Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a healthy, robust natural breed that developed over hundreds of years of natural selection in a harsh climate. They are a slow-maturing breed that may take up to five years to reach full maturity. This is a fairly low-maintenance breed, requiring minimal grooming. The Norwegian Forest Cat (or "Wegie") is an interactive, playful, loving member of any household.


The Norwegian Forest Cat's strong, sturdy body and thick coat are testaments to their evolution over the centuries in Scandinavia. They traveled with the Vikings, keeping their ships and villages free of vermin. Referred to as the "Skogkatt", the Norwegian Forest Cat has been included in Viking legend and mythology.

By the 20th century, the Norwegian Forest Cat was becoming a rarity in its native land and was at risk of extinction. Consequently plans were started to ensure the future of the national cat in the 1930s but WWII interrupted this work. Finally in the 1970s the Norwegians put a special breeding program in place to protect the breed-and the breed received royal recognition when the late King Olaf designated them the official cat of Norway. The first breeding pair was imported into the United States in 1979. The International Cat Association was the first North American registry to grant Championship status to the Norwegian Forest Cat in 1984.


Intelligent and resourceful, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a mild-mannered breed that adapts easily to its environment. They are very interactive cats who enjoy being part of their family environment and love to play with any one who enjoys a game!


The Norwegian Forest Cat's body is large, muscular and substantial. Its strength and agility make it a natural hunter able to climb any surface.

The water-resistant, semi-long coat with a dense undercoat developed to help the cat survive in the harsh Scandinavian climate. During the cooler months, the ruff is full and the dense woolly undercoat thickens to protect the cat from the cold. In the summer, the coat will be shorter although it will still have a water repellent texture. The tail is long, full and flowing. While the coat is full and dense in the winter months, it is also a coat that does not require the daily care of some other longhaired breeds. It is a good idea, though, to give a little extra combing in the Spring when it is changing its heavy winter coat for its summer one. Its minimal care requirements make this the ideal longhair for the busy active family!

The Norwegian Forest Cat's head is the shape of an equilateral triangle, the profile of the nose long and straight. Eyes are large, almond-shaped, set at an oblique angle and very expressive. Ears are large, wide at the base and arched forward. Variety is the spice of life-and the Norwegian Forest Cat comes in a rainbow of colors for you to choose from.

Health Issues Common to Norwegian Forest Cats

All pedigreed cats have some sort of health problem, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.

Norwegian Forest Cats have some hereditary health issues that can be of concern, especially if you aren't cautious about who you buy from. They include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia and glycogen storage disease.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and it has been diagnosed in Norwegian Forest Cats. It causes enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. You may have heard that it is caused by poor nutrition, but that isn't true; the disease is hereditary. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your Wegie, an echocardiogram conducted by a veterinary cardiologist can confirm whether he has HCM. Avoid breeders who claim to have HCM-free lines. No one can guarantee that their cats will never develop HCM.

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary defect of the hip socket. It can be mild, causing little or no pain, or it can eventually lead to severe lameness. Norwegian Forest Cats with hip dysplasia may move slowly or avoid jumping. Depending on the severity of the condition, weight loss, medication or surgery can help to relieve pain. Norwegian Forest Cats who will be bred should have their hips x-rayed and graded by a veterinary orthopedic specialist at 2 years of age. Ask the breeder to show evidence that a Wegie kitten's parents have hips that have been rated as fair, good or excellent.

Pet Insurance for the Norwegian Forest Cat

Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.