Indeed both the breeds are a wonder of nature, and you cannot just go for one when waiting in line to adopt in a pet store, but difficult choices need to be made. Not to worry, because we can help you with your choice! Let us start with the visible differences between the two breeds before moving onto their characteristics, health aspects, and costs of upkeep.
What Do Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats Have in Common?
Norwegian Forest Cats (also known as Wegie) and Maine Coons are two of the most beautiful purebred cat breeds with striking features and beautiful coats. Some experts are of the opinion that Maine Coons are actually descendants of the Norwegian Forest cats because of so much similarity in their traits.
If your preference is a large cat with a silky coat, as opposed to one with long hair, you will have a hard time choosing. Both cats are known for their intelligence and their ability to learn things quickly, but what differentiates them are their physical features, personalities, and health aspects.
What is the Difference?
Size & Weight
The Norwegian Forest cat is generally described as a large breed, similar to the Maine Coon. In both the breeds, the males are found to be significantly larger in size when compared to the females.
A Norwegian male cat may weigh up to 16lbs whereas Maine Coons can reach up to 18lbs. If you are comparing both the breeds for their size, it may not be the best feature to compare with.
Shape & Structure
The Maine Coon has a distinctively wide muzzle, which is often referred to as “lion-like”. On the other hand, Norwegian Forest cats have a triangular shaped head, a flat forehead, straight nose, and slanting eyes, much like a regular cat.
When we talk about the ears, both breeds have very distinctive ear tufts. The Maine Coon’s ear tufts are large and significantly different from a Norwegian cat. However, both the breeds have long fur that sticks out from the tip of the ear, giving both the cats a lynx-type look.
Breeders often refer to their ear tufts as ‘furnishings’.
The Norwegian Forest cat also has a distinctive tail when compared to the Maine Coon. It is wider and fluffier, and of the same length as their body (when measured from its shoulder to the base of its tail). In comparison, the hair on the Maine Coon’s tail is bushier and long from the tip’s base.
Most breeders will describe both the Forest Cat and the Maine Coon as ‘semi-long haired’. Since both breeds do not have a truly long-haired, furry coat, they are less demanding when it comes to grooming, although both the breeds’ coats are still thick and shaggy.
Maine Coons come in a variety of colors including cream, black, blue, and white. Norwegian Forest cats, on the other hand, come in more color variations and patterns including black, blue, white, red, cream, and amber.
Both cats are known to be friendly and affectionate and make for amazing and lovable family pets. They are also very active in nature, so if you are planning to keep them behind closed doors, you should re-think your decision.
On the other hand, you could choose to provide a more entertaining environment within the four walls, however, it is advised to take them for regular walks to keep them satisfied.
Maine Coons tend to be very local and chatty. They are particularly known for their gentle little chirrups while Norwegian Forest cats tend to be calm and quieter. However, most Norwegian cat owners report that their cat purrs really loud at times.
As mentioned earlier, both breeds are intelligent and can be trained easily. Both the breeds are often described as dog-like by their owners, as they seek human company. Norwegian Forest cats particularly love climbing because of their strong claws. Both the cats are playful in their own ways.
If we talk about their nature, Maine Coons tend to be very affectionate, and would usually run up to the door as soon as they here the key turning, or curl up in your lap when you are watching TV. They like to be pampered and taken care of.
Maine Coons are extremely loyal. We describe this in more detail in this article.
They are also very loyal to their owner. On the other hand, Norwegian Forest cats are not that loyal to their owners. They do not tend to be clingy, therefore, if you are not giving any attention, you will see your pet turning away and finding some other activity to indulge in.
Maine Coon cats and Norwegian Forest Cats are known to be quite territorial. Both the cat breeds have a dominating nature, so if you plan on getting more than one pet, you may as well opt for a different cat breed in the first place.
To summarize the personality differences between the two breeds, Maine Coons are more kitten-like, i.e., playful while Norwegian Forest cats are lazy and would lower their activity after a while. If, however, you’re looking for a loving and friendly pet pal, both the cats make for excellent contenders!
As with most cat breeds, Norwegian Forest cats as well as Maine Coons, both are prone to progressive heart diseases. The disease most common in felines is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Therefore, if you are buying any of the kittens, make sure that their parents have been tested free of this disease.
These larger breeds also suffer from joint problems. The Norwegian and the Maine Coon, both cats are prone to Hip Dysplasia, a condition that you may hear more commonly from dog owners.
Furthermore, both the breeds are also susceptible to Polycystic Kidney Disease, a genetic condition that progressively works to destroy the kidneys. Unfortunately, there is no DNA test available for this, but the disease can be detected using ultrasound, but the cats should be at least 10 months, if not older.
Norwegian Forest cats generally live a healthy life. The diseases specifically associated with the Wegie include:
- Glycogen Storage Disease IV – A rare condition that affects glucose metabolism – Most kittens die within a few hours, if not stillborn. However, occasionally kittens will not show a sign until they are five months old, and then they usually die within five minutes. DNA tests can be used to identify carriers.
- Retinal Dysplasia – This is an eye defect that results in spots on the cat’s retina but does not worsen the cat’s eye vision.
Diseases specific to Maine Coons, in addition to the ones mentioned above, include:
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy – It is a genetic disorder that affects the skeletal muscles of the limbs and trunks. Thankfully, there is a test available to identify the affected kittens as well as the carriers.
The life span figures may not always be accurate, but after several types of research, some data can be relied upon on the cat’s life expectancy. On average, Norwegian Forest cats live a long life, spanning between 14 to 16 years while Maine Coons are known to breathe for as long as 11 years on average.
It depends largely on the feed you provide your cat, as well as the productive time you spend with them.
It is obvious that if you have bought a cat, you will take special care of him/her. Most cats do not need to be groomed since they have smaller fur on their coat, and therefore, do not shed easily.
In contrast, breeds with medium-to-long fur coats like Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats need their fair share of care at least weekly, if not daily.
It is typical of your cat to run away or get frustrated when it is grooming time, but this time can become fun and enjoyable for you as well as your pet friend if you get them used to it.
The following aspects of grooming relate to both the breeds:
- Brush your cat regularly – Whether it is a Maine Coon or a Wegie, you will have to start early. They usually make it a breeze to brush around the back or head, but they start giving you the stink eye when you move the brush around their belly and the hindquarters. You just need to make sure that you use a soft bristled brush to not injure their skin. It will keep shedding at bay and their coat will remain as shiny as the first day you brought them in. However, you also need to be consistent so that they take this activity as a part of their natural routine. Good brushes for Maine Coons and Norwegian Forrest cats are these.
- Clip the fur on their paws. The fur on their paws can bother the cat to the extent that they might find it difficult to walk. You need to clip those hairs with scissors before they start chewing them. You can use a fine tooth comb, holding it between the mat and the skin, to cut the mat out and not snip the skin.
- Bathing for Maine Coons can be important since their bush-like fur need the occasional splash of water to get the dirt out if you are too fond of the outdoors and take your companion with you. Since Maine Coons have a laid back nature, they can be easily trained for a bath. You may even use cat wipes once in a while. Norwegian Forest cats do not make bathing an ordeal since their fluffy fur coat washes easily and you do not have to struggle with their matted parts. Just make sure that you use a cat-friendly shampoo.
- Claw clipping is another aspect of grooming that you need to be aware of. You need to purchase a cat claw clipper since cats have different claws to humans or even dogs. If you are uncomfortable with this task, you can always contact your vet or have your neighbor step in for the job, i.e., if he/she is experienced in this area.
Costs of Keeping Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats
Before we go deep into the matter, let us set one thing straight – If you are investing in a pet cat, you need to know that it is not a one-time expense that you can spare a few dollars on. The costs of keeping a pet are on-going and need to be paid in order to keep your cat well-fed and healthy.
Maine Coons can cost anywhere between $400 and $1500 (we explain why they are so expensive here) whereas Norwegian Forest cats will cost you a bit cheaper, i.e., between $500 and $1000.
Middle-aged cats may not need frequent checkups, but kittens and more senior cats will require frequent veterinary attention that will include regular vaccines, which can cost you anywhere from $50 to upwards of $150.
Booster shots may cost between $10 and $50, apart from the vet’s consultation fee. Here are some other costs associated with these cats:
- De-fleeing – $20 on average
- De-worming – $20 on average
- Spaying or Neutering – $150 on average
- Medical Check-ups – $150 on average
- Insurance – Basic Package starting from $300 per annum
When we talk about cat food, dry feed is the cheapest. They not only last longer but also give value for money. If you opt for a budget brand, a pound will cost you between $1 and $2, however, if you go for a more high-end product, you will have to pay over $2.
Dry foods also help exercise the teeth and gums, so they are generally recommended. Wet foods are generally more expensive and will cost between $5 and $30, if not more, for less than half a kilo.
They also tend to go bad faster. If you opt for freeze-dried foods, they may cost you under $1, but can go over $65, too, if you want the best for your pet.
If you need help with finding the right food for your Maine Coon, we highly recommend to read our Maine Coon food guide.
Shampoo & Grooming Products
Cats need to be washed by specific shampoos that suit their silky fur coat, and do not affect their health. You will also find various shampoos that treat flea problems and other such issues. You cannot switch to a dog shampoo for your cat, even if you have it on your shelf.
Dogs have a different coat to cats, therefore, their grooming requirements are different. You can easily buy a shampoo off the shelf or over Amazon under a budget. The price may range from $3 and above.
Cat claw clippers, trimming scissors and grooming brushes may only set you back $20 to $75.
You can buy a variety of things to keep your cat busy. The toy chest can include balls, teasers, chasers, plush and mice toys, interactive toys, electronic toys, cat trees, scratching poles and even yarn balls.
They may cost you anywhere between $1 and $150, depending upon what brand you are willing to buy and how many.
If you need some help with finding a good toy for your cat, read our article on great Maine Coon toys here.
I am sure that you have made up your mind by now about which cat breed will suit you the most. While both are equally adorable and adoptable, it largely depends on which one you fall in love with once you visit a pet shop or a shelter.
Or are you thinking about getting a different breed? Read our article Ragdolls Vs Maine Coons!