Cat Breeds

Norwegian Forest Cat

Isabel Hartley

The Norwegian Forest Cat, a breed steeped in Viking lore, is a natural beauty with a rich history from the forests of Norway. Also known as “Skogkatt” in its homeland, this cat is well-equipped to survive Norway’s cold climate with its long, water-resistant top coat and dense undercoat.

They’re large and muscular animals, reflecting their past as hunters. Males often weigh between 12 to 16 pounds, while females are slightly smaller.

These cats are known for their affectionate and playful personalities, making them great companions for families. They’re not typically lap cats, but they do form strong bonds with their humans and appreciate being part of the household’s daily activities.

The Norwegian Forest Cat has a life expectancy of around 14 to 16 years, which means adopting one is a long-term commitment.

Their striking looks—tufted ears, bushy tails, and bright eyes—complement their warm temperaments. While they may appear regal, they maintain a level of playfulness and enjoy interactive play with their owners.

As a breed, they balance their independent streak with moments of affection, making them well-suited for a variety of homes.

Origins and History

The Norwegian Forest Cat has a rich heritage entwined with Norse mythology and seafaring lore. They’re renowned for their robust build and their history as companions to the Vikings.


The roots of the Norwegian Forest Cat, often called the “Wegie,” are believed to be among the long-haired cats brought to Norway by the Vikings around A.D. 1000. These cats may share common ancestors with other long-haired breeds like the Siberian and the Turkish Angora.

Breed Development

In the early 20th century, the breed gained official recognition in Norway. Tracing back to 1938, the Norwegian Forest Cat Club started in Oslo, Norway. However, World War II disrupted breed development, as the surviving cats often bred with other domestic cats.

It wasn’t until the war ended that fanciers worked to preserve the pure breed, leading to the beloved Wegie known today.

Physical Characteristics

The Norwegian Forest Cat stands out with its luxurious coat and sturdy build, tailor-made for surviving Norway’s harsh climate. This breed is known for its striking appearance that combines both ruggedness and elegance.

Coat and Colors

The Norwegian Forest Cat sports a long, dense coat, which is water-resistant and perfect for the cold environments it originated from. The coat gets thicker during winter, providing exceptional insulation.

This breed’s fur comes in a myriad of colors and patterns, including but not limited to white, black, blue, red, cream, silver, and golden. Common patterns include solid, bi-color, and tabby.

Size and Build

These cats are on the larger side, with a strong, muscular build.

Their long, bushy tails that resemble plumes and their large, pointed ears perched high on the head highlight their large frames and strong bone structures. The size significantly contributes to the breed’s powerful presence and physical capabilities.

Personality and Temperament

Norwegian Forest Cats are known for their friendly demeanor and sociable nature. They blend a playful spirit with a laid-back attitude.

Behavioral Traits

  • Independence: They exhibit a good balance between independence and affection. While they may seek out alone time, they still value companionship.
  • Playfulness: Their playful side often shines through, and they remain kittenish in their behavior well into adulthood.

Interaction With Humans

  • Affection Level: These cats are generally very affectionate with their human families. They enjoy being in the vicinity of their owners but do not constantly demand attention.
  • Social Skills: Exceptionally good with people, the Norwegian Forest Cat makes friends easily and adapts well to busy households or those with other pets.

Care and Health

When raising a Norwegian Forest Cat, owners should focus on regular grooming and be aware of a few health issues specific to the breed.

Grooming Needs

The Norwegian Forest Cat has a long, dense coat that requires consistent care to keep it in good condition. They should be brushed at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

During the shedding season in spring and fall, more frequent brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss.

Health Considerations

Norwegian Forest Cats are generally healthy, but they can be prone to certain conditions:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): A common heart condition in cats that can be found in this breed.
  • Glycogen Storage Disease IV: A rare hereditary condition to be aware of, though responsible breeders screen for this.

To ensure their health, regular veterinary check-ups are crucial. They may require more calories if very active, so a high-protein diet is beneficial for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we tackle some common questions that prospective owners and enthusiasts often have about Norwegian Forest Cats, from costs to breed characteristics.

How much does a Norwegian forest cat typically cost?

Based on current market trends, a Norwegian Forest Cat can typically range from $900 to $1,500. The price can vary based on factors like lineage and the breeder’s reputation.

Can I find Norwegian forest cats available for adoption?

Yes, they are occasionally available for adoption at shelters and through rescue organizations, although less frequently than more common breeds

What are the main differences between a Norwegian forest cat and a Maine coon?

Norwegian Forest Cats and Maine Coons have distinct lineages, with the former originating from Norway and the latter from the United States.

Norwegian Forest Cats also tend to have a more triangular face, a stronger body structure, and a thicker double coat than Maine Coons.

Are Norwegian forest cats known for enjoying cuddles and being held?

While individual personalities vary, Norwegian forest cats are generally known to be affectionate and enjoy human company, but they may not always prefer being held or cuddled on laps.

How can you identify a Norwegian forest cat?

They have a sturdy build, long, dense fur, tufted ears, and a bushy tail. Their coat is water-resistant, and they have strong hind limbs.

Are Norwegian forest cats common in the United States?

Norwegian forest cats are not as common as some other breeds in the United States. However, their popularity has been growing, and they can be found across the country.