Categories: Cat Breeds

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


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.♥♥♥


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.♥♥♥♥


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.♥♥♥


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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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • This is Simba (Simba Baby)...His grandmother was Mocha, a pregnant FIV positive Stray/semi-feral that I took in/was fostering. The finder did not know the parentage of the father/fathers. Mocha had two kittens, named Simba & Nala (later renamed Dorrie/Dorrie Nala) The kittens were born in the spring but the Local no-kill shelters were full all summer long; so, I continued to foster & isolate them until space would be available & they could be tested for FIV (FIV mothered kittens can test false positive up to six months or more...). Although the vets told us the kittens would be fine together for up to six months or so; we discovered Dorrie already had kittens (from her brother Simba sr.) at seven months of age. Only one orange male survived-which was also named Simba (Simba Baby). It was about that time (early fall) when their full coat began growing in, that I realized these were likely Norwegian Forest cats. Mocha & Simba were sheltered & adopted out soon afterwards & Simba Baby was recently rehomed; while I adopted Dorrie-Nala. Please tell me what you think these are. Except for their extensive fur, mocha & especially Dorrie were quite small; while Simba was a bit heavier.

  • He'res is a picture of Gringo, my new buddy. His mother was a Highland Lynx and the father was a Norwegian forest Cat. I do think he's got an heritage of his profile fron the mother which give him a Main Coonish look. His tail is shorter than NFC

    • Thanks Guillaume. Your cat is very attractive. His pedigree is very exotic. Thanks for sharing.

  • They were feral kittens from a nearby farm- lived in barn before we adopted them. We allowed them to be indoor/outdoor kitties the first two years, then we moved to a city on busy street, so we kept them inside for 9 months- then outside fore year and half... Now strictly inside as studio, though I'd like to let them out again as spring approaches a maybe sooner, providing they'll not get lost, and be able to fun way home.

  • Thanks Michael, we are at studio, 70 % o time after school work- so they get much interaction w people. I have stopped transporting them between home and studio for now since weather is so cold and they do not like the transport. Honestly I think they prefer to be in our laps up front as opposed to in carrier. I feel sad that they are not getting outdoor freedom, but concerned they may get confused or lost in new neighborhood where studio is. At some point I'd like to allow them to go out here.

  • Olive's left eye was clawed and he has some scarring. He's the one who alwas seems to get hurt. My husband made a no pets in house rule when we moved to a new home last September. So these guys were strictly outdoor cats for a year and a half- ( w cat house lined w straw.) now they stay at my art studio indoor only when there. I realize they're cold weather kitties by their fur and extra fur on foot pads, but the weather has consisted of extreme cold temps here in s.w. PA. Will it confuse them to go between I for ony studio and outdoor only home?

    • Thank you Jaime for showing me your cats. As far as I can tell, judging by appearance, they are not purebred cats but beautiful random bred cats. One is a ginger tabby and the other a brown tabby. They're both long-haired cats as you say.

      If they were both indoor cats or indoor/outdoor cats before you adopted them then it would be too harsh I would say to make them full-time outdoor cats. It may lead to problems with health issues. But you say that they have been outdoor only cats for one and a half years with no apparent major issues. Were they semi-feral when you adopted them?

      But as I understand it, they can stay in your studio which gives them some indoor protection. I don't know, though, how much contact you might have with them if they are restricted to your studio for indoor warmth and the outside. Personally, I don't find the arrangement all that good for various reasons one of which is the cold weather and the other is restrictive contact with humans.

      Nonetheless, I understand completely the rules and they could be made to work provided there is some indoor warm areas to retreat to in the cold weather and a substantial amount of contact between cat and human caretaker.

  • I suppose I can only load one at time of like to you profile and frontal of both kitties, please bear w me.;) girl kitty is very possessive over her person/ me--- and doesn't appreciatw boy kitty snuggling up to me, she actually my not come to me for a few days and when she was little she would fight boy kitty over this. So cute and so much smaller. Boy kitty has adopted my daughter as his. But girl kitty does not mind cuddling up to her. Boy kitty is like a dog he will wait at the top of drive for me when I get home in eve, he is more vocal and begs to be fed... He trills

  • Hi Michael, I'm going to upload the photos and follow up w message. This is third try- it seems I get message written, go to upload and there comes a note saying error- page reloaded. We think maybe Siberian?? Barn kitties from Upstate NY. Boy Kitty (Olive) Girl Kitty (Opal). Four years old.

    • Thanks Jaime. If the picture upload fails it is because the image is too large. I mean the file size. Ideally it should be not wider than 700 px with a file size max of 150K. I'll comment on the photos after upload if that is okay.

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