The Maine Coon is one of the largest domesticated breeds of cat. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically "native" to the state of Maine (though the feline was simply introduced there) where it is the official state cat. The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, "the gentle giant." It is characterized by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, triangular body shape, an uneven two layered coat with longer guard hairs with a silky satin under layer undercoat, and a long, bushy tail. The breed's colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality, the Maine Coon is often cited as having "dog-like" characteristics.
Maine Coons can have any colors that other cats have. Colors indicating crossbreeding, such as chocolate, lavender, the Siamese pointed patterns or the "ticked" patterns. The most common pattern seen in the breed is brown tabby. All eye colors are accepted under breed standards, with the exception of the occurrence of blue-colored or odd-eyes (i.e. two eyes of different colors) in cats possessing coat colors other than white. Maine Coons have several physical adaptations for survival in harsh winter climates. Their dense water-resistant fur is longer and shaggier on their underside and rear for extra protection when they are walking or sitting on top of wet surfaces of snow or ice.Their long and bushy raccoon-like tail is resistant to sinking in snow, and can be curled around their face and shoulders for warmth and protection from wind and blowing snow and it can even be curled around their backside like an insulated seat cushion when sitting down on a snow or ice surface. Mainecoons have Large paws, and especially the extra-large paws of polydactyl Maine Coons, facilitate walking on snow and are often compared to snowshoes. Long tufts of fur growing between their toes help keep the toes warm and further aid walking on snow by giving the paws additional structure without significant extra weight. Heavily furred ears with extra long tufts of fur growing from inside help keep their ears warm.