Norwegian Forest Cats have strong bodies, large eyes, a bottle brush tail and a luxurious mane. (They sound part lion.)
The thick double coat cannot hide the instantly recognizable body shape. A Norwegian Forest Cat body is solid, well-balanced muscle with a noticeable girth — but it’s not a fat cat. Males are extremely large (10 to 16 pounds) while females are more refined (8 to 12 pounds).
Norwegian Forest Cats are extremely slow to mature, taking five years! The legs are medium in length; the hind legs are longer than the front. (This makes their rump stand higher than their shoulders.) Thighs are heavily muscled and the lower legs are substantial. Paws are large, round and have heavy toe tufts. (The climate of Norway is not easy to endure.) The tail is long, bushy and broader at the base.
A Norwegian Forest Cat head is an equilateral triangle. The neck is short yet muscular. The forehead is flat. Chins are firm but gently rounded. Ears are medium-large and rounded at the tip. The ears can feature lynx tips (ear tufts), but it’s not a breed standard. The eyes are large, almond-shaped and expressive. Eye colors are shades of green, gold or copper. White Norwegian Forest Cats can be blue eyed.
The Norwegian Forest Cat’s coat features a three-sectioned bib. A short collar at the neck, side mutton chops and a ruff. The coat is fuller in the winter (obviously). All colors and patterns occur. The newest color (non-agouti amber) was accepted in 2013. This coat is a recessive yellow color that appears as a dark honey-chestnut color.
Referred to as Wegre (pronounced Wee-jee) by fanciers, or Norsk Skogkatt if you’re Norwegian, this breed is growing in popularity and recognized almost everywhere. Norwegian Forest Cats were bred by Mother Nature yet no wild blood can be found in their veins; they are truly a domestic (Scandinavian) breed. Norwegian Forest Cats can be found as far back as Norse mythology — long before written history.
The 1930s saw the first effort to bring Norwegian Forest Cats to the cat fancy. In 1934, the first club devoted to the breed was formed and four years later, the first Norwegian Forest Cat was shown at an Oslo cat show. World War II almost obliterated the breed as did subsequent breeding with shorthaired domestic cats. It wasn’t until the 1970s that fanciers started a serious breeding program to save the (pure) breed. In 1975, the Norsk Skogkattring (Norwegian Forest Cat Club) was formed to protect and promote the breed. In November 1979 the first breeding pair arrived in the U.S. The first litter of (American) Norwegian Forest Cats was born in March 1981. The breed has slowly been increasing in popularity. In 2013, the breed ranked as the fourth most popular longhaired breed (the 11th overall).
Don’t let the Norwegian Forest Cat’s size fool you, these cats are mild-mannered, tolerant cats that seem to have muscles full of love. Gentle and friendly, the love for their family seems to ooze from their pores. They love to sit beside you, gaze at you lovingly and soothe you with their purr (best described as a motorboat). Their ancestors had to prowl the cold, harsh Norwegian forests, but thankfully, modern cats don’t. They are quite content to curl up by the fire and be adored.
Intelligent, courageous and playful (more so during their youth), Norwegian Forest Cats are pranksters. They carry that spirit through adulthood and remain prolific hunters that don’t know how to throw in the towel. (Give up? What does that mean?) Indulge your INDOOR Norwegian Forest Cat so he doesn’t turn mischievous with stuff he shouldn’t “hunt.” Catnip mice, soft balls, interactive toys — he’ll love them all. A whirling feather toy is even better. A tall cat tree will keep your Norwegian Forest Cat off bookcases, fridges, counters and window coverings (hopefully).
They are reserved around strangers until you earn their trust. Then they turn loyal and loving, able to bond to their entire family unit. They aren’t liable to be a lap cat, they prefer to be beside you. They don’t like to be held, cuddled, restrained nor kissed. Norwegian Forest Cats express love through petting, head bumps and prefer chin scratches. They love grooming time.
Their former home required adaptability. This is a trait the breed has never forgotten either.