Comparing Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest and Siberian Cats


This is a conventional look at these three cats. I compare history, appearance, character and inherent health. I score each element with a heart shaped symbol. Five stars being the maximum. Scoring has to be subjective but I have been as objective as possible. The page is deliberately succinct as there is a lot of detail on these breeds on this website, particularly with respect to the Maine Coon. I have bundled them together because it is possible they have the same ancient heritage. I am using American examples of these breeds as the USA is the biggest purebred cat market.

Comparing Maine Coon, Norwgian Forest and Siberian Cats

Comparing Maine Coon, Norwgian Forest and Siberian Cats


History

Maine Coon (MC) – date of origin 1860 in USA. Ancestry: Farm cats in USA for 400 years. Long prior history originating in Europe.♥♥♥♥♥

Norwegian Forest Cat (NFC) – date of origin: 1930s in Germany. Ancestry: Farm cats. Cats arrived in Norway around AD 1000.♥♥♥♥

Siberian – date of origin: 1980s in Eastern Russia. Ancestry: Household and farm cats.♥♥♥


Appearance

Maine Coon – the largest non-wildcat hybrid cat breed. “Substantial body shape”. Strong face. Square muzzle. Large ears (lynx tipped). Long hair. Shaggy coat. Coat: all colors and divisions of the traditional category.♥♥♥♥♥

Norwegian Forest Cat – Substantial build but not as big as the Maine Coon (on average). Slightly less masculine face than the MC. Medium to large ears (lynx tipped). Long hair. Triple coated. Coat: all colors and divisions of the traditional category.♥♥♥♥

Siberian – Substantial body shape. Strong appearance. Looks slightly less slender than the MC or NFC. Slightly squarer head (less long). Coat density similar to NFC. Coat: all colors and divisions of the traditional category.♥♥♥♥


Character

Maine Coon – Gentle giant. Relaxed, easygoing. Fairly quiet. Not necessarily a lap cat or wanting to be held. People orientated.♥♥♥♥

Norwegian Forest Cat – Very quiet. Single-minded. “Most are not interested in playing games1“. Reserved and contained.♥♥♥♥

Siberian – Sensible and resourceful. Strong independent cat. Requires space in which to roam. Not a lap cat. Dog-like devotion.♥♥♥


Health

Maine Coon – Hip Dysplasia (bad hip joint) – HCM (heart condition) – PKD (kidney disease) – Gingivitis (gum disease) – Spinal muscular atrophy (spine condition). ♥♥

Norwegian Forest Cat – HCM – PKD – Type IV glycogen storage disease (metabolism disorder). ♥♥♥

Siberian – No inherited health issues reported. (this does not mean there are none but none recorded)♥♥♥♥♥


Total scores: Maine Coon: 16. Norwegian Forest Cat: 15. Siberian: 15. In terms of popularity, the Maine Coon leads. The Norwegian Forest Cat is also popular but less so and the Siberian is rarer and less popular than the other two.

Read and see more: Maine CoonNorwegian ForestSiberian.

Note: 1. Gloria Stephens in Legacy of the Cat.

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Comments

Comparing Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest and Siberian Cats — 45 Comments

  1. I guess our panleuk survivor Midnight Munchkin Whineybutt has the Norwegian Forest look to her. She has a brown tint to her in most of her photos.

    • In black angus cattle the brown tinge is caused by the animal being low in copper and zinc – most often visible in spring. Copper and zinc can easily become toxic if fed in abundance – a safe way might be to give them seaweed (sushi?) – works for cattle. Maybe fish will work as well, or copper wire/coin in the bottom of a water bowl.

  2. Som was supposedly a Norwegian Forest cat, I think she is not pure and has some Thai Cat in there somewhere as she lives in Thailand and has a kink in her tail, not important, she’s family now.

  3. This is my little cuddler Sumatra. He is the most affectionate, loving cat that I have ever met! He comes when called (even waiting at the door like a dog), loves to play with the other cats, loves to cuddle and knead, turns into a ragdoll when picked up, and is very demanding when he wants something. He is quite vocal. He requires constant attention and often sulks and has a tendency to stop eating when he gets upset, especially if we are gone long hours. I know he’s not pure bred, but I’m thinking he is part Norwegian Forest Cat. I originally thought he was part Maine Coon, but his face shape seems to match more with a Forest. You can’t see his tail in the picture, but it’s very fluffy, although not as much as the Maine Coons that I have seen. He weighs around 11lbs, which appears to be his max size. His fur is long, dense, super silky, and he leaves matted tufts of fur all over the house. Any thoughts?

  4. Hi, this is my cat Minsky. She follows me around in the house and she is very talkative. She loves to look trough the window and to put her paws in the running water. She likes to cuddle and jump and runs to the door when we arrive home, in fact she is very demanding. Right now she is 8 months old and she weights 6 lb. She is 6 months-old in these pictures. I put two because one zooms in her face while the others shows her whole body, including the fluffy tail.

    We tried all sorts of ways to discover her breed (we adopted her), but all people tell us is the generic “domestic long hair”. I’m aware she is probably not pure breed, but because she has the features of a NFC (or MC), I was wondering if you could help us distinguish which one she is more similar to (if any, since I’m not an expert).

    Thanks!

    • Hi Poliana. I have to go for the NFC. It is about the head shape primarily. Minsky’s head shape is quite similar to the NFC. The defining characteristics of the Main Coon are the strong, square muzzle and large, lynx tipped ears, whereas the NFC has a more elegant, pointed muzzle and more normal sized ears without exaggerated lynx tips. So she looks more like an NFC and could have some NFC DNA in her. She is lovely looking. She looks like a medium longhaired mackerel tabby and white although I can’t see the pattern well in the photo. Thanks for asking.

  5. Hi!

    This is my cat, Koolio. I can’t tell if he’s Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon. I’m thinking MC faces are much more masculine than his, so I’m leaning towards NFC, but I’m unsure. I really think his head is too small in general for him to be a Maine Coon.

    We adopted him when he was a kitten, but the place we adopted him from often has purebreds- I guess there are a lot of bad breeders around here. So it’s possible that he’s full-blood or close to it.

    He’s very big and very, very smart. He opens our doors all the time, so he’s long. Our dogs have tags on their collars that unlock their doggy door so they can go outside and Koolio has figured out that he can only go outside if he follows them out. So he did that a few times, then lost interest. He’s not vocal during the day. But several nights a week, he runs around the house and trills. Boy, does he love to trill. He also trills when he wants me to turn the faucet on so he can drink fresh water and when he can’t open a locked door. His trill and meow are high pitch and sweet-sounding. He comes when called, no matter where he is in the house (which apparently is rare? Both of my cats come when called, so I didn’t know that cats don’t really do that).

    He is beyond affectionate. He is so sweet! He LOVES to cuddle. He just hops on the couch or bed and nudges us until we pet him, then he lays on or up against us and will lay there for hours. Sometimes he’ll sleep the entire night cuddled up to me. He loves to be petted. He sleeps in twisted positions and likes to sit like a human, with his back up against the wall and his legs spread across the floor.

    While he is extremely sweet with us, he likes to show my older cat (who is 17) who is boss.

    As you can tell from the pictures, he has at least 2 coats. I’m not sure how to tell if there is more than two. But his top coat is extremely silky and shiny, and the coat underneath that is really soft and not silky or shiny at all. His tail is extremely fluffy and the texture is alost frizzy looking, bUT very soft. The tips of his ears have some short fur sticking up, but it’s hard to see in pictures. His feet have some short tufts of fur sticking out. His belly is, by far, his fluffiest part. Considering how much fur he has, he really doesn’t shed much.

    He LOVES boxes and bags/suitcases/purses. Don’t leave your bag open at all, he’ll try to get in! He loves flip flops and loves to rub up against them. He’s also a clean-freak. He cleans himself all the time. If you pet him while he’s cleaning himself, he will give you a really dirty look and re-clean the area you just touched. Haha

    He’s quite the scaredy-cat. Any sudden noise or movement will scare him away. He’ll play with strings for a minute or two, but then becomes uninterested. He’ll chase flies and moths all over the house, though. He’s terrified of laser pointers. He also likes to stare at walls and look around, as if something were crawling on the wall and ceiling.

    He’s an amazing cat. Everyone loves him- even the “dog people” who say they “hate cats.”

    • Great comment Kyleigh. I loved reading about your beautiful cat. I think you are correct in leaning towards NFC. His muzzle is more pointed. MC muzzles are very square.

      I have uploaded one of your photos to my comment. He’s a great looking cat and he has a great character too. I envy you.

  6. Dear readers and to those who posted their babies precious photo’s_ Cats come in many forms and the DNA/genes are often difficult if not impossible to trace. I say thank goodness we still have such a magical variety of them to incorporate into our families and to Love.

    Eva say’s_Steve-I believe you have a small Maine Coon litter mixture. Sweet and highly intelligent with a demure expression, long whiskers and large paws for such a little thing.On rare occasions some mixes remain small, so don’t use this as a reliable way to determine their origin. You are blessed. They have an innate tendency to let you spoil them. Keep a close eye on their overall health because cats hide any weakness or illness. It’s a survival instinct derived from their wild ancestors.
    Enjoy, listen to what they are trying to tell you and be their strong advocate.

  7. This is our cat Rocky. The sweetest cat ever, and very dog like. We have never been able to decide if he is a Maine Coon, Siberian or NFC. He is very big, 16 pounds. What do you think?

    • Hi Janet, from appearance, for me, he is much more a Norwegian Forest Cat (NFC) or Siberian than a Maine Coon. On the balance of probabilities I’d favour NFC. And by the way he is fabulous. He has real presence and a kind face. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for sharing Kate. I believe that there are many purebred cat mixes in the West. What I mean is cats who are one or two removed from purebred (purebred x random bred mix). Your cat may well be one of those. But it is too difficult to distinguish between them when the genetics are masked by random bred genes. Your cat is a random bred in my opinion (unless you are going to tell me otherwise!) but has a beautiful ruff. If anything I’d say there is a hint of Maine Coon there. Beautiful cat.

  8. Hi , i adopted this guy a 1 week ago, he is going on 6 months, he already almost same size as my mini poodle, i so love his fur, its like a rabbit soft fur, very long on belly , big paw for his age, big tail, love his face, looks like a lynx face,, could anyone can tell me what he could be ? maybe a mix of race too? thanks for all the help, its well appreciated 🙂

    • This guy is probably a medium-longhaired classic tabby random bred cat. But he may have some purebred pedigree in his history but we don’t know. He looks superb. He looks like a Siberian or Norwegian Forest Cat but without a pedigree you don’t know. By default the answer is that he is a tabby random bred cat until proved otherwise. He is wonderful though. So pleased for you.

  9. Hi,

    I have 2 kitties, just over a year old – I was told they were Siberian cross… they’re both crazy in different ways and definitely family now!! Babs is skittish and demand strokes, Gus is crazy and chases baubles across my whole house (there’s a pic with him “transporting” one!)

    Babs is the tortie, Gus is the black one 🙂

    • Hi Katy, thanks for sharing. They certainly have the Siberian look. It’s a look I like a lot. You can only guess though if they are a purebred cross because there is no pedigree. I suppose the truth of it is that the more likely explanation is that these gorgeous cats are random bred cats which look like the Siberian cat. But I don’t know.

      • Thanks very much! I’m sure you are probably right about the random bred bit, tho Gus seems to have a lot of the Siberian traits – loves to play with water (including playing out in the rain with no issues!), follows me round like a dog, very biddable too. Babs less so, but she does follow me about and is very vocal! Both have at least 2 coats and massive ruffs! So cute, soooo mental – best thing I ever did was to get them! Pic of Babs after my tuna pasta…

  10. Hello,
    This is my male kitten Lino (7 months old, not sure if that’s still a kitten). He is very cute, friendly, gentle and cudling (only when he wants), independent, but in the same time he follows me around and doesn’t like staying alone in the room. Sometimes he reminds me of a dog, I throw some toys and stuff and he grabs it and carries it around in mouth:). He has the most hillarious sleeping poses and he is very active, likes to play and often acts like a little clown:). He is already a great hunter, too. His mother is tabby and this is the 5th time she delivers us kittens, but this is the first time we get such a different and fluffy kitten like Lino. He was the biggest of all kittens and he has a bit square body, slightly lifted up where the tail begins. I was wondering if he has some MC, Persian or Siberian or some other genes. And since I’m far from the expert (I did some internet research and became more confused than before), I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Maja, thanks for showing us your handsome cat. He really is beautiful and he has a very nice character. From his appearance I don’t think we can say he has some MC, Persian or Siberian. It is just not possible. Of those three cats his appearance most resembles a Maine Coon. Lino may have some MC in him because this cat breed originates in random bred barn cats from Maine but the genes have spread far and wide in my opinion. Lino is a random bred, tabby and white longhaired cat and a fine one too.

  11. I know my Bella is a random breed. She came from the shelter. Of any of the possible mixes she might have do you think Siberian or NFC? I can’t tell from the shap of her eyes and face. I know it’s not MC. She is 10 years old and is as affectionate and talkative as ever. She weighs 13 pounds. She has long fur that sticks out between her toes on the bottom of her feet. This is fun for me because she really is my big beautiful baby.

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