Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat: Key Differences

The Maine Coon cat looks very similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat, giving yet more weight to the theory that the Maine Coon is a descendent of the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Although they do share many similarities in terms of looks and personality traits though, there are still quite a few key differences that are often forgotten.

Never mix these two cat breeds up again. Instead, use my Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest cat comparison tables below.

There are key differences between the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat breeds. Maine Coon cats are known for being loyal and playful, with long uneven length fur, and a thick bushy tail. The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison, is only loyal if given attention, and is often considered the lazier of the two cat breeds because they are less playful and energetic. Their fur length is also even over their entire body.

Physical Differences Between Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat

The Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat are known for being extremely large cat breeds. In fact, they both jointly hold the record for being the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world.

Whilst the Maine Coon cat originates in Maine, United States, the Norwegian Forest Cat is thought to originate in Northern Europe. They are often referred to as “Skogkatt” in Norway, their native country.

The lifespan of these cat breeds differs slightly. Maine Coons tend to live to >12 years, though some owners do report there cat reaching up to 20 years! The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison tends to live between 14-16 years.

Norwegian Forest Cat: Flat Nose

Although they look very similar physically, and both have been bred in a wide variety of colors, there are still some easy ways to tell the difference between these two magnificent cat breeds.

Take a look at my table below which summarises the key physical differences between the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat (source 1, source 2):

FeatureMaine CoonNorwegian Forest Cat
SummaryHardy cat breed able to withstand harsh Winter climates. Originates in MaineLarge sturdy cat breed. Muscular. Females are smaller. Males large and imposing. Originates in Northern Europe
SizeLargest Cat BreedLargest Cat Breed
Length19-40 inches (48-101 cm)
10-16 inches (25-40cm)
8-14 inches (20-35cm)
15-25 lbs (6.8-11.3 kg)
8-12 lbs (3.6-5.4 kg)
Male: 10-20 lbs (4.5-9 kg)
Female: 8-18 lbs (3.6-8 kg)
Head ShapeWedge shaped head, with square muzzle. High cheekbones. Medium width slightly longer faceEquilateral triangle head shape. Flat forehead
Nose ShapeGently curving noseStraight nose, from brow ridge to nose tip, without a break
Eye ShapeLarge, expressive, wide set eyes. Opened oval shape. Slightly oblique setting, slanting towards outer base of ear
Large, expressive, almond shaped eyes. Eyes set at a slight angle – the inner corner is lower than the outer corner
Muzzle / ChinMedium in length. Visibly square. Strong chin. Well proportionedGently rounded, firm chin.
Whisker pads are not
pronounced, nor pinched
NeckMedium lengthShort heavily muscled neck
Ears‘Lynx like’ ear tufts. Ears taper, appearing pointed. Large ears are wide at base, approximately one ear’s width apart, and set high on headLynx like ear tufts. Medium-large ears with broad base. Rounded at tip. Heavily furnished. Set on side of head, cup pointing slightly outwards
CoatThick, smooth, long shaggy coat. Fluffy fur. Uneven lengths of long hair – hair longer on stomach and britches, and short on shoulders. Ruff of hair around neck. Short undercoatDistinctive double coat. Silky Coat. Fluffy fur. Even long hair. No ruff of hair on neck. Water-shedding hair. Wooly undercoat. Glossy top coat
TailLong thick bushy tail that tapers. Fur is long and flowingLong bushy tail with long sweeping hair laying in one direction. Base of tail is broaded
Body ShapeLong body that is well proportioned, and looks rectangular. Broad chested. Muscular. Males usually bigger than femalesMedium length body looks square. Muscular. Substantial bone structure. Considerable girth, with broad chest
Legs & FeetLarge round paws with tufts of hair. 4 toes at back. 5 toes at front.

Legs wide set, substantial, medium length. Straight forelegs
Medium legs with front legs shorter than hind legs. Substantial lower legs

Firm large round paws, with heavy tufting between toes
GrowthSlow growing cat breed, reaching full size between 3-5 yearsSlow growing cat breed, reaching full size at 5 years

As you can see, the best place to start when trying to tell the difference between the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, is by looking at their head shapes. Whilst the Norwegian Forest Cat is known for having a very triangular shaped head, with a flat forehead, the Maine Coon has a more wedge shaped head.

If you are still struggling to tell the difference, take a look at their fur coats. This is another big clue since the Maine Coon breed has long uneven fur, with a ruff of hair around their neckline and chest. This mane of hair often makes them look like mini lions!

The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison has a double coat of fur that is even in length, all over their body. They rarely have a ruff of hair across their chest and neckline, and their top coat of fur is considered to look ‘glossy’. Both cats, however, have thick fluffy fur that helps to keep them warm, even in the very coldest of climates.

Should you hope to tell the difference between the cat breeds, by looking at their bushy tails, then you might feel a little disappointed. Yes, their tails are slightly different, but the differences are harder to spot for the average individual.

They both have long and impressive tails, but it is harder to notice the long flowing nature of the Norwegian Forest Cats tail, which tapers to a tip, when compared to the Maine Coon thick tail which tapers to a bushy end.

Both cat breeds have long tails, which are the same length as their bodies (if measuring from their shoulder, to the base of their tail).

Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat Price Comparison

There is a considerable price difference to factor in, when choosing to buy a Maine Coon cat, or Norwegian Forest Cat. Take a look at the table below to find out more details.

Ultimately, the cat breed you pick will be dependent upon your own personal family situation, finances, and which cat personality traits you consider important in a cat.

For instance, potential owners are likely to pay the Maine Coon kitten premium price if they have young children, since this particular cat breed is known for being extremely gentle, laid back, and good around children.

Maine Coon cats with rounded noses

The table below shows how much you have to pay if you would like to buy a purebred Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat:

Age RangeMaine CoonNorwegian Forest Cat
Kitten$1000 (£811)$800-1500 (£624 -1169)
Senior Cat$600
Rescue Cat$250
(boarding costs)
(boarding costs)

Personality Trait Comparison Of Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat

When we compare the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, it is important to consider each cat breeds personality traits, and characteristics. Whilst both do appear similar in nature, there are some subtle differences that set each cat breed apart.

Fluffy Norwegian Forest Cat

The table below summarises the key differences between a Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cats personality traits:

Personality TraitMaine CoonNorwegian Forest Cat
SociableSociable and outgoing. Males are confident around strangers, females are more reservedSociable and outgoing. Can be reserved around strangers
Friendly / GentleVery friendly, laid back and gentle. Seeks attention from owners. Often named ‘gentle giants’.Very friendly, laid back and gentle. Doesn’t require lots of attention
LoyaltyExtremely loyal, even if you don’t interact with themOnly loyal if you interact with them
Highly IntelligentIntelligentIntelligent
TrainingHighly trainableHighly trainable
PlayfulVery playful cat breed, full of energy. ‘Kitten-like’ playfulness until late in lifeMore lazy. Will play for a little, then rest
Hunting SkillsAmazing hunting skillsAmazing hunting skills
ClimbersGreat climbers. Prefer to take the easy route up, rather than jumping straight to the top of a wallStrong claws. Excellent climbers
ExerciseCan be trained to walk on a leash, with a harness. Dog like in natureWill not walk on a leash
Love WaterFascinated by waterEnjoy playing in water
VoiceTalkative. Loves to chirp and trillQuiet voice, unless it wants something
Family FriendlyGreat family pets. Very laid back and good with young childrenGood family pet. Good with children, but less laid back than Maine Coon
Get On With Other PetsGood with other pets. Prefer to make friends with them, rather than fight

One of the key differences between the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest cat is their level of playfulness.

Whilst the Maine Coon is known for it’s very ‘kitten like’ playful nature, which continues late into this breeds lifetime, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a touch more lazy! They don’t mind a bit of play, but ultimately won’t be entertaining their human family with play all evening long. Instead, they prefer short bursts of play followed by rest.

Another key personality characteristic that distinguishes the Maine Coon cat from the Norwegian Forest Cat, is their laid back nature. This characteristic is particularly important should you be considering buying a Maine Coon cat, and have young children.

Why? Because their laid back nature and temperament make them great with young children.

Take a look at this video of our 5 year old daughter and our Maine Coon cat. Both love each other dearly, and our almost eight year old Maine Coon is massively patient, even when she pushes his head around in a way children often do.

By comparison, the Norwegian Forest cat is known for being slightly less laid back in temperament, than a Maine Coon cat.

Therefore, although they make great family pets, you may not be able to trust them entirely with your children. Every cat’s personality is different though, so maybe you will find a Norwegian Forest Cat that is extremely laid back! 

Another key difference between Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cats is that although the Maine Coon is not officially known as a ‘lap cat’, they do absolutely love sitting on your lap for a short while (before they get too hot) and having a cuddle.

The Norwegian Forest Cat by contrast is not considered a ‘lap cat’, but does love a good stroke or scratch.

In general, both cats are pretty independent and curious, but the Norwegian Forest Cat may need slightly more space than a Maine Coon, since they prefer less attention, and playtime.

The Maine Coon by contrast is considered very ‘dog-like’ and will happily spend as much time as is humanly possible with their owners. Owners of Maine Coon cats need to make sure that they cater to their cats social needs.

Which Is Bigger Norwegian Forest Cat Or Maine Coon?

Norwegian Forest Cat: Heavily Furnished Ears

The Maine Coon Cat and Norwegian Forest Cat are two of the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world.

Statistics show that both cat breeds are roughly the same size, though the Maine Coon has the potential of growing slightly bigger.

If we look at the male Maine Coon, we can see that it reaches up to 16 inches (40 cm) in height, between 15-25 lbs (6.8-11.3 kg) in weight, and 19-40 inches (48-101 cm) in length.

The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison weighs between 7.9 – 19.8 lbs (3.6-9 kg) (source).

Take a look at the video link below to see the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat in action. Both are stunning cats, but you will notice some clear physical differences between the breeds.

Credit for the video goes to Youtube channel: ‘All About Cats’ (link here)

Caring For Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat

Maine Coon cats should be fed high quality dry food, containing high levels of protein, low carbohydrates, and Omega 3 and 6 fat and fatty acids.

It is not recommended that you feed your Maine Coon more than 2-3 portions of wet food per week. For guidance on the best foods to buy, read my article “5 Best Cat Foods For Maine Coons

Norwegian Forest Cats should also only be fed high quality foods, containing high levels of protein. They also need taurine in their meals since this critical amino acid ensures your cats heart health and vision remain healthy. Nutritionally balanced food ensures that they stay fit and healthy.

Both the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat require access to a water source at all times, to prevent them from becoming dehydrated.

Norwegian Forest Cat Long Flowing Tail


I’ve always been fascinated to learn more about the Maine Coon vs Norwegian Forest Cat, since these cat breeds look so physically similar. T

he Maine Coon is also often thought to be a descendant of the Norwegian Forest Cat, so there may be more to their physically similarity than we first might think!

Ultimately, the Maine Coons true lineage will remain shrouded in mystery.

What we do know, however, is that this breed is the oldest natural breed of Northern America, originating in Maine, United States. They are incredibly loved across the world, and were awarded the title ‘State Cat Of Maine’.

The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison originates in Northern Europe, and is also known as ‘Skogkatt’ in Norway.

Whilst these cat breeds share many personality traits and characteristics, there are still some very key differences that enable you to tell them apart.

The first of which is their head shaped, since the Maine Coon has a wedge-shaped head, whereas the Norwegian Forest Cat has a more triangular shaped head, with a flat forehead.

The second key difference is that the Maine Coon has a more rectangular shaped body, whereas the Norwegian Forest Cats body is considered more square shaped.

Finally, there are clear differences between each cat breeds personality traits too, since the Maine Coon cat loves lots of attention, is great with children, and is considered very laid back. They are extremely sociable and outgoing, and make for great first time cat owners due to their gentle laid back nature.

The Norwegian Forest Cat by comparison is not as needy for attention from their human families, and can seem slightly less laid back, particularly around children. They may require more ‘space’ to rest, since they enjoy time on their own, as well as with their human family.

Maine Coon with ‘Lynx-like’ ear tufts

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My names Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self confessed CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 8 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the names ‘Pipsteroo’, and ‘Pippikins’! Our enormous, kind hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog, and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend!

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