Perhaps two of the most closely resembled pure cat breeds, the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Siberian Cat look incredibly similar and are from a very similar geographic location. It’d be easy to mistaken these breeds as being very close genetically, but the fact is they’re actually quite distinct.
Even though many people consider them to have originated close to each other, the Norwegian and Siberian are native to very different lands. As each of their names suggest where they are from, the Norwegian Forest Cat has been bred for hundreds of years around Norway and Scandinavia, while the Siberian Cat hails from Siberia.
While both of these cold, forested locations seem very similar, they’re actually quite far away from each other. In fact, the distance between Norway and Siberia is about 3000 miles!
At first glance, they seem incredibly similar with their fluffy coats, large size and big, round eyes, but there are some key differences that can be used to tell them apart.
The Norwegian Forest Cat face is much more triangular in shape than the Siberian. From a profile (from the side), the Norwegian’s face is long and straight from the forehead to the nose. The Siberian, on the other hand, has a much more rounded face, and at a profile you’ll notice a more concave dip from the forehead to the nose and a more rounded muzzle.
The difference between the eyes of the Norwegian and Siberian is very subtle. Both have relatively rounded eyes compared to most cats, but the Norwegian tends to have a slightly ore almond shape to them while the Siberian’s are more rounded.
Similar to the eyes, the difference between the ears are very subtle. Norwegians have large, wide ears while the Siberian’s are slightly smaller.
Norwegian Forest Cats tend to be a bit smaller on average than the Siberian Cat, averaging around 9-16 lbs while the Siberian can be between 9-22 lbs.
Both have long fur all over their body, but the Norwegian Forest Cat has a double coat consisting of an undercoat and water-resistant upper coat while the Siberian cat has a triple coat consisting of an undercoat, middle coat and water-resistant upper coat.
Norwegian Forest Cats and Siberian Cats share a lot of the same colors and patterns. One key difference, though, is that Norwegians cannot have a pointed pattern, while the Siberian can (this is called the Neva Masquerade).
Also, Siberians have a special sunshine/golden color that is unique to the breed and not found in Norwegians.
The Norwegian Forest Cat and Siberian Cat could not be more different in terms of how allergenic they are. The Norwegian is highly allergenic and should be avoided by people that are generally allergic to cats, while the Siberian is extremely hypoallergenic and tends to fit well in homes of people with allergies.
While both the Norwegian Forest Cat and Siberian Cat are affectionate, playful and get along well with children and other pets, there are some slight differences in their personalities.
The Norwegian Forest Cat tends to be a bit more reserved and independent than the Siberian Cat, which is more playful and demanding of attention. In fact, Siberians are often said to have a dog-like personality due to their extreme loyalty and need for attention from their owners. Norwegians are typically lower maintenance and require less attention, but as such they might be more suitable in homes where the owner isn’t around quite as often.