. Dad must have been piebald/bicolored, since kittens have white on them. Mom must have red genetics or she would not have red babies. She most certainly is red and black and tabby.

This boy here is Richie. You can see him on Instagram. He is a pet. This is a good example of an extreme smoke or shaded Maine Coon. This much contrast with this thick of coat and mane is extremely rare. This is incredibly cool, but is not show quality.

Here is Richie at just a couple weeks old.