You would be forgiven for mistaking a Maine Coon cat for a Norwegian Forest and vice versa because the two breeds do look very much alike. Both have lovely, thick coats giving them that "fluffy" appearance which they need to keep them warm in their colder native lands. They are also quite large as domestic cats go, but there are several differences which makes the two cats are very much breeds in their own right.
When it comes to personality, both breeds are very affectionate and outgoing which makes them a great choice as family pets. With this said, the Maine Coon is known for their intelligence which makes them really easy to train and this includes teaching them how to wear a harness so they can go for a walk with their owners. They are real extroverts by nature and there's nothing they enjoy more than playing with the kids.
When it comes to the Norwegian Forest Cat or Wegie as they lovingly often called, the breed is also known for their playfulness and they are extremely smart too. They are quite independent by nature although they don't like being left to their own devices for longer periods of time. These cats like to be kept busy and get easily bored which in short, means they don't do well when kept as indoor cats, much preferring to be in the great outdoors doing what cats do best which is to hunt down prey and lounge around in the sun during the summer months. Because they are so clever, a Wegie needs to be given lots of mental stimulation to be truly happy and there's nothing they like more than playing interactive games with the people they trust and love.
The Wegie is known to be good around children and generally don't mind sharing their homes with other pets as long as they are introduced to each other early in their lives. They are a real pleasure to share a home with because they are such calm, undemanding yet loving characters by nature.
The Maine Coon cat is a gentle giant of a feline and as previously mentioned they are super intelligent even more so than any other breed. Like the Wegie, they are not the best choice of pet if kept as an indoor cat because they adore spending as much time in the great outdoors as they can. However, they are fantastic characters because they also adore spending time with the people they love and continue to be extremely playful even when they reach their golden years. They are also known to be quite vocal with a wonderful vocabulary of sounds and meows that keep owners amused for hours.
The biggest physical difference in the two breeds and therefore the most noticeable is in the shape of the cats' heads with the Maine Coon having a wedge-like shaped head whereas the Norwegian Forest has more of a triangular head with a flatter forehead. The difference in the two breeds profile makes this difference very distinguishable too.
Both breeds have glorious fluffy coats, but the Wegie boasts a double coat with their outer coat being super silky and water-repellant with a gorgeous ruff all around their neck. When it comes to the Maine Coon's coat, this tends to be a lot rougher looking and that much shorter in length too, especially around the shoulders and they only boast a short undercoat. In short, the Maine Coon typically has a shaggier coat and the ruff around their necks tends to be shorter and much tidier looking too.
Both the Norwegian and the Maine Coon have glorious tails which makes the two breeds so distinctive looking. They are fluffy and full as well as being wide although the Wegie's tail does taper at the tip and it boasts being the same length as their bodies when measured from the shoulder right to the base of the tail. The Maine Coon on the other hand although their tail is just as long and it does taper at the tip, the hair on it is bushy and long right from the base to the tip.
The Norwegian Forest and the Maine Coon cats are very similar looking felines and when it comes to personalities, there's not much that sets them apart either. The only really noticeable difference in their looks is the shape of their heads which is more evident in profile. The Maine Coon boasts being one of the most intelligent cats on the planet and can even be taught to wear a harness so they can be taken out for a walk much like a dog. Neither of the breeds is a particular good choice of pets for people who are looking to share their homes with indoor cats because both the Wegie and the Maine Coon love spending time in the great outdoors far too much and would get very bored if they weren't allowed to go out to do what cat's love doing most which is to go off and explore their territories.