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Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Siberian Cat: What’s the Difference?

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Norwegian Forest vs Siberian Header HepperBoth the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian Cat are beautiful animals. They have long, luxurious fur and fun personalities. However, they are two completely different cat breeds. Therefore, it is important to learn about both breeds so you can gain insight into which would make a better fit as a pet living in your household.

One cat’s temperament might be perfect for your home, while the other’s might be too much for your family to handle. One cat might require more grooming and maintenance than you have time for, or one breed might be too vocal for your taste. The only way to know which cat breed is right for you is to learn about both of them!

Visual Differences

norwegian forest vs siberian hepper
Image Credit: Left: Norwegian forest cat, Joanna22, Shutterstock | Right Siberian cat, claudia125, Pixabay

It is a good idea to understand the visual differences between the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian cat if for no other reason than being able to tell them apart at first sight. One difference to note is size. The Siberian cat is almost always noticeably larger than the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Norwegian Forest Cats can be a variety of different colors, including red, white, black, tabby, and tortoiseshell. The Siberian cat can be white, grey, tabby, or bicolored. Both have similar coat lengths and textures, and both have fluffy tails. However, the Siberian cat’s ears are typically a little bigger and more pointed than those of the Norwegian Forest Cat. Also, the Siberian cat’s eyes are smaller and more elongated than the Norwegian Forest cat’s.

At a Glance

Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Origin: Northern Europe
  • Size: 10–20 pounds, 12–18 inches long
  • Lifespan: 12–16 years
  • Domesticated?: Yes
Siberian Cat
  • Origin: Russia
  • Size: 8–17 pounds, 17–25 inches long
  • Lifespan: 12- 20 years
  • Domesticated?: Yes

Norwegian Forest Cat Overview

norwegian forest cat_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

The Norwegian Forest Cat is considered an ancient breed that developed on their own, decades before humans ever thought about intervening. This breed is extremely independent and intelligent, which makes them great pets for busy households that don’t have much downtime. These are not overly affectionate cats, as they prefer to sleep on their own rather than curl up in a lap.

However, they do get attached to their human counterparts and want to be a part of the action inside the household whenever possible. While awake, Norwegian Forest cats are curious and playful. They will rarely pass up an opportunity to scratch a post, explore a new item brought into the house, or bat a ball around.


This breed is stout and hardy, with well-built muscles and long, thick legs. Small tufts of fur protrude from the tops of the ears of some Norwegian Forest cats. Their chests are wide and broad and their heads are large and round. They come in a wide variety of different colors and patterns. Some are one solid color, while others have colored markings on their coat.

Siberian Cat Overview

siberian cat in garden
Image Credit: Michael Hüttl, Pixabay

Siberian cats are outgoing, friendly, curious, and playful. They are also more affectionate than Norwegian Forest cats. They are usually quick to the front door to greet their human companions when they come home. They like following their owners around to keep tabs on what is happening around the house. They also enjoy cuddling whenever they find an empty lap to climb into.

These are quiet cats that prefer to communicate through physical cues rather than vocally. However, they will sometimes chirp when they get excited, making it sound like they are singing to whoever happens to be listening. This breed can get along well with other cats, household dogs, and children of all ages.


Coming from Russia, the Siberian cat sports a thick, luxurious coat of fur meant to help keep them warm during the freezing winter months. Like the Norwegian Forest cat, this breed is built with strong bones and muscles to ensure that they can handle the harsh natural environment from which they came. They have bright eyes, pointed chins, and pronounced cheekbones.

siberian cat sitting on a log
Image Credit: Just-Mila, Shutterstock

What Are the Major Differences Between Norwegian Forest Cats and Siberian Cats?

The differences between the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian cat are not extreme, but they are still notable. They are what makes each breed unique from any other in existence. Let’s recap the major differences between these two exotic cat breeds:

  • The Siberian cat is noticeably larger than the Norwegian Forest cat.
  • The coat of the Siberian cat is thicker and a little longer than that of the Norwegian Forest cat.
  • The Norwegian Forest cat is more independent and less affectionate than the Siberian cat.
  • The Norwegian Forest cat comes in a wider variety of colors and patterns than the Siberian cat does.

Which Breed Is Right for You?

Both the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian cat are gorgeous breeds that share common features, such as luxurious fur and strongly built bodies. They do have differences when it comes to personality and temperament, though. Small differences can also be seen visually, most notably in their size.

Featured Image Credit: (L) Elisa Putti, Shutterstock / (R) Emil Helge, Shutterstock

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