Some enthusiasts think the Norwegian Forest cat is the Maine Coon's direct ancestor. (After all, we know Norse settlers occupied modern-day Newfoundland during the 11th century C.E.)
The idea speaks to the many similarities between these long-haired, big-bodied breeds. Yet as Sandra Cagan will tell you, there are plenty of differences as well.
A resident of Florida, Cagan owns the Orlando Cat Café, a coffee shop where the patrons get to hang out with adoptable felines who need good homes. She personally owns two purebred Maine Coons and is well-acquainted with the breed's idiosyncrasies.
"The Maine Coon has a wider muzzle than a Forest cat," Cagan explains via email. In contrast, the latter breed has a flattened forehead, straight nose and triangular-shaped skull, giving it what Cagan describes as "more of a 'regular cat face.'" Meanwhile, with its high cheekbones and broad snout, the Maine Coon looks rather lion-esque — at least facially.
Other distinctions reside in the fur. Although Wegies and Maine Coons are available in lots of different colors, there's an iconic hairstyle specific to each breed.
"Both breeds have distinctive ear tufts, but the Maine Coon's are larger," says Cagan. Also, while Wegie tails end in pointed tips, the end of a Maine Coon's tail is bushier and less shapely.
Beyond looks, the felines may communicate differently. "Maine Coons tend to be very vocal; they are known for their chirping sounds," Cagan tells us. "Norwegian Forest cats tend to be quieter." That said, they both like to emit contented purrs, which can get fairly loud.
In terms of disposition, Wegies and Maine Coons are often described as "dog-like." Norwegian Forest cats love socializing with their favorite people while Maine Coons engage in all sorts of canine behaviors. "I know of several Maine Coon owners who have taught their cats to give 'high fives' or 'shake paws' like a dog would do," says Cagan.
Not only are the big guys easy to train, but they've got an endearing habit of carrying their toys around like excited terriers. "Many of them also play fetch," Cagan adds. What's more, she notes that several owners have taught their Maine Coons to use leashes. "One of my two loves to walk on his leash, the other not so much," she tells us.
So come to think of it, maybe we can settle the whole cat versus dog debate. If you're in want of a pet and feeling indecisive, just split the difference and get yourself a Maine Coon. Or a Wegie.