Maine Coon cats and Norwegian Forest cats have a lot in common. It is commonly believed the Maine Coon is actually a descendant of the Norwegian Forest cat since they share many physical and behavioral traits. In Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, we compare every aspect from looks to personality.
What’s the difference between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat? There are very few differences between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat to the untrained eye. Their faces are a slightly different shape and the Norwegian Forest cat is slightly smaller than the Maine Coon. See 10 differences and similarities in the table below.
Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: At-a-glance comparisons
Here’s an at-a-glance summary followed by detailed descriptions.
|Maine Coon||Norwegian Forest Cat|
|Origins||Unknown, maybe a descendant of the Norwegian Forest Cat||Unknown, possibly originated in Viking times|
|Size||Female, 9-12 lbs, Male, 11-22 lbs, Height 10-16 inches||Female, 7.5-10 lbs, Male, 12-16.5 lbs, Height 9-11 inches|
|Colors||Black, white, red, blue, cream||Black, white, cream, red, blue and amber|
|Personality||Primarily extroverted |
with signs of occasional agreeable/neurotic behavior
|Agreeable / impulsive|
|Affectionate||Above average||Above average|
|Health||Above average||Above average|
|Lifespan||12-15 years||14-16 years|
|Coat||Thick, double layered and requires frequent grooming.||Thick, double layered, requires frequent grooming, especially in Spring.|
|Costs||$1000 – $1500||$400 – $900|
|Hunting Skills||Above average||Above average|
What do we know about the origins of these two breeds?
Maine Coon Origins
This Maine Coon cat is a native of the state of Maine in the US and was first recognized as a cat breed in the early part of the 19th Century. It was well-loved by the farming populace as it proved to be particularly good at removing rodents from their property.
How the Maine Coon first came about is difficult to answer but the general consensus is that it may have been the result of cross-breeding between other long-haired cats.
One of those long-haired cats may have been a relative of the Norwegian Forest cat that we’re discussing here! So, maybe their original roots stem from Norway and the Vikings (who first landed in America in the 11th Century).
The Vikings did apparently take cats on their boats so it’s feasible, at least. Really though, we can’t say for sure how this breed first came into existence – accurate records just weren’t kept back then like they are these days.
However it happened though, the Maine Coon was given championship status in the Cat Fanciers’ Associated (CFA) only in the year 1976.
Norwegian Forest Cat Origins
The Norwegian Forest (sometimes known as the ‘Wedgie’) cat has its origins in Norway and as I mentioned above, may have the Vikings to thank for its existence. It lasted almost a thousand years until she was almost made extinct during World War 2.
A concerted effort by the Norwegian Forest Cat Club who created a formal breeding program, thankfully averted this sorry outcome and the breed is now thriving. It was eventually registered as an official breed by the Fédération Internationale Féline, only in the 1970s (similar in this respect to the Maine Coon).
Which breed of cat is bigger, the Maine Coon or the Norwegian Forest? We can see, that looking at averages, both the female and male Maine Coon is likely to be heavier than the Norwegian Forest Cat.
However, whereas you can sometimes find slightly lighter male Maine Coons, this is less likely with the Wedgie.
Maine Coon Size
The Maine Coon’s weight varies dramatically, depending on whether they are male or female.
For instance, a typical female Maine Coon can weigh from 9 to 12 lbs and will stand (the height from the ground to their shoulders) between 10 to 14 inches tall.
The Male Maine Coon though is a different kettle of fish. It can weigh from 11 lbs up to a rather sizeable 22 lbs and can stand anything from 10 to 16 inches in height.
Norwegian Forest Cat Size
Similar to the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest cat can vary in size dramatically depending on whether it is a male or female.
A typical female Norwegian Forest cat will weigh from 7.5 lbs to around 10 lbs, whereas a male will weigh from 12 lbs to around 16.5 lbs.
The height of the Norwegian Forest Cat is typically 9 to 11 inches (from the ground to their shoulders).
Considering the Maine Coon may have derived from the Norwegian Forest Cat, you won’t be surprised to hear that there are many similarities between the two.
The obvious difference is that the Wegie’s coat appears (and is) thicker. Perhaps this is somewhat predictable as it comes from (and is arguably designed for) the harsh Scandinavian weather.
|Feature||Maine Coon||Norwegian Forest|
|Fur length||Long, uneven, shaggy, neck ruff and furry britches||Long and fluffy, annual molting requires grooming|
|Fur type||Soft and fluffy with thick undercoat||Soft and can appear more fluffy than the Maine Coon|
|Head shape||Square||Equilateral triangle|
|Ears||Tall, pointed with tufted tip||Tall, pointed with tufted tips|
|Eyes||Large, almond-shaped, slightly oblique||Almond-shaped, slightly oblique and can appear smaller than the Maine Coons|
|Nose||Typical feline nose||Slightly thinner and straight nose.|
|Tail||Long with flowing fur||Long, with thick fur, tip often a different color|
|Paws||Long and well tufted||Large, tufted – similar to a lion|
|Body||Rectangular, strong and muscular||Large and muscular|
|Vocals||Noisy, will communicate an any opportunity||Less noisy but will still speak occasionally|
|Legs||Long||Long with shorter fur than on its body|
Coat and Eye Colors
When we were looking for a Maine Coon we really weren’t bothered about the color although when I was a kid I used to dream about owning a white cat (even back then I loved cats) – however, some people prefer certain colors but what can you get with each breed?
Maine Coon Colors
The Maine Coon can be found in an incredible 85 color combinations. These are made up of solid colors (black, white, red, blue and cream) but also in a smokey color where the shaft of the hair is slightly lighter than the tip of the hair. You can then get two-tone colors and also a variety of mackerel tabby, tortoise-shell, and the conventional tabby.
There is also variety in the eye color of the Maine Coon. You will find amber, green gold and orange and pure white Maine Coons have been seen with odd-colored eyes or blue eyes.
Norwegian Forest Cat Colors
There are also many colors that the Norwegian Forest cat is seen in. For instance, we can have red, red/cream, white, black, black/blue and amber. Although with all these colors there can be many shades incorporating tortoise-shell.
As well as this, you can find many combinations of these colors including tabby patterns, smoke, silver and also pure colors with different colored extremities. Such as a black cat with white feet or tail-tip.
There are five known different types of personality that have been associated with cat breeds, these are:
- Neurotic – this type of cat will appear anxious, shy, insecure and can be nervous with people and other animals. When people unknown to the cat enter their environment, they will leave the room and go to a known (to them) safe area where they feel protected. Over time this behavior can be ‘corrected’ and eventually they may feel more secure and protected within their own home, however sometimes it stays with them throughout their lives.
- Impulsive – the cat that exhibits this type of personality may act in a similar way to a neurotic cat. However, the reaction is not always predictable. It may take less time to work with this type of cat than a neurotic one but loud noises and sudden movements around it should still be avoided if possible. The impulsive cat may bond with non-family members quicker than a neurotic cat.
- Agreeable – the agreeable cat is friendly, sociable and will want to communicate with you. It will be comfortable within its home and show no signs of anxiety. It will remain friendly when people enter their home and will want to show you signs of affection. This may involve following you around the house, meowing, getting on your lap or perhaps some other way.
- Extroverted – although most cats are nosy you’ll see this behavior more pronounced in an extroverted feline. They will demand lots of mental and physical stimulation and failure to do this may cause anxiety in her and possibly a destructive personality. Apart from playing with her every day, consider getting something like a climbing wall and lots of different toys to keep her amused.
- Dominant – a dominant cat is one that exhibits signs of selfishness, extreme confidence and wants to be in control. It may not like sharing and expects to have its own food, water and areas around the house that are dedicated to it.
Maine Coon Personality
The Maine Coon cat can be described primarily as extroverted. However, it is not unusual for them to show signs of an agreeable nature and one of ours most definitely shows signs of a neurotic personality. It is less likely for the Maine Coon to show a dominant personality than other traits.
Norwegian Forest Cat Personality
The Norwegian Forest cat’s personality can be more easily assessed than the Maine Coon. I would describe them as having an ‘agreeable’ personality with some hints of an impulsive nature.
They appear comfortable in their home and with you and although they will enjoy any kind of interaction with your family, they can be a little aloof at times.
However, they are a playful, affectionate, adorable breed of cat which will make a great family cat if you have children. There is a better chance of this though if they have been properly socialized at an early age.
Is the Maine Coon Affectionate?
Yes, the Maine Coon is an affectionate cat. Although it does depend on the individual cat how they show it. Our two display their affection in very different ways.
Charlie, our white Maine Coon will sit on our laps and occasionally nuzzle his face right into ours or burrow his head into our arms, whilst purring, of course.
Our ginger Maine Coon, Harry, won’t sit on our laps as much but will follow us around the house, talking. The Maine Coon I had before these two (Oscar) actually used to work his way into (yes, actually inside) my bed at night, purring his head off.
Is the Norwegian Forest Cat Affectionate?
The Norwegian Forest Cat can be very affectionate yes. Although like all cats, their personality can vary between the individual cats, the Wedgie, as it is affectionately known, will lap up any attention you wish to bestow on them.
You may find with this breed that they focus their attention just on one individual. That doesn’t mean the other members of the family won’t get any attention, just that one may get more than others.
There are mixed reports as to whether this cat is a ‘lap cat’, some are and some aren’t, just like the Maine Coon. Also, similar to the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest cat may follow you around from room to room, not wanting you to leave its sight.
Is one cat healthier than the other? Does either suffer from any genetically transmitted diseases? As it happens, both these breeds are known to be healthy and live long lives.
Both breeds, however, are prone to the following illnesses:
- Hip Dysplasia – This is a genetic malformation of the cat’s hip joint. You will notice symptoms of lameness that range in severity from mild to severe. The joint of the hip may be painful if touched.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – This is a heart condition that is very common in cats. It occurs when the heart muscle thickens and can be diagnosed using an ECG. Cats with this disease should not be bred from.
Maine Coon Health
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy – another genetic disease that has been seen in Maine Coons. Symptoms appear as an awkward posture and manifest in obvious aggravation when walking. The muscles in the back of their legs become week over time. Note that the cat can continue a relatively normal life, despite this.
Norwegian Forest Cat Health
- Glycogen storage disease – this is a rare disease that can,
unfortunately, be fatal. It causes a deficiency of an enzyme that is needed for the metabolism of glycogen.
Does either cat shed their fur and do they need much grooming?
Does the Maine Coon Cat Shed?
The Maine Coon has a thick double coat which will knot and matt frequently. Without human intervention, this will eventually become a problem and you may have to take them to the vets to remove these professionally.
They can only remove some of the knots themselves and they should be groomed at least once a week. When stroking them, try and feel for any knots and work them out gently before they get out of control.
The Maine Coon does not shed any more particularly than any other cat with similar amounts of fur. Just have a vacuum cleaner handy to suck it all up once or twice a week!
Does the Norwegian Forest Cat Shed?
The Norwegian Forest cat has a double coat that is well suited for cold conditions and is not fully grown until the cat reaches maturity at around two years old.
Like the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Foret Cat’s coat will become matted if neglected. Some cats will need more help than others in maintaining this but all will need some help. The Norwegian Forest cat will shed during the spring and during this time you should be grooming him a couple of times a week.
How much will it cost you to buy each breed and are they then expensive to keep? Also, remember there are many other things to consider relating to cost such as cat insurance, vet’s annual check-ups, vaccinations, toys, food, cat carriers, etc.
Pet insurance is well worth having for peace of mind. Expect this to cost around $25 per month for a 1-year-old Maine Coon and $24 per month for a 1-year-old Norwegian Forest Cat.
Maine Coon Costs
The Maine Coon is the more expensive of the two. An ‘average’ (if there is such a thing) Maine Coon will cost you around $1000 and a show-quality feline upwards of $1500.
Norwegian Forest Cat Costs
A Norwegian Forest cat will cost you, on average, between $400 and $900 from a reputable breeder. You can pay less of course through a non-professional but this is not recommended.
You hear all kinds of things on social media, forums and everywhere else online about these cats. But what are the myths and what are the facts?
The absolute truth about Maine Coons is:
- People have said that you can identify a Maine Coon as it has an ‘M on its forehead, however – they aren’t the only cat who has this. In fact, your regular tabby has them too!
- They are certainly not the result of crossbreeding a cat with a raccoon. This is a genetic impossibility. It’s like crossbreeding a human with an elephant.
- They can be lap cats. All our Maine Coons have sat on our laps at some point. Some more than others, sure – but they’ve all done it.
- They aren’t the ruthless hunter that some people make them out to be. Yes, they are good hunters, but so are many of them.
- Like all cats, most (if not all) do not choose to swim. However, they can act strangely around water. For example, our Charlie will only drink from the tap in the kitchen (not his water bowl).
Norwegian Forest Cat
- There is quite a bit of information online that they are prone to ill health. This just isn’t the case and the Norwegian Forest cat is actually an above-average cat when we’re talking about its health.
- Folklore suggests that this cat originated from the Vikings but we really don’t know that for sure. Although we know Vikings did indeed take cats with them on their overseas adventures, we really don’t know if one of them was an ancient ancestor of the Norwegian Forest Cat.
Which of these cats has the advantage during hunting?
Maine Coon Hunting Skills
It is true that Maine Coons are most definitely good hunters. Generations ago they worked on farms to control vermin and they certainly haven’t lost this skill today. It’s quite surprising how agile this cat is considering its rather large build.
Norwegian Forest Cat Hunting Skills
The Norwegian Forest cat is undoubtedly a formidable hunting cat. It is after all, why the early farmers enjoyed their company so much. You will notice their natural hunting skills during play when they keep their bodies low and crawl slowly towards their prey before pouncing.
Can a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat Live Together?
Yes, it is absolutely possible for a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest cat to live together, in peace. How quickly this could happen and how well they get on depends on quite a few things though.
Firstly, the personality of the individual cat. If they show any neurotic tendencies (like one of ours does) then it might just not work and similarly, if they are too dominant.
The next most important thing is whether they’ve been properly socialized during those important first few months of their life. If they haven’t, it’s still possible to get it to work but it will be a lot easier, generally, if they have.
Do any of the reported health concerns manifest into a reduced lifespan for these breeds?
Maine Coon Lifespan
The average lifespan for a Maine Coon is between 12 to 15 years, however, the oldest Maine Coon ever reportedly reached the age of 26!
Norwegian Forest Cat Lifespan
The average lifespan for a Norwegian Forest cat is between 14 and 16 years.
Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat – Conclusion
Whichever of these breeds you choose, you can’t go wrong! They both have exceptional personalities and should get on with children and other pets just fine.
They are funny, inquisitive and are naturally good hunters. Although either breed could inherit genetic diseases, buying through a breeder should ensure you have a healthy cat for a long time, as both cats have a relatively long lifespan.