- Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats are similar in size, coat, and that long fluffy tail. They differ in personality and facial features.
- Many believe the “Wegie” to be the European ancestors to Maine Coons.
- Maine Coons can be larger than Norwegian Forest Cats, but the Wegie’s size is no joke and comparable.
- A Norwegian Forest Cat’s long coat is even all around. A Maine Coon’s coat is longer in key strategic areas.
- A Maine Coon has a playful energy vs the quieter, reserved nature of the Wegies.
- Both breed’s coats require regular grooming. Both are not hypoallergenic.
Let’s compare the Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon, two of the largest, most majestic, and distinct cat breeds that are held in special places within human’s hearts.
What do I mean? The Maine Coon is the official cat of Maine and the Norwegian Forest Cat is the official cat of Norway. Serious state and country pride!
Although similar at first glance, look closer and you’ll spot the differences. I live with my Maine Coon and have spent plenty of time around my friend and her Norwegian Forest Cat, so I have experience here!
In this post I give you tips on how to identify the breeds by looking at their head shape, face, fur and personalities. I have also included more subtle characteristics, such as color, hind legs and tails.
Then you’ll find information on health issues, grooming, and average prices for kittens.
Fables and Facts in the History of These Breeds
Northern Europe/Maine, Path to America
The history of the Maine Coon has been star-studded for such a relatively short time. A popular anecdote is that Marie Antoinette had the help of an American, Captain Clough, while planning her escape from the French Revolution.
Supposedly, she entrusted the captain with her six, dearly loved cats, and he transported them to Maine to wait for her. Less fanciful histories place their journey with 18th century sailors bringing them for rodent control.
Maine Coon cats were mentioned in American literature by 1861, and one named “Cosie” won the Best Cat category at the 1895 Madison Square Garden Show.
Unfortunately, the popularity of the Persian cat in the 1900s almost led to the extinction of the breed, but thankfully Maine Coons regained admiration and were officially recognized by the AFCA in 1967.
There are many experts who believe that the Norwegian Forest Cat, also known as “Wegies”, is the direct ancestor of the Maine Coon.
The history of the Norwegian Forest Cat goes back the furthest, with the ancestors of today’s cats travelling to Scandinavia during the Middle Ages. Many believe that they travelled in Viking boats, earning their keep as mousers. These beautiful beasts even made their way into Norse mythology!
Freya, the goddess of love, battle, fertility, and death, uses two Norwegian Forest Cats to pull her chariot. The harsh winters of Scandinavia necessitated this breed to develop a thick, double-layered, and waterproof coat, along with a strong and stocky body.
The Norwegian Forest Cat was in danger of disappearing in the 1900s, but endeavors to increase the breeding numbers saved them in the 1930s and 1960s.
Size and Weight
The title of “Longest Domestic Cats” at Guinness Book of World Records has been held for several years now by Maine Coons.
This should come to no surprise to any one familiar with the breed, as these enormous pets loom much larger than a standard domestic housecat.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is in a similar range, but they on average can be a few inches shorter in length from nose to tail. Both breeds are among the largest cat breeds in the world, generally speaking. Smaller Maine Coons and Wegies are out there, too!
Males vs Females
A Maine Coon averages 14 pounds for females and 18 pounds for males. Norwegian Forest Cats average between 9 and 12 pounds for females and between 12 and 16 pounds for males.
Face and Head
Just as we can tell people apart from looking at faces, so can we tell a Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat. Maine Coons have exclusive facial features that make them stand out from other felines.
The Maine Coon has a more wedge-shaped skull and a boxy lower jaw. Their high cheekbones and strong chins are much more robust than the delicate, triangular features of Wegies.
The Norwegian cats have a distinct, equilateral triangle shaped head. This creates a very flat forehead, leading down to a straight nose. Their faces do resemble a more standard domestic housecat.
The ears of a Maine Coon are large and pointed, with wide bases that sit high on their head.
The Norwegian Forest Cat’s ears are more medium sized, rounder, and sit more towards the side of the head.
Both breeds have noticeable tufts on their ears that give them a lynx-like appearance. However, there is a even a noticeable difference with these “furnishings”, as Wegies have more wispy tufts, coming to a point, and Maine Coons have a thicker tuft that doesn’t sit in a defined point.
The eyes of these two cats can also be telling. Norwegian Forest Cats have large eyes, a bit almond shaped.
Maine Coons have large, oval shaped eyes that become rounder when they are opened wide. A Wegies’ eyes are set at a different angle, with the inner corner pointing further down than the outer corner.
The eyes of a Maine Coon will be wide set, with a slight slant towards the outer edge of their ears. The eye colors of Norwegian Forest Cat Vs Maine Coon, however, are very alike!
The most common colors for both breeds are green, gold, green-gold, and copper. In both breeds, rare individuals may have blue eyes, usually accompanied by rare, all-white fur.
Fur and Coat
You are going to want to make sure learn to do daily grooming if you are looking at owning either of these breeds of cat. Both are known for their thick, luxurious long haired coat, and dealing with shedding is a daily task.
The coat of a Maine coon is shaggy, thick, and long. Their fur is uneven in length and placement. They have a short undercoat and shorter hair on their shoulders.
Their stomachs have especially fluffy, long fur. Maine Coons also have a signature “collar” of long fur around their necks.
Wegies also have very distinct coats, as they developed a special double layer that sheds water and keeps them from getting bogged down in winter conditions.
Their fur is silky and comes in an even length throughout their body. They do not have the ruff around the neck like Maine Coons do, and their topcoat feels woolier, while their undercoat is quite glossy.
One of the features that adds to the striking appearance of both of these cats is their beautiful coloring.
The lush fur that has kept both cats warm in frigid conditions also comes in a wide variety of patterns and hues. Maine Coons have been documented with coats that are solid white, cream, red, bluish and black.
Norwegian Forest Cats are equally as stunning, colored in silver, gold, white, cream, red, blue and black. They have also been seen in tortoiseshell, calico, tabby, and bicolor patterns.
The hind legs are one of the last features most would list when asked to describe characteristics of a cat. But when comparing Norwegian Forest Cat Vs Maine Coon, there is actually a striking difference.
Wegies have straight, strong and powerful hind legs that allow them to jump to great heights. These unusual legs five Wegies an overall appearance of their rump being taller than their front.
The hind legs of a Maine Coon are considered more of a medium length that can seem shorter when covered in long fur. These legs are no less impressive than those of a Norwegian Forest Cat, as many Maine Coons can actually stand up on their hind legs.
This unusual cat behavior is utilized when a Maine Coon is curious about something they cannot quite see while on all four legs.
Both breeds of cat have noticeably long and fluffy tails. The tails of each cat will be at least as long as their body from shoulder to the base of their tail. But, if you look closely, you will find yet another difference between them.
A Norwegian Forest Cat will have a tail with a broader base than their distant cousin. The hair on the tail of a Wegie will also sweep in one direction and look well ordered.
Maine Coon tails can reach impressive lengths, with the longest tail measuring over 16 inches. Their tails are tapered, but the fur is very bushy. As opposed to the one direction of Wegie tails, the Maine Coon tail is long and tends to spike out more.
Personality and Disposition
Every cat is going to have their own unique personality traits, but there are some aspects that are more common to each specific breed.
Maine Coons are well known for being a high-energy, feisty cat that can play for hours. They are an athletic, large breed that can really destroy toys and tire out humans.
On the other hand, some people describe Norwegian Forest Cats as, “lazy”. They will play, but for much shorter spans of time. Their lower energy level may make them a better pet for a quieter owner who doesn’t mind a cat that naps often.
Trainability and Play
Maine Coon cats are renowned for their ability to be trained, with an almost dog-like retention of commands. Maine Coon everywhere have been taught to shake hands, fetch, and walk on a leash. This playful cat will also enjoy all sorts of games with their human.
Norwegian Forest Cats are also a very intelligent cat, but likely not going on a walk with you on a leash. However, Wegies are less likely to play for long periods of time due to their more aloof nature. As with any cat, they still need to get in exercise, so don’t be discouraged from play entirely.
With either breed, I recommend a variety of toys, cat trees meant for larger cats, and sturdy scratching posts.
When comparing the loyalty of Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, the two breeds score the same.
Both cats are described as loyal and affectionate pets. Maine Coons will choose their “person” early on and remain fiercely attached to that owner for life. This is one of the many reasons they are nicknamed “dogs of the cat world”.
Norwegian Forest Cats take a little longer to develop a bond, but once they do, they are similarly connected for life. With stranger humans or animals, Wegies can seem a little standoffish.
Common Health Issues for Maine Coons
Hip dysplasia is a common concern, and a good reason to discourage your Maine Coon from standing up on their hind legs. This condition can cause arthritis and possibly paralysis.
Another structural malady is spinal muscular atrophy. SMA is a hereditary issue that causes a severe weakening of the muscles and death of spinal cord neurons. As scary as that sounds, SMA does not cause pain and cats can live fairly normal lives even with the condition.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is another hereditary condition and is the most common heart problem in cats. There is a genetic test for HCM, but be wary of any breeder who tries to claim that their kittens are HCM-free.
It is impossible to guarantee a pedigree line will be without HCM, but the genetic test does help to identify cats who have it and therefore should be removed from breeding plans.
Common Health Issues for Norwegian Forest Cats
Norwegian Forest Cats face similar health issues as Maine Coons. Hip dysplasia is fairly common in these large cats, as is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Wegies may also have Glycogen storage disease IV, which causes an error in where their body chooses to store sugars.
This can cause them to mistakenly get stored in their internal organs, which can cause organ disfunction, muscle atrophy, and unfortunately, death. This disease is usually identified when the cat is still a kitten, and rarely seen after five months of age.
An important thing to remember when considering buying any kind of pet, whether that be a gerbil or a Maine Coon, is ongoing price.
Not only will you have the initial cost of the animal itself, but you will need to cover the expenses for food, grooming, toys, veterinary care and more.
Investing in a pet is an amazing and enriching experience, but please consider if you and your household are ready for the needs of a pet.
The average Norwegian Forest Cat will run a little less, although you can expect to still pay between $600 and $1800. Make sure to research any breeder that you are considering, to make sure that they are well regarded and have no formal complaints against them.
As I mentioned when comparing the fur of a Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coons, these cats necessitate owner grooming. Whether you have grooming skills or you need an outside provider, the fur on these cats is so long and thick that it needs regular maintenance.
At the minimum, your large cat will need daily brushing to ensure that their hair does not mat. If your Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat does develop an unfortunate mat, it is important to take them to a professional groomer.
Mats often develop very close to their skin, and amateur solutions have a high risk of accidentally cutting your cat’s skin. While this may sound like higher maintenance than you were expecting, grooming your pet can be a relaxing activity and help develop the bond between you and your cat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is bigger Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon?
The Maine Coons are generally larger than Norwegian Forest Cats. However, there are certainly individuals who may be extra small or extra large for their breed.
How can you tell the difference between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat?
There are several distinct differences between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat. They have different sizes, head shapes, eyes, ears, fur and tails, among other details.
Are Norwegian Forest Cats cuddly?
Norwegian Forest Cats are described by many owners to be extremely affectionate cats. Their sedentary nature can make them very cuddly with people they are comfortable with.
How do you tell if your cat is a Norwegian Forest Cat?
A Norwegian Forest Cat will be larger than other domesticated house cats, have a triangular face, very straight nose and hind legs that are taller than their front.
I’m Gary Hu, a proud cat dad to a 15 lb Maine Coon. Have taken care of outdoor and indoor cats for over 10 years, and learned tons on behavior, habits, health, and products. I help new Maine Coon (or any other cat) parents with common questions and issues based on real, practical experience.