Last Updated: 5 months ago

Did you know that the Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon are called the look-alikes of the cat world?

Although one is often mistaken for the other, there are some striking differences between both cat breeds.

Read about these hidden differences and similarities in the article below.

So, next time you spot one of these cats, you won’t need to consult the owner to confirm the breed.


Norwegian forest cat surrounded by snow

They’re both two of the world’s largest domestic cat breeds. They each have shiny, soft, long, and silky coats and are extremely photogenic. They may even have the same origin, according to some experts.

Beyond that, though, the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat have nothing in common!

They may look similar at first glance, but as you spend more and more time with each breed, you see the contrast between both, which is easily hidden beneath their outward appearance.

Breed Differences And Origin

There has been an ongoing debate between cat experts regarding the origin of both Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat.

Some experts believe that Maine Coons are the descendants of Norwegian Forest Cats due to their shared features.

However, when we take a closer look at the origins of both breeds, we see that both the cats come from two different continents.

Norwegian Forest Cat Origin

gorgeous Norwegian forest cat

Even though Norwegian Forest Cats have the honor of being the official cat breed of Norway, it’s interesting to know that they may have their roots in Russia or Turkey.

One of the most prominent theories about the origin of this breed states that the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat could be Siberian Cats or Turkish Angora’s.

“Wedgies”, as they are so often called in Norway, have developed the thick coat to sustain the cold climate of the country.

Later, these cats made their way to the US along with the Vikings.

However, Norse mythology has a few stories that describe cats similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat, confirming their Norwegian origins.

Maine Coon Origin

a handsome Maine coon cat looking at the camera

Just as the Norwegian Forest Cat is named after a country, Maine Coons are named after the state of Maine in the United States.

Although, there is a huge possibility of Maine Coons being related to the feline from Norway. One of the widespread stories of its origin traces its roots back to Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette had six Turkish Angoras who then bread with the local breed in Maine to create Maine Coons.

So, according to this theory, Maine Coons share common ancestors with the Norwegian Forest Cats rather than being their descendants.

Physical Characteristics

brown Maine coon

If you wish to distinguish between a Norwegian Forest Cat and a Maine Coon quickly, here are some key physical differences that set the two breeds apart.

Norwegian Forest CatMaine Coon
HEAD SHAPEThese cats have a triangular face shape and a flat forehead to go with them, their heads are slightly curved from the top.This breed has a squarish face shape coupled with high cheekbones and a slightly longer face. This face composition gives this breed a friendly appearance.
NOSE SHAPEThese cats have a flat and straight nose.Maine Coons have a curvy button nose.
EYE SHAPELarge almond-shaped eyes with the inner corner lower than the outer one.Oval-shaped large and expressive eyes that slant towards the outer base of the ears.
EARSMedium-sized ears with a slightly broad base. The cups of the ears face outwards and the ears have a rounded tip. Placed exactly on either side of the head, Norwegian Forest Cats have furry ears.Large ears set on top of the head, covered with a luscious coat. Pointed and at a distance of one ear apart from one another.
NECKThese cats have short but muscular necks.Maine Coons have a medium-length neck.
COATThese cats have a double coat on their body. The length of the coat is long and their coat easily sheds water. The undercoat is woolly to maintain body heat against the harsh temperature. Whereas, the topcoat is shinny and has fluffy fur.These cats are blessed with thick, smooth, long shaggy, and uneven coats. Longer hair on the belly with a comparatively shorter coat on the shoulder area. Ruff of hair around the neck. Short undercoat.
BODY SHAPEThese cats have a square-shaped muscular medium-length body. A hefty bone structure accompanied by a broad chest.These cats are generally long and hence, rectangular. Usually, male cats are bigger than females and both have broad chests and a muscular built.
LEGS AND FEETMedium legs with front ones slightly shorter than the back ones. Muscular hind legs and a rounded paw with tufts of fur between toes.Strong straight legs with four toes on the back legs and 5 toes on the front once. Large strong claws.
TAILLong bushy tail with hair swept in a single direction, with a broad base.Long, thick flowy fur, with a slightly tapering tail.
GROWTHBoth cats have a slow growth rate compared to other cat breeds. This cat reaches its full size in 5 yearsBoth cats have a slow growth rate compared to other cat breeds. This breed needs about 3-4 years to fully grow up.

It’s highly impossible to compare all the above features between the two breeds because cats are generally uncooperative.

But even if you catch a couple of features, you can easily tell which cat is a Norwegian Forest Cat and which one is a Maine Coon.

Personality Differences

tabby Maine coon

Just like humans, animals too have their unique personalities. Unlike dogs, cats are generally infamous for their feisty nature.

However, Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon both have very different personalities despite both being felines.

If you are planning to adopt one of these breeds, please consider the below personality traits. As they may guide you to make the right decision, based on what you seek in a pet.

Who is more Sociable?

An outgoing pet is a boon. In this sense cats from both, breeds are quite outgoing. Main Coon males are more confident whereas females are a bit reserved.

Like any other breed of cats, Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons both are wary of strangers. But cats won’t be cats if they were friendly in the first meeting.

Who Is More Friendly?

woman hugging a Maine coon. one of the Maine coon cats personality is being affectionate

These gentle giants are extremely friendly. Maine Coons crave attention from their owners and often love friendly interactions.

However, you do not need to shower your Norwegian Forest Cat with attention as it’s completely fine being on its own. So, if you are busy most of the day and planning to get a cat, Norwegian Forest might be your ideal type.

But, if you wish to adopt a cat for your toddlers opt for a Maine Coon. This breed is much more laid back and patient when it comes to dealing with kids.

Norwegian Forest Cats are friendly but less laid back. If your kid is older than the age of 7 feel free to get a Norwegian Forest.

In general, both breeds are worth being pets and hence their growing popularity amongst cat lovers.

Who is more Loyal?

Let’s agree on one thing when it comes to loyalty cats do not have a great track record compared to dogs.

However, you would be surprised to know that Maine Coons are extremely loyal cats. Even if you fail to interact with them.

On the other hand, Norwegian Forests do not practice loyalty unless you establish that special bond with them.

Can you train them?

lady carrying a black Maine coon kitten

Cats are generally sharp and well aware of their surroundings.

These two breeds are not exceptions to this fact. Hence, these cats have a high intellect and can grasp things quickly.

As an advantage, you can easily train both breeds. In fact, despite being domesticated for ages, these breeds sport excellent hunting skills.

So little birds, bugs, and mice should beware of these felines.

Are They Playful?

When it comes to activities and play, both breeds are quite the opposite. Where Maine Coons love great playtime and are highly excited to spend time with their owners, Norwegian Forest Cats are lazier.

It’s not like they do not enjoy playing and running around, but they prefer to play for a short while and then rest.

If you have kids or you yourself love to spend time and play with your furry friend, a Maine Coon will entertain you for hours.

But chances are your Norwegian Forest will brush you off after some time. Kids, especially, will love the company of a Maine Coon, as they are playful even when they get old.

Who loves to exercise?

White maine coon cat walking in the backyard

As playfulness is in their blood Maine Coon is hyperactive and loves exercising as well. These cats are dogs in disguise, as they can be walked on a leash and trained effectively with great ease.

Although training Norwegian Forest Cat is possible, they will never cooperate and walk on a leash. Much less is the possibility of them willingly exercising. These cats are lazy!

On the contrary to the famous myth that cats hate bathing, both these breeds enjoy playing in the water, so bathing them is not a hassle.

Do They Talk?

I know it may seem strange to read, but pet lovers know that pets communicate with their humans.

When it comes to communication Main Coons are a lot more vocal than their long-lost siblings Norwegian Forest Cats.

Maine Coons love to chirp and trill, they are more responsive and like being a bit noisy.

Norwegian Forest Cats have a quiet voice. They will communicate only when they require something. This breed enjoys its own company more than anything.

Who is more pet-friendly?

tri-colored Maine coon cat

If you like having more than one pet then the chances of pet conflicts are high. So, in such cases, it’s better to adopt a cat breed that is friendly and accommodative.

Maine Coons being playful love to play with other pets as well. They not only thrive in the company of their humans but also, their other pet friends.

Norwegian Forest Cat loves solitude. It prefers being left alone rather than participating in group activities.

If you wish to have a single pet who does not need attention to survive, Norwegian Forests are perfect for you.

Caring Requirements

a very cute Norwegian forest cat

If you are someone who is intrigued with these almost identical breeds, you should know that caring for these cats is not an easy task.

Cats are pretty easygoing and care for themselves compared to dogs. But being a cat parent comes with its own set of responsibilities.

If you are a Norwegian Forest Cat or a Maine Coon owner or wish to make one new addition to your family. These cat caring tips will help.


Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat have the same food requirement in terms of quality. Both the cats are recommended to be given dry food.

Dry food has a few advantages over wet food. Apart from the fact that dry food is cheap and much more sustainable than wet food, dry food is a good jaw exercise for cats.

Carrying dry food is easier than transporting wet food. However, do not limit your cats to dry food only. A maximum of 3-4 wet meals in a week is sufficient to satisfy your cat’s wet food pallet.

Although dry food is a go-to option, cats with kidney issues may need special foods. There are special foods created especially for Norwegian Forest Cat Vs Maine Coon to keep their fur shiny, make sure to try them!

These breeds of cats being big, eat more than an average per cat. So, purchase food accordingly. Also, make sure that the food fulfills their protein requirement according to the diet chart.

Health and Life Span

brushing Maine coon's beautiful coat

Large pet cats and dogs are prone to certain diseases or disorders. Sadly, Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats are not an exception.

Hip Dysplasia, Polycystic Kidney Disease, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are some of the common health issues seen in both breeds.

It’s best to keep your pet cat healthy through regular trips to the vet, proper diet, and adequate exercise.

However, Maine Coon is more susceptible to spinal muscular atrophy and Norwegian Forest Cat is likely to get Glycogen storage. Both these diseases are fatal if not treated in time.

Male Norwegian Forests show a higher risk of diabetes.

The life expectancy of a Norwegian Forest cat is 14 to 16 years which is considered to be a long happy life in cat years. Whereas, an average lifespan of a Maine Coon cat is 11 years.


Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats need to be properly groomed to keep them clean and healthy. Regular bathing is essential to keep their fur clean and unwanted fleas at bay.

Bathing both breeds is no big deal as each loves water. But keep in mind to use a mild shampoo that is cat-friendly, to maintain the texture and quality of the fur coat.

Trim and brush the fur regularly with a good quality brush. The cats may shed some fur but that’s the only downside of having Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats. Beware of their strong claws and clip them regularly.


Maine Coons take their playtime seriously so a variety of toys like balls, teasers, chasers, plush and mice toys, interactive toys, electronic toys, cat trees, scratching poles, and even yarn balls can be useful to keep your pet Maine Coon occupied.

Norwegian Forest Cats have a smaller window for playtime, so it’s best to let the cat choose its toy. For kittens, however, any normal cat toy would do.

These cats will thank you for investing in a cozy bed, rather than fancy toys, as resting is their main agenda.

Final Word

It’s amazing how similar these two breeds are yet so completely different. From their controversial origins to their distinct physiques and unique personalities,. 

Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats are amazing pets. Both breeds have their own specialties, which makes them so fascinating.

Hopefully, this article offers a detailed distinction between the two most adorable cat breeds.

Lastly, based on the above points, you can easily select the breed that suits you the most. Both the felines are excellent and adoptable.

However, keep an open mind; you never know which cat you may fall in love with!

Do you have a Maine Coon cat or a Norwegian Forest cat at home? Let us know in the comments below!


Norwegian forest cat and Maine coon cat
Olfa T
Olfa T

Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.