Norwegian Forest vs Maine Coon: Know the Differences

Domestic cats are usually small or average sized, however, some breeds grow so big that it becomes difficult to think that they are domestic. Breeds like the Norwegian Forest and the Maine Coon are perfect examples of oversized cats. But it should be noted that the Main Coon is larger than the Norwegian Forest and this difference in size shouldn’t be difficult to spot when they are placed side by side. For clarity, you can describe the Norwegian cat or Wegieas larger than most average sized cats. 

Both of these cats are pure breeds and have a majestic appearance that easily intimidates other cats and sometimes smaller dog breeds. Some experts believe that Main Coons are descendants of the Wegies because of several similarities they share. However, the purpose of this articleis to examine how these two large cats differ from each other. Before diving into how their physical features differ, let’s quickly go over the history of both these felines. 

History of the Norwegian Forest Cat

Wegies are believed to have entered Europe with Vikings that travelled from Britain to the region. There are speculations about the breeds ancestors and some experts say their ancestors where the black and white shorthaired cats that were aboard Viking ships. Others believe they were brought to the continent by Crusaders in the 14th century, however some other experts suggest that the Siberian from Russia or the Turkish Angora from Turkey may possibly be ancestors of the breed. 

In Norse mythology, there are stories about skogkatt, a cat that roamed the mountains and was able to climb rocks that other cats couldn’t manage. Author Claire Bessant connects the skogkatt to the modern-day Norwegian cat, and believes the tales were referring to the ancestors of the latter. This believe is mostly built on the fact that like the skogkatt, Wegies are also adept climbers. 

Before Wegies were discovered in the early twentieth century, it is believed that they were brought aboard Viking ships to hunt and kill rats. Their brothers on land that inhabited the Norwegian forests were also priced by farmers for their excellent hunting skills and were used effectively on farms to ward off rodents. 

During the second World War, the breed nearly became extinct due to crossbreeding with other cats. As a matter of fact, this would have been the case if it were not for the conscious efforts of the Norwegian Forest Club to preserve the species by developing a breeding program. The club succeeded and was able to preserve the breed, which is why we still see them around today. In the 1950’s King Olav V made the Norwegian Forest the official cat of the country. A declaration that may be responsible for the cat’s popularity across Scandinavian countries. 

History of the Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coons are the largest domesticated cat breed but sadly, their ancestral origin remains unknown. What we can hold on to are only folk tales and speculation. One popular story involves the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette who was executed in 1793. According to the story, before her death, Marie attempted fleeing from France with the help of Captain Samuel Clough. 

In escaping, she loaded the captain’s ships with her prized possessions which included six Turkish Angora cats or possibly Siberian cats. While she was unable to make it to the United States, her beloved pets did somehow get to Wiscasset, Maine, where it is believed they bred with other short-haired cat breeds and evolved into the modern-day Maine Coon. 

In the late 19th century, Maine Coons were incredibly popular in cat shows, but their popularity quickly dwindled when other long-haired breeds were introduced in the early 20th century. Their decline in popularity became so severe that they were declared extinct in the 1950’s. 

However, thanks to efforts from organizations like the Central Maine Cat Club (CMCC), the breed’s popularity was revived through numerous cat shows. Today Maine Coon kittens are the third most popular according to the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA). 

Physical Differences

Size and Weight

Both these cats are generally described as large breeds and the males are usually significantly larger in size than females. While Maine Coons will almost always be larger and weight more than Wegies, comparing both breeds for their size may not be the best feature with which to differentiate them. Rather, their faces may be a better differentiating feature. You can visit the holistapet Norwegian Forest page, to learn more about this breed. 

Facial Structure

Wegies have a face that is shaped like an equilateral triangle. Their forehead is flat, eyes are almond shaped, and have a straight nose, much like regular cats. Maine Coons on the other hand have a wide muzzle that is distinctive, easily resembling that of a lion. 

When it comes to ears, Maines have larger ears that are tapered. Their ears are usually set high on their heads and set wide apart from each other. Norwegian Forests have ears that are set towards the side of their heads and are mostly medium sized. Both these breeds have ear tufts that are referred to by experts as furnishings. While these tufts do certainly add to the aesthetics of the faces of both felines, they serve a more functional purpose- providing warmth. 


Both have a thick, beautiful coat that helps to keep them warm. Norwegians usually have manes, and their outer coat is glossy and water-repellant. Coons on the other hand have a coat that is soft, smooth, and silky. Wegies have a double coat with the undercoat having a wooly texture. A ruff is evident on their chest and necks. 


Both cats are affectionate and friendly towards their family. While Maine Coons are usually livelier and enjoy attention more, Norwegian Forest cats are much less social and may lose interest in playful activities a lot quicker. Therefore, Wegies are often considered lazy cats. 

Coons again tend to be vocal and chatty. They are known for their chirrups while Norwegian Forest cats are quieter but will purr when around their favorite humans. Visit to learn more about vocal cat breeds. 


Both Cats may eat much more than other smaller breeds because of their larger size. Grooming may not be a problem for most cat owners that have had experience caring for cats, but newbies could find it challenging. Like most felines, these two are also prone to progressive heart diseases. If you’re considering getting any one of the two, it is important that you confirm that their parents were tested free of the disease. 

Leave a Comment