Harper Jefcoat
Harper Jefcoat

Norwegian Forest Cat: A Complete Breed Profile

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17 min read

Norwegian Forest Cat

On This Page

  • History and Overview: Origins of the Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Norwegian Forest Cat Size and Physical Appearance
  • Norwegian Forest Cat Personality Traits
  • Norwegian Forest Cat Diet and Eating Habits
  • Health Conditions of the Cat
  • Care and Grooming
  • Norwegian Forest Cat with other Pets and Kids
  • Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Main Coon vs. Siberian Cat - What are the Differences?
  • Norwegian Forest Cat as an ESA

If you are fond of unique and big cats then a Norwegian Forest Cat will definitely pique your fancy and admiration. Also known as the “Skogkatts” in their native hometown, these cats are large and have semi-long hair. Due to its rugged and not-so-perfect appearance, they got their name, forest cat. Like other cats, these guys love to stay at home and spend time with their human family and companions.

These cats are a perfect mix of lap cats and independent cats as they are very independent and do their thing, and on their own terms. As the cats do, they love to have ample personal space and time. These cats are moderately active. This means that at times they could be very active and playful but will need a long nap afterward.

These felines are very sensitive and intelligent and they love to socialize and be around their human companions and family members. Besides, there are several other cat breeds that do great with humans and are known for different qualities.

In this blog, you will get all the information about this beautiful and feisty feline and how they make great pets and emotional support animals.

History and Overview: Origins of the Norwegian Forest Cat

What is a Norwegian Forest Cat?’ The Norwegian Forest Cat is a native and official cat of Norway, as designated by King Olaf, and it got its name from its sturdy and rather rugged kind of look. The history of these cats dates back to hundreds and thousands of years. Popularly, the cats are portrayed in the legends and fairy tales as the chariot drawers of Freya, a Norse goddess. However, there is not much known about how the breed came into existence.

However, as per some speculations and given to their semi-long haired appearance, they may have been the descendants of the long haired cats from Turkey. The Scandinavian soldiers serving the Byzantine empire may have brought them with themselves or they could also have been a distant relative of the Siberian cats.

Besides, these cats could also be a result of the natural selection and adaptation of the shorthaired cats to the cold and harsh Arctic climate and weather. They have woolly undercoats and long topcoats that are efficient in shedding water effectively and easily. This heavy coat also helps them in withstanding hot climate and protect their skin from sunburns.

The word Skogkatt means forest cat and for centuries, these cats have worked as mousers for farmers and housewives. Usually, they are looking for a solution for mice in the barns and charge nothing more than a place to live and food. The breed first came into the limelight in a 1938 cats show and exhibition but due to some political conditions and World War II, the breed did not get enough time to be developed further.

In 1977, the breed was registered with Europe’s Federation Internationale Feline and it came to the United States and became quite popular after a few years. These long-haired cats are a treasure for a cat fancier who is looking for a beautiful and rather rugged kind of feline.

How Much Does a Norwegian Forest Cat Cost?

The price depends on whether you are adopting or buying the cat. To adopt it, it will cost you $75 to $100 while if you are buying it from a breed then it can cost you anywhere between $600 to $1,500.

Norwegian Forest Cat Size and Physical Appearance

‘How big do Norwegian Forest Cats get?’

These cats belong to the family of big cats and given their size, they could weigh anywhere between 13 to 22 pounds or even more. The female cats are comparatively smaller than the male cats. These cats are slow to grow and mature and would take up to 5 years to fully grow and mature into their signature large size. These pedigreed cats have an inverted triangle kind of look.

    • Body: These cats have solid, well-muscled and balanced bodies. They have medium length and have a very powerful and domineering appearance. They have a solid bone structure with a broad chest, deep flank, and balanced fat to muscle ratio. The males could be larger than females that would be more refined and smaller in structure.
    • Head: Norwegian Forest Cats have equilateral triangle-shaped heads that are equal from all sides. They have short necks and have heavy and well-defined muscles. Their nose is ‘accurately’ straight with a flat forehead and softly curved skull.

The chin is firm and ideally, it must be in line with the nose. The muzzle is extended in a straight line and the whisker pads are low key and without any pinch.

    • Ears: They could have either medium or large ears that are broad, have rounded tips, and are set as apart and top of the head as possible. The ears have a heavy coat of fur on them and they follow the outside line of the head and down the chin.
    • Eyes: These felines have large and beautiful almond-shaped eyes that are very expressive and sit at a slight angle. The common eye colors of these cats vary from gold, green, copper, and green-gold. However, white cats or cats having white fur in their coats may have blue or dual colored pairs of eyes.
    • Color of the Coat: These felines could come in different colors and variations but no matter what it is, the color and patterns are clear and well defined. Cats having the classic mackerel shade and the ones having spotted patterns, usually have well marked and even coat design and pattern.
    • Type of the Coat: These cats have well-distinguished double coats and dense undercoats. Moreover, these undercoats are covered with long, shiny, and smooth guard hairs that are water-resistant and they hang quite low and down the sides of the cat’s structure. The front part of the bib of the cat has three sections including a short collar at the neck, frontal ruff, and mutton chops located at the side.

The fur reaches its full length and development in the winters. Cats having softy coats have shades that come with solid and bi-color shades. However, a Norwegian Forest Cat may not be a good option for people who are prone to allergies. They are not hypoallergenic and may even cause more allergies than other cats.

If looking for a hypoallergenic cat, there are a number of hypoallergenic cat breeds that make great house animals and will cause fewer allergies.

  • Legs and Paws: The legs are medium in length and the hind legs are longer than the front ones. This is why their rump is higher than their shoulders and the thighs are strongly muscled. The paws are large and they have heavy fur tufts and rounded tips.
  • Tail: The cat has a long and bushy tail that is somewhat broader at the base. The length of the tail has the same length as the whole body of the cat, from the tail to the neck. The tail may also have guard hair.

Norwegian Forest Cat Personality Traits

The major personality traits of Norwegian Forest cats are as follows:

  • Gentle and Friendly: These acts are very friendly and gentle in nature. They are very social and they love spending time with their human family members. Though very friendly with the family, these cats could be really reserved with new people like your guests and strangers.
  • Require Less Attention: They are rather personal and do not demand a lot of attention and affection. They are very good at entertaining themselves and they do not mind being alone at home also.
  • Petting Needs: They are not your usual lap kitties and some petting between the ears is enough for them to know that you love them.
  • Great Climbers: These cats are great climbers and when bringing one of these felines home, you will need to have a good quality cat climber and scratching post to keep it busy and happy.
  • Fearless: They are quite fearless also as they could easily get down from any high point with their head forward. Though they love to have an outdoor life, they are perfectly happy and content to stay inside and with their family.
  • Quick Learner: This cat is very smart and independent and this is why she learns new skills quickly. Since these cats used to work on the farms and lived in the wild, these cats have a waterproof and powerfully structured coat.

This cat is very smart and independent and this is why she learns new skills quickly. She loves playing with the family and they have a very alert natur

Norwegian Forest Cat Diet and Eating Habits

Hailing from the background of hunter cats, these felines prefer having a diet that is high in protein and has minimal to no carbohydrates. These cats could be picky if they do not like the food but you can correct the behavior by experimenting with different cat food options.

Usually, a housebroken cat will need about 20 calories per pound of its body weight. When feeding wet food to your cat, a can of wet cat food contains about 200 to 250 calories, which means that a 10-pound cat will need one can a day.

The kittens eat more than the adults and they will need three rich meals a day. Once they are a year old, cut back the meals to one meal per day. If you are feeding your cat two times a day then keep the meals 12 hours apart.

Which food is the best for a Norwegian Forest Cat? Since this cat used to live in the world, she is accustomed to having raw food. But there are other options available in the market. Cats need high-quality cat food to stay healthy and happy, therefore, choose high quality and vet recommended cat food for your beloved feline.

The best way of making sure that your cat gets the right kind of nutrition is by sticking to a schedule. Keep dry food at a minimal or as a supplementary option. If your cat does not have any special dietary requirements then base her diet mostly on wet food options and give her raw food occasionally.

Health Conditions of the Cat

Generally, these cats are quite healthy but both the purebred and mixed breeds could have a number of genetic diseases.

“How long do Norwegian Forest Cats live?”

These cats have an impressive life expectancy of 14 to 16 years of age, which means that you have a good number of years to live with them.

The health of the cat depends on a number of factors like its general health, level of activity and dietary habits, and routine.

Some of the common health issues that a Norwegian Forest Cat could suffer from are given below.

  • Glycogen Storage Disease IV: This is a rare hereditary disease that influences the metabolism of glucose. Most of the kittens that have this condition are either stillborn or die shortly after birth. The signs and symptoms of this disease usually appear after 5 months but you can do a DNA test to know if the kitten has this disease.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This heart disease is more common in cat breeds including Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat. however, whether the disease is genetic or not is still a question.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease: It is a genetic disease that affects and damages the kidneys of the cat. There is no test that could help in identifying the condition but you can detect it when your cat is 10 months old and through an ultrasound.
  • Retinal Dysplasia: This is an eye condition that could appear in Norwegian Forest Cats. Under this condition, some spots appear on the cat’s retina but this does not affect your cat’s ability to see.

Since your Norwegian Forest Cat is prone to these health conditions, you must take your feline to the veterinarian regularly and keep up with its health condition and vaccination.

Care and Grooming

Since these cats have long hair, you will have to groom your cat regularly. Brush the coat with a brush at least twice a week. However, you must use a good grooming brush like a bristle brush, wire slicker brush, or a stainless steel comb. If the cat is having tangles, be gentle, and make sure that you do not hurt the cat in the process.

Since the breed has a heavy fur coat, it may need an occasional bath to stay clean and tidy. However, thanks to the feline’s waterproof coat, you will have a hard time getting it all wet. Besides bathing, you will have to clean your cat’s teeth regularly to avoid and prevent periodontal disease. You can either do it daily or weekly brushing will also be sufficient to keep your cat’s teeth clean.

For the eyes, use a damp cloth to wipe away any dirt and use different wipes or pieces of cloth for each eye. Check the ears on a weekly basis and if dirty, clean them with a wet cotton ball or a damp cloth. Use a mixture of 50-50 cider vinegar and warm water for cleaning purposes. Do not use cotton swabs because they could damage the inner side of the ears.

Clean your cat’s litter box as much as possible and make sure that you take it out regularly. This will keep your cat’s fur clean and healthy.

Though the cat’s unusual and heavy fur helps keep it safe from the cold climates, it is better that you keep your cat inside. This will protect it from a number of dangers like being hit by a car, attacks from stray cats and dogs, and from being stolen also. Since these cats are unusual and expensive, there is no dearth of people who would love to have them but without paying the price.


Norwegian Forest Cat with other Pets and Kids

These cats are very friendly and easygoing. This is why they make an ideal choice for families with kids and other pets like dogs that are good with cats. They love to be the center of attention and they like polite and gentle kids.

Moreover, these cats do not mind playing with kids and dressing up for them. They are very happy and content playing and living with other pets, cats, and cat-friendly dogs.

However, you must introduce and bring new pets slowly and gradually. They will need some time to get familiar and along with the new members.

Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Main Coon vs. Siberian Cat - What are the Differences?

Maine Coon and Siberian are other large cat breeds that look quite similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat. This is why many people are often confused between these breeds. Below, we have explained and listed some significant differences between these three breeds.

Maine CoonNorwegian Forest CatSiberian Cat
Maine, USAScandinavia, Northern EuropeSiberia, Russia
A Large BreedA Large BreedA Large Breed
19 to 40 inches12 to 18 inches15 to 18 inches
  • Male: 10 to 16 inches
  • Female: 8 to 14 inches
  • Male: 9 to 12 inches
  • Female: 9 to 12 inches
  • Overall: 10 to 12 inches
  • Male: 15 to 25 pounds
  • Female: 8 to 12 pounds
  • Male: 1 to 20 pounds
  • Female: 8 to 18 pounds
  • Male: 15 to 20 pounds
  • Female: 10 to 15 pounds
The Shape of the Head
Wedge-shaped, square muzzle, high cheekbones, medium wide and somewhat longer faceEquilateral triangle head and flat foreheadModified wedge, corners more rounded in shape than the Maine Coon
The Shape of the Nose
Softly curving noseStraight nose, from brow ridge to nose tipBroad and narrows at the tip, slight concave in shape
The Shape of the Eyes
Large, expressive, wide-set eyes, oval when opened, has a bit oblique setting, inclining towards the outer side of the earLarge, expressive, almond-shaped, set at a slight angle, inner corner lower than the outer cornerLarge, almost oval in shape, widely set apart, a bit angled to the lower end of the ear
Shape and Size of the Muzzle and Chin
Medium length, square. strong and well proportionedSoftly rounded, firm chin, normal whisker pads; not very visible, not very pinchedNormal whisker pads and muzzle and no triangle-shaped head
Size of Neck
MediumShort and heavily muscledMedium and well-muscled
Size and Shape of Ears
Lynx like ear tufts, ears tapered and pointed, large ears, wide at the base and set high on the headLynx like ear tufts, medium-large ears with a broad base, rounded at the tip, set on side of the headMedium, wide at the base and with a rounded tip, set wide apart and top of the head, tilting forward
Type of Coat
Thick, smooth, fluffy, shaggy, uneven, and with a short undercoatSilky, fluffy, even, glossy, and with long hair and a double coatTriple coat with heavy ruff, particularly in winters, medium-length hair on body
Type of Tail
Long, thick, flowing, bushy tailLong, bushy tail with a broad base and long sweeping hairNot as long as two other breeds, blunt at the end, drapes down to both sides
The Shape of the Body
Long, well-proportioned, rectangular, and muscular bodyMedium, square, muscular and broad bodyHeavy, moderate in length, rump a bit higher than the whiskers, a bit arched back, muscular body, well-shaped belly
The Shape of Legs and Feet
Large paws with round shape, heavy tufts of hair, four toes at back and five toes at the front.
Medium length and wide-set legs
Large paws with round shape and firm demeanor, short front legs, and strong lower legs.Medium in length, heavily boned and muscled, longer hind legs, large and round feet, toe tufts
Slow, require 3 to 5 years to fully matureSlow, requires 5 years to fully matureSlow, fully grow in 3 to 5 years

Norwegian Forest Cat as an ESA

As an emotional support cat, these fur balls are great since they do not demand much attention and provide the needed companionship and comfort. These cats are overall healthy and you just need to keep up with the vaccinations and regular medical checkups. However, there are some genetic diseases that are common in these cats and you must take care of them.

They make great support animals as they stay by your side all the time and you will not have to get them ample exercise of care. To get one as an ESA, you can get in touch with RealESALetter.com and fill the online questionnaire to see if you qualify.

If qualified, our therapist will write an emotional support animal letter and you will get it in 24 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Norwegian Forest Cats good pets?

FAQ Icon

Yes, these cats make excellent pets. They are friendly, gentle, docile, and really good with kids and other animals. They are social but do not demand much attention. Like other cats, they are also happy to be independent.

Do they like playing in the water?

FAQ Icon

Yes, these cats LOVE water. Norwegian Forest Cats are one of the few cats that love to play around in the water and splatter it. Their coat is thick and water-resistant, something that helps them in enjoying a good swim.

Are these cats hypoallergenic?

FAQ Icon

No cat is 100% hypoallergenic and this includes Norwegian Forest Cats also. Some cats may produce less Fel d 1, like the Siberian cat, and cause fewer allergies.

These cats are related to the Siberians, these felines may also have less Fel d 1. However, an allergic person could react to any cat.

Do these cats live in the wild?

FAQ Icon

Not anymore. These cats used to live in the forest and were loved by the farmers for their hunting skills. Their looks are suggestive of a wild cat but due to domestication, they do not have the ‘wild’ qualities.

Are these cats loyal?

FAQ Icon

Yes, these felines are fiercely loyal and would stay by their owner’s side no matter what. Since these cats are easygoing and docile, they make great pets and emotional support animals.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats aggressive?

FAQ Icon

No, they aren’t aggressive. Although Norwegian Forest Cats love their independence, they also want to be close with humans. You should give your cat some space now and then.

Do Norwegian Forest Cats like to be held?

FAQ Icon

Yes, they like to be held and want some petting. Norwegian Forest Cats are good hunters but have a nice and gentle nature. They take some time to trust you, but once they do, they are loyal and affectionate.

Harper Jefcoat


Harper Jefcoat

Harper Jefcoat is a dedicated pet enthusiast and expert author at the RealESALetter.com. With a deep-seated passion for animals, Harper brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to his writings. Specializing in canine behavior and wellness, he aims to help pet owners understand and care for their furry friends better.

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