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The Complete Guide To Norwegian Forest Cats

    Ragdoll Cats At A Glance:

    LifeSpan: 14-16 Years

    Weight: 9-16 lbs

    Eye Color: Gold To Deep Emerald

    Coat: Long Haired

    Length: 17–21 inches

    Personality: Friendly and good with kids

    Everything You Need to Know About Norwegian Forest Cats

    The breed series is back! And we are talking about a breed that is very special to me today.

    That breed is Norwegian Forest Cat. This breed is not commonly known because they are often mistaken with Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, or just overweight cats.

    This breed holds a special place in my heart because I recently found out that this is a majority of the breed that my cat, Phoebe is.

    Recently, I did a Cat DNA test, BasePaws.

    This test revealed to me that not only was I incorrect in thinking that Phoebe was an American Shorthair, I learned that the majority of her origin was that of a Norwegian Forest Cat.

    Which, of course, led me to do a lot of research on everything I could learn about this cat breed for my own sanity. And now, I want to share with you my crazy amount of rabbit hole searching that I went through involving Norwegian Forest Cats.

    Where Did Norwegian Forest Cats Come From?

    Let’s talk about the history Behind Norwegian Forest Cats.

    Does anyone want to take any guesses where they think the Norwegian Forest Cat got their names? Chances are…you are correct!

    Norwegian Forest Cats are originally based in Norway! This breed is also known as skogkatt which in Norwegian tongue literally means ‘forest cat’. Hence where the total name is Norwegian Forest Cat.

    The thought is that the Norwegian Forest Cat was used with the Vikings on their ships to keep rodents away. And sadly natural selection kept their coats thick and allowed them to adapt to the harsh, near-Arctic climate produced descendants with woolly undercoats and long topcoats that shed water with ease .

     In the late 1900s there was a great fear that Norwegian Forest Cat’s distinct breed was going to disappear because of hybridization.

    At that time, other cat experts were determined to save the breed after World War II ended. They were successful in bringing them into the Europe show ring as well as into America around 1980s.

    In 1977, they were finally registered as a breed with Europe’s Federation Internationale Feline. Two years later, a pair of NFCs was exported to the United States for the first time. The breed has since become popular in Europe and the U.S.

    Which actually, if you think about it is only about 40 years or so ago!

    Norwegian Forest Cat History

    That means that Phoebe’s ancestors have only been in America for about 40 years! Which is even less than a lot of us.

    And while that makes them extremely new in the eyes of Europe and America, Norway has known of this breed since…well, forever.

    This breed was told in their folk tales and mythology and was thought to be descendants of the Mynx Cat or the Maine Coon cat breeds.

    This would explain why they are not quite the same size and stature as a Maine Coon cat, but still larger than many others.

    All About The Health of Norwegian Forest Cats

    When it comes to cats, whether you are a purebred, or a hybrid mix, there are certain ailments that follow.

    I really hate talking about different diseases and health issues that are shown in cats, because we can really say anything.

    But for those who want to know the diseases and illnesses that are most commonly seen in Norwegian Forest Cats,  

    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is inherited in some cat breeds such as the Maine Coon. Heritability has not been proven in the Norwegian Forest Cat, but cats that are mixed with Maine Coon will want to be aware of this.
    • Retinal dysplasia, an eye defect that causes spots on the retina but does not worsen the cat’s vision.

    On a more positive note, Norwegian Cats are known for maturing later than a lot of other cat breeds.

    Some say that they don’t really reach their full maturity level until about the age of five. FIVE! Most cats that’s usually between the ages of one and two that they reach their full level of maturity.

    Like I said before, this sturdy cat usually weighs anywhere from 13 to 22 pounds.

    How Long Do Norwegian Forest Cats Live For?

    The average Norwegian Forest Cat is known for a being a relatively healthy breed.

    Their lifespan is normally between 14 and 16 years but can vary based on the cat.

    More active cats tend to live longer.

    How Big Do Norwegian Forest Cats Get?

    Now let’s talk about the appearance of a Norwegian Forest Cat.

    They have very thick and sturdy coats that are meant to be able to withstands that harsh winters.

    Their hair also is one of the few long haired breeds that does not tend to mat.

    However, while mats are not usually a concern for Norwegian Forest Cats, shedding is. Is you are wanting a cat breed that does not shed, this is not the breed for you.

    This breed is known for being ‘thick’. (Or Thicc as I like to lovingly call my cat).When these cats are in their prime, they are known for climbing trees and using their large muscles to help them climb and survive in the wild.

    However, when they are indoor cats, sometimes they will get labeled as being ‘big-boned’.

    These are big cats. Males can weigh 13 to 22 pounds or more, with females somewhat smaller.

    What Are Norwegian Forest Cats Known For?

    Their size, stature and fur are not the only thing that sets them apart from the rest. Besides their thick, wonderful coat and “sturdy” size, they actually have another feature that sets them apart.

     In fact, Norwegian Forest Cats are actually known best for their eyes. The Norwegian Forest Cat’s eyes are one of its prettiest features: they radiate.

    They are large and expressive and almond shaped and the outer corner of the eye is tilted up to the base of the ear.

    Their eye color ranges from gold to deep emerald green, with the darker green color much sought after but not as common as the green-gold eyes usually seen.

    What is so interesting to me as I was doing research on this breed was that this topic was brought up so often. I remember when visitors would come greet Phoebe, they would also comment on how pretty her eyes are.

    Of course, being my cat I thought they were gorgeous as well. It appears that I was not being biased. Her eyes really do glow like that of her Norwegian Forest Cat ancestors.

    The build of a Norwegian Forest cat looks like they are a powerful creature. They tend to have broader chests, muscular legs, and a very bushy tails. Most tails actually can get up to the same length at their bodies.

    The coat of this beautiful creature can come in almost every color and pattern! Tortoiseshell, Calico, Tabby, White, Black, all can be part of the Norwegian family. The only color exceptions are chocolate, lavendar, and a pointed pattern like that of the Siamese cat breeds.

    Care And Grooming

    With these beautiful coats comes care that is required. It is important to brush their long coats at least once a week.

    I like to brush them twice a week, once with a deshedding comb, like this. And once with a normal brush.

    A deshedding comb helps get the excess hair from the undercoat which helps prevent them from matting.

    The normal cat combs are great to make sure you are getting all the excess hair off their body so their shedding does not completely madden you.

    If you need a comb, my biggest recommendation is to get a comb that retracts! It makes cleaning out the cat hair A BREEZE! And you don’t have to poke yourself with the bristle when you are digging for the brush.

    Do Norwegian Forest Cats Make Good Pets?

    When I was doing research about the personality of a Norwegian Forest Cat, they all seemed to say the same thing. I like to think of this breed as the type of cat people want but don’t expect from a typical cat.

    What does that mean?

    Well this breed is known for being loving, loyal and kind. They are known for being friendly to people and patient with children. They find their person and become forever loving to them in the sweetest way possible.

    When I was reading this, I immediate thought about Phoebe. I used to joke that she was the dog version of a cat.

    This was because, like many other of this breed, she was so attentive. She would come when she was called, enjoyed sleeping and cuddling with me. Best of all, she refused to go anywhere where she could not see her ‘people’.

    This allowed us to take her outside in our backyard without fear of her darting off.

    She wouldn’t even turn a corner if we were not in her eyesight.

    Norwegian Forest Cat Personalities

    And while a lot of those traits are dog-like traits. She, like most of the Norwegian Forest Cats, are still very much cat personalities.

    They are definite homebodies who enjoy quite nights in with humans much more than a loud crowded park.

    You will also rarely find a Norwegian Forest Cat who does a lot of ‘playing’. This breed is extremely intelligent and would rather be giving attention from their humans rather than a toy.

    As I mentioned earlier, this breed LOVES people and attention.

    They will be the cat in your house that rubs up to visitors and wants to be greeted, petted, or loved on by everyone who walks through the door. They are very trusting of people, especially when they are in their safe environment.

    can cats have cheese

    Do Norwegian Forest Cats Like To Cuddle?

    Oddly enough, however, as loving and kind as this breed is, they are not lap-cats.

    It would be considered odd if you have a Norwegian Forest Cat that will snuggly on your lap with you. Instead, they should their love and care for you by proximity. Phoebe, for example, has to sleep at the foot of my bed every night. She does not get inside the covers ever, and is not one to curl up in my arms.

    She does need to feed me before falling asleep though. And to her, my leg, my arm, anything of mine is a comfort to her.

    While they are able to survive out in the wild, the personalities of a Norwegian Forest Cat best suit an indoor lifestyle.

    They prefer the comforts of home and their hunting ‘desires’ are not as strong as other breeds. If you are looking to adopt a Norwegian Forest Cat, do not do so if you are planning for an outdoor cat. You will not be seeing the best that your cat has to offer when they are outside.

    Finally, we mentioned their muscle and build earlier in this article.

    They are known for climbing and jumping on items in the outdoors. To keep their instincts sharp, and prevent them from climbing on unwanted objects, a tree is a necessity for this breed.

    I noticed a HUGE difference in Phoebe when we got her a cat tree, actually this cat tree if you are curious.

    She would climb to the very top of it, sit and watch the world. Because that’s what her breed does in the wild. They would climb trees, and watch the world from a safe distance.

    So if you have a Norwegian Forest Cat and don’t have a cat tree, I would highly recommend a purchase of that. My Norwegian Forest loves it because it has multiple platforms for her to jump on and play with the other furb-babies with. Multiple landings are a huge benefit with cat trees!!!

    Should I Get a Norwegian Forest Cat?

    Norwegian Forest Cats are a very loving, and gentle breed.

    While they have been around for longer than we can even know, their breed is new to Europe and America.

    They are known for being muscular but reserved creatures who prefer to climb.

    If you are looking for a cat that will be your best friend, enjoy being the center of attention (remember, they like people and attention), and be a basic homebody INDOOR cat, then the Norwegian Forest Cat is the cat for you.

    4 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Norwegian Forest Cats”

    1. How much do you feed a Norwegian forest cat. My vet also told me my cat is overweight and he is 17 pounds at three years. So unsure how to proceed. This article did not mention food either and I’m unsure what the best high protein food would be.

    2. William C Kle

      Thanks for all your dutiful research!
      From your detailed description of the traits and lineage of this breed, I now realize that my cat Misty, is in fact a Norwegian from her markings, colors personality and disposition. She even has the Manx gene that has made her a “Stubby” with just a nub of a tail!! The mention of late maturity of this breed has me curious about her actual age. I also was thinking she was getting overweight but now, thanks to your research, understand that she’s not.

      Her story is quite interesting. I rescued her from being roadkill during a foggy, rainy evening in January of 2020.

      As I drove towards home one night, down a very busy street, I caught a glimpse of the silhouette of a small animal darting across the street in front of the headlights of oncoming traffic. As I approached my turn, I again saw this little creature running like a rabbit towards me up the sidewalk of that busy street she had apparently miraculously crossed unscathed . At this time I could see slightly better that what I was looking at was likely a small, young rabbit hopping furiously along, trying desperately to return to it’s burrow and out of the rain.

      As I proceeded to turn onto the street in my neighborhood, to my horror this small creature darted, running like a rabbit across the street right in front of my car! In a snap of reflexes, I mashed the brake pedal and pulled my face up to the windshield in a desperate attempt to avoid squishing the poor little thing!

      As it darted across an into the spread of light of my headlights, I could suddenly and to my great surprise, clearly see that this was NO RABBIT! I yelled out “Holy cat!That’s a Manx!”

      I immediately pulled to the side of the street and burst out of the car into the rain and looked back to where I saw this creature running. I caught a glimpse of this tiny cat running now, to my horror, back towards that busy street I previously saw it treacherously run across! I was running fast then and took a trajectory to head it off before it got to the corner and was successful. It stopped, frozen for a second, standing in it’s tracks. At this point, I could clearly see that this was a small kitten that had no tail. Appearing to contemplate this formidable obstacle in front of it, me standing in it’s path with arms held out wide, it turned around and ran back towards my car, then under some bushes along the way. I approached the bushes slowly, calling “kitty kitty” as I moved in. Each time I called, this tiny kitten would answer back with a meow! I couldn’t see exactly where it was under the bushes, so I kept calling out to it in an attempt to zero in on where the little meows were coming from. As I got to precisely where I could hear the meows, I ever so carefully parted the bushes to hopefully avoid scaring this poor little thing more than I figured it already was. To my surprise, there it was, I see this drenched, shivering, scrawny little cat looking straight into my eyes. I said “hello little, come here kitty.” Another meow. It’s standing, shivering and looking at me. I knelt down with my hands out and leaning in towards it, with more meows coming from it, all the while still looking into my eyes, I gently lifted the soggy little kitten up and into my arms. It was like holding a bird. She was so tiny and light.

      When I got back into the car with her, having listened to her meowing the whole way there as if she was telling me all about what she had been through, I turned on the inside lights to get a better look at what I had just rescued. I could then clearly see that this was a female cat with the telltale hint of a tail that is so remarkable about the Manx breed.

      I decided at that instant to claim her and named her Misty, because I had rescued her on such a misty, rainy night.

      She was just skin and bones that night and starving. She must have been dumped days previously on that busy road by a heartless someone who had no clue what she was, or maybe thought she was deformed, and left her to be run over and killed.

      Two months later, just prior to the vet appointment, she went into heat. So the vet determined she was approximately six months old at that point based on most unspayed female cats going into heat at that age. That would put her at four months old when I found her and put her birthday somewhere in September 2019.

      I chose September 11 as the day to celebrate Misty’s birthday because that’s the day I was rescued from my addiction to alchohol back in 2015. Been sober ever since, and now totally blessed by being able to celebrate that day with my Misty!

      1. livelongandpawspurr

        Your story makes me so happy! Thank you first so much for sharing it! Second, thank you for saving Misty! She is so lucky to have such an awesome owner. I’m beyond happy I could add some value to your life! <3

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