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Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Maine Coon: The Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon

Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Maine Coon: The Differences (With Pictures)

The Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon are two large, long-haired cats that are majestic and wild in their appearance. They share many similarities in looks and characteristics and are adored by cat lovers.

When choosing which breed will be right for you, the differences that set them apart will help you decide. In this article, we will discuss their similarities and differences so you can line them up to determine the best companion for you and your family.

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Visual Differences

Norwegian Forest Cat vs Maine Coon side by side
Image Credit: (L) Elisa Putti, Shutterstock | (R) AVRORACOON, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Average height (adult): 12–18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–16 years
  • Exercise: Low
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent and easily trained, independent
Maine Coon
  • Average height (adult): 30–40 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 9–15 years
  • Exercise: Low
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Easy to train, intelligent, and curious

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Norwegian Forest Cat Overview

Norwegian forest cat walking outdoor
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, long-haired breed native to Norway. They are affectionately known as “skogkatts” in their native country, which translates to forest cats, and in other countries, they are often referred to as “Wegies.” Their history dates back to the era of Vikings, where they played a role in eradicating rodents on Viking ships.


While the Norwegian Forest Cat is much larger than most domestic felines, they make friendly and affectionate companions, despite what their size may convey. They are a gentle breed but often attach themselves to one family member. They are also playful and enjoy playtime with their humans, but once they have fulfilled their social needs, they are happy to have their own space and be left alone.

They are known to maintain their kitten-like nature until about 5 years old. This makes an ideal companion that is affectionate but not too needy. The Wegie is also an intelligent breed that adapts easily to different environments.

Training & Exercise

The Norwegian Forest Cat is not a highly active breed. If your Wegie is an outdoor cat, they will happily expel their energy, but if you keep them indoors, you must provide some stimulating activities. Scratching posts, climbing trees, and interactive cat toys are ideal for indoor cats. Norwegian Forest Cats were bred to hunt, so they enjoy pouncing around and are exceptional climbers. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that all your tall shelving is secure.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is an intelligent breed that can easily be trained to use a litterbox, given that it’s the appropriate size for such a large breed. They can be trained to do tricks and respond well to clicker training. They can also be trained to walk on a harness, which makes them ideal for owners who live in an area that only accepts indoor cats. However, they can have an independent streak that sometimes requires some persuading.

solid white Norwegian Forestcat kitten with different colored eyes
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Norwegian Forest Cat is known to be a generally healthy breed. However, like all cats, they are also predisposed to specific health issues that owners should be aware of. Common health issues include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and glycogen storage disease, which can be fatal or reduce the life expectancy of your Wegie, and hip dysplasia, which can usually be managed.

Whether indoors or outdoors, you should keep your cat healthy by maintaining vet check-ups and vaccines and taking vet-recommended preventative care for fleas, ticks, and worms. You should also feed your Wegie a high-quality, well-balanced diet.  A vet-recommended food that includes animal-based protein as its first ingredient and is free from fillers will keep your cat happy.


The coat of the Norwegian Forest is thick and dense and water repellant to protect it from cold winters. Their coat will need to be brushed every 2–3 days to prevent it from knotting and matting and to release any loose hairs, and when they go through seasons of increased shedding, usually in the Spring and Fall, they will require more regular brushing.

The Norwegian Forest will also require regular tooth brushing with a vet-recommended toothpaste and will need their nails trimmed regularly.

man brushing norwegian forest cat
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

The Norwegian Forest Cat makes an excellent companion for any family looking for a friendly cat that isn’t clingy. They enjoy love and affection from adults and children and are generally okay with being held and handled.

They can adapt to most living situations but need physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy. While they enjoy climbing and playing in cat trees, their owner must ensure that any high shelves are secure.

  • Friendly and affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Not needy
  • Intelligent
  • Long lifespan
  • Can be leash-trained
  • Exceptional climbers
  • Heavy shedders

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Maine Coon Overview

Maine Coon cat lying on the sofa
Image Credit: ShotPrime Studio, Shutterstock

Maine Coons are another large, long-haired breed loved for their gentle temperament. They are the largest of all domestic cats and are native to Maine. They are talented hunters whose ancestors helped their owners keep their properties rodent-free, but their roles have changed over time, and now, they’re more famous as companion animals.


Maine Coons are loved for their dog-like nature, which is affectionate and easy-going. They are not the best lap cats, but they still prefer to be close to their owners when they are relaxing. Their canine-like temperament makes them wonderful pets for families with children and other pets, and although they are loving and loyal, they are not too clingy. Maine Coons are also an intelligent breed, which makes them easily trainable.

Training & Exercise

Maine Coons enjoy short bursts of energy and a lot of rest and sleep. They don’t require intensive exercise but can benefit from a stimulating indoor environment. You should provide your Maine Coon with at least 10 minutes of playtime to prevent boredom and unwanted behaviors. A feathered wand or catnip mouse will keep them entertained, but they’ll also benefit from a climbing tree and scratching post.

Maine Coons are a curious and highly intelligent breed that can make litter training a breeze. They can also learn a few fun tricks and respond well to clicker training and positive reinforcement. They can learn basic commands and be trained to walk on a leash.

two young curious maine coon cats standing on wooden garden chair
Image By: StudioASD, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Maine Coon has a lifespan of 9–15 years. However, they are predisposed to health issues similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat. Like the Wegie, they are prone to HCM, so it’s essential to visit your veterinarian for an annual heart ultrasound and talk to a potential breeder about whether the disease runs in its bloodline. Other health issues include polycystic kidney disease, spinal muscular atrophy, hip dysplasia, and gingivitis.

Ensure your cat stays healthy by feeding them a protein-rich diet that is well-balanced and vet-recommended. Keep up with vaccines and annual check-ups, and ensure your cat receives appropriate preventative care from fleas, worms, and ticks.


The Maine Coon also has a long-haired coat that is made to endure the cold; however, it doesn’t require as much attention as the Norwegian Forest Cat. Their coats can be typically self-maintained, but a gentle combing twice a week helps them stay in their best shape.

Like other cats, they will require appropriate tooth and nail care and will benefit greatly from visiting a professional groomer if you have trouble trimming your pet’s nails.

red maine coon in the bathtub shampoo
Image By: Christina Oleshkevich, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Maine Coons are suitable for families looking for a gentle feline that isn’t too needy but full of affection. They enjoy socializing with their owners and playing games but also like spending time alone. They are great with children and get along with other cats and dogs. They are also intelligent and easily trained, and unlike some cats, they can be trained to walk with a leash and harness.

  • Dog-like nature
  • Affectionate
  • Sociable
  • Not overly needy
  • Lower grooming needs than the Wegie
  • More aloof than the Norwegian Forest Cat

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

These two majestic cats are similar in many ways, and their biggest difference may be their appearance. The Norwegian Forest Cat has more of a tendency to climb and higher grooming needs than the Maine Coon. Both cats are highly affectionate but also enjoy their space. The Maine Coon may not be as much of a lap cat as the Wegie, but they need more attention and playtime, whereas the Norwegian Forest Cat is more independent.

They are both prone to health issues and require preventative and ongoing veterinary care and high-quality diets to be happy and healthy. While they are both intelligent and easily trained, the Maine Coon may be easier to train due to their eagerness to please their owner.

Both cats get along well with children and make wonderful companions, but if you are looking for a cat that wants your attention as much as you want theirs, the Maine Coon may be the pet for you. If you prefer a cat with more independence and you are away often, the Norwegian Forest Cat may make a better companion.

Featured Image Credit: (L) AnnaPh, Shutterstock | (R) Utekhina Anna, Shutterstock

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