The Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon are two large, long-haired cat breeds that are majestic and wild in their appearance. They share many similarities in looks and characteristics and are both adored by cat lovers.
When choosing which breed will be right for you, it’s the differences that set them apart that 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.
Click below to jump ahead:
At a Glance
Norwegian Forest Cat Overview
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, it will happily expel its energy, but if you keep it indoors, you will need to provide some stimulating activities. These can be scratching posts, climbing trees, and interactive cat toys. They were bred to hunt, so they enjoy pouncing around and are also 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.
Health & Care
The Norwegian Forest Cat is known to be a generally healthy breed with amazing longevity. 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. It will need to be brushed every 2–3 days to prevent it from knotting and matting and to release any loose hairs, and when it goes through seasons of increased shedding, usually in the Spring and Fall, it will require more regular brushing.
The Norwegian Forest will also require regular tooth brushing with a vet-recommended toothpaste and will need its nails trimmed regularly.
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.
Maine Coon Overview
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, sociable, 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.
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 it 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.
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.
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 these breeds are highly affectionate but also enjoy their space. The Maine Coon may not be as much of a lap cat as the Wegie, but it may need more attention and playtime, whereas the Norwegian Forest Cat is more independent.
They are both prone to health issues and will require preventative and ongoing veterinary care and high-quality and complete diets to be happy and healthy. While they are both intelligent and easily trained, the Maine Coon may be easier to train due to its eagerness to please its 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