Norwegian Forest Cat
A Large, Gregarious Cat With a Long Beautiful Coat
Norwegian Forest Cat
Jon Crimes - Last Updated on January 27th, 2021
What you Need to Know about the Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norweigan Forest Cat is a large domestic cat native to Northern Europe. Called the ‘skogkatt’ (forest cat) in Norway, it has adapted over time to harsh climates by developing a top coat of long, glossy, water-shedding hair, and a thick woolly undercoat for insulation.
With its muscular appearance and excess hair, the Norweigan looks bigger than it is and reminiscent of the hunter it used to be.
Appearance Matters. What does a Norwegian Forest Cat look like?
Long legs, a bushy tail, and a sturdy body sometimes get the Norweigan confused with a Maine Coon.
It’s from the front that you spot the real difference. The Norweigan has a triangular face from its chin to its pointy ears, with large eyes that are almost diamond-shaped.
If you meet a breeder or owner then don’t be surprised to hear the affectionate nickname of ‘Wegie’ used!
The Maine Coon, has a square (slightly elongated) head but unless you see the cat's face you would be forgiven for knowing which one was what breed!
So which is the bigger Maine Coon or Norweigan Forest Cat?
The Maine Coon has the Norweigan Forest Cat beat in the size stakes. This is one of the biggest cat breeds around and can weigh in at 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms). The Maine Coon however is enormous and tips the scales at 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms)
Norwegian Forest Cat characteristics also include large ears that are decorated at the tips by beautiful tufts of long hair. This gives the appearance of a Lynx cat.
Norwegian Forest Cats come in a broad range of colors, as do their eyes.
Some of the popular colors for the Norweigan Forest Cat include:
- Pure White
- Coal Black
- Blue Smoke
It's all Personal. The Norwegian Forest Cat Personality
Norwegian Forest Cats are family-friendly pets who love the people that they live with. They are also natural athletes with strong claws. Don’t be surprised to find your cat investigating the more ‘high-up’ areas of your house like bookcases, counters, and anywhere that might contain something ‘interesting’ for them!
From kitten to adulthood, your ‘cat should also remain active and playful and retain its fun-loving spirit, well until its later years.
They are also fairly quiet cats. You’ll find that the Norweigan Forest Cat personality is all about only making a noise when they need your attention!
These cats take most things in their stride, accepting new people or other pets into their home without so much as a shrug.
When they do meow, this can be a variety of songful sounds from a gentle purr to rather excited ‘chirps’ that sound similar to that of raccoons in the wild.
Are Norwegian Forest Cats indoor cats?
Yes. The Norweigan Forest Cat is an ideal pet for owners who are out of the house for most of the day and want an indoor cat. They are truly independent by nature though and can be demanding of attention when you get home from a long day at work.
They are also well suited for the outdoors. Be aware though, they have a strong hunting instinct.
They are expert mouse hunters but are also very comfortable swimming in water if there’s something of interest in there!
If you have fish, you might want to consider cat-proofing your pond.
Do Norwegian Forest Cats still live in the wild?
Not to the extent, they used to but ‘wild cats’ can still be found on some farms in Norway where their hunting abilities are valued by farmers.
Caring for your Norwegian Forest Cat
We would advise the regular grooming of your Norweigan Forest Cat. Also, you might be asking yourself, are Norwegian Forest Cats hypoallergenic? Short answer no! If you're sensitive to cat's dander then this breed might not be right for you. Although no cats are completely non-allergenic, any longer-haired cats should be avoided if you have cat allergies.
Do Norwegian Forest Cats shed a lot?
They shed their hair very heavily twice a year. Once in the spring, when the winter coat is shed, and then again in the fall. It’s important to pay particular attention to your cat during these times to prevent long cat hair from getting everywhere.
During ‘non-shedding’ times of the year, we recommend brushing a couple of times a week to get rid of any tangles or mats.
As with any pets, it’s also a great idea to include teeth, ears, and eyes into your daily or weekly routine.
Daily toothbrushing is ideal to prevent Periodontal disease but even doing this weekly should help your cat’s teeth remain strong.
With your pet’s ears, check them weekly for dirt or signs of infection. Don’t use anything to try and clean the ear canal but instead clean the exterior of the ear with a soft damp cloth to remove any dirt.
Be extra careful with your cat’s eyes. Use a separate damp cloth to wipe the corners of their eyes to remove any discharge.
The Health and Happiness of your Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norweigan Forest Cat is a naturally content and happy cat when living with a loving family.
They can be slow to mature with some kittens needing up to five years to reach their full size.
Males are usually bigger than females, weighing from twelve to twenty pounds, while females weigh eight to fourteen pounds.
Because of their larger size, they will require more food than some other domestic cats to remain strong and free from some of the conditions that affect the breed.
These conditions include:
- Glycogen storage disease IV. Although rare, this disease is almost entirely found in Norweigan Forest Cats. It causes the body to have problems with processing glucose properly. Symptoms such as fever, muscular tremors, and difficulty in moving can become evident after 5 months of age and will need medical treatment.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a heart disease condition that is more common in some cat breeds than others. Norweigan Forest Cats can be affected by this with symptoms including difficulty breathing, limb paralysis, and weight loss.
- Polycystic kidney disease. This is where the kidney can no longer function properly and is a disease that is normally a gradual process. A genetic test is available for this disease.
- Retinal dysplasia. Another condition that can affect this breed. This is where the retina of the eye develops ‘blind spots’. It is common for these to be limited in number and not require treatment but if they start to cover a larger area then other eye problems might become apparent, like cataracts and retinal detachment.
The Norweigan Forest Cat lifespan is approximately 15 years.
Feline History. Where does the Norwegian Forest Cat come from?
These friendly and sociable cats have a very rich history.
It is likely that they are descendants of shorter-haired cats, brought to northern Europe by settlers and traders. The breed is however wrapped up in Scandanavian mythology where they have been described as the “enchanted cats of the forest that could disappear at will…” and the family pets of Vikings.
The breed came dangerously close to extinction when efforts to protect it were interrupted by the Second World War. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Norwegian Forest Cat Club started an official breeding program that earned royal recognition from the late King Olaf. The Norweigan Forest Cat became the official cat of Norway.
1979 saw the first forest cats enter the USA and in 1984 the Norweigan Forest Cat was given Championship status by the International Cat Association.
In 1994, the cat was recognized as a championship breed by the American Cat Fanciers Association.