Many people assume that the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat are highly related breeds, and for good reason. At first glance, they seem almost the same; both are gigantic, fluffy cats with pointed ears and rounded eyes. But although it may seem like they’re almost indistinguishable, they actually pretty distinct cat breeds.
It’s believed that the Maine Coon is a descendant of the Norwegian Forest Cat. Indeed, the Maine Coon first appeared in the United States sometime in the 1800s, while the Norwegian Forest Cat has been a native to Norway for hundreds of years. It’s likely that the Maine Coon branched off from the Norwegian Forest Cat family around the time when vikings or sailers first started coming to the east coast of the United States in the 19th century, but it’s unknown as to how much interbreeding has since happened between the Maine Coon and other domestic cat breeds.
There are some key physical differences that distinguish Maine Coons from Norwegian Forest Cats.
The first is that Maine Coons are generally bigger. In fact, the biggest cat in the world is a Maine Coon named Stewie at 48.5 inches long. But that’s not to say Norwegian Forest Cats aren’t gigantic either, they just tend to be a few pounds lighter than Maine Coons on average.
The second main difference is in their face structure. Maine Coons have broader faces (more lion-like) while Norwegian Forest Cats tend to have more triangular face that resembles that of a typical house cat. And finally, the hair length and type is slightly different between the two. Maine Coons’ hair varies in length all over their body and the hair on their tail tends to be more chaotic and bushy. Norwegian Forest Cats generally have hair that is of similar length all over their body, and the hair on their tails has more of a patterned direction.
Although subtle, there are some personality differences between Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats. While both are friendly, affectionate, lovable cats, Maine Coons tend to be a bit more social, active and playful than Norwegian Forest Cats.
Maine Coons also tend to be a bit more laid back as far as their social interactions go, nicknaming them “Gentle Giants”. They’re more likely to get along with children and other pets.
Norwegian Forest Cats prefer to be more independent from their owners, choosing where they lay and how they go about their day. Although they need love and affection, they not quite as loyal as their Maine Coon counterparts.
Another difference to consider is lifespan. Maine Coons live for about 11 years on average while Norwegian Forest Cats tend to be more robust, living for 14-16 years.
Of course, diet, environment and love all play into a cat’s longevity.
Finally, there are some cost differences associated with each. Maine Coons are between $500 and $1500 while Norwegian Forest Cats can cost between $400 and $1000. Keep in mind that while Maine Coons tend to cost a bit more, they’re both fairly inexpensive as far as cat breeds go.