The Norwegian Forest Cat

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All About The Norwegian Forest Cat

All About The Norwegian Forest Cat breed. Photos of cats and kittens, description, colors, breed information, history and more on this affectionate feline.

All About The Norwegian Forest Cat. Photos of cats and kittens, description, colors, breed information, history and more on this affectionate feline.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is an attractive cat with a pretty coat and good looks. This cute cat originated centuries ago in Northern Europe. It is known thus in its native lands as Norsk Skogkatt, meaning literally ‘Norwegian Forest Cat’.

Though it is a natural breed, it is neither a wild cat nor feral. In face it was quite common as a domestic cat in Norway before it was formally appreciated and recognized as a breed in Germany in the late nineteen thirties.

Norwegian Forest Cat Overview

The cat’s appearance is a customization to the wintry climate of Scandinavia. The coarse double layered coat protects it from cold and the large size retains warmth better as in case of the Maine Coon. In fact many consider the Norwegian Forest Cat to be an ancestor of the Maine Coon, even as the former is slightly smaller in size.

Males reach close to twenty pounds in weight occasionally, with females being half that size. Coat exists in a variety of colors and patterns and is woolly underneath and glossy on the surface.

Profile is straight and hind legs are longer than front legs. Face is triangular with almond shaped eyes, tufted ears and an overall expression that is quite sweet and endearing.

A slow growing breed, Norwegian Forest Cats take between four to five years before they are fully developed. They are compact and independent felines and are quite capable of moving about in the outdoors and withstanding cold climates. Their distinct bushy tail and impressive mane are not just a source of great beauty but also effective protection in low temperatures.

Norwegian Forest Cat Photos 1

Norwegian Forest Cat Personality

Intelligent and playful, the Norwegian Forest Cats share many attributes with Maine Coons. They are sweet yet not overly demanding and are quite adept at grooming and maintaining themselves, being at ease in a large household. These robust animals are good climbers and are well built for an active lifestyle.

Natural athletes, Norwegian Forest Cats love to investigate counters, bookcases, and the loftiest peaks of their cat trees. Wegies are active and playful and retain their fun-loving spirit well into adulthood.

But don’t be fooled by the breed’s impressive muscles and all-weather exterior. They are sweet, friendly, and family-oriented, and they love their human companions. Despite the wild years in the forests of Norway—or perhaps because of it—they would much rather cuddle than prowl.

Because of those harsh survival years (perhaps), nothing fazes them much, either. They take new people and new situations in stride. As cats go, Forest Cats are the strong, silent types. They are conversely great purrers, particularly when perched beside their favorite humans. Out-going and gregarious, they tend not to bond with one person, but rather love everyone unconditionally and enthusiastically.

Norwegian Forest Cat Photos 2

The friendly, laid back Norwegian Forest Cat is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect. And he doesn’t mind playing dress-up or going for a ride in a baby buggy.

He is happy to live with other cats and cat-friendly dogs, too, thanks to his amiable disposition. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.

Norwegian Forest Cat Colors and Coat

Weggies come in almost every color and pattern, with or without white. With the exceptions of chocolate, lavender or lilac, or a pointed pattern like that of the Siamese.

The Norwegian Forest Cat’s distinguishing double coat varies in length according to the time of year. The cat goes through a spring molting, when the winter coat is shed. Then it sheds again in the fall when the summer coat departs. At these times of year, thorough combing is necessary unless you want seasonal layers of cat hair on everything.The rest of the year the Forest Cat requires minimal grooming since it tends to keep it’s coat, perhaps remembering those harsh winters.

Norwegian Forest Cat Photos 4

Norwegian Forest Cat Health and Care

Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Norwegian Forest Cats are generally healthy, with a long life span of 14 to 16 years. The following diseases have been seen in the breed:

  • Glycogen Storage Disease IV, a rare heritable condition that affects metabolism of glucose.  Most kittens with the disease are stillborn or die within a few hours of birth, but occasionally a kitten will not show signs until about 5 months of age and usually die within a few months. A DNA test is available that can identify affected and carrier cats.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is inherited in some cat breeds such as the Maine Coon. Heritability has not been proven in the Norwegian Forest Cat.
  • Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition that progressively destroys the kidneys. No DNA test for the disease is available for Norwegian Forest Cats, but the disease can be detected through ultrasound as early ass 10 months of age.
  • Retinal dysplasia, an eye defect that causes spots on the retina but does not worsen the cat’s vision.

Norwegian Forest Cat Photos 3

Norwegian Forest Cat History

The Norwegian forest cat originally inhabited Norway’s forests and was known by local farmers as a large, hardy animal with superior hunting skills. Breeders did not raise the cat until after World War II (1939-1945), by which time it had nearly disappeared.

The Norwegian Forest Cat, called the skogkatt (forest cat) in Norway, is a natural breed. Despite its feral appearance is not a descendant or a hybrid of any wild cat species. Forest Cats probably arrived in Norway from Europe, descendants of domestic cats introduced to northern Europe by the Romans. It developed from a mutation, a change in breed characteristics that occurred naturally rather than through a selective process by cat breeders.

Norse mythology mentions huge Norwegian cats in its lore about the gods. In one fable, two of these cats pulled the chariot of Freya, a goddess of fertility. It is supposed that the Norwegian Forest Cat has existed for a long time, since several mentions of large, longhaired cats exist in Norse mythology. Estimates of when these cat tales were written vary greatly. Most Norse myths were passed down by oral tradition and were finally recorded in what was called the Edda poems, written sometime between 800 A.D. and 1200 A.D. These myths suggest that domestic cats have been in Norway for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Whether the cats portrayed in the myths are Forest Cats is subject to debate.

When cats arrived in the northern countries, most likely with human settlers, traders, or crusaders, the breed’s progenitors were probably shorthaired, since the cats transported by the Romans came from Egypt (generally) and were shorthaired varieties. The cats survived and in time adapted to the severe climate. Northern Norway, where the sun never sets from May 12 to August 1, and where the winter nights are correspondingly long and dark, proved a harsh test for these cats. Over the centuries of prowling the Norwegian forests, they developed long, dense, water-resistant coats, hardy constitutions, quick wits, and well-honed survival instincts.

The first efforts to have the Forest Cat recognized as a distinct breed began in the 1930s. The first Norwegian cat club was founded in 1934, and in 1938 the first Forest Cat was exhibited at a show in Oslo, Norway. World War II, however, put a damper on all cat breeding and showing, and after the war the breed came close to extinction. Interbreeding with Norway’s shorthaired domestic cat (called the hauskatt) threatened the Forest Cat’s existence as a pure breed. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the cat fanciers of Norway started a serious breeding program to preserve the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Wegies (as Forest Cats are affectionately known) introduced in the United States in 1979. The same year, a small group of American fanciers founded the Norwegian Forest Cat Fanciers’ Association and began working to get the Forest Cat recognized by North American cat registries. TICA, the first to recognize the breed, accepted the Wegie for Championship competition in 1984. The breed attained CFA Championship status in 1993 and won over the last association, ACA, in 1995.

Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Standard

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a sturdy cat with a distinguishing double coat and easily recognizable body shape. It is slow to develop, reaching full maturity at about five years of age.
Solidly muscled and well-balanced; moderate length; substantial bone structure; powerful appearance, showing broad chest and considerable girth without being fat; flank has great depth.
Equilateral triangle; nose straight from brow ridge to tip of nose without break; chin firm and gently rounded in profile; muzzle part of the straight line extending toward the base of the ear without pronounced whisker pads and without pinch.
Medium to large; rounded at tips; broad at base; set as much on the side as on top of the head; heavily furnished; lynx tips desirable but not required.
Large, almond-shaped; well-opened; set at slight angle with outer corner higher than inner. Color should be shade of green, gold, or green-gold; white cats may have blue or odd eyes.
Long and bushy; broader at base.
Double coat consists of dense undercoat covered by long, glossy, and smooth water-resistant guard hairs; frontal ruff; collar at neck; side mutton chops; britches on hind legs; softer coats permitted in shaded, solid, and bicolor cats.
All colors and patterns except those indicating hybridization resulting in chocolate, lilac, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white.
Severe break in nose; square muzzle; whisker pinch; long rectangular body; cobby body; delicate bone structure; crossed eyes; kinked or abnormal tail.
Allowed Outcross

Norwegian Rescue Groups




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