Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: Which breed is best for you?

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When considering a matchup of a Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, you may feel like they're not all that different. 

Both cats certainly look similar, with long, majestic coats and ears that have little tufts of hair sticking out. And both cats are on the larger end when it comes to size, with friendly and outgoing personalities. Some even believe that the Maine Coon is a descendent of the Norwegian Forest Cat.

So, which do you choose? If you're considering adopting a Maine Coon or a Norwegian Forest Cat, you'll want to understand how they differ, particularly when it comes down to behavioral traits and size. 

After all, adding any new family member to your household should be a well-researched decision, especially when considering two cats that are as similar looking as these two. You'll want to get them the best cat food and the best cat toys and have a clear understanding of what to expect from your new family member. 

This guide will help you assess how each compares as pets, as well as providing you with pointers on their visual differences.

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: Origins

Maine Coons' origins are unknown, and in fact, are mostly just speculation and rumors. Some say they they are descendants of Viking ship cats, while others believe they are part of a lineage that includes Marie Antoinette's beloved Turkish Angoras, who were put on a ship when she attempted to escape France and allegedly made it to Wiscasset, Maine.

We know quite a bit more about the origins of the Norwegian Forest Cat. They were adapted to survive Norway's incredibly cold winters, and are believed to have British Shorthair cats as ancestors and long-haired cats brought by Crusaders. 

There are some who believe that a Norse legend references the Norwegian Forest Cat, as it tells of a "skogatt" cat that could climb rocks better than other breeds - which is exactly like our forest cat in question. Norwegian Forest Cats served as mousers on Viking ships, which may explain the origins of the Maine Coon. 

Cat breeds that like water: Norwegian Forest Cat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: Behavior

As far as behavior goes, these two breeds can be a bit different - but keep in mind that every cat is inherently different and breed standards may not reflect the kitten you bring into your home. 

Traditionally, Maine Coons are considered gentle giants with pretty big brains, making them easier to train than some other breeds. They can be cautious when meeting new people and are very loyal to their family members, but tend to be a bit more independent rather than needy. 

They may not be a typical lap cat (they're also quite big), but they are fairly relaxed and get along well with other animals. Many Maine Coon owners report that they can be a bit like dogs in that they're playful and have a decent amount of energy. They also have very interesting vocalizations, so expect to get a giggle out of their meows.

Norwegian Forest Cats are also considered gentle and kind cats who can be quite affectionate. But they are keen hunters and can get a bit lazy if they aren't physically and mentally stimulated. You'll want to ensure they have space to explore, simulate hunting, and play. Norwegian Forest Cats also have very interesting, chirp-like vocalizations. 

Which is bigger, Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat?

Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats are definitely some of the bigger cat breeds. After all, a Maine Coon has a Guinness World Record for the longest cat measuring over 48 inches long! But who is bigger in the battle of the big cats?

On average, male Maine Coons weigh from 8 to 25 pounds and females can weigh between 8 to 12 pounds. The breed can be between 10 and 16 inches tall, and up to 38 inches long. They're built incredibly solid, with muscular bodies and heavy fur. 

Norwegian Forest Cats can be between 8 and 16 pounds, 9-12 inches tall, and 12-18 inches long. So, as you can see, the maximum size of a Maine Coon can be quite a bit larger than Norwegian Forest Cats. Both cats, however, have very strong builds and thick coats. 

Maine coon cat eating her food and licking her mouth

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How can you tell the difference between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat? 

There are several visual differences between the two cats, even though they initially seem very similar. Maine Coon's muzzles tend to be more square and their heads are wedge-shaped, while Norwegian Forest Cats' muzzles are more round and they have triangular-shaped heads. 

Norwegian Forest Cats tend to have shorter tails than Maine Coons, with longer hind legs than front legs (Maine Coons don't have this). Maine Coons also tend to have a more distinctive ruff of fur on their neck and chests, while Norwegian Forest Cats do not. 

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat

Maine Coon (left) and Norwegian Forest Cat (right) (Image credit: Getty Images)


If you're considering adding one of these big, bold-looking cats, there isn't one that's better than other - it's all about preference and how a cat will fit into your lifestyle. Both are rather large cats, so if you're short on space you may want to consider another breed. 

They can also be tough to find via animal rescues, so if you're a believer in adopting and not shopping, Maine Coons or Norwegian Forest Cats may not be for you. 

Ultimately, when deciding to add a furbaby to your home, it's all about research and preparation. Both of these cats would make lovely pets, and they'd certainly turn some heads!


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