Popularly known as Wegie, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a sturdy, robust, and athletic feline, which despite its size, has an easy-going, calm, and temperament. This feline is laid-back, though has its playful side. Loving, patient, and affectionate towards their family members, however often reserved with guests. A bit independent and indeed not a lap cat, but capable of giving sweet purrs or rubs and bumps in their owner’s hands.
Origin of the Norwegian Forest Cat
Many mysteries and legends shroud the Norwegian Forest Cats’ origin. In Norse mythology, these furballs are believed to have hauled goddess Freya’s carriage into the sky. They are deemed to be part of the Viking’s journey, hitching on their ships and keeping it rodent-free.
As their name suggests, the breed traces their roots in Norway about four millennials ago. Due to the severe weather condition in the Scandinavian region, natural selection acted upon these felines, providing them with a dense, water-repellent coat for protection.
Popularly known as “skogkatt” in its mother country, which means “forest cat,” they also have been century-long companions to farmers and barn people, acting as an efficient mouser and an adorable companion.
While they are renowned for being beneficial compatriots of farmers and the Viking, it was only in 1938 when these cats got their recognition as a breed. However, come World War II, their evolution as a pedigreed feline was halted, and only in the 1970s when breeders resumed safeguarding the cats’ lineage and getting them a formal look.
Soon, King Olaf V designated the Norwegian Forest Cat as the country’s official feline. In 1979, these cats were imported to the United States and received official recognition from The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1984, and Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1993.
Physical Characteristics of the Norwegian Forest Cat
Length: 12 to 18 inches
Weight: 10 to 16 pounds (Males), 8 to 12 pounds (Females)
Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years
Coat Color: White, blue, black, red, cream, silver, plus different shadings and patterns
Type of Coat: Long, dense, smooth, and glossy
Eye Color: Gold, blue, green, odd-eyed
Norwegian Forest Cats are large, muscular felines, with a heavy bone structure, and heavy coat. Its head is triangular, atop its thick, buff neck. Legs are also heavily-muscled, with the hind legs being slightly higher than the front ones. Meanwhile, its round paws may appear largish, with fur occurring between the toes.
Due to its heavy coat, Norwegian Forest Cats look larger than they really are. Its silky fur is a product of natural selection, which helped these felines survive the harsh weather environment in the Scandinavian woods. The length varies depending on the season. The long tail’s fur is also fuzzy in appearance.
Norwegian Forest Cat Personality
While they bear “forest cat” in their name, these felines are far from being wild. They love human companionship, but in a more laid-back manner, affectionate but won’t demand attention and will be content just following or hanging out with their owners around the house. They are not overly vocal but will love to communicate through meows and chirps.
With their mellow and sweet demeanor, they also get along well with children and other friendly pets. They will relish being with toddlers as long kids treat them with respect. For other creatures, these cats will not mind as long as they are properly introduced, and they don’t invade their personal space.
As for the energy level, Norwegian Forest Cars tend to lie in the middle. They are not overly active but are not couch potatoes as well. In fact, they are natural athletes and will be happiest climbing and perching on high points in the house. Brimming with curiosity, they would also love surveying their surroundings, checking cabinets, counters, and bookcases.
Given their experience in the wild, it seems like nothing fazes these cats anymore. They can adapt quickly to new situations, and withstand harsh conditions with their all-weather coat. But, inside their incredible muscles and massive build, lie fun-loving and warm-hearted felines that love their family eagerly and unconditionally.
Caring for the Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forest Cats sport a double coat of long, water-repellent fur. Brushing them weekly using a slicker brush or stainless steel comb can help prevent mats and tangles. However, they shed twice a year, during spring and winter, in which they should be combed about two to three instances per week. In terms of bathing, Wegies do not need to be washed except for cases when they are exposed to much dirt.
As with other cat breeds, regular dental care decreases the risk of developing periodontal disease. Brushing their teeth weekly using vet-approved toothpaste will ensure their optimum oral health. Other grooming essentials they need are weekly ear cleaning and nail trimming when necessary.
Being natural athletes, these felines are inclined to climbing. It is best to provide them with cat towers or trees, or high perches to exercise their innate tendency to reach high places. They are also great hunters, and they will be happiest to play a game of chase that will stimulate their prey drive. However, they are not one of the trainable cats and may need ample patience from their owners should they decide to train these Wegies.
In terms of health, these cats are generally healthy. But, as with other members of the cat fancy, there are few breed-related issues to be aware of, such as glycogen storage disease and hip dysplasia. Regular check-ups with the vet is an excellent way to detect and prevent any condition and ensure that these cats live a long, healthy life.
Norwegian Forest Cats are purr-fect for families looking for a laid-back yet loving companion to have in their homes. The only thing that should be aware of are these cats love to climb, both to the highest points of the house and to people’s hearts.