Differences Between Maine Coon & Siberian Cats

by Anne Woods, Demand Media

    Maine coon and Siberian cats developed on opposite sides of the world but in very similar climates. On top of their physical resemblance -- especially their heavy, longhaired coats -- they share an entertaining, affectionate nature. However, they differ in some aspects of their personalities and appearance, health and history.

    Personalities

    Maine coons and Siberians want to be around you as much as possible, but they might show their affection in slightly different ways. Maine coons can be a little more independent, preferring to follow you around and oversee your activities rather than being the focus. They’ll often sit next to you rather than on your lap. Siberians have been compared to dogs; they usually come when you call them and enjoy snuggling. Both breeds have playful, goofy personalities and get along well with other cats, dogs and kids. Siberians also have a reputation for being very smart.

    Heights

    Although both cats can climb, Maine coons generally choose not to spend much time away from the ground. Siberians, on the other hand, love watching over your home from a high perch. In fact, they have long hind legs especially helpful for jumping.

    Vocalizations

    Both breeds communicate using chirps and trills, but the Maine coon is known for his voice -- disproportionately soft compared to his physical size -- and unique warbling. Although he occasionally meows, the Siberian cat makes that sound more frequently.

    Physical Traits

    Both breeds sport thick, water-resistant, semi-longhaired coats. The Siberian wears triple layers of fur in winter but sheds much of the bulk to stay cool during the summer. Maine coons also shed their winter coats for the warmer seasons.
    Maine coons are large cats: Adult males usually weigh between 13 and 18 pounds, while females remain more svelte at 9 to 13 pounds. Their thick, long fur makes them look even bigger. Siberian females weigh about the same as their Western cousins, and males usually grow to between 10 and 17 pounds. Both breeds take time to fully mature, with Maine coons reaching maturity between three and five years old, and Siberians taking about five years.

    Health Issues

    Maine coons can be prone to cardiomyopathy, which is a heart ailment, and hip dysplasia. If you’re thinking about getting a kitten, ask the breeder whether these problems have shown up in the family line. Also talk to your vet about symptoms you should watch for. The Siberian line doesn’t seem susceptible to any health problems.
    Some people with cat allergies don't experience symptoms around Siberians, leading breeders to focus on developing hypo-allergenic lines.

    Origins

    Maine coons have been around for more than a century, but the Siberian line dates back at least to 1000 A.D. Some breeders speculate that the breed developed when pet kitties mated with wild Asian and European cats. Maine coons are probably further removed from their wild ancestors, despite the myth that they descended from raccoons. More likely, they're a cross of American shorthairs and Angoras or Norwegian forest cats.

    About the Author

    Anne Woods holds a master's degree in literature from the Pennsylvania State University. She has more than a decade of professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, corporate communications offices, and websites, with specialties in pets, travel and literature.