Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large breed with a distinctive shaggy semi-long coat. This is an easy-going, playful and affectionate cat that likes being close to people. These cats like to follow and observe their owners and will communicate in a soft and undemanding voice.
Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat Characteristics (Quick Facts)

Size: Large. Average body.

Intelligence: Medium.

Exercise Needs: Needs decent exercise.

Ability to Adapt: High. Adjusts quickly.

Shedding: Moderate shedding.

Average Lifespan: From 14-16 years.

Price: From $800 and $1200.

Weight: From 7-16 lbs.

Playfulness: Ideal playmate.

Social Skills: Great with children & other pets.

Need for Grooming: Thrice a week.

Health: Very good. Minor health issues.

Hypoallergenic?: No.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large breed from Norway where it is called Norsk skogkatt. Best known for its shabby looking semi-long coat and size, this breed is adapted to harsh climates.

These cats have long sturdy bodies, long legs, and bushy tails. They have long heads, strong chins, and almond-shaped oblong eyes of any color. The double-layered coat is water repellent and consists of a glossy top layer and woolly undercoat.

Despite their wild appearance, this is a gentle and friendly breed.

They like to be close to their people and will follow them around the house.

This moderately active cat stays in shape thanks to short explosive bursts of energy. Thanks to their mellow nature they get along with everyone and are a great choice for homes with children or other pets.

Where Did Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Originate?

The Norwegian Forest is a natural cat breed that can be traced back to the time of Vikings.

It is believed that its ancestors may have included short-haired cats brought by Vikings and long-haired cats brought by Crusaders to Norway. They may have bred with feral stock and later evolved in the breed we know today.

Some Norse legends refer to a skogkatt as a mountain-dwelling fairy cat that can climb sheer rock faces. Since Norwegian Forest is an excellent climber, it is believed that the skogkatt tale refers to its ancestors.

However, the most likely scenario is that the ancestors of this breed served as ship cats on Viking boats. They lived for centuries in the Norwegian forests and were later prized for their hunting abilities and companionship.

The breed was formally discovered by cat enthusiasts in the early 20th century. In 1938, the Norwegian Forest Cat Club was the first organization devoted to this breed.

However, the club’s efforts to preserve the breed were interrupted by World War II. After the war, the club was dedicated to preserve and establish the almost extinct breed.

The breed was imported in the US in 1979 for the first time. The International Cat Association recognized this breed in 1984, followed by The Cat Fanciers Association in 1994.

Today, this breed is recognized by all major cat organization. Furthermore, the Norwegian Forest is the official cat of Norway.

What Does the Norwegian Forest Cat Look Like?

The Norwegian Forest is a large cat with a strongly built and sturdy body. They are characterized by long bodies, long legs, and fluffy tails.

The head is also long and has the shape of an equilateral triangle. These cats have a straight profile and strong chins. The large ears that end with tufts of fur and almond-shaped oblong eyes complete the look.

This breed is distinguished by a semi-long, water-resistant, double coat that is fuller during winter and thinner during summer. The coat comes in every color and pattern possible, except those showing hybridization resulting in colors such as cinnamon, lavender and chocolate.

As per size standards, the Norwegian Forest should be a large cat. The body must be sturdy and well-muscled with significant boning.

Norwegian Forest Cat Colors

This breed starts to develop the adult coat when they are about three months old. It may take several months for your cat to obtain her true plumage.

Furthermore, the coat doesn’t reach its full length and glory until the cat is two years old.

This breed comes in a variety of different colors and patterns. Most common colors are White, Black, Red, Cream, Blue, and Brown. While the most common patterns include tortoiseshell, bi-color, and calico.

Siamese color points and Himalayan Cat’s colors aren’t permitted in the breed’s standard.

Norwegian Forest Cat Personality Traits

This is an easy-going and affectionate breed that likes people. They tend to follow their owners around the house. However, they aren’t clingy and will let you carry on with your chores without seeking attention.

They possess excellent hunting skills and remain always alert and in the mood for chasing and killing mice. Thus, they enjoy games where they can stalk, pounce, and chase a pray. Hone your cat’s skills by letting her play with mice toys.

The Norwegian Forest is a moderately active breed that likes to lie around, but they are known for high-intensity short bursts of energy. They will jump and run around the house in one minute and settle in a cat bed in the next.

Despite their size, they are excellent climbers and enjoy observing their surrounding from high advantage points. Therefore, a tall cat tree is a must if you own a Norwegian Forest. It will keep your cat exercised and allow her to fulfill the natural need for climbing.

This isn’t a particularly vocal breed. However, they will communicate their wishes with meows and chirps. And despite their free-roaming origins, your cat can be completely content living in an apartment and won’t feel compelled to explore your neighborhood.


The breed’s mellow temperament makes it a great option for homes with children and other pets. Although the Norwegian Forest enjoys the company of other pets, it particularly loves to spend time with its owners.

The best way to describe their relationship with you is “on their own terms”. Your Norwegian Forest can be a lap cat, but it will decide when to get on or off your lap.

And since they crave companionship, expect that your cat will insist to be near you in a place of her choosing. Still, they are never demanding and won’t seek attention and affection at all hours of the day.

This smart and intelligent breed likes to play with puzzle toys that will keep them engaged and entertained. Furthermore, you can keep your cat’s brain stimulated by teaching her tricks.

Norwegian Forest Cat Behavior

The Norwegian Forest has a balanced temperament and will rarely develop any behavioral issues in a loving home.

But there are some situations where this breed may develop some problems.

For example, if this cat is neglected it can become depressed, develop separation anxiety, and start urinating outside the litter box. This may further develop into a habit which can be hard to break.

Keep in mind that these issues are rarely seen and that your cat will not exhibit any of them if you care for her properly.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Adaptable to New Surroundings?

Thanks to its forest-dwelling ancestors, the Norwegian Forest has a highly adaptable nature. They react well in new situations and don’t have troubles adjusting to new scenery.

Furthermore, thanks to their social and gentle nature they react well to strangers. This is a moderately active breed with short intervals of high-intensity play. Let your cat play with a variety toy pack to keep her exercised and to avoid boredom.

To keep your cat entertained and healthy play with her more than 20 minutes every day.

Does It Get Along with Children and Other Pets?

The easy-going and kind Norwegian Forest is a great choice for families with children.

They love the attention they receive from kids who treat them with respect. Teach your kid how to dangle a feather teaser and let him play with your cat.

This breed also gets along with other pets especially if they grew up together and enjoys their company.

The moderately active Norwegian Forest can benefit from a cat activity condo. Furthermore, play with your cat twice a day for 10 minutes to keep her content.

The good news is that your cat can play alone and will happily chase after a robotic mouse. However, they are highly social cats that love their owners, and your cat will prefer to play with you.

General Health and Potential Risks

The Norwegian Forest is a healthy breed. However, some health issues are associated with this breed.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat is going to develop any of them. But it is better to learn about any potential risks before bringing a cat home.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This is the most common heart disease seen in cats. It causes an abnormal thickening of one or several areas of the heart. In mild cases, a cat may stay asymptomatic her whole life. However, serious cases can lead to congestive heart failure. Test for this condition is available, so check if your cat has been tested.
  • Hip Dysplasia: It is a hereditary defect that causes abnormal development and degeneration of the hip joint. In mild cases, there is little or no pain. However, severe cases can cause lameness. Treatment can range and includes weight loss, pain meds, and surgery.
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type IV: This is a disorder that causes a deficiency of an essential enzyme that metabolizes glycogen, causing the altered glycogen to accumulate in nerves and muscles. This is a fatal condition and affected kittens die shortly after the birth. However, in some kittens, the disease becomes apparent by 4 to 5 months of age. The test for this condition is available. Moreover, some organizations obligate the breeders to test the cats before placing them into breeding programs.

Norwegian Forest Cat Lifespan

The Norwegian Forest has an average lifespan of 14-16 years. Unfortunately, this breed is prone to certain health problems that can impact their life expectancy.

So, make sure that you buy your cat from a reputable breeder who will give you a health guarantee. Furthermore, check if your cat has been tested for HCM and Glycogen Storage Disease Type IV.

Also, ask the breeder to show you the evidence of hip ratings (excellent, good, or fair) for the kitten’s parents.

Grooming Needs

This breed has a semi-long water-resistant double coat. The coat has a woolly undercoat and a thick top layer. The coat appearance changes according to the weather conditions.

Thus, these cats are fluffy during winter, with full neck ruffs and fluffy tails they can wrap around their bodies. During the summer a downy undercoat disappears, giving them a completely different look.

Generally, this breed needs to be brushed three times a week. Use a stainless-steel comb to distribute skin oils and to remove mats and tangles.

Norwegian Forest Cat Shedding

The Norwegian Forest’s thick double coat goes through a heavy shed during the shedding season. Therefore, you will have to brush your cat more often during the shedding season.

This breed sheds a lot and may not be the best option if you don’t want to deal with cat hairs flying all over your home. To remove as much loose hair as possible use a deshedding tool.

In this section, we answer frequently asked questions about the Norwegian Forest Cat. Read on to learn more about this impressive and gentle cat!

How Much is Norwegian Forest Cat Price?

The exact price of a Norwegian Forest kitten depends on a breeder and several other factors. Generally, you can expect to pay in between $800 and $1200 for a purebred cat.

Pet quality kittens are on the lower end of the price spectrum. Show quality kittens cost more, and you may need to pay a bit extra if you are set on a particular bloodline, coat color and gender.

How Big Do Norwegian Forest Cats Get?

Like with all other cat breeds, male cats are larger and usually weigh from 12-16 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh from 7-10 pounds.

This is a slow maturing breed, and they usually reach their full size by the age of five.

Because of their strong build and large size these cats need to eat more food compared to other cat breeds. To reduce hairball development feed your cat with hairball control cat food.

Generally, these cats tend to stay at their ideal weight. However, make sure that you are feeding your cat according to her age and activity level.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Good Pets?

The gentle, calm, and friendly Norwegian Forest can be best described as having a dog-like personality. They are good with other pets and children and make great pets to any type of home.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Vocal?

In a case that you dislike cats that meow a lot, the Norwegian Forest is the perfect breed for you! Although they know how to meow, they are quiet and meow a lot less than other cat breeds.

Can Norwegian Forest Cats Go Outside?

Being a natural breed, the Norwegian Forest loves the great outdoors and the sense of freedom it gives. You can let your cat to go outside, but it is preferable that you keep it strictly as an indoor cat.

Your cat won’t miss anything being inside and you won’t have to worry about accidents, fights with other cats, and feline transmitted diseases.

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