Feline Breed Spotlight: Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat!



The Norwegian Forest Cat, (Norwegian translation is Norsk skogkatt or Norsk skaukatt) is a domestic cat native to Norway. It is a very popular breed in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and France. In North America they are a relatively new breed, as they were not exported from Norway until the late 1970s, with the first pair arriving in the USA in 1979. Their history in Norway dates back over hundreds of years, as they are a prominent figure in many Norwegian fairy tails and legends. They most likely arrived in Norway off of Viking ships, as they traveled with the Vikings to keep the ships clear of rodents. Their prevalence and popularity in Norway was probably partly due to natural selection, as short-haired cats were not as well adapted to the harsh, near-Arctic climate. These long-haired cats with with warm undercoats and long topcoats that can shed water had an easier time surviving. 


The Norwegian Forest Cat is a mellow cat. They have an average activity level, with a playful and curious personality. They are a good family pet as they get along well with other animals, people and children. As their name suggests, they roamed the forests of Norway, and in doing so have developed in into very agile climbers. They enjoy climbing and being up high, so it is important that they are provided with vertical space to explore and hang out on.

Is This Breed Right For You?

  • Weekly brushing and grooming is needed to keep their coat tangle and mat free. They do molt their winter coat in the spring and summer, so there will be extra shedding and grooming requirements during the warmer months.
  • If you are also a fish owner or have a fish pond, this may not be the best cat for you (and especially not your fish!). These cats are born hunters and it’s easy for them to fish and hunt from a body of water.
  • They tend to relatively quiet cats and usually only raise their voice when dinner is late or if they have been ignored for too long.
  • They do need daily playtime to keep their mind and hunting skills sharp. Even though they have an average activity level and aren’t highly energetic, mental and physical simulation is still very important!

Health Concerns

Both pure-bred and  mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and has shown slightly higher occurrence in  Norwegian Forest Cats. This disease causes a thickening of the heat muscle and can lead to congestive heart failure.

Norwegian Forest Cat can be prone to hip dysplasia, this is a hereditary defect of the hip socket. This condition can be anywhere from mildly painful to causing severe lameness. X-rays can diagnose this condition, and it is usually managed with main medication and maintaining a lean body weight.

Glycogen storage disease type IV is a rare inherited disorder found in Norwegian Forest Cats. This disease causes an improper metabolism of glycogen, leading to a harmful buildup of glycogen in the cells. Usually, affected kittens die shortly after birth or are born still-born. If they survive past birth with this disease, symptoms will be apparent by 4 to 5 months of age (weakness, muscle tremors) and unfortunately it is fatal.