What are the differences between Norwegian forest cat vs Maine coon cat?
Many people often mistake a Norwegian Forest cat from a Maine Coon due to their striking resemblance.
Both cat breeds are very large. Additionally, they both have silky long coats. And, while the Norwegian forest cat is lazy, the Maine Coon can play endlessly, as it is famous for its playfulness. However, there are differences in their behavior and looks.
Anyone can have a difficult time distinguishing them apart because both breeds are notably large in size. Both are considered two of the largest domesticated breeds of felines.
Their size is not the only thing that they have in common. Both have thick, gorgeous coats and are well-adapted to a frigid climate.
Since both breeds almost have the same size and the same fluffy appearance, it’s understandable that they are often confused for one another.
If you’re finding it hard to differentiate these two incredible breeds, we’ll help you overcome that difficulty.
In this article, we’re going to have an in-depth comparison between Norwegian Forest cat vs Main Coon cat.
Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest cat, as the name implies, originated in Northern Europe when the Vikings brought the Norwegian to Norway in 1000 A.D.
Unfortunately, the Norwegian became nearly extinct during World War II.
Their extinction motivated a particular club to create an official breeding program in their effort to preserve this specific breed.
Finally, in 1970, the Norwegian was officially registered with the European Federation Internationale Feline.
Since then, the Norwegian Forest breed has been a popular choice among pet owners in Norway, Iceland, France, and Sweden.
Also known by its popular name ‘Wegie,' the Norwegian is often depicted in Norse mythology pulling a goddess' chariot.
They are also said to have served as loyal companions to the Vikings on their journeys.
Wegie’s adventurous history won them their name skogkatt which means forest cat.
True to their name, Norwegian Forest cats are known to be skilled hunters.
On the other hand, the Maine Coon breed hails from the state of Maine. As one of the oldest natural breeds, little is known of its origin.
However, this breed has been a popular mouser and a farm cat in North America as early as 19th century.
Some historians claim that this breed descended from Marie Antoinette’s longhaired cat which was sent to America before the queen’s execution.
Another version of its origin claims that it was the Vikings who brought this breed to North America way back before Columbus made his most significant discovery.
If the latter version is correct, then we can safely assume that the Norwegian Forest cat and the Maine Coon are closely related.
However, did you know that this breed was almost declared extinct in 1950?
This is due to the introduction of the longhaired Persian breed to America from the Middle East.
All of a sudden, the Persian breed was stealing the show as well as the hearts of many cat lovers.
The decline was so dramatic that the breed was rarely seen in pet shows anymore.
To add insult to injury, the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) denied its provisional breed status three times.
However, the effort of the Maine Coon Cat Club brought fruits in 1975 when the CFA finally approved the breed.
Furthermore, it was recommended for championship status in the following year.
The approval of the CFA paved way for the Maine Coon's comeback and a significant increase in national rankings. Also, the state of Maine declared that Maine Coon be named as its official state cat in 1985.
According to CFA, this breed is currently ranked as the third most popular breed of domestic cat.
Which is Bigger: Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat?
Both are considered the largest breeds of domestic felines, and they may seem similar to untrained eyes.
So, which is bigger? The Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat?
The disparity of their sizes becomes more apparent in full grown male species. Males are significantly bigger than the females in both breeds.
Male Wegies typically weigh between 12 to 17 lbs while female tends to weigh in at 8 to 10 pounds.
On the other hand, male Maine Coons generally weigh from 13 to 18 lbs with females weighing from 8 to 12 lbs.
Based on the size comparison, the Maine Coon is slightly bigger than Norwegian Forest breed.
Nevertheless, the difference is not that significant. Therefore, size should not be the primary distinguishing feature of these two breeds.
If a Norwegian Forest cat and a Maine Coon sat side by side, the difference in size is almost impossible to notice.
Apart from the size, there are other ways to differentiate a Norwegian Forest cat vs a Maine Coon cat.
Head Shape and Structure
When it comes to physical differences, the most distinguishing feature that tells them apart is the shape and structure of their heads.
Wegies typically have a triangular face, flat forehead, and slanting eyes that resembles the look of regular cats.
Their muzzles are of medium length, and they have a strong chin. Ears are large, high set and wide at the base that closely resembles that of a lynx.
Maine Coons are characterized by their square-shaped muzzles on their wedge-like head. Moreover, they have well-tufted ears that are also wide at the base.
In other words, Wegies have a face that represent the appearance of regular cats.
While the facial structure of a Maine Coon will undoubtedly remind you more of a lion.
The coats of both Norwegian Forest cats and Maine Coons are fluffy and glorious.
However, Wegie's coat consists of a glossy, water-resistant outer coat and a thick woolly undercoat that appears thickest at the head, chest, and legs.
Maine Coons either have medium or long hairs. Even though they don’t have thick undercoats like the Wegies, their coats are still soft and silky.
Their fluffy fur is thickest at their stomach and flanks. Some kitties of this breed even have a ruff around their necks making them look like tiny lions.
Namely, Norwegian Forest breeds have longer, thicker coats compared to Maine Coons.
Despite being semi-long haired breeds, both don't shed as much as their long-haired breed counterparts.
Expect them to drop more in the summer as their coat is subject to change according to the season.
Since both are adapted to cold climate, their fur tends to become thicker in the winter.
Color and Pattern
Norwegians and Maine Coons come in most colors and patterns. The most common pattern in Wegies is tabby with white.
All coat colors are possible with the exemption of the color points inherent to Siamese cats such as chocolate and lilac.
Whereas the most common pattern in Maine Coon is the brown tabby. This breed also comes in solid colors (black, white and red), all tabby patterns, and bi-colors.
Let's start with the Wegies.
Norwegian Forest cats are affectionate towards their humans. However, they are not as clingy as other breeds.
More notably, they are soft-spoken which makes them a perfect choice if you prefer a quieter pet.
They are known for their hunting abilities, but they are not the most dynamic types of feline.
To put it another way, its level of activity is average – not too idle but not too active either.
Make sure to feed them with sufficient food because they have quite an appetite.
Although they won’t harass you for attention, they will persistently follow you around when they’re hungry.
Probably one of the best reasons why they are called ‘forest cats’ is their ability to climb and hunt.
Let them spend some time in the outdoors to satisfy their instinct desire to climb trees and hunt their prey.
Maine Coons, on the other hand, are more territorial because they are the bigger breed. They tend to dominate other animals around its environment.
However, despite their assertive personality, Maine Coons are very affectionate towards their owners.
Similar to Wegies, they're not unusually talkative and would make any requests in a soft trill.
Let us remind you that they have a bigger appetite than their Wegie counterparts.
One of the most surprising things about this breed is their dog-like behavior as evident by their intelligence and playful nature.
They can also play fetch and can be trained to retrieve small toys or other objects.
They may not be capable climbers like the Wegies, but they are also excellent hunters.
Male Maine Coons are known for their clownish behavior while the females possess a more eminent personality.
Health & Care
Pedigreed felines and mixed breeds have a higher risk of developing health issues that are associated with genetic problems.
Cat breeds have the potential to inherit a disorder or disease from their predecessors.
Since both Norwegian Forest and Maine Coon cats are products of natural breeding, they are prone to health problems such as:
This condition is the most common form of heart disease in felines.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease resulting in heart failure and paralysis of the lower limbs. It can also lead to sudden death in severe cases.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic defect that causes arthritis and crippling lameness.
If your kitty shows signs of pain and suddenly avoids jumping or moving, it could be a sign of hip dysplasia.
Glycogen storage disease type IV
Wegies, are at higher risk of developing this specific disease. This is a disorder in which there is a deficiency of glycogen branching enzyme.
As a result, altered glycogen can accumulate in the nerves and muscles which can progress to neuromuscular degeneration and hypoglycemic collapse.
Spinal muscular atrophy
Maine Coons are particularly prone to this hereditary disease. The loss of the spinal-cord neurons causes degeneration of the muscles of the trunk and limbs.
Which of the two breeds, has a longer life expectancy?
The statistical measurement of animal lifespan is based on the average time a particular species is expected to live.
The average lifespan of a specific breed may not always be accurate.
Factors such as general health, gender, environment, diet, and lifestyle can significantly affect the longevity of an animal's life.
Several feline researches have reported that Norwegian Forest breeds have a median lifespan of 14 to 16 years.
Maine Coons, on the other hand, have a median lifespan of 9 to 13 years.
However, life expectancy dramatically varies depending on the factors relating to each situation.
A healthy pet nurtured with great care and a well-balanced diet may even live longer than its average lifespan.
There have been cases of Wegies with no hereditary disorders living up to 20 years.
Despite the length and thickness of their coats, both breeds don’t shed as much as other long-haired breeds out there.
However, regular grooming is necessary to make sure that they don’t shed while maintaining the silky texture of their fur.
Combing their coats twice a week should help remove tangles and dead hair. Furthermore, regular grooming also helps distribute skin oils to prevent dander.
Also, please pay attention to their nails and teeth. Trimming their nails once a week and weekly brushing is highly recommended.
Wegies are prone to periodontal disease so you may need to take them to a veterinary dentist more often than not.
Bathe them twice a month or as needed especially if their coats feel greasy or dirty.
Understanding the differences and similarities of these two breeds should help you decide which breed to opt for.
Both are gorgeous and furry creatures. When it comes to physical appearance, you can never go wrong with your choice of breed.
There's a slight difference in the size, but the disparity is somewhat insignificant if you prefer a large-sized feline pet.
Their unique personalities make them ideal pets for any household since both are friendly and good with children.
If you prefer a soft-spoken pet that can get along harmoniously with other household pets, then the Norwegian Forest is the better fit.
However, if you're looking for a playful companion with dog-like characteristics, then the Maine Coon is the perfect choice for you.
Remember, the quality of life can significantly influence the longevity of their life.