Comparison Between Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat

Some people search for information about the difference between the Maine Coon (MC) and Norwegian Forest Cat (NFC). In fact, it is a fairly common topic of conversation because in general they do look similar and have a similar "public image". In other words, I think that the general public think of them as similar cat breeds. They are, as they may have the same heritage.

To me there are certain differences in the appearance and I thought I would just focus on certain aspects of the anatomy! I make a comparison with the CFA breed standards for these two popular breeds of domestic cat. The Maine Coon is probably a better-known cat.

Comparison between Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat
Photos copyright Helmi Flick

Muzzle - I think this is where one of the biggest differences is apparent. The Maine Coon has "a squareness to the muzzle"..."visibly square". While the NFC breed standard says, "part of the straight line extending toward the base of ear without pronounced whisker pads and without pinch.." - no mention of "squareness". The Maine Coon muzzle can and should be noticeably square and the NFC muzzle is quite tapered and relatively pointed, I think. 

Body - The MC body is described as "..the body should be long...". We know this, in fact, as the world's longest domestic cat is an MC! The NFC body is described as "solidly muscled and well-balanced, moderate in length.." The key phrase is, "moderate in length".

Ears - The MC is well known for his or her lynx tipped ears (tufts of hair growing out the top of the ear like a lynx wildcat). They are described as, "large, well-tufted, wide at base, tapering to appear pointed.." While the NFC standard says, "medium to large, rounded at the tip. Lynx tips are desirable but not required." I think you get a feel for the difference.

Coat - The MC is well known for a semi-long shaggy coat. It is uneven, "heavy and shaggy..". While the NFC coat is smoother, "..distinguishing double coat, consisting of a dense undercoat, covered by long, glossy and smooth water-resistant guard hairs hanging down the sides."

These are, I feel, some of the major differences in appearance. No doubt a breeder will have something more to say.

As to character I always say that the differences in the personalities of individual cats will supersede the differences between cat breeds. So, I will leave that alone for the time being.....

Years later, I am reading a book written by a well-respected former president of the Cat Fanciers' Association, Richard Gebhart, and he usefully provides me with some differences between the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest cat which I would like to add to this page. It should be added that initially there was some reluctance to accept the Norwegian Forest cat in championship competition by every cat association because of the breed's resemblance to the Maine Coon. He does point to some differences. He writes:

"The Maine Coon is long and rectangular; the Norwegian is boxy. The Maine Coon has a slight curve in its nose; the Norwegian, especially the male, has a slight nose. The Maine Coon has a prominent, squared-off muzzle; the Norwegian's muzzle fits neatly into its triangular face. The Maine Coon's ears sit upright on top of its head: the Norwegian's ears are wide spaced and tilted forward.

Comments

  1. The Cat on the Right looks alot like my Smokey :)

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    Replies
    1. The Norwegian Forest Cat is a regular looking cat - not extreme - so it can look like a non-purebred cat. Tabby and white coat in this instance. But this breed has a wide range of coat types.

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