Norwegian Forest cat

Other names: Skogkatt

Norwegian Forest cat
Norvegese delle Foreste adulto © Shutterstock

"Norsk Skogkatt" in Norwegian literally translated into English is "northern forest cat". This name suits the Norwegian, since this is the perfect little Nordic feline. Shaped by the cold and harsh climate of Scandinavia, this rustic and robust breed is “natural”, meaning man did not intervene in their creation. From their beautiful coats to their strong constitution, through to their hunting skills, these cats demonstrate an adaptability that make them very popular, especially since they have a golden personality.

Key facts about the Norwegian Forest cat

Life expectancy :

9

21

14

16

Temperament :

Playful Intelligent

Type of coat :

Naked Short Long

Origins and history

The first domestic cats from Scandinavia may have arrived with the Vikings, returning from their travels in the Middle East. The early Crusades also reportedly introduced long-haired cats from Europe, Turkey and Russia. Among these felines, those that were best adapted to the harsh and cold conditions of life were able to reproduce. This isolation led to a level of inbreeding. As a result, distinctive characteristics emerged and became the norm. The appearance of the Skogkatt thus remained very stable for several centuries, without mankind having anything to do with it.

It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that breeders decided to control and especially to protect the breed. Indeed, the growing presence of short-haired cats in Norway threatens, at this time, the traditional semi-wild long-haired cat that populates the country. After World War II, the most beautiful examples were gathered, sometimes even taken directly from the forests by these breeders who maintained the Norwegian Forest Cat and even granted it a pedigree. Today, Norway considers the Skogkatt as the country's official cat breed.

Physical characteristics of the Norwegian Forest cat

    Taglia adulta del Norvegese delle foreste

    Female : Between 12 and 14 in

    Male : Between 14 and 16 in

    Norwegian Forest Cats grow very slowly, sometimes not reaching their adult size until they’re 5 years old.

    Peso del Norvegese delle foreste

    Female : Between 9 and 13 lb

    Male : Between 11 and 18 lb

    Coat colour

    Black
    White
    Cream
    Blue

    Type of coat

    Long

    Eye colour

    Blue
    Green
    Yellow
    Brown
    Odd-eyed

    Description

    Longer and taller than the average domestic cat, the Skogkatt is robust, with a well-developed muscle and bone structure. Imposing, they are nonetheless elegant. Their long tail forms a well supplied plume. Their heads form an equilateral triangle with an almost straight profile. Their large oblique almond eyes and heart-shaped collar contribute to their soft demeanour. Moreover, the fur of this breed is, without question, its main characteristic. Double, it consists of a woolly and dense undercoat and a smooth, shiny and waterproof coat. Shorter on the shoulders, it goes down and along the flanks. The collar consists of longer fur. A pretty undercoat and hair in the ears and under the legs provide extra protection against the cold. In summer, the fur will adapt to milder temperatures by becoming shorter, even at the collar, and much less dense.

    Good to know

    Although it may look like the Maine Coon or Siberian, the Norwegian is physically slightly different from the first two. The main areas to notice? The head of the Norwegian forms an equilateral triangle, unlike the Maine Coon which has a very square muzzle and the Siberian’s muzzle which is more rounded. The eyes are also different: with slightly oblique almonds for the cat of Norway, almost round eyes for the Russian cat and more spaced apart on the American giant.

    Temperament

    • 66%

      Affectionate

      The Norwegian Forest Cat is fond of cuddling, mainly with family. As long as they can have time to themselves.

    • 100%

      Playful

      Very playful, they will chase imaginary prey and ambush their toys. But, what they love most is climbing, everywhere and all the time! It is recommended to install cat trees in the house, and possibly rethink putting any trinkets on shelves ...!

    • 66%

      Calm

      Between moments of madness with toys, this majestic cat is generally very calm.

    • 100%

      Intelligent

      Very intelligent, the Norwegian Forest Cat watches and learns with ease. This particularly useful characteristic for surviving in nature has clearly stayed with them.

    • 66%

      Fearful / wary of strangers

      As the Norwegian Forest Cat is very independent, it may seem wary of strangers. Time and patience are the key to winning the heart of this gentle giant.

    • 100%

      Independent

      Autonomous as a hunter and adapted to harshness of the Norwegian environment, they prefer making their own decisions. This is the very description of the perfect cat.

      Behaviour of the Norwegian Forest cat

      • 66%

        Chatty

        There are as many vocal Norwegians as there are silent ones.

      • 66%

        Need for exercise / Sporty

        Even if they are placid in nature, these cats will still have intense periods of play with a real need to climb. The presence of cat trees in the house or the ability to go outside will be particularly appreciated.

      • 66%

        Tendenza a scappare

        Norwegian Forest Cats are attracted to large open spaces, they could be drawn by the outdoors.

      • 33%

        Greedy / Gluttony

        Generally, Norwegian Forest Cats are able to regulate themselves in their consumption of food. But there are always exceptions, especially if the cat does not have enough distraction and enrichment in its environment.

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        Compatibility

        • 66%

          Norwegian Forest cat and cats

          Norwegian Forest Cats are a generally social breed, but introductions should be made when your cat is as young as possible. Socialising your kitten will also help. 

        • 100%

          Norwegian Forest cat and dogs

          A respectful first meeting will help. Given their ability to climb, these cats like to be able to escape to a high point and introduce themselves when ready.

        • 66%

          Norwegian Forest cat and children

          Once again, these can be great cats for children. But they must be taught to respect this big cat and give it space from time to time.

        • 66%

          I Norvegesi delle foreste e le persone anziane

          These cats can suit elderly people but it is worth remembering that they are heavier than average and cat trees or high places are essential for their happiness.

          Price

          Buying a Norwegian kitten will could cost anywhere between £250 and £800. Prices vary depending on pedigree, lineage, age and sex. It will cost on average £35 a month to provide for this cat’s needs.

          Grooming

          Outside moulting periods, surprisingly, grooming a Norwegian Forest Cat is easy because the hair has little tendency to tangle. However, shedding periods will require daily brushing in order to remove the dead hair, which is in abundance during the changing seasons.

          Shedding

          Whilst the Norwegian Forest cat transitions between winter and summer coats, they shed a lot of hair.

          Nutrition of the Norwegian Forest cat

          The Skogkatt needs a balanced diet that is rich in protein. The males, being slightly bigger than the females, require more food. Pay attention to your cat’s diet to avoid it becoming overweight. A big cat does not mean a fat cat!

          Health of the Norwegian Forest cat

          Life expectancy

          The Norwegian Forest Cat lives for 15 years on average.

          Strong / robust

          Very robust, the cold does not scare this cat. And as temperatures warm up in the spring, they adapt the thickness of their coats.

          Tendency to put on weight

          These cats don’t put on weight too easily as long as they have enough opportunities to climb and move.

          Common illnesses

          • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy increases the volume of the left ventricle walls of the heart, possibly causing heart failure.
          • Dysplasia of the hip is a hereditary defect of the hip joint that can sometimes cause extreme pain, which can be both short or long term.
          • Glycogenosis type IV is a genetic disorder specific to Norwegian cat. The disease is fatal at an early age and is incurable. There is a screening test. The only way to stop the disease is to control the breeding stock and reproduce only the healthy carriers.

          Reproduction

          Norwegian Forest cats can only be bred with cats of their own breed.

          Frequently asked questions

          Which is bigger: Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat?

          Are Norwegian Forest cats good pets?

          Are Norwegian Forest cats aggressive?

          Do Norwegian Forest cats meow a lot?

          How do you tell if a cat is a Norwegian Forest cat?