Norwegian Forest Cat Breed – Facts and Personality Traits

This long-haired cat from the Norwegian forests is perfect for a reasonably active family.

Make sure to provide it with an indoor claw tree and lots of love, and you will have a wonderful friend for life.


The history of the Norwegian forest cat stretches back hundreds, if not thousands, years. This large, robust cat is Norway’s national cat, although its origin is unclear. It may have originated from the Russian Siberian cat or from long-haired cats from Turkey that the Scandinavian Vikings brought home. But it can also be the case that it has simply developed naturally for a long time and adapted to the cold Scandinavian climate.

According to legend, Norwegian forest cats accompanied the Vikings’ travels around the world to keep the ships free from rats. In addition, it is said that the goddess Freya had a carriage pulled by six strong Norwegian forest cats.

The breed died out almost completely during World War II. It was not until the late 1960s that some dedicated breeders succeeded in stabilizing the situation.


If you want a kind and social cat that still does not require constant attention, this is a breed for you. The Norwegian forest cat can become a perfect family member and it thrives in the company of both adults and children. It is not very loud, but trust that it tells you if you forget to give it food at the right time.

It is happy to accompany you to keep you company and see what you do, but it does not require to be carried or petted. And even if the cat is sociable, it can be a bit reserved towards strangers, so give it time and opportunity to get to know visitors at their own pace.

Norwegian forest cats are generally quite active and they are good at climbing. A real claw tree (think climbing tree!) Is therefore a wise investment if you do not want to have to chase the cat down from the bookshelves down the block. The Norwegian forest cat is intelligent and likes toys that provide mental stimulation, and it often works well to train it with clicks or rewards.

Appearance, size and weight

The Norwegian forest cat is a large breed. The male weighs 5-10 kg and the female 3-6 kg. It has a long, muscular body and the hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs. The head is triangular with large, tufted ears and almond-shaped eyes, which gives it a wildcat-like appearance.


The coat can have virtually any color and drawing – it can be solid color or patterned mixed with white areas. The eyes are either green, golden yellow or copper colored. Some white Norwegian forest cats may have blue eyes, or unequal eyes – one blue eye and one in a different color.

Fur care

The Norwegian forest cat’s fur is adapted for survival in the cold Nordic forests – the fur is long and waterproof with dense undercoat. The coat needs to be combed through with a metal comb or brushed a few times a week to keep it free of tangles and tangles. In the spring, you may need to brush even more often because the cat sheds a lot then. Normally, Norwegian forest cats do not need to be bathed.

Special characteristics of the breed

The Norwegian forest cat is very independent and has a strong personality – it thrives best if it can do as it pleases, whenever it wants.

Thanks to the sharp, thick and strong claws, this cat is an extremely good climber. It can climb rocks and is probably the only domestic cat that climbs down from trees with its head first. If you can not find your Norwegian forest cat – look up! It probably sits in a high-lying place in the home or outdoors where it can keep full control of its surroundings.

Hereditary diseases

There are some health problems that can affect Norwegian forest cats:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM is the most common type of heart disease that affects cats. The disease causes an enlarged heart muscle and many cats develop heart failure as a result.

Hip dysplasia

A developmental disorder in the hip joint, which increases the risk of osteoarthritis.

Glycogen storage disease

A metabolic disease that in most cases is so serious that the cat only survives a few months after birth. There is a genetic test to find out which cats are predisposed to this disease.

Five facts about Norwegian forest cats

  1. Like other cats, Norwegian forest cats like to climb trees, but a unique feature is that they climb down with their heads first.
  2. According to legend, the goddess Freya had a large carriage pulled by six strong Norwegian forest cats.
  3. The coat and physique are well adapted to the cold Nordic climate.
  4. Some people simply call this cat “skogis” or “norskis”, to avoid saying the whole long name every time. In English they sometimes say “wegie”.
  5. Norwegian forest cats are social and intelligent and usually thrive in all types of families.