Norwegian Forest Cats VS Maine Coon Cats

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On the surface, both Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons look very similar.  They are both large, long-haired, fluffy cats with large paws, stocky bodies, and big hearts.

Although some experts believe that Maine Coon cats are descendants of Norwegian Forest cats due to the immense number of overlapping features, there are some distinct differences between the breeds.   

In this article, we will look at the various differences between these two friendly and popular breeds of cat, Norwegian Forest cats vs Maine Coon cats.

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Maine Coon walking in the grass, Norwegian forest cats vs Maine coon cats


Despite the physical similarities between these two breeds, their origins are very different.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian forest cat sitting in the snow

The origins of these breeds are given away slightly by their names.  The Norwegian Forest cat was first bred in Scandinavia, specifically the area that is modern-day Norway.

This breed of cat was introduced to other parts of Europe by Vikings and Crusaders as they traveled across the continent.  The Norwegian Forest cat plays a large role in Norwegian folklore, often referred to as “Skoggart”, a creature that scares troll beasts and pulls chariots.

The Forest part of this breed’s name was given due to the animal’s love of climbing trees. The heavier, more dense bones of this cat mean that long jumps from high branches are not a problem.

With this breed, you won’t find yourself calling the fire department to rescue them from a tree. Norwegian Forest cats were known to make their homes in barns and ships where they would play the role of pest control. 

Maine Coon Cat

A Maine Coon cat laying down

The Maine Coon is America’s oldest breed of cat, the origins of which are not exactly clear.  There is a possibility that the Maine Coon was introduced by Vikings and the breeds are so similar for a good reason.

The Coon part of this breed’s name is purported to refer to Captain Charles Coon, a sailor who’s on ship pest control and behaved much like their human counterparts when they were on shore leave.

It’s also theorized that their large stature and long coats could be a product of the freezing winters of New England, where the breed first appeared.

Personality And Training

The personalities of Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats are very similar.  They both have very gentle natures that have earned them the reputation of being gentle giants.

They are also both highly intelligent breeds that are capable of learning multiple tricks.  While they are both affectionate breeds, they also require a lot of stimulation as they can get bored easily.  If they get bored, they get mischievous, and they have quite a lot of weight to throw around. 

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat on a wood stack

Norwegian Forest cats have a slightly more chilled out nature than their American counterparts and enjoy climbing their way to a peaceful spot for some quiet contemplation.

When a Norwegian Forest cat does speak, it has a much softer tone than Maine Coons, however, if it is having to share its living space with another animal, it will become more vocal. 

Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon breed is a lot more vocal than its Norwegian cousin.  Maine Coons are known to make a unique chirping sound instead of a more common mewing sound. 

One of the main differences that the Main Coon displays in comparison to the Norwegian Forest cat is its lack of desire to climb, it is much happier on solid ground.

black maine coon

Maine Coons are also the more playful of the two breeds, and can easily be trained to walk with a harness and leash, earning them a name as the dog of the cat world.


Both of these breeds are large domestic breeds.  The males of both breeds are significantly larger than the females

The Norwegian Forest cat is the slightly smaller of the two breeds with male cats weighing between 12 to 16 pounds.  The female of this breed usually weighs between 9 and 12 pounds.  

Norwegian Forest Cat in a tree

A male Maine Coon cat can weigh between 13 to 18 pounds, while a female, on average, weighs between 8 and 12 pounds.  Because of the thickness of a male Maine Coons coat, the total weight of the cat can be as heavy as 20 pounds. 

Head And Nose Shape

The head and nose shape of these two breeds of cats is where the differences really begin to show.  

The Maine Coon’s head shape is more square than that of the Norwegian Forest cat.  It also has a slight wedge to its head shape that makes it almost lion-like.  The nose of the Maine Coon is slightly curved, as is its forehead.

maine coon's furry collar

The Norwegian Forest cat on the other hand has a triangular face shape and a very straight nose.  It also has a flat forehead rather than a rounded one.  These cats also have slightly more tilted eyes and overall have more delicate features.

Both breeds of cats have large, pointed, fluffy ears, although the Maine Coon’s slightly larger and further apart.

Tail Differences

The tails on both of these breeds are extremely similar.  They extend almost as long as their body and are covered in very fluffy fur.

It is common for both breeds to spend an extensive amount of time grooming their tail to keep it looking majestic.  Norwegian forest cat’s tails feature more flowing fur, whereas the Maine Coon has a bushier appearance to it.

Maine Coon posing for a picture against a brown background


Much like their tails, the coats of both of these cats are extremely similar.  They are designed to live in colder climates that can involve moving through snow occasionally.

Because of this, they both have very thick, long coats that are water repellent.  Again, the Maine Coon is slightly bushier than its sleeker Norwegian relative. 

General Health

Both of these breeds of cats are prone to a health condition called Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in which the muscles of the heart become thicker. They are also prone to suffering from hip dysplasia and spinal muscular atrophy as they get older.  

Norwegian Forest Cat laying down

Norwegian Forest cats should be screened for Glycogen storage disease Type IV.  This is a rare genetic disorder that affects the cat’s ability to convert glucose. 

Final Thoughts on Norwegian Forest Cats vs Maine Coon Cats

Both of these cat breeds make great pets and companions. Although the two share physical similarities, they have differences in personality, slight differences in face shape, and come from two different places of origin.

If you’re considering getting either of these cat breeds, make sure to do further research into that breed’s specific needs and care regimens before buying.

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