Maine coon cats are among the top largest and most popular breeds of domestic cats in the world. They are known for their long, fluffy coats, tufted ears, and bushy tails. But did you know that some very rare Maine coons are completely white?
How are White Maine Coons Different From Other Maine Coons?
White Maine Coon cats differ from other main coons strictly in coat color. They aren’t a separate breed; simply put, they have a solid white coat, adding majesty to their appearance.
As for health, size, or personality, they share it all with other Maine Coons – everything but the color.
What Color Eyes Do White Maine Coon Cats Have?
White Maine Coons can have different eye colors, some more rare than others, depending on the kittens’ individual genetics. Some white Maine Coons will have blue eyes, while others may have green eyes or yellow eyes, and some have odd eyes (one blue and one non-blue eye). The eye color of white Maine Coons is not related to their coat color but is entirely dependent on the genetics affecting the eyes.
What Causes Maine Coon Cats to Be White?
The white color in Maine Coons is the result of a dominant gene, meaning only one parent needs to pass it along to the kittens. In reality, though, it’s a little more complicated.
Cat coat color is determined by genes found on the X chromosome. So a male white Maine Coon kitten would need to get the gene for its white coat from its mom specifically since it will get the Y Chromosome from its dad.
Whereas a female could get the white gene from either mom or dad since they would have both passed on an X chromosome.
Although the white coat color, also known as the W gene, is considered a genetic mutation. White is one of the over 75 recognized coat colors in Maine Coons, according to the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) breed standards. The breed standards define white as “Pure glistening white” with a pink nose and pink paw pads.
Are White Maine Coons all Deaf?
No, not at all.
While the W gene that causes coat color is known to affect the ears in cats and potentially cause deafness, it only occurs in less than 22% of white cats. However, in a white Maine Coon that has one blue eye, the chance of being born deaf rises to 40% and up to 85% if they have two blue eyes.
It’s worth noting that many white Maine Coons that are born deaf are only deaf in one ear and can hear from the other.
The reason having blue eyes increases the chance of deafness is because the W gene and the one for blue eyes are located on the same chromosome and aren’t completely compatible with each other.
Are White Maine Coons Rare?
Yes and no. White Maine Coon cats account for approximately 1.5% of the total population of Maine Coons. But this is due to breeding rather than genetic rarity. Some breeders specialize in producing white Maine Coons and have very little problem doing so; many more breeders focus on other colors, though, which raises the total population of the other colors.
Additionally, even though the W gene is dominant, it often requires one copy from both parents, making it homozygous dominant (two copies of the same dominant gene). In cases where there is only one copy of the W gene, the kitten may be off-white or a diluted shade of another color rather than the “pure glistening white” we’re really talking about.
White Maine Coons with Blue Eyes
The blue eyes white Maine Coon is one of the more spectacular variations in the Maine Coon lineup. The gorgeous baby blues really pop against the solid white coat.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, they have a significantly higher chance of being born deaf, so most responsible breeders tend to avoid specifically breeding for this combination – though it still occurs, albeit rare.
It can be hard to tell what a kitten’s eye color will be since they are prone to change colors until the cat is around 8-9 weeks old. A little-known way to tell early on is to take a picture of the kitten’s face in low light with the camera flash on. Maine Coons with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes, which causes them to show up as red in pictures.
Fun fact: the same thing is true in people with blue eyes!