Full Information about, History of, and Care for the Norwegian Forest Cat

A Norwegian Forest Cat perching in a tree outdoors

The Norwegian forest cat is a historic breed that evolved naturally in Norway's woodlands for hundreds of years without human intervention. The Norwegian forest cat, also known as the skogkatt (Norwegian for "forest cat"), is also known as "Wegie" in the United States.

The Norwegian forest cat undoubtedly appears at home in the forested wilderness. It has a significant bone structure, solid muscle, and is huge but well balanced. Despite having a wide chest and a substantial girth, the cat should never seem obese. The Norwegian forest cat's rump is a little higher than its shoulders because its rear legs are a little longer than its front legs. The medium to big ears of the breed are thickly furred, broad at the base, and rounded at the tips. The breed is prized for having lynx tips, which are fur tufts that develop on the points of the ears.

The semi-long, thick coat is available in a wide range of solid, bi-color, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, cameo, and smoky hues, tints, and patterns. Only hues that are indicative of hybridization—such as chocolate, sable, lavender, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, or Himalayan-style markings—are prohibited by the breed standard.

The Norwegian forest cat is independent yet loving; it won't spend the entire night curled up on your lap, but it could occasionally jump up for a little snuggle. By no means does this imply that the Norwegian forest cat is aloof. The Norwegian forest cats are extremely devoted to their owners and take an active interest in all facets of family life. Simply put, they want to be around rather than directly on you. Due to their curiosity, playfulness, and calm temperament, Norwegian forest cats make wonderful family pets. They get along well with polite dogs and can often coexist peacefully with other cats.

Breed Overview

Weight: 8 to 18 pounds

Length: 12 to 18 inches

Coat: Long, glossy, smooth and water-resistant, with a dense undercoat.

Coat Color: Almost any color or pattern with or without white markings; disqualifying colors are chocolate, lavender/lilac or the Himalayan pattern.

Eye Color: Shades of green, gold, green-gold, copper or blue (in white cats or those with white).

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years


Characteristics of the Norwegian Forest Cat

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Low
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Norwegian Forest Cat

It's possible that the Norwegian forest cat has existed since the time of the Vikings. A Norwegian folktale about the Norse goddess Freya, who is pulled by two enormous Norwegian forest cats, features the breed prominently. Images and written descriptions of cats that resemble the Norwegian forest cat date back to the 16th century. But owing to careless cross-breeding with other cat breeds by the start of the 20th century, the breed was almost extinct. When people realized that the breed was a national treasure, they took attention. The Norwegian forest cat was designated as Norway's national cat breed by King Olav V of Norway in 1938. Species enthusiasts in Norway finally succeeded in preserving the breed and increasing its numbers via meticulous breeding efforts, albeit it took many years.

In 1979, the country of the United States received its first shipment of Norwegian forest cats. In 1984, The International Cat Association granted the Norwegian forest cat championship title. In 1993, the Norwegian forest cat was granted full championship status by the Cat Fanciers Association.

Norwegian Forest Cat Care

The Norwegian forest cat has a peculiar double coat that helps it stay warm during Scandinavia's chilly winters. A bushy tail, britches on the back legs, a collar around the neck, and strong tufting between the toes are all features of the longer, coarser, water-resistant outer coat. Warm protection from the cold is provided by a short, thick undercoat.

Weekly thorough brushing is necessary to prevent mats and tangles in the coat. The majority of the Norwegian forest cat's undercoat is lost once a year in the spring to make room for the summer's longer days and less chilly nights. During this seasonal lowering coat, shearing might be heavy, so brush more regularly. The Norwegian forest cat sheds lightly outside of this period. Along with brushing, give your Norwegian Forest Cat a bath every few months, maintain short nails, and inspect and clean the ears monthly.

The complete growth of Norwegian forest cats occurs at the age of five. They take a while to mature. Even as adults, they are animated and fun but not overly active. The majority of Norwegian forest cats like playing with their toys and are generally game for some independent play. Think about putting out a cat tower or tree so they can climb, perch, and scratch. Bonus points if these are placed next to a window so your Norwegian forest cat can enjoy the outside while watching the birds and squirrels.

Common Health Problems

While every cat may experience health problems at some point in its life, some pedigreed cats are known to have congenital conditions that can be passed on to young. The hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, and type IV glycogen storage disorder are all common in the Norwegian forest cat. The condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) results in thickening of the heart walls. The most prevalent type of cardiac disease in cats is HCM. Compared to dogs, cats are less likely to have hip dysplasia (looseness of the hip joint), although certain bigger, heavier breeds, such as the Norwegian forest cat, can develop this condition. A faulty enzyme causes Glycogen Storage Disease Type IV (GSD IV), which results in organ failure, muscular atrophy, and death. Reputable breeders keep an eye on the health of their adult cats and steer clear of breeding them. For cats that may be carriers of GSD IV, a genetic test is available. Most reputable breeders also frequently provide some sort of health guarantee.

Diet and Nutrition

Despite having a sturdy build, Norwegian forest cats should never put on weight. The best method to avoid weight-related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and hip dysplasia, which can be exacerbated by excess weight, is to keep your Norwegian forest cat slender. At least twice every day, give your Norwegian forest cat measured portions of food (for adult cats). Avoid leaving food out all day since cats that are free fed have a tendency to eat more than they should, which can make them overweight. Inquire about a nutritious meal for your Norwegian forest cat from your vet or breeder.

  • Friendly with people and pets 

  • Can tolerate cooler temperatures

  • Laid-back and adaptable personality

  • Not a lap cat

  • Coat needs brushing at least weekly

  • Doesn’t do well when left alone a lot

Where to Adopt or Buy a Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian forest cat is not the most uncommon breed of cat, but it is not not the most prevalent. On their separate websites, the Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association both post listings of active Norwegian Forest Cat breeders. Attending a local cat show is a fantastic chance to meet breeders and see cats of many different breeds. Cat exhibitions are entertaining with a relaxed atmosphere, and visitors are always welcome. Search "cat show near me" on the internet to find a cat show in your neighborhood. A Norwegian Forest Cat could wind up at a shelter or with a private cat rescue organization. Breeders with compassion frequently rehome pedigreed cats into new adoptive families.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Norwegian Forest Cat, you might also like these cat breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our other  to help you find the perfect cat for you and your family.

  • How big do Norwegian forest Cats get?

    Full-grown male Norwegian forest cats grow to be about 12 to 16 pounds; with females typically ranging from 9 to 12 pounds.

  • How long do Norwegian forest cats live?

    Norwegian forest cats live from 12 to 16 years.

  • How much are Norwegian forest cats?

    Price varies depending on availability and location, but expect to pay from $600 and $1,200 for your Norwegian forest kitten.

  • When do Norwegian forest cats stop growing?

    Norwegian forest cats don't reach their full size till they're nearly five years old!