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Norwegian Forest Cat vs Siberian Cat: What’s the Difference (With Pictures)

Norwegian Forest cat and Siberian cat 1
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

When looking for a new cat to bring into your home, it’s hard to choose between breeds. This is especially true when it comes to breeds with numerous similarities like those between the Norwegian Forest cat and Siberian cat. These cat breeds are long-haired, hardy, and beautiful. Coming from some of the coldest parts of the world, these cat breeds have adapted for frigid temperatures. Now, they are becoming more popular inside our homes and in our hearts.

Let’s take a look at these two breeds so you can learn more about each one and make one of the hardest decisions ever—choosing which breed is best for you.

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Visual Differences

At first glance, it is easy to tell the differences between these cats. The Siberian cat is noticeably larger than the Norwegian. You’ll also notice the coat of the Siberian is longer and a bit thicker than that of the Norwegian. A Siberian has thick bones to help it endure the cold climates of its country of origin. They sport prominent cheekbones and chins that set them off from the Norwegian.

The Norwegian has the Siberian beat when it comes to colors. You’ll find this breed comes in more colors and patterns than its Siberian counterpart. Some Norwegians also sport cute tufts of hair at the top of their ears. Norwegians are broad-chested and stout. Their legs are also quite strong to allow them to jump and climb trees which are things they love doing.

At a Glance

Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Average height (adult): 12–18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 10–20 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–16 years
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent and loves puzzles
Siberian Cat
  • Average height (adult): 17–25 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 11–17 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–20 years
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent and playful


Norwegian Forest Cat Overview

Norwegian forest cat sitting on a log
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Considered an ancient breed, the Norwegian Forest cat developed in Scandinavia without the interference of humans. This is why this cat breed is known for its independence and intelligence. They can easily keep themselves entertained or take part in what’s going on around the house. They are great no matter the situation.

While the Norwegian Forest cat is beautiful to look at, there is a lot more to this breed of cat. Let’s take a deeper look into what makes the Norwegian so beloved and why it could be a great addition to any home.


The Norwegian Forest cat is a mellow kitty. They enjoy being around their humans and are often noted for following them throughout the house. They also love napping near their pet parents. Don’t be surprised if a Norwegian makes your feet their personal pillow.

Another thing to remember about the Norwegian is their need to play. This cat loves spending time outdoors where it will use its strong legs and sharp claws to climb trees and clown around. They are also very intelligent and love working out puzzles. When it comes to buying toys for a Norwegian, those that challenge them intellectually are the best. This and time outdoors will help them burn off their playful energy and keep them happy inside the home.

black smoke Norwegian forest cat
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Norwegian Forest cat is considered a healthy cat breed. While there are certain illnesses all cats are susceptible to, if you bring a Norwegian home though there are a few things you should keep an eye out for and speak with your vet about. Glycogen storage disease IV, hip dysplasia, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are all illnesses Norwegian Forest cats may suffer from throughout their lifetimes.

Caring for your Norwegian Forest cat is similar to what you’d do for any other long-haired cat. Brushing is required to keep their coat lush and free of tangles. As we’ve mentioned, they have thick, sharp nails. These need to be trimmed routinely to help avoid issues, especially if you have children in the house that play with your Norwegian.

Suitable for:

The Norwegian Forest cat is suitable for anyone who can keep up with their level of activity. These cats are fun-loving and enjoy playing. They do well in homes with small children as long as they are gentle and taught how to interact with cats. Older adults can still keep a Norwegian happy by allowing them time outside to play, going on walks, and buying kitty toys that keep their intelligent minds occupied.


Siberian Cat Overview

Siberian Cat
Image Credit: Pavel Sepi, Shutterstock

The Siberian cat is the national cat of Russia. While the breed may be gaining popularity in the US, its origins are quite well known. Developing without much interference in the Siberian forest, these cats adapted to the world around them. The first mention of the Siberian was in 1000A.D. After the Cold War, however, the breed reemerged and slowly morphed into what it is today.

The Siberian is an affectionate sweetheart that is both beautiful and majestic. Let’s take a look at more information about this cat breed so you can decide if it’s the right one for your home.


When it comes to personality, the Siberian has a ton of it. These cats are a bit more affectionate than their Norwegian counterparts and love spending time with their families. They are playful, outgoing, and love being the center of attention.

The Siberian cat is known for doing well no matter the situation. They associate well with other pets when introduced early and properly. Siberians also like to play. While they may not need the same activity requirements as the Norwegian, toys and interactive play are a great way to help them burn off any extra energy they may have.

mackerel siberian tabby cat sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Massimo Cattaneo, Shutterstock

Health and Care

The Siberian cat is a healthy breed thanks to the lack of inbreeding throughout their history. While a Siberian may experience basic cat health issues, they aren’t prone to any hereditary type illnesses.

Siberian cats are considered hypoallergenic. While no cat is truly hypoallergenic, research shows that Siberians produce less of the Fel D1 compound. This compound is what triggers cat allergies. This makes caring for a Siberian easier for those who may have issues with allergies. Brushing a few times a week and keeping their nails trimmed properly is all they require.

Suitable for:

The Siberian is suitable for any home or family, including those who suffer from mild forms of cat allergies. These cats get along well with children and love to play. They also enjoy cuddling with their family and won’t mind being a lap cat from time to time.

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Which Breed Is Right For You?

As you can see, the Norwegian Forest cat and Siberian cat share a lot of traits that make them ideal cats for the home. Both breeds do well with kids, adults, seniors, and other pets. If you want a cat that shows an abundance of affection, then the Siberian may be your answer. For those who prefer their kitties to have a bit of independence but still enjoy a cuddle from time to time, the Norwegian Forest cat could be the one for you. No matter which breed you choose, you’ll have a great kitty to make the newest part of your family.

Featured Image Credit: Top: Siberian Cat: Pavel Sepi, Shutterstock | Buttom: Norwegian Forest Cat: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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