Norwegian Forest Cat.
The Norwegian Forest Cat has a solid build, a stocky frame and strong features. They’re somewhat similar to the Maine Coon in physical attributes, notably the long, flowing fur that makes them appear larger than they really are, but this breed has some distinctions of its own.
Norwegian Forests have equilateral, upside-down pyramid shaped heads and large eyes that are shaped like almonds. The eyes can have a copper, gold or green hue; white Norwegian Forest cats can display either a set of bright blue eyes or have odd-coloured ones (one blue and one green, copper or gold). When you view this breed’s facial profile on the side you’ll notice a straight line from the brow down to the nose. Heavy ears complete the triangle and the overall look.
Norwegian Forests are typically sturdy and have double coats that are long, dense and flowy. The course outer layer protects against rain and water while the wooly undercoat serves as the cat’s primary insulation against the weather and environment.
This breed has a sort of elegant aura surrounding their every move. They’re cute yet somewhat regal, having a quiet strength, long face and a mane-like ruff encircling the neck area. The tail has the same long, flowy fur that can mesmerize whenever they’re moving.
The CFA, or Cat Fanciers Association has mentioned that Norwegian Forests are largely the product of long, cold winters that are a staple in Norway. The coats are remarkably tangle-free because of an ingrained habit of rubbing constantly with brambles and tree trunks. The fur and coat is perfect for keeping as warm as possible while staving off snow, rain and the cold.
Norwegian Forest Cats are known all over the world. They are affectionately called “Wegies” because they come from Norway. Today’s cat breeders call these cats “Norse skogkatt”, or simply Wegies with a long E!
- 1 History of the Norwegian Forest Cat
- 2 Size of the Norwegian Forest Cat
- 3 Personality of the Norwegian Forest Cat
- 4 Norwegian Forest Kittens
- 5 Breeding The NFC
- 6 Norwegian Forest Cat Health
- 7 Care of the Norwegian Forest Cat
- 8 Litter Box Training
- 9 Norwegian Forest Cat Nutrition
- 10 Coat Colors of the NFC
- 11 Norwegian Forest Cat Grooming
- 12 Children and Other Pets
History of the Norwegian Forest Cat
These remarkable cats have been around since ancient history, first becoming known as predators for hunting mouse and similar rodents in Viking longships.
Vikings sailed the seas and brought their native cats with them. Naturally, the cats made good mousers and kept the rodent population under check.
You may be surprised to know that Wegies aren’t afraid of the water; in fact, they love a good romp around lakes and streams and can catch unwary fishes swimming by. The Norwegian Forest even has a place in Norse mythology. Legends tell the tale of a Forest Cat, a.k.a, a Skogkatt, which is a fairy cat who lived in the mountains and could climb slopes and rock ridges that no other cat could. It was also stated that Freya, goddess of beauty and love preferred the Norwegian Forests as her pets and even had a chariot that was drawn by these magnificent felines.
Nordic fables also tell the story of Thor and Jormungand, who was a minor diety. In order to win a contest, Jormungand transformed into a skogkatt and won easily by copying the cat’s strength.
Wegies are some of the most natural first breeds on Earth. There are legends of similar cat breeds being kept as pets in the 16th century. In the midst of the 20th century, the Wegies’ numbers were becoming dangerously low. Moreover, practices of hybridization between domestic shorthairs threatened the purity of the cat’s breed.
Eventually, Norwegian cat fanciers singled out the Skogkatts and tried to save the breed, with success. In the 30s there was a breeding moevement that allowed the Wegies to survive, even during World War II. The programme carried on until the 70s and up until today.
In 1977, the Norwegian Forest Cat was recognized as a breed by Federation Internationale Feline. In line with the global introduction of the Skogkatt, the then-royalty, King Olaf V proclaimed Norwegian Forests as the official cat of Norway. The 70s also saw the exportation of the Skogkatt to the U.S. in November, 1979. The Norwegian Forest was presented to the CFA Board in February, 1987 and was successfully registered in the cat breed catalog.
Wegies later acquired their championship status in the CFA in 1993 and the American Cat Association in 1995.
Size of the Norwegian Forest Cat
One of the most striking characteristics of a Wegie is its size; they are much larger as compared to standard domestic cats and the small breed category in dogs. The male wegie can weigh anywhere between 13 to 22 lbs., and the females a few pounds below the range. It should be noted that maturity of a Norwegian Forest comes after 5 years, which is the same time they achieve peak size.
Though larger than the average cat, wegies are remarkably agile and have excellent climbing abilities, thanks to having longer front legs than the back. Each tufted leg contains some very powerful muscles that help propel the breed upward. The skogkatt is a natural climber and prefers to descend head first. They have the luxury to do this because of their sharp, thick and long claws.
Personality of the Norwegian Forest Cat
The description “Gentle Giant” perfectly fits the Skogkatt.
The stunning, regal appearance harbors a charming personality. These wegies are known for having a nurturing instinct, along with a sweet, gentle nature. Aside from that, Norwegian Forests love to look around and search every corner for something they can play with. They are natural rodent predators and are pretty much at home when they’re out and about.
Wegies are also sociable and intelligent. This breed is smart and loves to be in the center attraction. Skogkatts can solve simply puzzles and they can be taught to fetch light items.
Surprisingly, Norwegian Forests love to have “conversations” with their owners, using purring, chirping and other sounds to indicate they’re communicating or telling you that they need something. Skogkatts are affectionate but they’re not demanding, pushy or bully-ish. They love to be in close proximity and will certainly welcome attention and love but they are patient.
Having a relationship with a cat like the Norwegian Forest can be described as “cats who demand their own terms”. They can be lap cats but only if they want to. When you’re in the house and doing work, you can expect them to be close and lying on the bed, a chair or a table.
You won’t have any noise problems with a skogkatt because they are a quiet breed. You can get a good night’s sleep as they won’t meow in your ear or make excessive noises in the middle of the night.
Norwegian Forest Kittens
Responsible skogkatt breeders normally allow their litter to grow up anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks before putting them up for adoption. In 12 weeks it can be safely assumed that each kitten has undergone complete inoculation and have a sense of social stability that’s needed when adapting to a new home or environment. When settling for price, keep in mind that a typical breeder spends a considerable time shuttling to and from Europe in search of the perfect wegie to include in their breeding programme. You can choose type, preferred markings or even lineage and competition. Last but not the least, discuss whether it’s better to get neuter or spaying surgery or other kitten registration processes.
A good NFC breeder will give you a feeding schedule that you should always follow to prevent upset tummies and trouble. Changing a kitten’s diet requires gradual, slow change in order to have them best acclimatize to the new food. If your wegie shows any signs of allergy or digestive problems, immediately put them back to the previous diet. It’s best to discuss this with your vet before attempting to change again.
Breeding The NFC
The Skogkatt’s breeding standard was set when it was introduced at the FIFE general assembly in 1977. This outlines how Norwegian Forests should look based on photographs, historical records and drawings. As such, this is the gold standard that all wegie owners and breeders should use.
Some interest groups and NFC lovers are striving to keep the breed completely mapped out starting from kittenhood leading to a full grown, happy adult. Breeders will have to maintain a strict sense of duty and ensure the wegies in their care match the traditional description and philosophy. Interested buyers and future NFC owners should ask about the breeder’s philosophy, breeding programme and the pedigree before considering to buy a skogkatt. You can have the litter screened for deficiency and request for a health certificate given by a certified veterinarian during the time of sale.
The costs of breeding and maintaining a wegie will depend on your location and whether the NFC kitten has been vaccinated or neutered. It’s best to see the wegie’s mother when you visit. A healthy skogkatt is one whose eyes are bright and clear. Moreover, the kitten should be inquisitive, active and have a full, matt-free fur, and the eyes and ears should be free from infection.
Norwegian Forest Cat Health
The Wegie is naturally robust and healthy, thanks to its long centuries of living in harsh, cold conditions and selective breeding early on. They are not particularly prone to any hereditary health concerns that affect many other cat breeds.
Like most other animals, the skogkatt isn’t immune to all health problems. Take a look at some of the more common concerns for the breed:
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. One of the most common heart complications in felines that affects the heart’s muscles. An echocardiogram may confirm if a cat has this condition or not.
Hip Dysplasia. A hereditary disease that can be passed from one cat to another. Hip dysplasia can be mild or it can be severely debilitating. Have your wegie checked by a physician if he or she starts losing weight, moves around very slowly and is reluctant to jump.
Glycogen Storage Disease. This can show up on NFCs that are aged 4 to 5 months old. The skogkatt lacks a certain enzyme to metabolize glycogen, and as a result the compound slowly builds up in the muscles and nerves. It’s a rare yet fatal disease that can be quickly identified with a timely DNA test.
Polycystic Kidney Disease. A genetic condition that slowly destroys the kidneys. As of the moment there aren’t any DNA testing available for Norwegian Forest breeds, and the only way that it can be detected is via an ultrasound when the cat is 10 months old.
Retinal Dysplasia. Causes spots in the retina to show but doesn’t affect vision.
Care of the Norwegian Forest Cat
A happy, well-fed and properly cared for Norwegian Forest pet can live up anywhere from 14 to 16 years. This breed can certainly benefit from regular grooming and maintenance to ensure that the skin and the coat are healthy and in good shape.
Caring for a wegie requires you spending considerable time with your pet. Cat essentials such as a cat tree, scratching posts and a litter box are a must. Moreover, you’ll need visual and mentally-stimulating toys and a high perch where your NFC can enjoy the outside view.
The skogkatt loves to play outdoors and needs regular exercise. You will need to exhaust their seemingly infinite energy with long plays, followed quickly by a short nap. Norwegian Forests are good companions in country living where pets can roam outside and play with relative safety. It’s not unusual for a wegie to climb up tall trees and spend hours at a time surveying the world below them.
Litter Box Training
Caring for a wegie means the litter box must be kept clean at all times because this breed is very particular when it comes to bathroom hygiene. A neat, well-maintained litter box also means their fur stay odor-free for as long as possible. Scoop the wastes each day and each cat must have his or her own box.
Keep the litter box away from high-traffic areas such as hallways, kitchen and dining rooms. Also, you shouldn’t put them in places where there’s lots of noise or vibrations, i.e., laundry rooms and the fridge. The skogkatt loves privacy and they don’t want to dump their business close to where they eat.
Don’t just change the litter type. Introduce a few scoops at a time in the span of a week until your cat accepts it. Remember, Norwegian Forests don’t like it when you change something too quickly.
If all else fails and your wegie still hasn’t used the litter box, then it’s time to get help. Bring him or her over to a qualified veterinarian and see if it’s a behavioral problem or if there’s a urinary tract infection. From there, you’ll be able to form a working solution to address the urination issue.
Norwegian Forest Cat Nutrition
Felines love a high quality diet, and the NFC is no exception. As such, you’ll need to find out the appropriate diet for wegie kittens up to the adult stage. Choosing wet or dry cat food will each have their own pros and cons, but the point here is to choose the one that meets your cat’s dietary needs.
As your cat matures you’ll find that they can be very picky eaters, but that’s no reason to feed them low quality food. Cats normally eat twice a day, so it’s in your best interest to feed your pet nutritious food that contains everything they need to stay strong and healthy.
Keep an eye out for your pet’s weight and adjust the diet accordingly. When they get too heavy it can have a detrimental effect on their overall health and well-being. Also, make sure you always have fresh, clean drinking water at all times.
Coat Colors of the NFC
As a breed, Norwegian Forests are known for their luxuriously long and soft fur coat, which could come in a variety of hues, shades and color densities. Longhair cat breeds must be groomed to bring out their best asset.
Coat color type can range from bicolor, solid or patterned colorings. The solid hues in wegies can be red, cream, blue, white or black; bicolor coats are typically red and silver, black and white, etc. Patterns in skogkatts are usually tortoiseshell and white, blue and cream, blue, gray and cream, streaks of silver, calico, tabby, silver and black, white streaked by blacks and red, black and cream.
The most popular colors of a wegie is that of white and brown tabby coating, but there are some that exhibit rare hues, such as deep coal black, pure white and striking color combination and patterns, i.e., a pointed pattern similar to the Siamese or a lilac, lavender and chocolate mix.
Norwegian Forest Cat Grooming
The Norwegian Forests’ coats are understandably thicker during winter seasons, tapering off to being thinner and shorter come summertime. While the coats are long and fluffy the wegie doesn’t heavily shed. Expect moderate shedding and prepare for it by keeping the whole thing contained to a small area and with regular coat maintenance and grooming.
The double coat aspect may make it seem difficult to groom a wegie, but this isn’t the case. As long as you commit to at least a weekly combing and keeping a close eye on your cat during springtime, your cat’s fur should be fine. Norwegian Forests can certainly benefit from regular grooming, as it promotes blood circulation, skin stimulation and it removes loose hair and debris from your pet’s coat. Brush your wegie’s coat twice a week to prevent tangling, matting and to remove dead hair. If you don’t have much time you can incorporate the grooming routine as you play with your cat, but the NFC really likes it when you allot special time in caring for their coat.
Don’t forget to brush the teeth periodically to prevent tooth and gum disease. Brush the teeth at a minimum of once per week. Wipe your wegie’s eyes using a soft, damp cloth. Don’t use the same cloth area twice to prevent infection from discharges.
Take a quick look at your skogkatt’s ears at least once a week and clean them as necessary. Too much wax accumulation can lead to a painful ear infection, which will be then difficult to remove and treat. Prevention is still better than the cure, especially when it comes to your Norwegian Forest’s ears! Moreover, constant check-ups minimize the risk of your cat having ear mites, which can prove to be a real problem.
Children and Other Pets
The great thing about Norwegian Forests is that they are patient, stable and have a high emotional quotient. Plus, they aren’t easily stressed out as compared to other felines. The laidback wegie will more often than not welcome other pets, even dogs and other cat breeds when they are introduced in a proper manner.
It’s not unusual for a skogkatt to develop close friendships with children, other cats and even canines. When left alone and without care, this breed can wander off and find companionship somewhere else. The wegie is at its happiest if there’s at least one person who stays in the house and if there’s more than one pet around.
Norwegian Forests love to be loved and they return the favor many times over. They work well with respectful, gentle children. Wegies can take a buggy trip or two and dress up if everything goes well. With that being said, adult supervision is still a must when you plan on having your kids interact with your pet feline. Before meeting, ensure that your child knows how to treat a cat properly and knows how to behave around them.
Norwegian Forests are the gentlest giants of all the cat varieties. Wegies are the perfect pets for when you have kids and other pets around, including dogs. When introducing a new pet, make sure the transition is slow and that they are supervised at all times. Each pet must have his or her own feeding bowl and sanctuary.
NFCs are very sociable and loving creatures. They fit in seamlessly in any home environment as long as there’s plenty of high ground and outdoor spaces.