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Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forest Cat in Norway
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Breed Standard














Cat (Felis catus)
List of Cat Breeds

Norwegian forest cats are a breed of cats originating in Norway. They are a strong, big, cat with long legs, a bushy tail, and a sturdy body adapted to the region's cold climate.


The Norwegian Forest Cat comes from natural selection to survive Norway's cold weather. Its ancestors may include black and white shorthair cats brought to Norway from Great Britain sometime after 1000 A.D. by the Vikings and longhaired cats brought to Norway by Crusaders. These cats would reproduce with farm and feral stock and would eventually evolve into the modern-day Norwegian Forest Cat. The Siberian and the Turkish Angora, longhaired cats from Russia and Turkey, respectively, are also possible ancestors of the breed. Norse legends refer to the Skogatt as a "mountain-dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage." Since the Norwegian Forest Cat is the most adept climber,

Many people believe that the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat served as mousers on Viking ships. They lived in the Norwegian forests for many centuries, but were later prized for their hunting skills and were used on Norwegian farms. Norwegian Forest Cats would continue acting as mousers at Norwegian farms until they were discovered in the early twentieth century by cat enthusiasts.

In 1938, the first Norwegian Forest Cat Club was formed. The club's movement to preserve the breed was interrupted by World War II. Due to cross-breeding with free-ranging domestic cats during WWII, the Norwegian Forest Cat became endangered and nearly extinct until the Norwegian Forest Cat Club helped the breed make a comeback by developing an official breeding program. Since the cat did not leave Norway until the 1970s, it was not registered as a breed in the Fédération Internationale Féline, a European federation of cat registries, until Carl-Fredrik Nordane, a local cat fancier, took notice of the breed, and made efforts to register it. The breed was registered in Europe by the 1970s, but was not recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association until 1994. In 1978, it was recognized in Sweden, and in 1989, they were accepted as a breed in the United Kingdom. The Norwegian Forest Cat is very popular in Norway and Sweden. It is the fifth most popular breed in France since 2003, where there are about 400 to 500 births per year.

Breed description[]

The Norwegian Forest Cat is strongly built and is much smaller in size than the Maine Coon weighing only 8-20 pounds. The breed has a long, sturdy body, long legs, and a bushy and full tail. The coat consists of a long, glossy, thick and water-repellent top layer, and a woolly undercoat, and is thickest at the legs, chest, and head. The profile of the breed is generally straight. The head is long, with an over-all shape similar to an equilateral triangle, a strong chin, and a muzzle of medium length; a square or round-shaped head is considered to be a defect. The eyes are almond shaped and oblique, and may be of any colour. The ears are large, wide at the base, high set, have a tufted top, are placed in the extension of the triangle formed by the head, and end with a tuft of hair like the ears of the lynx. All colors, divisions and categories are allowed, but the pointed category cats are a separate breed called the Pointed Forest Cat. Since the cats have very strong claws, they are very good climbers, and can even climb rocks.

The Norwegian Forest cat has a quiet voice but can develop a loud voice if kept in a house with a dog, but generally is talkative unless it was raised with a dog, it is then seemingly shy. It is good with people being friendly and intelligent, but has a high amount of energy, and can be very demanding of attention. Many cats can be primarily outdoor, where they can make swift and effective hunters, but the breed can also adapt to indoor life. They cost from $550 to $800, and usually live to be 14 to 16 years old. As they are heavy-boned and tall they require more food than most other domestic breeds. Males are considerably heavier and larger-boned than females.

Health issues[]

There have been kidney and heart diseases reported in the breed. In an experiment directed by John C. Fyfea, Rebeccah L. Kurzhals, and others, it was concluded that a complex rearrangement in the breed's Glycogen branching enzyme (GBE1) can cause both a perinatal hypoglycemic collapse and a late-juvenile-onset neuromuscular degeneration in glycogen storage disease type IV in the breed. This disorder, while rare, can prove fatal to cats that have it. The breed has also been known to suffer from hip dysplasia, which is a rare, partially hereditary disease of the hip joint. The breed is, along with most other cats, known to run the risk of getting Feline viral rhinotracheitis, Feline immunodeficiency virus, Rabies, H5N1, or several other diseases.


Norwegians are similar to Maine Coons in many ways including their fur, behavior, and temperament.


  • Australia: First introduced in the late 1990s
  • Japan: First introduced in the early 1990s
  • United States: First introduced in 1979
  • United Kingdom: First introduced in 1986
  • South Africa: First recognized in 1994


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