To many people, these two cat breeds seem totally identical and, therefore, are very often confused. In this article I will explain how to easily tell the difference between a Siberian and a Maine Coon: from now on you won’t have any excuses! 😊 Disclaimer: the following tips only give an indication to help you visually recognize the two breeds, but the only way to know for sure if a cat is a Maine Coon or a Siberian is to check the cat’s pedigree! So, if your cat matches some of these criteria, it does not necessarily make it a Maine Coon or a Siberian! It needs to have a pedigree that proves its breed.

Breed history

First, let’s start with a bit of history that explains the similarities between the two breeds.
Alex the Siberian from @alex.the.siberian

Origins of the Siberian

The Siberian name gives us a hint about its origins: the breed originated from the cold forests of Siberia. In fact, Siberians are also called Siberian forest cats. The breed developed naturally in the cold climate of Siberia without any human intervention for centuries, with the first reference to the breed which dates back to the 1000AD. The Siberian appeared for the first time in a cat show at the end of the 19th century. The breed finally reappeared after the end of the Cold War, and the first pedigree was issued in 1987 by the Kotofei cat club. The colorpointed (siamese patterns) Siberians are called “Neva Masquerade”: their name comes from the Russian Neva river. The Neva Masquerades are sometimes considered as an independent breed.
Tiara the Maine Coon from @mainecoonqueens

Origins of the Maine Coon

Similarly, the Maine Coon name tells us something about its origins. This breed originated from the state of Maine in the USA. There are several hypotheses about how these cats arrived in the region of Maine. One of them is that the ancestors of the Maine Coon arrived with the Vikings around the 11th century. Another hypothesis is that they arrived with the boats of the European seafarers in the 18th century. The breed started to develop and being popular at the end of the 19th century thanks to the farmers of the state of Maine, who were very proud of their cats. The breed was then almost forgotten: it was less popular than the Persian or Siamese, but it was then rediscovered in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the breed rose again in popularity and was recognized by the ACFA in 1967. The Maine coon is the official cat of the state of Maine. We can now see that both breeds have some similarities in their history, as they are both natural, rustic, longhair cat breeds.

Physical Features

Having discussed their history and similarities, let’s now dive into some of the physical features that characterize the two breeds. face comparison maine coon and siberian cat
Face Comparison: On the left Tiara the Maine Coon from @mainecoonqueens, and on the right Boone the Siberian from @boone_the_siberian_cat

Head shape

The Maine Coon has a square head, with high and prominent cheekbones. The muzzle is square. The Siberian has a softly rounded head. The muzzle is short and rounded.
Profile Comparison: On the left Albus the Maine Coon from @boreas.albus.mainecoon, and on the right Athena the Siberian from @sleepingfloof.

Eyes shape

Maine Coon’s eyes are large and slightly oval, but appear round when wide open. They are set slightly oblique. Siberian’s eyes are large and almost round. They are set wide apart.

Ear shape

In both breeds, lynx tips are desirable but not mandatory. The Maine Coon has large and wide ears, set high on the head. The Siberian’s ears are medium-sized, with rounded tips.

Body shape

They both have a well-boned and strong body with medium length legs. The Maine Coon has a broad, powerful chest. The tail is long: it is at least as long as the body. The Siberian’s body is barrel-shaped. The tail is medium-length and shorter than the length of the body.
Kiko the Siberian and Hiro the Neva Masquerade from @hiroandkiko

Fur

They both have a semi-long fur. Maine Coon’s uppercoat has a silky texture, with a slight undercoat, soft and fine. Siberians have a triple coat, composed of a tight undercoat, a water-repellent overcoat, and a middle coat.

Size

The Maine Coon is a bigger breed, even if the Siberian is not a small cat. Maine Coon: males are around 7-12 kg (15-26 lb) and females are 5-8 kg (11-18 lb). The Siberian is a medium-large cat. Males weigh between 5 and 8kg (11-17 lb) and females between 3.5 kg and 5.5 kg (8-12 lb).

Color

They can both have all color varieties, except for pointed patterns, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, and fawn. The colorpoint pattern (also called Siamese pattern) is allowed in the Siberian breed. Colorpoint Siberians are called Neva Masquerade (see previous history paragraph). Sepia and mink patterns (also called respectively Burmese and Tonkinese patterns) are not allowed (Burmese and Tonkinese patterns). The Siberian can have the sunshine color (also called golden) which is unique to this breed, as well as the bi-metallic color.
Oslo the Maine Coon from @nala_whitemainecoon

Character

I won’t talk of the character differences, because while it’s true that cats of a same breed can have similar traits, each cat has its own personality. That’s why I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to compare the characters of the two breeds.

Other

The Siberian cat is said to be hypoallergenic. This doesn’t mean it entirely doesn’t cause allergies. Instead, it produces fewer allergens than other cat breeds. The level of allergens vary from a cat to another, and that’s why it is generally advised to meet with a breeder before adopting a Siberian if you are allergic to cats. To summarize, Maine Coons are significantly bigger than Siberians. The Maine Coon’s body and especially their face is more square and angular, while the Siberian has a rounder face and body. I hope you now have enough information to recognize Maine Coons and Siberians!

Sources

Title picture: On the left Albus the Maine Coon from @boreas.albus.mainecoon and on the right Petteri the Siberian from @hilla_siberiancat Standard LOOF Standard FIFé Standard TICA