How to Distinguish Between a Norwegian Forest Cat, a Maine Coon Cat & Other Forest Cats

These three breeds have magnificent tails!
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The Norwegian forest cat, Maine coon and Siberian forest cat all have thick, fluffy coats because they all evolved in cold climates, and the three also all are fairly large cats. When deciding if one of these fluffy felines is right for you, consider the differences among them, as well.


All of these breeds are outgoing and sociable, making them a good choice for first-time cat owners and self-professed “dog people.” The extroverted and brainy Maine coon is fairly easy to train to a harness and leash, so you can take him along on walks. He also gets along with kids, other cats and dogs. Like the Maine coon, Norwegian forest cats – or Wegies -- are smart, friendly and playful. Though he isn’t clingy, he will go looking for companionship if you leave him alone for too long. This is a very calm cat who is not particularly vocal. Siberians also are intelligent and good problem-solvers, and follow you around like puppy dogs. The Cat Fanciers’ Association warns that you should expect the unexpected when sharing your home with this breed – you might see him flying through the air in a long jump from one perch to the next, or snaking his way among your bric-a-brac.

Head Shape

The most noticeable physical difference among these breeds is head shape. The Wegie’s head is shaped kind of like an equilateral triangle, while his forehead is flat and his nose forms a straight line in profile. The Maine coon’s wedge-shaped head is framed by high cheek bones. There’s a gentle curve to his nose when seen in profile. The Siberian has a modified wedge – the corners are more rounded than the Maine coon’s – and his nose is broad between the eyes and narrows at the tip, with a slight concave curve in profile.

Coat and Ruff

While all of these breeds have lots of fur, the coats do differ a bit. The Wegie’s double coat has a silky, water-repellant overcoat, and he has a frontal ruff round his neck. The Siberian also has a double coat, and in the winter his ruff is extremely abundant, giving him the look of a lion. The Siberian’s hair generally is longer than the other two breeds. The Maine coon’s coat is uneven and shorter around the shoulders, and he only has a short undercoat. His coat generally is shaggier, with a smaller ruff than the other two breeds.


These three breeds are particularly proud of their wide, fluffy tails. The Norwegian’s tapers to a tip with full and flowing hair. It’s at least as long as his body from shoulders to the base of the tail. The Maine coon’s also is as long as his body, but it tapers to a bushy end. The Siberian’s is blunt at the tip and not as long as the other two breeds, but it makes up for this shorter length by draping gracefully down both sides.

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