To the unfamiliar, the Maine Coon and the Siberian look like the same cat. But as you will see in this Maine Coon vs. Siberian breed comparison, they are two distinct but equally elegant cats.
Maine Coon Vs. Siberian
It is easy to understand why these breeds are mistaken for each other. Both cats are larger than your average domestic cat. In fact, the Maine Coon is recognized as the largest breed of cat. The Siberian is smaller and lighter.
Both the Siberian and the Maine Coon have thick fur, hinting at the origin of both breeds.
In terms of temperament and character, both have been compared to dogs due to their carefree and friendly natures.
But despite their numerous similarities, there are a few key differences between the two breeds, from their physical traits to their health concerns, and more.
The names of both cat breeds indicate their places of origin.
As its name implies, the Siberian originates from Russia where it was probably kept to ward off rodents and provide some measure of warmth to their owners. According to historians, there are records that indicate that the Siberian has been around for at least 1,000 years.
It is also widely believed that the breed developed naturally without any help from humans. However, some experts suggest that the Siberian is a crossbreed between Eastern Asian cat breeds and other Russian cats. Others believe that the cat evolved from Caucasian Wild Cat and other similar wild species which mated with domestic cats.
In its current form, the Siberian was first introduced to other European countries in the 19th century. The breed instantly captured the attention of this audience because, at that time, longhaired breeds were unfamiliar to most Europeans.
By 1987, the Kotofey Cat Club issued the first pedigree for the breed and three years later, the cat was brought to the United States.
In 1996, The International Cat Association accepted the breed for its championships. In 2006, the Cat Fanciers’ Association gave breed championship status to the Siberian.
Like the Siberian, the Maine Coon is named after its place of origin, the state of Maine. The breed’s origin is murky and is filled with equal parts of humor and fantasy.
According to one origin story, the domestic cat now known as the Maine Coon is actually the offspring of a raccoon and a cat. This explains the Coon part of its name.
Another tale suggests that the ancestors of the modern Main Coon were owned by the French Queen Marie Antoinette. The queen was supposed to escape France to go to America. However, only her cats reached the country. Upon arrival, they intermingled with the local cats.
Due to the Maine Coon’s striking similarity to another breed known as the Norwegian Forest Cat, it has been suggested that the cat was brought and left by the Vikings when they visited the Americas in the 11th century.
But if there is one story that bears the most semblance to the truth, it would be the one involving Captain Charles Coon. According to the story, Coon brought the cat to America via New England after traveling from Europe.
At first glance, the Maine Coon and the Siberian look one and the same. But looking closely at the two breeds, you will notice a few key differences.
Starting with the head, you will see that the Maine Coon has a square head while the Siberian has a rounded head. The muzzle of the Siberian is shorter, and like its head, rounder. The Maine Coon, on the other hand, has high cheekbones and a square muzzle.
The Maine Coon’s large and oval-shaped eyes are slightly angled. On the other hand, the Siberian’s round eyes are set wide apart.
Between the two, the Maine Coon has a larger set of ears that are set higher. The Siberian has smaller, rounder ears. Lynx tips will sometimes appear in both breeds but are not a requisite breed standard.
Of the two, the Maine Coon is the larger and heavier of the two breeds. On average, the cat tips the scale at anywhere between five to 26 pounds.
The barrel-shaped Siberian is a bit smaller and lighter. A grown cat can weigh anywhere between five to 17 pounds.
In general, both the Siberian and Maine Coon are recognized as hardy and healthy breeds. However, there are some claims that the experimentations in breeding the Maine Coon has made some specimens considerably less healthy.
The Maine Coon is susceptible to hip dysplasia, spinal muscular atrophy, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy while the only disease that the Siberian is prone to is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is fairly common in cats. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM is a condition where a cat’s heart muscles become too thick. Once the thickness reaches a certain point, the cat becomes susceptible to heart failure.
Be aware that purebred cats commonly inherit genetic problems from their ancestors. That does not necessarily mean that your cat will succumb to a specific disease. Rather, it means that the risk of contracting some diseases are considerably higher for some breeds due to genetics.
Grooming and care requirements
Although it may seem counterintuitive, neither cat requires extensive grooming. Despite their majestic looking fur, Maine Coons and Siberians can get by with two to three times of hair brushing a week.
Regular brushing is mandatory if you want to minimize, if not totally avoid matting and hairballs.
Both cats do shed heavily twice a year, once during spring, and again before winter.
Of the two, the Siberian is said to be hypoallergenic. Although there is no truly hypoallergenic cat breed, the Siberian contains less Fel d1 protein in its dander and saliva. Furthermore, the Siberian produces less dander. The Siberian can still trigger allergic reactions in some people, but the risk is considerably less when compared to other breeds. The Maine Coon is not considered hypoallergic.
Interested in getting either of the two breeds (or possibly both)?
A Maine Coon will set you back anywhere between $400 to $1500.
Because of the rarity of the Siberian, its price is somewhat higher. A Siberian can cost you anywhere between $1000 to $2000.
Choosing between the two
If you are looking for an affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and gorgeous looking cat, you can never go wrong with the Maine Coon or the Siberian. Despite a few differences, the two share a lot of common qualities. And sometimes, choosing between the two will boil down to your budget and availability in your area. Either way, you will still win, having a pet that will love you back intensely.
Image: istockphoto.com / marieclaudelemay