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Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon | Key Differences

For years, experts have asked, “Are Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cats related?” While some say they are indeed distantly related; specifically, the Maine Coon is a descendant of its semi-long-haired friend, it’s not all clear cut.

With similar character traits of Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats, it’s no wonder this has been a poignant question for a while. But several differences make them distinctly different prospects.

So if you’re trying to determine which kitty is best for you, the only way to do so is in a true Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Maine Coon battle.

norwegian forest cat vs maine coon tabby winking


Maine Coon Versus Norwegian Forest Cat: Breed Information

Both cats are described as long-haired or semi-long-haired. Meaning they have a furry coat that is fluffy and rich, although they are not technically long-haired like Persians, Chantilly-Tiffanys, or British Longhairs.

They’re not considered weird or unusual cat breeds. In fact, their popularity seems to be growing amongst cat owners. Either the Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat is perfect if you’re looking for a fluffy companion.

norwegian forest cat white being held up
A majestic white Norwegian cat surveying his kingdom

Origin of the Norwegian Forest Cat Breed

Interestingly, the Norwegian Forest Cat breed almost went extinct in the early 20th century. It only survived due to a breeding program to save it in the 1930s.

The Skogkatt — as it is sometimes known in Scandinavia — may actually have been originally imported from the Middle East. There is Norwegian Forest Cat history in Norse mythology, though.

The myth tells us that the goddess Freya has a chariot drawn by long-haired cats. Some believe it is a reference to Norwegian Forest cats. There are also theories that the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat could be Siberian Cats from Russia or Turkish Angoras from Turkey.

Today it is the official cat of Norway, as designated by King Olaf V.

Norwegian Forest cats probably found their way to the US with early Viking explorations. They were allegedly tasked with protecting food stores from vermin on ships. So they have their sea legs. In Norway, they are lovingly called Wedgies.

The breed adapted to its cold climate by developing long glossy fur and a woolen undercoat.

Origin of the Maine Coon Cat Breed

Maine refers to the state of Maine in the USA. The story of how the cat got there adds credence to the idea that the Maine Coon is related to the Norwegian Forest Cat.

ginger maine coon cat

There are several theories about the backstory of Maine Coon cats. One version suggests that the cat arrived with the early Viking explorations of the American continent. The second version says it is Marie Antoinette who was responsible for the origins of the Maine Coon.

Although Marie Antoinette could not escape her fate and settle in the United States, she sent many of her possessions to America, including six cats believed to be Turkish Angora or Siberian.

Her possessions landed in Maine, and it is thought that her cats bred with local shorter-haired cats to produce the Maine Coon breed.

maine coon tuxedo cat

The third and final story concerns Captain Coon. Coon anchored his ship in Maine, including his long-haired cats, which he had on board to take care of vermin.

It is believed that these cats mated with the local cats, and as their offspring resembled the cats from the ship, they became known as Coons – and as they were in Maine – well, you get the story.

Over time, the cat developed unique, acclimatized features that eventually separated it significantly from its original form. The CFA first recognized it as a breed in Maine in 1975. Today, the cat holds similar status as the official cat of Maine and is also known as the Maine shag.

grey and ginger maine coon kittens with some fruit

Physical Differences Between Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats

Breeders say that the most observable difference between Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats is the length of their legs. While the Norwegian Forest Cat has longer back legs, the Maine Coons are all even.

Measuring a cat’s legs is easier said than done (trust me), so hear a few more physical characteristics that’ll help you identify your Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon.

norwegian forest cat tabby green eyes starting at camera
A green-eyed Norwegian

1. Norwegian and Maine Coon Head Shape

Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons also have quite different head shapes.

In general terms, a Coon’s head appears to be more square than a Norwegian’s, which is more triangular. A Coon’s muzzle seems more square, while a Norwegian’s has a taper to a point, with its head being slightly rounded. This is why Norwegian Forest Cats are often referred to as Wedgies.

Some say the Coon looks “happier” than the Forest cats due to its facial shape.

maine coon tabby ginger cat

2. Norwegian and Maine Coon Nose Shape

The nose of the Maine Coon breed tends to have a softer curve than that of the Norwegian Forest Cat, which tends to be quite straight.

3. Ears

Maine Coons are known for their large tapered ears. They tend to be quite wide apart and set high on their heads. Norwegian Forest Cats have medium to large-sized ears but have a more rounded top. Their ears tend to be more towards the side of their heads.

Both breeds have ear tufts which are called furnishings. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, these tufts also help to keep these kitties warm.

maine coon tabby cat staring with very pointy ears

4. Eyes

Maine Coons have large, oval, wide-set eyes, whereas Norwegians have more almond-shaped eyes.

5. Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat Size and Body Shape

Both cats are sizable. On the whole, the Maine Coon is a bigger cat, though. The Maine male can grow to about 25 lbs (11 kg). Females are slightly smaller, growing up to 18 lbs (8 kg).

Norwegian Forest Cat, 3 years old, standing in front of white ba

Meanwhile, Norwegian males are known to tip the scales at 20 lbs (9 kg) and at most 15 lbs (6.8 kg) for females.

Maine Coons tend to be large, long, and muscular. Their medium-length legs are quite wide apart and have Maine Coon toe tufts. Maine Coons are also more likely than any other breed to have polydactyly. So don’t be surprised if your kitty has an extra toe or two.

Norwegian cats aren’t quite as long in body and tend to have a higher rump. Their hind legs are longer than their front and they also have toe tufts.

Interestingly, both breeds have significantly larger males than females — a mild form of sexual dimorphism, one might say.

dark grey maine coon cat on grey couch

6. Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon Coat

Both cats have fur and hair that is thick and beautiful. The Norwegian displays a mane, and its outer coat is water-repellent. The Coon’s coat is silky, and in general, it feels smooth, soft, and delicate.

Norwegian Forest Cats have a double coat with their woolen undercoat. Their fur is shorter on their chests and shoulders, and adults have a full ruff of fur on their necks.

Maine Coons only have a short undercoat, and their fur tends to be shorter and less even around the shoulders. Adult Maine Coons do have a ruff, but it isn’t as big as that of the Norwegian Forest Cat.

A Norwegian’s tail also flows, while a Coon’s is somewhat less organized — looking more shaggy than neat.

The tail of both breeds will be at least as long as the distance between their shoulders and the base of their tail. However, the Maine Coon’s tail tapers to a bushy end.

7. Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat Colors

ginger maine coon cat with fruit

Both breeds come in several colors, though the Coon can come in more varieties.

Coons can be white, black, lighter cream, or blue. Norwegians can also exhibit markings in red and amber in addition to the main colors above.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes 80 colors in Maine Coons and 60 in Norwegian Forest Cats.

PS: Both can be stunning gray cats you’ll absolutely love.

Norwegian Forest vs Maine Coon Health Profiles

Both cat breeds are generally healthy. However, all larger breeds of cats and dogs are prone to specific ailments involving joints and bones. Like dogs, the Maine Coon and Norwegian are sadly no different.

One of those ailments is hip dysplasia, which is something you often hear dog owners talk about. This is when a hip socket doesn’t completely surround the ball of the thigh bone.

tabby norweigan forest cat with green background
Norwegian Forest Cat

In cats, it may manifest as limping or even lameness that worsens over time. In some cases, symptoms can be relieved somewhat through medication, exercise, weight loss, or proper environmental management.

The two breeds are also vulnerable to polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This is when cysts form in the kidneys. It is generally inherited genetically. PKD shows through blood in the urine, constant thirst and urination, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Fortunately, modern breeders can test for PKD with a cheek swab or blood sample. An ultrasound test can also identify PKD. There are also several ways to prevent PKD, including kidney aid supplements.

Both breeds can also be prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes thickened heart muscles, making the pumping of blood more difficult.

young-maine-coon cat lying down

Maine Coon cross breeds, like Maine Coon and Ragdoll mixes, are more likely to get spinal muscular atrophy. The muscles in their back legs tend to weaken over time, resulting in problems walking and a bent posture.

Glycogen storage means a deficiency of an enzyme needed to metabolize glycogen. Norwegian cats are prone to this health issue, and it can prove fatal.

In some studies, Norwegian cats, particularly males, have been found to be more prone to diabetes than other cat breeds.

norwegian forest cat tabby looking away
Norwegian cat having some Me Time

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat Personality

There is a distinct attitude difference between these two hero cats. Maine Coon personalities are playful and friendly, often enjoying attention and fun.

Forests are a little less open to social activity. They may play for a bit but seem to lose interest a lot quicker. For this reason, they are sometimes considered lazy. But remember, this is just relative to Maine Coons. They are still a generally social breed of cat.

Both breeds can theoretically be trained to go on walks. As they have come from the outdoors, they enjoy getting out and about and are generally quite intelligent.

tabby cat with green eyes and green colour being held by man in tartan shirt
Maine Coon

You may even find your Norwegian Forest Cat perched high up a tree, watching the world go by. They quite like solitude and are more than capable of getting themselves down.

Are Maine Coons friendly cats? You bet. They tend to be quite chatty and are known for their chirping sound. Norwegian forest cats tend to be quieter and will only meow when they need something. However, please don’t leave your Norwegian Forest Cat alone for too long, as it will want your attention.

Maine Coons tend to love everyone but do need a bit of attention. This applies just as much to older Maine Coons as it does to kittens.

Norwegian Forest Cats are more active and like to always have something to do. They tend to be a bit more independent than Maine Coons. So they are perfect for active households and families.

norwegian forest cat tabby green eyes in barn
Literally in the forest

In general, both cats are considered highly intelligent and will pick up trained habits quite quickly.

Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat Food Requirements

For the most part, these cats will do well with normal cat food, even though they are large breeds. While dry cat food is invariably cheaper, cats with kidney vulnerabilities will benefit from specialized kidney care cat food.

As they are larger cats, expect both breeds to eat more than the average cat. Obviously, the Maine Coon eats more than the Norwegian Forest Cat. There are specific cat foods that can help in keeping the coats of both breeds glossy.

maine-coon cat in window sill

Although wet food is more expensive, it tends to be higher in protein which can benefit larger cats. I mix wet and dry for my Siberian cat and recommend doing the same for both cat breeds.

Maine Coons benefit from having their own Maine Coon branded dry food — they are special that way. Otherwise, ensure the food contains good amounts of protein, as per a normal cat diet.

Like all cats, both breeds are prone to dehydration. As they are physically large cats, please pay more attention to the water bowls you choose so they can’t easily knock them over. My large male Siberian cat loves his water fountain.

norwegian forest cat tabby face vs maine coon
Norwegian Tabby

Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon Temperament and Territory

Both cats are known to be very territorial. As such, they are not the best pets if you plan to have more than one cat. They are best kept as single pets.

Norwegian Forest cats are also less likely to want to be picked up and fussed over, especially by strangers. That’s not to say that they are aggressive cats, just that they prefer making choices in a relationship. Maine Coons, on the other hand, tend to be more tolerant of attention.

maine-coon-cat looking up
Maine Coon

Norwegians and Main Coon Activity Levels

Both breeds are quite playful and keen to be entertained. These large cat breeds particularly appreciate high scratching posts and towers. Not only does this help them get the right level of exercise for their larger physiques, but they will also take care of keeping their claws under control – and help protect your furniture.

Do remember that both breeds will require larger towers due to their size. They also both like to sit on top of their towers and have a good view of their kingdoms, so try to place it in a spot that allows this.

Norwegian Forest cat sitting, looking up, isolated

These are also kitties who very much enjoy interactive play with their families. They will appreciate feather toys, mice toys, and balls.

Maine Coons tend to require more playing time than the more independent Norwegian Forest Cat.

Tips for Norwegian and Maine Coon Cat Grooming Styles

As fluffy and longer-haired cats, grooming will be key to keeping the Coon and Forest Cat happy. Regular brushing or combing with a self-cleaning slicker brush will help to prevent matting, which can eventually become painful or medically problematic.

maine coon cat and toothbrush in studio
Maine Coon

The more you can remove excess hair during grooming, the less your cat will shed, making their self-grooming process easier. This should also reduce the occurrence of furballs and their associated problems.

Don’t forget to also brush and even cut the fur on their paws. This hair can get quite long and possibly eaten by your furry feline, causing more hairball issues.

Many cats, particularly these two friendly breeds, really enjoy being groomed by their owners. It’s also the perfect bonding experience. I personally find a slicker comb the most effective way to remove excess fur easily and without hurting your bundle of joy.

The best way to turn grooming into an enjoyable activity for both of you is to begin brushing your cat from when they first move into your home. Kittens, of course, don’t need to be brushed as frequently, but this can still be a lovely bonding ritual for your new kitten.

Some vets suggest combing or brushing long-haired cats at least twice a week. I would increase this to four to five times weekly in peak shedding seasons like spring.

If you’re a cat bather, shampoos that suit long hair and can deal with flea issues without affecting the coat are ideal. A bath every eight weeks, on average, may be useful. Maine Coons tend to be more comfortable with water than Norwegian Forest Cats.

If you notice your cat has problems with debris after using the litter box, consult a groomer about trimming a sanitary patch around the problem area. You can also look into a cleanstep litter box if the problem isn’t too serious.

And, of course, your cat may experience hairballs a little more often than other cats. Regular brushing and grooming might help reduce these unpleasantries.

Ideal Climates

Of course, both of these breeds love colder climates. Maine Coons adapt better than Norwegian Forest Cats to warm and humid weather. But remember, both come with a lot of fur all year round, which will always mean they will struggle a bit more in the heat than the average cat breed.

norwegian forest cat tabby in the snow
A Norwegian in its natural climate

If you live in a warmer climate and have one of these breeds, some air conditioning will be a huge help. Summer should mean extra grooming and perhaps even a trim to cut down on the level of fur.

And if your cat heads outside, ensure they have shaded areas.

Norwegian forest cat in the snow
Norwegian forest cat in the snow

Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat Lifespan

The Norwegian Forest cat has a surprisingly long life. They will usually live to a golden age of around 16 years. Of course, this is an average. Some cats are known to extend beyond this.

The Maine Coon has an average lifespan of between 12 and 15 years. The oldest reported Maine Coon was said to have reached 26 years of age.

maine coon cat tabby on white background
maine coon cat

Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon Price

The purchase price for these breeds will vary around the world. In the USA, Maine Coons tend to be a more expensive cat breed than Norwegian Forest Cats. Maine Coons have a tendency to eat a bit more than Norwegian Forest Cats, so food costs may also be higher.

Apart from these two items, most costs will be similar across the two breeds.

Norwegian forest cat with green eyes
Norwegian forest cat with green eyes

Recap of This Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon Comparison

Here’s a quick reference list of the similarities and differences between these two majestic cats.

Key Differences Between Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons

  • Norwegian tends to be more agile and active, the Maine Coon gentler.
  • Maine Coons are larger than Norwegian cats and tend to eat more.
  • Head and eye shapes, as well as total ear height and placement.
  • Norwegians can be more independent than Maine Coons but still need some attention.
  • Maine Coons can be somewhat more expensive.

Key Similarities Between Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons

  • Long-haired
  • Great for first-time cat owners
  • Both are active and love to play
  • Similar lifespan
  • Intelligence
  • Grooming Requirements
  • Underlying Health
  • Colors
dark-maine-coon cat showing maine coon personality
Maine Coon

Final Thoughts on the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat

If you want an attentive cat and have lots of time and space to play with it, then a Maine Coon may be your best choice. A Norwegian Cat may suit you better if you have less space and a busier lifestyle.

If you live in a very warm climate, a Maine Coon may be the better option of the two. They may require a little bit more attention to keep clean and healthy than other cats. But let’s face it — both these beautiful felines make for wonderful pets.

So go ahead and make your choice – enjoy the company of your new big fluffy ball of joy.

Next Read: Discover the best quotes about cat lovers you’ll absolutely adore.

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