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Breed profile: Norwegian Forest cat

The scoop on this independent cat breed.

Whether your cat is a purebred Norwegian Forest, or a Norwegian Forest mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. 

Norwegian Forest cats are known for their large, wispy ears. They are great pets for people who appreciate a mostly independent companion but still enjoy the occasional snuggle — do these traits ring true to your pet? If so, those insights may not have surprised you, but the rest of our research just might.

History of Norwegian Forest cats

Norwegian Forest cats, which are also commonly called “forest cast” or “wegies,” originated from the forests of Norway, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. 

“This cat is thought to have been around since the Vikings,” she adds. “In 1938, they were made the national breed of Norway. They were brought to the United States in 1979.” 

The average size of a Norwegian Forest cat

According to Dr. McCullough, Norwegian Forests are distinctly known for their large body and long back legs. She adds that this breed is typically 12 to 18 inches long and can weigh between 8 to 18 pounds. 

Norwegian Forest cats generally mature in 5 years, Dr. McCullough says — a veterinarian can recommend the right diet plan for your growing cat if needed.

What’s a Norwegian Forest cat’s fur like? 

Norwegian Fur cats have long, smooth fur and a thick undercoat, Dr. McCullough explains. “Pet parents should brush their fur weekly to prevent matting,” she adds. “They shed more seasonally in the spring, and more frequent brushing may be required during this time.”

If you have allergies, Norwegian Forest cats may not be a great match as they shed, and allergens can be found in their dander, saliva and skin, too.  

When it comes to the coloring of Norwegian Forest cats’ fur, Dr. McCullough says, “there’s too many to count.” You’ll likely never have to worry about confusing your Norwegian Forest cat for another, as their fur is made up of several colors and patterns, making each cat unique.

“The most common colors of a Norwegian Forest cat include solid, bi-color, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, cameo and smoke,” she adds. 

RELATED: British Shorthair cats: the scoop on their personalities, history and health

What color eyes do Norwegian Forest cats usually have? 

Norwegian Forest cats can have green, gold, copper or blue eyes. Not only should you gaze into your Norwegian Forest’s eyes to appreciate the color, but to pay attention to any changes, too. Changes in any cats’ eyes, like their pupil size, dilation and color can speak to what’s going on with their health.

What are Norwegian Forest cats’ personalities like?

“Norwegian Forest cats tend to be friendly, calm and adaptable,” Dr. McCullough says. “They generally prefer not to be left alone but they aren’t lap cats either.”

Clearly, these cats are independent, friendly and will likely snuggle you on occasion. And, unlike Siberian cats, Norwegian Forests aren’t very talkative. Dr. McCullough notes that the cat breed tends to be amiable with other animals, too. 

“Norwegian Forest cats are playful and tend to be excited to play with toys,” she adds. “They also enjoy climbing, perching and scratching so a tall cat tree may be in order.” 

What are common health issues for Norwegian Forest cats? 

Common health issues that affect this breed are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that impacts the heart muscle, and glycogen storage disease type IV, which can cause dysfunction in the organs and muscles, Dr. McCullough explains. HCM can be managed through heart medication. Treatment options for glycogen storage disease type IV are aimed at managing the symptoms (specifically low blood sugar), through medication, she says. 

Adopting a Norwegian Forest cat

Are you interested in adopting a Norwegian Forest, Norwegian Forest mix or any pet at all? We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners. And if you have other cats, be sure to read our article about safely introducing new cats to your cats at home

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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