Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Maine Coon, what's the difference? They are alike at first glance. They're both big cats with big hearts. They both have fluffy fur and tufty ears.
Both of them have stocky bodies, thick fur and wide, cushioned paws that make them adept at life in cold, snowy climates.
But if you pay attention, you can easily tell one from another. Here are several ways you can compare and contrast these two charmingly fluffy cat breeds.
Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Maine Coon
Their names should give a clue as to where these cats hail from. The Norwegian Forest Cat was bred in Scandinavia, where you may find modern day Norway. Vikings and Crusaders introduced this cat to other parts of Europe.
Norwegian folk tales often feature this creature known as “Skoggkat” that frightens trolls and pulls the chariot of the goddess queen Freya. The “forest” in the Norwegian Forest cat's name comes from their love of climbing trees. This brave and hardy breed is hardly helpless when climbing and can get himself down quite easily.
As the Norwegian Forest cat has heavier bones than usual for a cat, long jumps are not a problem. This breed's origins are shrouded in mystery, but it is known that the more domestic individuals of the half-wild Norwegian Forest cat made their homes in barns and ships where they served as effective mousers.
While the “Wegie” was unknown to the Americas until 1979, the Maine Coon Cat is the oldest American breed that just might have come over on the Mayflower. If introduced even earlier by Vikings, the two breeds may look similar for good reason.
The Coon part of the name has no relation to racoons (They're both meat eating mammals with fluffy tails and that's as close as it gets. Breeding something with family Felidae with something with family Procyonidae is biologically impossible.)
It's surmised that the name comes from Captain Charles Coon, a seafarer whose long haired mousers were, to put it delicately, not very different from the human sailor on shore leave.
This resulted in litters of kittens in seaside towns being born with unusually long fur with distinctive ruffs.
The Coon Cat and the Wegie, as they’re affectionately known by cat fanciers, are very similar in personality. Both are described as gentle giants. They're both extremely clever and can learn all sorts of tricks. They're both friendly and affectionate and get bored easily so they need quite a bit of stimulation.
The Norwegian Forest cat is somewhat quieter, preferring to climb to a quiet place to silently contemplate. The Maine Coon cat tends to vocalize by making unique chirping sort of sound.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is more soft-spoken, but will become more vocal if he has to share his living space with others.
Both breeds, as large as they are, are good pets for children. While they are both friendly cats, the friendship will be on their terms. Both may take a while to warm up to someone they don't know very well.
The biggest difference in Main Coon cat and Norwegian Forest cat personalities is the Norwegian Forest cat is more fond of climbing.
Both breeds are significantly large by cat standards. The males in both breeds are noticeably larger than the females. The Maine Coon Cat can get up to 13 to 18 pounds with a female getting to be about 8 to 12 pounds.
The Norwegian Forest cat is slightly smaller with the male reaching 12 to 16 pounds and the female reaching a comparable 9 to 12 pounds. Due to the thickness of his coat, some male Maine Coons can weigh as much as 20 pounds.
The Maine Coon cat has an appetite to match his size and a hefty enthusiasm as well so he needs a large food bowl that's hard to tip over. The Norwegian Forest cat loves fish. You can serve him raw, boneless fish and make sure he keeps his naughty paws out of the goldfish bowl.
4. Head and Nose Shape
And here is where the Norwegian Forest cat and the Maine Coon Cat part ways in similarity. The Norwegian Forest cat's face has more of a triangular shape to it where the Maine Coon cat's is more squared with a slight wedge, like a lion.
The Norwegian Forest cat's forehead is very flat where the Maine Coon cat has more of a gently rounded curve.
The Maine Coon cat's nose is also gently curved while the Norwegian forest cat's nose is fairly straight. Both have large, pointed ears with furry tuffs, though the Maine Coon cat's ears are slightly taller and further apart. The Norwegian Forest cat's eyes are more slanted and over all, his face is just more delicately featured.
5. The Difference in the Tails
Both the Maine Coon cat and the Norwegian Forest cat have long, fluffy tails that are their pride and joy. Both the Maine Coon cat and the Norwegian Forest cat have thick, full, plume like tails are as long as the cat's body.
The Norwegian Forest cat's tail is more tapered with full and flowing hair. The Maine Coon cat's tail tapers to a more bushy end.
6. Their Coats
Both cats have very long, thick fur, the better to survive cold weather with. In fact, both breeds might love romping out in the snow occasionally. Both have thick ruffs of fur around the neck and shoulders.
The Maine Coon Cat and The Norwegian Forest cat both have water repellent coats and might like splashing in the water. (Keep an eye on them around aquariums and koi ponds.) The Norwegian Forest cat’s fur is overall long and sweeping where The Maine Coon Cat is puffier.
Both cat breeds are prone to Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition marked by thickening of the heart muscle. They may also suffer from hip dysplasia, especially later in life. The Norwegian Forest cat might have to get screened for Glycogen storage disease Type IV, a rare genetic disorder that makes it difficult for his body to convert glucose.
Fever, tremors and muscle weakness are all symptoms of this disease also known as glycogenosis. The Maine Coon Cat is prone to spinal muscular atrophy, which could affect his gait and posture. Maine Coon Cats with SMA are better off as indoor cats.
Both cats are slow to mature, not reaching their full adult development until about 4 or 5 years.
The Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon Cat are both delightful felines to bring into your home. They’re both clever, friendly and affectionate cats who will bring a lot of fun into your life. The Norwegian Forest cat will be a little quieter and more laid back, though you’ll have to have lots of trees or kitty condos for him to climb on.
The Maine Coon Cat is almost dog like in that he can be leash trained and may even play fetch. The square face with oval eyes belongs to the Maine Coon Cat. The triangular face with almond shaped eyes belongs to the Norwegian Forest Cat. Either way, they’re both fun pets who will bring you years of happiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
- About the Norwegian Forest Cat The Cat Fanciers' Association
- Norwegian Forest Cat on PetMD
- Maine Coon Cattime.com
- Hip Dysplasia Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Glycogen storage disease type 4
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