Norway is a country that seems like a utopia for many people from other countries. As a highly developed country with good living conditions and a low crime rate, it makes no wonder that Norway was ranked as one of the best countries to live in.
Another great thing about Norway is one cat breed, a Norwegian Forest cat. With their long and thick furs, these adorable felines are prepared to deal with harsh winter conditions and steal our hearts!
Norwegian Cat Characteristics
|Fur color||Black, white, gray, blue, red, cream, silver, gold, and brown.|
|Fur pattern||Solid, tabby, bi-color, calico, ticked, tortoiseshell, and shaded.|
|Eye color & shape||Almond-shaped and oblique blue, green, gold, and odd-eyed.|
|Weight||Males 10-20 lbs|
Females 8-18 lbs
|Expected lifespan||8-14 years|
|Temperament||Sweet, loving, affectionate, outgoing, active, territorial, with strong hunter’s instincts.|
|Kids and other pets||Great with children and other pets, especially if socialized early.|
|Sociable and cuddly||Once it bonds with its owners, a Norwegian Forest cat is extremely sociable and cuddly, always being somewhere near its human.|
|Activity level||Highly active cats that need playtime and exercise.|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||Meat-based, protein-rich foods in large quantities. 4-6 meals per day for kittens and cats younger than 5 years, 3-4 meals for mature cats.|
|Grooming||Daily combing and brushing to get rid of knots. Nail trimming and eye and ear cleaning are also required.|
|Shedding||Moderately to high, especially after the winter season.|
History and Origins
Norwegian Forest cats have an interesting history. There are even some legends surrounding these cool cats. It is known that Norwegian Forest cat ancestors were actually British domestic cats that arrived in Norway when Vikings brought them from Great Britain around 1000 AD.
Initially, such cats were most likely ships’ cats whose duty was to keep the population of mice and rats on the Viking ships under control. Later, the cats populated Viking farms as well, where they reproduced among themselves and with longhaired cats introduced by Crusaders centuries later.
With time, Norwegian Forest cats adapted to harsh climates and developed thick and long fur. They lived for centuries in Norway exclusively until cat enthusiasts discovered them in the early 20th century.
Fight For Survival And Recognition
In 1938, the first Norwegian cat organization, the Norwegian Forest Cat Club, started its operations in Oslo. However, the outburst of WW2 a few years later seriously endangered the organization’s efforts to preserve the Norwegian Forest cat breed.
War destruction and spontaneous crossbreeding of Norwegian Forest cats with free-ranging domestic cats brought them to near extinction. Fortunately, the Norwegian Forest Cat Club saved this breed by starting an official breeding program.
In the 1950s, this cat breed finally got the recognition it deserved. King Olav V declared the Norwegian Forest cat the official cat of Norway. Until the 1970s, Norwegian Forest cats weren’t registered as a separate breed since they never even left the country.
Carl-Fredrik Nordane, a Norwegian cat enthusiast, noticed this cat breed and decided to register it. Finally, the Norwegian Forest cat was registered and officially recognized as a cat breed in Europe in the late 1970s and in the USA in 1984.
Nowadays, Norwegian Forest cats are extremely popular in Norway and Sweden, and they are among the most popular cat breeds in the rest of Europe.
Interesting Legends Surrounding The Norwegian Forest Cats
Nordic mythology is full of amazing stories, and some of them even include the Norwegian Forest cats. One legend tells a story about a cat weaving her way in and out of the forest trees, magically appearing and disappearing.
This cat knows what’s in the hearts of men, and she knows things that we are unaware of. With its lustrous tail and rich coat, this cat is certainly a Norwegian Forest cat.
One other legend claims that Norse goddess Freya loved this breed a lot. That’s why many farmers left some milk out for these cats so that Freya blesses the crops and gives them bountiful harvests.
When Loki’s middle child and Thor’s enemy, Jormungand, came to Thor disguised as a Norwegian Forest cat, the strong god of thunder could not lift him and lost the contest.
There are many other interesting stories and legends about this cat. Still, the Norwegian Forest cat is an interesting cat breed even outside the mythology, so let’s go back to the real world!
Norwegian Forest Cat Personality
Norwegian Forest cats are friendly, sociable, loving, and affectionate. Once it bonds with its owners, this cat is a perfect companion that loves interacting with humans.
However, Norwegian cats never forgot their origins as skilled hunters. Even when they live indoors, you will often see Norwegian Forest cats chase their toys like living prey. These cats are also territorial, and they will patrol their surroundings quite frequently.
Norwegian Forest cats are quiet, and although they crave attention, they won’t demand it loudly. Instead, they will wait for their owners to come to them first. These cats won’t meow quite often, but when they do, it can be a bit funny since they produce high-pitched chirp-like sounds.
Another great thing about Norwegian Forest cats is that they are adaptable cats and will easily accept changes in their surroundings. They are also great with both children and other animals, which makes them great pets for large families that already have one pet or more.
Norwegian Forest Cat Appearance
Norwegian Forest cats don’t have any unusual features. Still, they did evolve to adapt to the harsh climate and freezing temperatures in Norway, and their appearance reflects that.
Probably the most important physical feature of animals that live in cold climates is their fur. The fur needs to be thick, long, and insulating to protect the animal from extremely low temperatures.
Such is the case with Norwegian Forest cats, whose long fur is their most prominent feature. Norwegian Forest cats have a dense undercoat covered with water-resistant guard hairs. The coat is fuller in winter than in warmer months.
Norwegian Forest cats can come in many different colors, including black, white, brown, blue, silver, red, cream, and gray. When it comes to patterns, Norwegian Forest cats’ coats can be solid, bi-color, calico, tabby, shaded, and tortoiseshell.
The Norwegian Forest cat’s eyes are almond-shaped, oblique, slightly slanted, and expressive. The most common colors are green, blue, and gold, but many of these cats have hazel green or copper-ish eyes.
Norwegian Forest cats are among the biggest house cat breeds, and they are much bigger than the average domestic breeds. Males are slightly larger than females, and they can weigh 10-20 pounds, while females weigh 8-18 pounds.
Also, males are usually 12-18 inches long, while females are 10-16 inches long. Norwegian Forest cats usually take 5 years to fully develop and mature, which makes no wonder considering their impressive size.
Other Body Characteristics
Norwegian Forest cats are moderately muscular, with wide chests and heavy bone structure. The legs are medium long and muscular, with the hind legs being significantly stronger and a bit longer. The toes are large, firm, and facing outwards. The tail is broad, bushy, and as long as the rest of the body.
The head is shaped like an equilateral triangle facing downwards. the chin is firm, and the muzzle is rounded. The ears are heavily furnished with hair, medium to large, and rounded at the top. The neck is short and muscular.
Daily Life With Norwegian Cat
Norwegian Forest cats are easygoing and undemanding pets, but they still depend on the proper care to be healthy and happy.
Since Norwegian Forest cats are so big that they need to eat more than most other cats to maintain their weight, keep that in mind when deciding on their portion size and frequency of feeding.
Interestingly enough, many Norwegian Forest cat experts claim that these cats can control their portion sizes in relation to their activity levels. Yet, it would be irresponsible to allow the cat to make its meal plans, and if needed, consult the vet to be sure how much and how often you should feed your Norwegian Forest cat.
In general, Norwegian Forest cats need to eat 3-4 times a day if they are fully matured adults. If they are still kittens, they need to eat 5-6 times a day, and if they are younger than 5 years, they need to eat 4-6 times a day.
Just like other cat breeds, Norwegian Forest cats should strictly eat meat and meat-based foods that are rich in animal protein.
Since Norwegian Forest cats are always long-haired, and their fur is even thicker during the winter months, they are susceptible to knots and fur matting if not brushed regularly. To avoid this, use stainless steel combs and brushes to comb and brush their fur daily.
Regular brushing is especially necessary between winter and spring when these cats lose some of their undercoat hairs to prepare for the incoming warmer months. With frequent brushing during this time of the year, you can significantly reduce the amount of shedding.
Since longhaired cats are more prone to having hairballs stuck in their stomachs, part of your grooming routine should be giving your Norwegian Forest cat a hairball remedy occasionally. This remedy will prevent the buildup of hair in the stomach and potential health complications. Of course, before giving any sort of medication or supplement to your cat, consult your vet first.
Nail trimming is also important, so make sure to keep your cat’s nails a proper length by trimming them every two weeks. Use a damp cloth to clean your cat’s eyes if they get dirty. Also, if you notice its ears getting dirty, make sure to clean them too.
Norwegian Forest cats are highly active and playful but can also be calm when needed. Since their hunting instincts are still very strong, get them toys that can serve as a substitute for prey. Cat trees and scratching stations are also absolute necessities, but you also need to dedicate some of your time to these cats.
You can play various games with them, from hide-and-seek to fetch. If you leash train them, you can also take them for outside walks. And, contrary to most other house cat breeds, Norwegian Forest cats can be let outside to play and explore.
This is especially true if you live in a more rural area with less traffic and other houses around. Additionally, if you live near the forest or a small grove, it will be your cat’s favorite place. Still, even though they can survive outside even for prolonged periods of time, keep an eye on your Norwegian Forest cat while it plays.
Most Common Norwegian Forest Cat Health Issues
Norwegian Forest cats are quite healthy, but as a pedigreed cat breed, they are prone to some congenital health issues.
Glycogen Storage Disease Type IV
This condition is seen exclusively in Norwegian Forest cats, and it is characterized by an abnormality of glucose metabolism. The bodies of affected cats cannot process glucose from the food, necessary for having enough energy for various processes.
Most cats with this condition die during or shortly after birth because their bodies don’t have enough energy to go through the birth process or survive the first few hours.
Rarely the kittens with glycogen storage disease type IV will survive for a few months, and they will even look normal. However, at one point, their body will start to go through neuromuscular degeneration, with symptoms such as muscle weakness, atrophy, immobility, and contractions. Such kittens often die from heart failure.
Hip dysplasia is common among many cat breeds, and the Norwegian Forest cat is no exception. Cat with hip dysplasia have difficulty walking because the hip bone doesn’t cover the thigh bone as it should, making the moving process painful.
Fortunately, this condition can be treated with physical treatments, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery for more severe cases. If you notice your Norwegian Forest cat having an unusual limp while walking or trying to bite and lick its hip area a little too often, it could be a sign of hip dysplasia, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
Another common feline disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is a condition in which parts of the heart wall muscles grow too thick and reduce the heart’s efficiency. The heart with this anomaly has a decreased chamber volume, and its beats rapidly all the time.
As a result, oxygen usage is increased, which can lead to the oxygen starvation of the heart muscle. The heart’s cells slowly start to die off, which makes the whole condition even worse and even leads to arrhythmia.
In the worst cases, this will live to heart failure or the formation of blood clots in the heart, both of which can be fatal. However, if diagnosed and treated on time, this condition doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can live long and happy lives as long as their condition is monitored and kept under control.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Also known as hemolytic anemia, pyruvate kinase deficiency occurs when the pyruvate enzyme stops the red blood cells from metabolizing properly, eventually leading to anemia. It is a genetic disease that affects several cat breeds, with the Norwegian Forest cat breed being one of them.
Some of the most common symptoms are weakness, lethargy, jaundice, loss of appetite, and fast heart beating. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet. Unfortunately, the only available treatment for pyruvate kinase deficiency is a bone marrow transplant, which is an expensive and risky procedure.
Still, maybe your vet will be able to prescribe some other medications or dietary supplements that might make the whole situation more bearable for your furry friend.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
Although most cats affected by this disease are Persian cats, some of them are Norwegian Forest cats. Another condition caused by genetic disorders, polycystic kidney disease, is characterized by multiple cysts forming on the kidneys.
These cysts will cause the kidneys to malfunction, and in the more severe cases, they will cause kidney failure. If your cat is showing symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, vomiting, excessive thirst, trouble urinating, and even high fever, don’t delay taking it to the vet.
Fortunately, this condition is curable, and depending on the severity, the vet will prescribe various medications or administer fluid therapy.
Norwegian Forest Cat Name Suggestions
Due to the Norwegian Forest cat’s place in Norse mythology, many of their owners like to give them Nordic names. However, other names can also be great choices, so let’s take a look at some of them:
Buying or Adopting A Norwegian Forest Cat?
Although the Norwegian Forest cat is not as common in the USA as some other breeds, you can still probably find it in some shelters and adopt it. If you do find it, the adoption will cost you approximately $75-$150.
On the other hand, if you don’t have time or patience to look through multiple shelters, then buying is the better option. Also, when you buy the Norwegian Forest cat from a reputable breeder, you can rest assured that the cat is pedigreed and healthy.
Usually, kittens are sold only after they are 12-16 weeks old. It is important to let them stay with their mothers for a relatively long time because it enables them to develop properly, both physically and mentally. Ask for health certificates and recommendations from previous buyers.
It will cost you $800-$1500 to buy a Norwegian Forest cat, depending on its age, pedigree, and physical attributes. However, having such a lovely and beautiful cat is priceless!
Norwegian Forest Cat Alternatives
Norwegian Forest cats can be a bit hard to find in the US, so you might wonder if you should get another cat instead. Or, you might stumble upon a Norwegian Forest cat breeder, but you still want to choose another breed instead.
If any of the above is your case, but you still like how Norwegian Forest cats look, you are in luck because there are some good alternatives to this breed. The first one is definitely a Maine Coon cat, a breed that’s just as fluffy and big as the Norwegian forest cats.
Since cat breeds that are as big and long-haired as Norwegian Forest cats are rare, you could consider getting a long-haired breed that won’t be as big as a Norwegian Forest cat or Maine Coon. I’m thinking about Persian, Turkish Angora,Birman, and Siberian cats. They are medium-sized but just as fluffy and beautiful as Norwegian Forest cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Norwegian Forest cats are loving, affectionate, sweet, and playful pets that get along with children and other pets too, which makes them good pets.
In Norway and Sweden, Norwegian Forest cats are quite common, but in the US, it is a completely different story. Here in the states, Norwegian Forest cats are quite rare, but their number is slowly rising.
Although the Norwegian Forest cat is one of the biggest cat breeds, Maine Coon is still bigger.
Norwegian Forest cats live for 12-14 years on average, but some can live even longer.
No, Norwegian Forest cats aren’t hypoallergenic, and they shed quite a lot, which can trigger allergies.
Norwegian Forest Cat Fun Facts
- Norwegian Forest cats are often nicknamed Wegies, so if you find their official name too long, you can call your cat Wegie!
- As you can guess from their names, Norwegian Forest cats are excellent tree climbers, and when outside, you can often see them having the time of their life on top of a tree.
- Speaking of tree climbing, Norwegian Forest cats descend the trees face first, which is unusual for cats. Cats usually go with their hind legs first when cautiously descending the tree, but not the Norwegian Forest cat.
Apart from being cute giants of the cat world, Norwegian Forest cats have an interesting history, and the fact that they were an important part of Norse mythology makes them even cooler! Besides, they are a relatively rare cat breed in the United States, and if you like rare and uncommon things, then getting a Norwegian Forest cat could be a great choice for you.
Last but not least, Norwegian Forest cats are sweet, loving, gentle, and affectionate animals that create strong bonds with their owners, so if you are looking for a pet that will be your loyal companion for many years, consider getting a Norwegian Forest cat!