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The Norwegian forest cat, often referred to as the “Wegie,” is a captivating and majestic breed known for its enchanting appearance and charming personality. Originating from the cold forests of Norway, these felines have adapted to a rugged environment, and their distinctive features and characteristics make them a popular choice for cat lovers around the world. 

Keep reading to learn more about the Norwegian forest cat’s unique qualities, care requirements, and the wonderful companionship they can offer as pets. Whether you’re already a proud owner or considering bringing one into your home, this guide will provide you with insights into this stunning and intelligent breed. 

History & Origin of Norwegian Forest Cats 

In contrast to newly discovered cats like the Lykoi , Norwegian forest cats have been a part of Norwegian folklore and culture for centuries. While there are no definitive records, the breed is believed to have a long and storied history. Norwegian forest cats are thought to be a natural breed that evolved over centuries in the forests of Norway, developing unique features to adapt to the harsh, cold, and rugged environment. [1] 

Legends and stories suggest that these cats were companions of the Vikings, serving as shipboard cats on Viking longships and aiding in rodent control. [2] Despite their long history, Norwegian forest cats were not officially recognized as a breed until the mid-20th century. Their distinctive features, such as their waterproof fur and gifted ears, drew attention, and breeders began working to preserve and promote the breed. [1] 

Today, Norwegian forest cats are cherished for their stunning appearance and friendly, outgoing personalities. 

Physical attributes of the Norwegian forest cat

Physical Attributes of Norwegian Forest Cats

  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 8-12 pounds
  • Life expectancy: 13+ years [2]

Norwegian forest cats are renowned for their striking physical appearance. They’re a large, robust breed with well-muscled bodies. Similar to the Maine Coon , the Norwegian forest cat’s most distinctive feature is their long, luxurious double coat, which is designed to keep them warm in their native Scandinavian forests. This dense, water-repellent fur consists of a soft undercoat and a longer, coarse topcoat, giving it a regal appearance. [3]

Their head is triangular, adorned with tufted ears that add to their wild look. Their almond-shaped eyes can come in various colors, including green, gold, and copper. Strong legs and large, round paws support their well-proportioned bodies. [4]

One of the most striking features of Norwegian forest cats is their bushy tail, which is often as long as their body.[3] Their coat can come in various colors and patterns, with tabby being the most common.[3] However, you can also find black Norwegian forest cats. 

Behavioral characteristics of Norwegian forest cats

Behavioral Characteristics of Norwegian Forest Cats

Despite the Norwegian forest cat’s size, they have a unique set of behavioral characteristics that make them exceptional companions. These cats tend to be affectionate and sociable. They have a special knack for forming deep and loving bonds with their human companions and often follow their owners around the house. Their loving and loyal nature makes them a treasured addition to any family, and they thrive on the affection and attention they receive from their human counterparts. [5] 

Intelligence is another hallmark of the Norwegian forest cat’s personality. These cats have active minds that require regular stimulation. Interactive play, puzzle toys , and engaging activities are essential to keep them mentally sharp and content. Their intelligence often translates into an eagerness to explore their environment. [5]

Norwegian forest cats are also playful. Their youthful spirit endears them to people of all ages. They’re enthusiastic playmakers, making them a joy to have around. Whether pouncing on a feathered toy, batting at a string, or chasing shadows, their playful antics bring a sense of delight to their homes. 

These cats are also excellent hunters, which means they thoroughly enjoy interactive play that mimics hunting, such as chasing toys or playing with feather wands. [2] 

In addition to their playful nature, Norwegian forest cats are known for their adaptability and can thrive in various living environments. Whether you live in a bustling city or peaceful countryside, they tend to easily adjust to changes and find ways to enjoy their surroundings. [5] 

Their pleasant demeanor extends beyond their immediate family, although they often choose one person above the others in the household. They tend to do well with children and other pets, including dogs. [2] 

While Norwegian forest cats aren’t excessively vocal, they do have an expressive voice and use it to engage in conversations with their owners. Whether they want attention, have something to say, or want to participate in the household chatter, they’re not shy about using their voices to communicate. [2] 

Norwegian Forest Cat Health Risks

Norwegian forest cats are generally a robust and healthy breed, but like all cats, they can be prone to certain health risks and genetic predispositions. 

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): HCM Is a common heart condition in cats. It involves the thickening of the heart muscles, which can lead to heart failure. Regular veterinary check-ups can help diagnose and manage this condition. 
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency: Norwegian forest cats can be prone to pyruvate kinase deficiency, an inherited disease of the red blood cells that leads to anemia. Affected cats typically don’t display severe symptoms, and the condition progresses slowly. Signs may include fatigue and decreased appetite, and it often becomes apparent around the age of 3. 
  • Glycogen storage disease type IV: Glycogen storage disease type IV is an inherited condition that disrupts glucose metabolism in cats, leading to energy production abnormalities. Symptoms can be severe and include weakness, muscle atrophy, and inability to use their limbs. This condition affects cats from birth or becomes apparent around five months of age. [5]

Shop cat products and more from our pharmacy to support your Norwegian forest cat’s health. 

Caring For a Norwegian Forest Cats

Caring for a Norwegian forest cat involves providing the appropriate environment, nutrition, grooming, and medical care to ensure their well-being. 

  • Environment: Norwegian forest cats are adaptable, but they thrive in spacious, safe environments where they can exercise their agility. They enjoy climbing, so cat trees and shelves can be great additions to your home. These cats are also known for their love of the outdoors, so if you have a secure outdoor space, they'll appreciate it. Make sure it's escape-proof to prevent them from wandering too far. [2]
  • Nutrition : Providing a balanced diet is crucial. Cats can be prone to obesity, so it's important to monitor their food intake and provide high-quality cat food. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your specific cat's needs.
  • Grooming: Their luxurious double coat requires regular grooming, especially during seasonal shedding. Brushing a few times a week can help prevent matting and reduce loose fur around your home. Their fur is also water-resistant, so they may not mind occasional baths. [6]
  • Vet care: Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor their overall health and address any potential health issues promptly. Vaccinations and preventive treatments for parasites should be part of their healthcare routine. As they can be susceptible to certain inherited conditions, consider genetic testing when obtaining your cat from a breeder.
  • Exercise and play: Norwegian forest cats are active and playful. Engage them with interactive toys and playtime to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. They have a strong hunting instinct, so feather toys or puzzle feeders can be entertaining for them.
  • Love and attention: Above all, these cats thrive on love and attention. They're known for their loyalty and will appreciate being part of your family. Whether playing or just sitting with you, their presence is a source of warmth and companionship.

FAQs

Are Norwegian forest cats snuggly?

Norwegian forest cats often form strong bonds with their human companions. While they don’t tend to be lap cats, they’ll often perch behind or near you. These cats are known for their loyalty and will often seek out your company, whether following you around the house or cuddling beside you. Keep in mind that all cats are different. One Norwegian forest cat may be snuggly, while another prefers to spend time away from its pet parents. 

Are Norwegian forest cats good pets?

Norwegian forest cats can make excellent pets for many households. Their combination of striking physical beauty, gentle and affectionate nature, and playful personality makes them highly desirable companions. They're known for forming strong bonds with their human families, getting along well with children and other pets, and offering a loving and loyal presence. 

While their thick fur requires regular grooming, their adaptable and easy going temperament makes them a popular choice for cat lovers. Keep in mind that every cat is different. Some may experience cat anxiety in various environments while others don’t, and every cat has a distinct personality. 

Do Norwegian forest cats like to be held?

Norwegian forest cats generally have a friendly disposition, and many of them enjoy being held. However, individual preferences vary from cat to cat. Some Norwegian forest cats may eagerly accept being held. Others may be more independent and prefer to sit beside their owners rather than being held for extended periods. 

You should respect your cat’s boundaries when it comes to physical contact. If your cat enjoys being held, it can be a wonderful way to bond with them, but if they show signs of discomfort or resistance, it’s best to let them choose the level of interaction that makes them comfortable.

Norwegian forest cat perched in a cat tree

Final Notes

Norwegian forest cats are characterized by their striking appearance and affectionate, intelligent personalities. However, their adaptability and friendly disposition are balanced by a need for regular grooming and attention to potential health issues. 

With proper care and affection, Norwegian forest cats make exceptional pets, offering charm and delightful companionship to those who welcome them into their homes. Keep in mind that the well-being of your cat hinges on access to high-quality veterinary care. Dutch ensures all pets receive the care and attention they need to thrive. Try Dutch today to get quality pet care from the comfort of your home. 

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References

  1. Norwegian Forest Cat Facts - Wisdom PanelTM Cat Breeds.” Facts - Wisdom PanelTM Cat Breeds, www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/cat-breeds/norwegian-forest-cat.

  2. Patterson, Jonathan. “Norwegian Forest.” The International Cat Association, tica.org/breeds/browse-all-breeds?view=article&id=1875. 

  3. “About the Norwegian Forest Cat.” The Cat Fanciers Association Inc, cfa.org/norwegian-forest-cat/

  4. “Norwegian Forest Cat .” The Cat Fanciers’ Association, cfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/norwegian-forest-cat-standard.pdf.

  5. Findlay, Sonia. “Norwegian Forest Cats: What to Know.” WebMD, 25 July 2022, www.webmd.com/pets/cats/what-to-know-about-norwegian-forest-cats.

  6. Morrison, Barri J. “Norwegian Forest Cats: What to Know.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/pets/cats/what-to-know-about-norwegian-forest-cats.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.