Norwegian Forest Cats
Norwegian cats are popular across Europe and the USA. This is mainly because they are so attractive and have such a friendly nature. Furthermore, they can be kept indoors which make them suitable for apartments or homes where the garden can’t be closed off. Here you can learn more about history, appearance, personality, and care of Norwegian Forest cats and also how to raise Norwegian Forest kittens.
The history of Norwegian Forest cats
The Norwegian Forest cat is one of the rare natural cat breeds, meaning that the breed was not the result of human intervention. The breed originated in Scandinavia and in some parts of Norway and Sweden you can still find these cats in the wild.
Experts believe that these cats developed their long-haired coats as a result of the harsh Norwegian winters when the Scandinavian Vikings started to keep short-haired cats.
The cats were first exhibited at a show in the early 1900s and ever since then interest in the breed has grown. A breeding program was started to ensure that they would not become extinct, but the breed was only officially recognised in 1977.
Norwegian forest cats’ appearance
This breed is much larger than the average domestic cat. Like other large breeds, Norwegian cats are not fully grown until 3-4 years of age. Adult cats measure between 40 cm-45 cm in height, with male cats weighing on average 8 Kg and females around 5 Kg.
Norwegian Forest cats appear at their largest in winter when their fur is full. Then the hair on their head and hind legs is also especially long. The breed has a double coat, with a soft and smooth undercoat which can feel slightly oily. The outer coat is long, thick, and water-repellent.
The cats shed a lot of hair in spring so that they could even look like short-haired cats. They do, however, retain their voluminous tails and the tufts in their ears. Their long, full coats grow back in the autumn.
There are many variations in the colouring of this breed’s fur. They might have a single colour only but they could also have stripes, spots or marbling which is often combined with white. All the usual cat eye colours are found in this breed.
Norwegian cats’ personality
Although these cats are large they are praised for their sweet and gentle nature. In general, they are very relaxed, friendly and calm.
Within the family circle your cat will be everyone's friend. They will rarely be attached to just one favourite person, they just want to be with someone all the time. They also love extented cuddling sessions.
Because of their size they will usually not command your lap, but rather settle next to you on the sofa. This breed is definitely not shy and is known to greet strangers in a friendly manner.
Two further significant traits are the breed’s intelligence and playfulness. You should have enough time to play with your cat and also change their toys regularly. Because they are so intelligent they get bored quickly, so you need to keep providing them with new challenges.
The playfulness is not limited to the first years or their life, Norwegian Forest cats are known to enjoy playing throughout their lives. So consider investing in toys that will last and make sure that your cat has enough toys to entertain themselves.
The right environment for a Norwegian Forest cat
Other pets and children are no problem if you want to adopt a Norwegian cat. As they are naturally very friendly and curious they are always open to new companions.
You would think that, because of their size, Norwegian cats would have to go outside but this is not the case. You can keep your cat indoors as long as you make sure there is enough space inside and enough for them to do. Consider, for example, a scratching post that they can also climb around in. A small apartment would not be ideal for this breed because they do need enough room to move around.
If you do want to allow your cat outside, you should be able to close off your garden fully. Because of the breed’s curious nature they might roam too far and get lost. There is also always a risk with pedigree cats that they might be stolen.
When securing your garden, remember that Norwegian Cats can jump very high because of their size. A tall fence might not be enough and the solution is to hang nets or ensure that the top of the fence is inaccessible. Also always check whether there is no possibility of, for example, your cat jumping onto a wheelie bin and from there onto a flat roof.
Furthermore, keep in mind that these cats cannot be left alone for long. Preferably at least one family member should always be at home. You should never underestimate how much attention this breed actually needs, which is also why it is not suitable for singles. In a family situation it is more likely that someone will always be at home.
Grooming a Norwegian cat
Taking good care of this breed is fairly easy. You should brush your cat’s coat well once a week to remove loose hair and prevent tangles. Daily brushing will be necessary while they are shedding. By brushing your cat regularly you prevent cat hairs from ending up all over the house and also potential problems with hairballs in your cat’s throat.
These cats generally enjoy being brushed. You should get your Norwegian Forest kitten used to brushing, nail clipping and ear cleaning from a young age and then your adult cat won’t object to any of these activities.
Because of their water-repellent undercoat, this breed tolerates water very well. There are many reports of Norwegian cats that love being washed or playing in water. Bathing these cats is not generally necessary because they keep themselves very clean - you only do it because your cat enjoys the water.
Feeding Norwegian Cats
This breed is very active and therefore don’t easily get overweight, even if you keep your cat indoors. They are good at estimating how much food they need and don’t tend to overeat. The breed is also not known for being picky eaters.
At Yarrah we recommend feeding cats a combination of wet and dry food, as wet food contains a lot of moisture which helps to keep your cat hydrated. Cats drink very little on their own and a lack of fluids could cause kidney problems.
This breed’s size might make you believe that they need extra food, but this is generally not necessary. You can find nutritional advice on every product page of Yarrah's cat food. You just have to enter your cat’s weight and how active they are. For example, you need to feed a 6 Kg Norwegian Forest cat 84 grams of food per day.
You could also reward your cat with a treat. Like all Yarrah’s organic pet foods, our cat snacks are completely free of added chemical fragrances, colours and flavours, pesticides and GMO. Furthermore, we select only the most absorbable proteins. This provides your cat with exactly the nutrients they need!
Health and Average Life Expectancy of Norwegian Forest Cats
Like other natural breeds, most Norwegian Forest Cats are naturally healthy. Pedigree cats are usually predisposed to some hereditary conditions because of the breeding. Norwegian cats are far less affected by this as the breed is not the result of human intervention. Furthermore, crossbreeding with these cats is forbidden and so it is protected against outside influences.
Always ask a breeder whether their breeding pair has been tested for hereditary conditions. A reputable breeder will always be prepared to give you a health certificate confirming the health status of both parents.
All white cats should be checked for complete or partial deafness. While a deaf cat can live to a ripe old age, they will need additional attention.
Glycogen storage disease IV (GSD IV) is a condition that only occurs in this breed but it will cause the kitten to die soon after birth or a few weeks later. So by the time you get your kitten from the breeder you don’t need to be concerned about this disease.
Norwegian Forest Cats usually live to 12-15 years of age which is above average for cats of their size.
Raising Norwegian Forest kittens
Most breeders will not give Norwegian forest kittens to a new owner until they are at least 13 weeks old. This means that most of their socialisation has already been completed.
If all goes well, the breeder will have made sure that the kitten has not only spent enough time with their mother but has also had contact with people. Kittens exposed to humans from an early age will grow up to be sociable adult cats.
As soon as you bring your kitten into your home you need to help them to get used to their new environment. Introduce the kitten to the rest of the family by taking them on your lap and petting them. Getting the kitten used to strange new noises in the environment, like the vacuum cleaner, is also part of this process.
Norwegian Forest kittens are also easily taught which behaviour is not acceptable in their new home. As soon as they do something that is not allowed, offer an alternative. For example, if your kitten is scratching the sofa, move them to the scratching post.
When buying your kitten supplies remember that you will have a very big adult cat. An extra large basket and a tall scratching post will last for a long time. You might also want to prevent your cat from ending up on surfaces where you would prefer them not to land by making sure that there are enough safe perches for them to jump on.
Buying Norwegian Forest kittens
If you want to bring a Norwegian Forest kitten into your home, you should consider that you will be paying between £500-£1200. The price depends on factors like the breeder and lineage, but also to a large extent on their colour, as some colours are rare and more sought after. For the price you can expect your kitten to be vaccinated and dewormed, and also checked for certain hereditary conditions.
The cost of these kittens is also somewhat higher because the breeder has to keep them until they are 13 weeks old. Reputable breeders incur considerable expenses during this time including the right food, veterinary checks, cat litter and toys.
The money you pay for a Norwegian Forest kitten often only covers the costs and breeding pedigree cats is usually more of a hobby than a profitable business. If you can find a kitten for a much lower price, chances are that the breeder didn't provide the right conditions for their cats. This means that the necessary veterinary checks might not have been done and that your kitten has possibly not been properly socialised.