Norwegian Forest cat breed information and advice
The Norwegian Forest cat is the national cat of Norway. Folklore has it that they were taken on Viking boats to keep the rodent population down. They’re known as the Skogkatt (meaning Forest cat) in Norway and by the nickname of ‘Wegie’. With their fluffy coat and sweet personality, they make excellent family pets. They’ll fit in with households that have other pets, including cat-friendly dogs.
Norwegian Forest cat facts
£500 - £650
4.5-9 kg males, 3.5-8 kg females
2-3 times a week
friendly, gentle and intelligent
Norwegian Forest cat insurance
It’s important to protect your Norwegian Forest cat or kitten with pet insurance. This will help with the cost of any unexpected illnesses or accidents
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance
Sainsbury’s Bank cat insurance can cover kittens as young as 8 weeks old all the way up to their 10th birthday. And if you take out a policy before they’re 10, and there isn’t a break in cover, we’ll continue to insure them year after year.
How to care for a Norwegian Forest cat
Like all cats, Norwegian Forest cats will need a balanced diet and lots of exercise to keep them in tip-top condition. They will also need regular grooming.
Feeding and nutrition
Norwegian Forest cat can take up to 5 years to become fully mature. They should be fed a cat food that matches their age, size, activity level and any specific health conditions. They may prefer a high protein, high meat food. You may also find that they’ll eat more than the average cat due to their large size.
They do love their food and can pile on weight so in order to maintain a healthy weight you’ll need to ensure you stick to the quantity guidelines on the food packaging. If you’re unsure, your vet will be happy to give you advice on the best food and how often to feed.
Their dense, semi-long coat is surprisingly easy to care for and they only moult once a year . Wegies do a very good job of grooming themselves. All they’ll need is a brush a couple of times a week to remove any tangles.
Norwegian Forest cats come in a variety of colours and patterns (but not pointed colours). They can be black, brown, silver, blue (or grey), red (or ginger), cream and tortoiseshell tabby. They have almond-shaped eyes which come in colours from green to gold.
Norwegian Forest cats are muscular with a semi-long dense coat and a large swishing tail. They look similar to the Maine Coon but have a different shaped head. The Norwegian Forest cat has a triangular-shaped head and a straight nose, while the Maine Coon has a wedge-shaped head. The Wegie also enjoys climbing more than the Maine Coon.
Wegies can be energetic – they’ll have a burst of energy and then take a long nap. As they are slow to mature, they can retain their kitten-like ways until they are 5 years old. They have a high prey drive so will enjoy playing with toys that they can chase and ambush.
With their thick, warm coat, they love to explore outside. But make sure any outside space is enclosed to keep them safe. Their strong claws make them especially good at climbing. They’ve even been known to run down trees headfirst. If kept indoors, make sure that they have a high perch or cat tree with a view outside and a scratching post
Norwegian Forest cats are intelligent and can respond well to training. Kittens should be toilet or litter trained before they leave their mothers.
Temperament and behaviour
A Norwegian Forest cat can adapt to being kept indoors but prefers to be an outdoor cat where they can put their hunting and climbing skills to use. They have gentle personalities and are friendly and sociable once you win their trust. Wegies are usually too independent to be a lap cat. If they curl up on your lap, it will be on their terms!
Common health problems
Norwegian Forest cats are a natural cat breed. This means that they have evolved by natural selection and not by human-led breeding programmes. Consequently, the breed hasn’t inherited many health problems. However, there are still a few health problems that can occur.
Glycogen storage disease type IV
Norwegian Forest cats can be affected by Glycogen storage disease type IV, a breed-specific inherited disease. The genetic defect causes a specific enzyme deficiency and chronic, progressive neurological signs. There’s no treatment for this condition and affected cats should not be bred from.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) can lead to heart failure. An ultrasound of the heart to measure the thickness of the heart muscle is the best way to detect the condition. If diagnosed with HCM, lifelong medication will be needed. Norwegian Forest cat breeders should have their cats screened for the disease to make sure that their breeding lines are free of this condition.
Hip dysplasia (HD)
Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the hip joint and can cause pain and lameness. Signs are usually first seen in affected cats when they are less than a year old. While the condition is usually managed with anti-inflammatory drugs or a veterinary prescribed diet, surgery may be considered if the condition is severe.
How to identify a Norwegian Forest cat?
With its large size, thick, fluffy coat and bushy tail, the Norwegian Forest cat stands out. They have a triangle-shaped head and almond-shaped eyes.
How long do Norwegian Forest cats live?
The average lifespan of a Norwegian Forest cat is 14-16 years. It takes up to 5 years for them to become fully mature.
How big is a Norwegian Forest cat?
The Wegie is a large, heavy-boned, muscular cat. Its body length is 30-46 cm and its height 23-30 cm - the size of a small dog.
Are Norwegian Forest cats vocal?
Norwegian Forest cats are generally quiet and not as vocal or talkative as other cats. You may find that they only meow when they want food.
Is a Norwegian Forest right for you?
The Norwegian Forest cat is a large, striking-looking cat. They adapt well to being kept as an indoor cat. They’re also suited to an outdoor life as they enjoy hunting and climbing. To keep them safe, consider an enclosed outdoor area. They’re undemanding and laid back but enjoy company. They’ll fit in households with other pets, including cat-friendly dogs, and children. They’re also suitable for first-time pet owners.
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