Maine Coon cat

Maine Coon Or Norwegian Forest Cat? How To Know The Breed Of Your Furry Family Member

You’ve just gone to the shelter and have come home with a long-haired, playful, affectionate kitten. Over the next couple of years, he keeps getting bigger and bigger, with an ever-expanding coat and a long, bushy tail. His body is long and wedge-like and you’ve discovered you can walk him on a leash — he actually seems to enjoy it. At some point, you begin to ask yourself: Is my fur baby a Norwegian Forest Cat or a Maine Coon?

While most fur parents are happy to just think of their baby as a “domestic long hair,” or “big kitty with an attitude,” it’s interesting to know some of the distinctions between Norwegians and Maines. Of course, nature being what it is, many cats are feline mutts, showing traits of many different breeds. But there are some signs that your cat’s lineage may extend back to Norway or the Eastern U.S. (Or, since the breeds are thought to be related, perhaps all such felines originally come from Norway — Mercola speculates Norwegians may have come over with the Vikings and Maines evolved later).

maine coon
Raffles is a Maine Coon cat who was part of a Birmingham, England cat show in 2014. Raffles has the tufts of hair at the end of the ears that is typical of Maine Coons. [Image by Rob Stothard/Getty Images]

The Coat

A Norwegian’s coat will be even all around, according to Maine Coon, and Cat Fanciers’ Association says the Norwegian’s fur is double-coated and waterproof, hearty enough to provide protection during those harsh Norwegian winters. Maines have shaggier fur that’s multi-layered. Since both Maines and Norwegians have fluffy fur, and both have amiable personalities, they tend to be great cuddling companions — although Maines are more social than Norwegians, who like a bit of independence.

Norwegian forest
Sherman, a Norwegian Forest kitten, appeared at a cat show in 2015. Sherman has the thick coat and gentle face typical of the Norwegian Forest breed. [Image by Rob Stothard/Getty Images]

The Size

Maine Coons are the largest domestic cat breed, males reaching weights of 12 to 18 pounds (females may be slightly smaller). They get up to 40 inches in length — so grab your ruler to measure. If your cat is quite young, she may not yet have reached her full size. Maine Coons don’t fully mature until ages 3 to 5 years. The Norwegian Forest Cat is also slow to develop, according to Vet Street, eventually reaching weights of between 10 to 15 pounds. While not quite as big as a Maine Coon, that’s nothing to sneeze at — especially when you have to lug her carrier to the vet.

The Face

If you want to get your best indication of whether your kitty is a Maine or Norwegian, engage them in a staring contest. Of course, you’ve probably already played this game — and maybe won — but this time, use it to look at your cat’s features. Maine Coons have high cheekbones, wedge-shaped face and reportedly look “happy.” Does your kitty have a cheerful expression? Norwegians have a more triangular face, with straight nose and flat forehead. Norwegians also have a straight profile when viewed from the side.

You can also examine your kitty for other sure signs of the Maine Coon, like the long, triangle-shaped tuft of fur at the top of the ears. That may be the case for Norwegians as well, but it’s taller and more distinctive on Maines. Both breeds have massive paws, with prominent fur emerging from between the toes, making the kitty snow-ready for cold climates, or for simply plodding around the house and snoozing by the fire.

Is your kitty a Maine Coon or a Norwegian Forest Cat? Or a bit of both?

[Featured Image by Wang He/Getty Images]