Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat

A lot of people have heard of Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats. They are both known to be big and fluffy cat breeds, and their physical appearance is so similar that many people struggle to tell them apart.

Despite this similarity of appearance and certain shared behavioral traits, these are two distinct breeds of cats, so are there differences in the breed characteristics?  

This article will examine the Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest cat to help you decide which breed is best for you.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat

Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats are similar breeds. The Maine Coons are often bigger, but the Norwegian Forest cats are slightly stronger. Norwegian Forest cats are less reserved with strangers than Maine Coons. Maine Coons are more trainable, vocal, and fond of water.

When you are trying to decide between cat breeds, it can get a little overwhelming. You want to get the right cat for you and a cat to whom you will be the right owner. Examining the comparison factors below will help clarify which breed will best suit your personality and lifestyle.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: CFA Recognition

If you do not know what the CFA is, it stands for the Cat Fancier’s Association. The CFA is one of the main registries for pedigree cats, and it was founded in 1906.

Both Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats are recognized by the CFA. Maine Coons were inducted into the registry in 1976, while Norwegian Forest Cats earned the championship status in 1993.

Although they were recognized by the CFA later, Norwegian Forest cats are a much older breed and are considered to be the ship cats that accompanied the Vikings on their adventures.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Appearance  

Although they do appear to look similar at first, the face shape of a Maine Coon is very different from that of a Norwegian Forest cat.

Maine Coons have broader faces and muzzles, following more along the lines of a lion’s face shape. Norwegian Forest cats have smaller triangular faces that look more like a traditional cat’s face.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Size

Different recognized cat associations report varying size parameters for these cat breeds. The following table provides the average sizes published by the CFA, TICA (The International Cat Association), and ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association).

Maine CoonMale12 – 15 lbs18 – 22 lbs13 – 18 lbs
Female9 – 12 lbs12 – 15 lbs7 – 11 lbs
Norwegian Forest CatMale12 – 16 lbs12 – 18 lbs12 – 15 lbs
Female9 – 12 lbs8 – 12 lbs“considerably smaller”

So, who is right? As these are all recognized cat registries, it is difficult to say who is correct. However, from the table, you can still draw some conclusions about the sizes.

First, they are both large breeds of cats. Second, the females of both breeds are smaller than the males.

Additionally, although the CFA and ACFA both report average male sizes for Maine Coons as being below 20 lbs, both associations do mention that the males can weigh over 20 lbs, which matches up with the TICA sizes.

This also means that male Maine Coons are likely to be larger than their Norwegian Forest cat counterparts.  

If you are looking to buy or adopt one of these cats, have a look at the size of the parents to get the best idea of how large your kitten will grow, and always remember to take into account that each cat is a unique individual.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Strength

It is difficult to measure and compare the strength of cats. However, both cat breeds are known to be muscular. In fact, it is included as a requirement in the CFA’s breed standards.

Maine Coons should be muscular and broad-chested. Norwegian Forest cats should be solidly muscled with a powerful appearance.

The Norwegian Forest cat is probably considered to be the stronger of the two breeds.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Speed

Speed is another difficult parameter to measure and compare in cats. There is very little research on this topic, and the speed at which a cat typically runs depends on a number of variables.

These include age, condition, weight, temperamental inclination, motivation (i.e., are they being chased?), running surface, health, etc.

Maine Coon Cat Running

Although there are no exact figures available, neither Maine Coons nor Norwegian Forest cats are slow runners. They are athletic, muscular, and descended from working cats.

However, they are also not the fastest runners in the feline world. Cats who run faster are those who have only recently been domesticated or the wild/domestic crosses like Savannahs.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Lifespan

Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats have a similar lifespan. Maine coons live, on average, for 12.5 years, while Norwegian Forest cats have an average lifespan of 13 years.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Health

All cat breeds have genetic health conditions, which can be passed onto their offspring. However, responsible breeders will do genetic and other tests where possible to minimize the chances of breeding with a cat that carries the genes for these health conditions. Still, it is best to be aware of the potential hereditary conditions for each breed.

Hereditary health conditions for Maine Coons:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. HCM is actually common in a lot of breeds. It involves thickening of the cardiac muscle, which can impede proper heart function.
  • Hip Dysplasia. This is a defect in the hip joint. It is degenerative and can be very painful.
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In SMA, the spinal cord neurons that control the muscles of a cat’s trunk and limbs die.

 Hereditary health conditions for Norwegian Forest Cats:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
  • Hip Dysplasia.
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type IV. This disorder causes a deficiency of glycogen metabolizing enzymes. Glycogen then accumulates in nerves and muscles, and it is potentially fatal.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Affection For Their Families

Maine Coons do not give their loyalty to just anyone, but once they give it, they are incredibly loyal companions. Norwegian Forest cats, however, are not reserved with strangers and will make human friends easily.

All cats have the potential to become one-person cats, but some breeds are more likely to do so. Neither Maine Coons nor Norwegian Forest cats are one of these breeds. They love and form close bonds with all members of the family.

Small pets are often afraid of children and other pets because they can get easily hurt. This is not a problem with Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats. Both breeds are playful by nature and are excellent with children, dogs, and other cats.

Additionally, Norwegian Forest cats are known to have plenty of patience and a relaxed temperament, ideal for interacting with younger children.

Maine Coons want to be involved in your activities to the point where they will follow you around the house. This behavior often earns them the description of a dog-like cat. But even though they want to be near you, Maine Coons are not lap cats unless they choose to be.

Norwegian Forest cats also have terms and conditions for lap time. They are not aggressive or aloof, just independent. They are also unlikely to want to cuddle when it’s hot. With their thick coats, this is understandable.

Maine Coons and are Norwegian Forest cats are not typically adventurous, out-all-day kind of cats; they are confirmed homebodies. This makes them ideal for a busy and full household.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Grooming Requirements

Some people state that Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats require daily grooming, but according to the CFA, they actually have relatively self-grooming coats, despite the length.

However, because of their long coats, tangles and mats are possible, so you will need to get them used to grooming from the time they are kittens.  

Once or twice a week brushing and combing should be sufficient to keep both breeds mat- and tangle-free. During their shedding seasons, you will need to increase the amount of grooming.

Both cats need scratching posts to maintain their nail health, and every few weeks, you might need to trim them. Norwegian Forest cats love climbing, so if they have access to rough-barked trees, their nail care will be minimal.

Maine Coon Vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Trainability

Maine Coons are smart and trainable. Their behavior has been described as dog-like, and some Maine Coons can even be trained to walk on a leash.

Norwegian Forest cats mature slowly and are less trainable than Maine Coons.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Exercise Requirements

Neither of these cats are sedentary. They both require adequate opportunity for exercise and love it best when their owners join in the games.

Their activity levels may be shown in bursts of energy followed by naptime. But make sure you provide them will plenty of room to run and play and climb—climbing space is especially important for Norwegian Forest cats.

Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Vocalization

Maine Coons are more vocal than Norwegian Forest cats, who mainly limit themselves to a lot of purring.

Choosing The Best Breed For You

If you are looking for a large breed, long-haired, family-friendly cat, you cannot go wrong with either a Maine Coon or a Norwegian Forest cat. However, they both require a lot of attention and don’t do well in homes where the owners are away all the time.


Both Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats are great breeds, the decision of which breed is best for you is really personal to what you are looking for in a cat. Maine Coons are slightly bigger, more trainable, more reserved with strangers, and more vocal; whereas Norwegian Forest cats are slightly smaller, less vocal, warm up quicker to strangers, and love to climb.

No matter which breed you select, you are sure to have a great feline companion for many years to come.