About the breed

Norwegian Forest Cat Introduction

The Norwegian Forest Cat (known affectionately as 'Wegies' by aficionados of the breed) is considered to be the national cat of Norway and believed to have developed from the earliest arrival of cats in Norway. The breed is also known by its native Norwegian name, the Norsk Skogkatt, even in the UK, and one of the two clubs dedicated to the breed here is also known by this early name. The Norwegian Forest Cat is classified as a semi-longhaired variety in this country, and the thick dense coats of these cats are well suited to the harsh Norwegian winters, where they are still popular with farmers as working cats. All the cats of this breed in Britain are descended from stock imported from Norway, with no outcrosses to other breeds. The breed is generally sound, although any experimental breeding for slightly longer bodies and noses could have spinal and dental repercussions.

Norwegian Forest Cat History

Early records indicate that cats arrived in Norway with the Vikings in around 1000AD. Although it would be difficult to prove the exact origins of the breed, the Forest Cat can be found in Norwegian folklore when it is said that the Vikings treated them as family pets. By 1000 AD, when the Vikings were maintaining trade routes with the Byzantine East, there is evidence that cats were included in this trading as there are coat colours common in cats in Turkey (Byzantium) that are rarely seen elsewhere in Europe. It is also a popular belief that early Norwegian Forest Cats served as 'mousers' on Viking ships! Even in the sixteenth century, large cats with long legs, big ruffs and ear tufts were recorded, and it was also noted that they liked water (as do modern Norwegian Forest Cats) and were superb hunters able to catch fish and other prey. Norse folklore describes the native breed as 'Mountain-dwelling Fairy Cats with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage' and this certainly fits the Norwegian Forest Cat of today who is an adept climber with its extra strong claws. As time went by, and the remote parts of Norway became more densely populated with people, the breed was at risk of dying out and although it was regarded as a breed in its own right by the 1930s, a planned breeding programme did not begin in Norway until the 1970s. Since then, the breed has increased in popularity, especially in the Scandinavian coutries, although it is thought that unregistered Norwegian Forest Cats are probably still living on farms throughout rural Norway! The first pedigree Norwegian Forest Cats were imported into the USA in 1979, and into Britain in the late 1980s being first officially recognised as a breed here in 1989.

Norwegian Forest Cat Appearance

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large heavy-boned, yet elegant semi-longhaired breed, and reflects its natural origins as an outdoor working farm cat used to harsh weather conditions with a distinctive double coat. The woolly undercoat is covered by a smooth, water-repellent overcoat, which consists of long, coarser and glossy guard hairs covering the back, sides and tail. They also have 'snowshoe' paws designed for climbing rocks and walking on snow and ice in their native habitat. An adult cat in full coat gives the impression of wearing a shirtfront and knickerbockers, and there is a full ruff under the chin going down between the front legs - although the coat may be slightly shorter in the summer months. The tail is long and bushy, and should reach at least up to the shoulders. In terms of coat colour, currently all Governing Council of the Cat Fancy colours are allowed - with the exception of chocolate, lilac, apricot, caramel, cinnamon, amber and fawn and any Siamese pattern. Eyes can be of any colour, but in shape should be large, oval, obliquely set and with an alert expression. The ears are large, set quite high with lynx-like tufts and long hair coming out of them. This breed matures very slowly and can take up to four years to reach full maturity.

Norwegian Forest Cat Temperament

Despite this breed's humble origins as a working farm cat, one of the most endearing features of the Norwegian Forest Cat is its beautiful temperament. This gentle, laid-back cat is very intelligent and fun loving, energetic and sociable, yet not too demanding, and they make excellent family pets. If they go out, they will not feel the cold, but problems could arise as they will defend their territory vigorously. However, they have adapted well to indoor life, although will need exercise which can be achieved from playing with their owners, and also with a range of toys. They are good with children and will appreciate other feline company, or even a dog, so long as new arrivals are introduced carefully. It might be a good idea to have two kittens from the same litter if they are to be simply family pets rather than breeding cats.

Norwegian Forest Cat Health

This is generally a healthy breed of cat without any breed-related defects, and they can live up to 14-16 years, although they may be prone to kidney or heart defects in later life. The Norwegian Forest Cat needs annual vaccination boosters against the `common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.

Norwegian Forest Cat Care

Occasional combing will be the only grooming that you will need to give this cat as their naturally tough disposition extends to their coat, which is largely self-maintaining. They will eat most good quality brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. As they are so large and heavy-boned, they tend to eat more than many other breeds, but will be happy to burn off their calories by vigorous exercising.

 Source: Pet4Homes

Norwegian Forest Cat by TICA

If I had to describe the Norwegian Forest Cat in one sentence I would describe it as "a kind, gentle and loving cat." One sentence, however, cannot possibly describe these beautiful cats. The Norwegian Forest Cat, or "Wegie" as it is affectionately called here in the United States, loves life, people and other animals. It seems to have one aim in life and that is to be a mother to all creatures no matter what their size. It is not uncommon in our household to find one of my Norwegian Forest Cats holding another one down and giving it a complete bath. (The males are just the same as the females in this respect.) They make wonderful companions and can easily become your best friend if you let them. They are also addictive, and those of us who own NFCs subscribe to the philosophy of "bet you can't have just one."

A Little History Lesson

Although the Norwegian Forest Cat is a relatively new breed in the United States, it is a very old breed in Norway. They have been featured in folk tales and mythology for centuries and the Norwegians claim that the cat has been around forever. The Forest Cat was, in all probability, the cat the Viking explorers took with them to keep their ships clear of rodents. Some people believe that these well-traveled cats may have been the early ancestors of the Maine Coon Cat and the long-haired Manx. Their first arrival on the East Coast of North America was probably in ancient times with Lief Erickson or his contemporaries; their modern day arrival was in 1979.

Norwegian Forest Cats were almost lost as a distinct breed through hybridization with the free-roaming domestic shorthairs in Norway. Interest was aroused among Norwegian cat fanciers when they realized that they were in real danger of losing the breed; but World War II put a hold on their efforts. It wasn't until after the war that a group of cat lovers began working to save the skogkatt, as it is known in Norway. (The term skogkatt literally means "forest cat.") Their efforts were successful, resulting in the Forest Cat being not only welcomed into the show ring in Europe, but also designated the official cat of Norway by the late King Olaf. The Forest Cat was not exported from Norway until the late 1970s and the first pair arrived in the United States in November of 1979. They were first introduced to CFA in the Midwest. A third cat, GP Mjavos Sangueetah of Zazzara, arrived in March of 1980 and was the first to be shown in CFA on the East Coast. This cat was one of CFA's first Norwegian Forest Cat Grand Premiers and the oldest to date, having received her grand at the age of 13 years and 10 months. The Forest Cat was officially accepted for registration in CFA in 1987 and for championship competition in 1993. Since their acceptance for championship, they have proven to be a popular cat in the show hall and are well represented in the show finals. To date we have 11 Grand Champions, 13 Grand Premiers and two regional winners. Our youngest grand is GC Redzone's Padraigan Cluvane of Irlu, a female who achieved her grand at the age of 8 months. We have several other cats that are very close to achieving their grand championship/premiership.

Built to Match Its Environment

If ever there was a cat built to match its environment, it is the Norwegian Forest Cat. It has developed over many years of natural selection into a breed able to survive the long harsh winters of Norway. It is a sturdy cat with a double coat which has protective, water-resistant guard hairs over a downy, warm undercoat. The coats of the free-roaming cats do not mat because the loose hair resulting from their annual molt is removed by rubbing against such things as tree trunks and brambles. This type of coat is needed to survive the snows and moist, cold air in its native country. The ears are heavily furnished and, although they are moderately large, they are set somewhat low on the head to prevent excessive heat loss. The feet are heavily tufted, which provides a protective layer of fur between the feet and the cold ground and snow. The rear legs are heavily muscled with strong heavy boning on both the front and the rear legs and thick claws on all four feet. The rear legs are longer than the front legs. The cat in the wild spends a great deal of time in the trees so the strength of bone, the heavy muscle and the thick claws are needed to make the climb to its lofty perch in the forests of its native land. It is not uncommon to see the cat descending from tree trunks head first.

Although the Norwegian Forest Cat is a slow-maturing breed which does not reach full development until five years of age, this does not mean that they are not "put together" prior to that time. As with all breeds, some will mature earlier than others. Most will continue to gain heft as they mature, but if the cat is fine-boned as a kitten it will remain fine-boned. Strong boning should be seen even in young kittens. This would be necessary to survive if they were living outdoors. Each year the coat will continue to add fullness after the annual molt. (Yes, they actually molt...one breeder has put it rather nicely: "They unzip their winter overcoats and step out of them.") Even after it has taken off its winter overcoat you will always know the cat is a longhairÉit retains its beautiful long and fluffy tail and the ruff, ear furnishings and toe "feathers" will always be apparent, despite a shorter, less dense coat and ruff.

The head shape on a Norwegian Forest Cat is an equilateral triangle and its ears follow the line of that triangle from the chin straight up to the base of the ears. The Wegies' ears have often been described as pricked forward as though listening although they are not high on the head as in other breeds. The nose profile when viewed from the side is straight to the brow ridge, where there is a slight turn of direction to a flat frontal plane. They have a very short neck that is heavily muscled.

The Norwegian Forest Cat's eyes are one of its prettiest features: they positively glow. They are large and expressive and almond shaped and the outer corner of the eye is tilted up to the base of the ear. The color ranges from gold to deep emerald green, with the darker green color much sought after but not as common as the green-gold eyes usually seen.

A Norwegian Forest Cat in full coat is a sight to behold. It has wonderful long guard hairs that cover a shorter thick undercoat. The guard hairs are smooth and heavy in texture and continue on to the long fluffy tail. The Norwegian Forest Cat holds its tail up as if it were a beacon of light from a lighthouse...it seems to say "Hey, I'm here".

At Home and Play

The Norwegian Forest Cat is very much a homebody. It enjoys being with people and other pets and is excellent with children. They are very patient animals and are not stressed easily. They are fairly intelligent and have a natural curiosity. During the hot months do not expect a lap cat; they are much happier laying at your side than on your lap. Wegies believe that everyone is their friend. We had one cat who, when the cat club meeting was held at "her house," would visit each member's lap...no one was ignored.

Grooming is not difficult on a Forest Cat. Although they will mat if their coat is neglected, they tend not to mat as much as some of the other longhair breeds. As stated earlier they do molt once a year.

One thing that is an absolute necessity if you own a Forest Cat is some kind of climbing device. They like to be up high to survey their kingdom. The best trees I have found are the ones made out of tree branches.

If you are looking for a cat that will be your best friend, enjoy cat shows (remember, they like people and attention), require less grooming than some of the other long haired breeds, and be a basic homebody INDOOR cat, then the Norwegian Forest Cat is the cat for you.

Source: The CFA

TICA's about the breed

General Description

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a healthy, robust natural breed that developed over hundreds of years of natural selection in a harsh climate. They are a slow-maturing breed that may take up to five years to reach full maturity.

This is a fairly low-maintenance breed, requiring minimal grooming. The Norwegian Forest Cat (or "Wegie") is an interactive, playful, loving member of any household.


Intelligent and resourceful, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a mild-mannered breed that adapts easily to its environment. They are very interactive cats who enjoy being part of their family environment and love to play with any one who enjoys a game!


The Norwegian Forest Cat's strong, sturdy body and thick coat are testaments to their evolution over the centuries in Scandinavia. They traveled with the Vikings, keeping their ships and villages free of vermin.

Referred to as the "Skogkatt", the Norwegian Forest Cat has been included in Viking legend and mythology.

By the 20th century, the Norwegian Forest Cat was becoming a rarity in its native land and was at risk of extinction. Consequently plans were started to ensure the future of the national cat in the 1930s but WWII interrupted this work. Finally in the 1970s the Norwegians put a special breeding program in place to protect the breed-and the breed received royal recognition when the late King Olaf designated them the official cat of Norway. The first breeding pair was imported into the United States in 1979. The International Cat Association was the first North American registry to grant Championship status to the Norwegian Forest Cat in 1984.


The Norwegian Forest Cat's body is large, muscular and substantial. Its strength and agility make it a natural hunter able to climb any surface.

The water-resistant, semi-long coat with a dense undercoat developed to help the cat survive in the harsh Scandinavian climate. During the cooler months, the ruff is full and the dense woolly undercoat thickens to protect the cat from the cold. In the summer, the coat will be shorter although it will still have a water repellent texture. The tail is long, full and flowing. While the coat is full and dense in the winter months, it is also a coat that does not require the daily care of some other longhaired breeds. It is a good idea, though, to give a little extra combing in the Spring when it is changing its heavy winter coat for its summer one. Its minimal care requirements make this the ideal longhair for the busy active family!

The Norwegian Forest Cat's head is the shape of an equilateral triangle, the profile of the nose long and straight. Eyes are large, almond-shaped, set at an oblique angle and very expressive. Ears are large, wide at the base and arched forward. Variety is the spice of life-and the Norwegian Forest Cat comes in a rainbow of colors for you to choose from.

Source: The International Cat Association

UK Norwegian Forest cat Club Breed Standard

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, heavy boned, yet elegant semi-longhaired cat, the most important features being type and coat quality. Originating in harsh natural conditions, the breed became an outdoor working cat on Norwegian Farms. The appearance of the Norwegian Forest Cat should reflect this natural heritage. The Norwegian Forest Cat matures slowly, and full development of the cat and its coat can take up to four years. A distinctive double coat is required. Coat colour is irrelevant. A cat should not be penalised if apparently wrongly registered, as there are no points for colour. The cat should have an alert expression, be in good general condition and well presented.


  • Head: Triangular, where all sides are equal. Long straight profile without break in line. Forehead slightly rounded. Strong chin.
  • Ears: Large, not rounded, with good width at base. Ear placement high, and open set so that the lines of the ears follow the line of the head down to the chin. With Lynx-like tufts and long hair out of the ears. 
  • Eyes: Large, oval, well opened, obliquely set and alert expression. All colours allowed.
  • Body: Big and strongly built, long and muscular with solid bone structure. Having a deep chest and powerful neck. 
  • Legs (and Paws): High on legs, with back legs longer than front legs. Paws large and round, in proportion to the legs. Tufts of fur between toes.
  • Tail: Long and bushy, should reach at least to the shoulder blades, but preferably to the neck.
  • Coat: Semi-long. the woolly undercoat being covered by a smooth, water repellent overcoat; which consists of long, coarser and glossy guard hairs covering the back, sides and tail. A fully coated cat has a shirtfront, a full ruff and knickerbockers. ( A shorter coat in summer is acceptable).
  • Faults: Cobby, small or delicate build. Break (stop) in profile. Round or square head. Short tail (not reaching to back of shoulder blades.) Short legs. Dry, knotted coat or too soft a coat. Small ears. Round eyes. Any defect as listed in the preface to the SOP booklet.
  • Color: currently in GCCF all listed colours are allowed; except Chocolate, Lilac, Apricot, Caramel, Cinnamon, Fawn and Siamese pattern. Any amount of white is allowed, i.e. white on paws, chest, belly or blaze, locket etc.


Scale of Points

  • Head: including general shape, length of nose, profile, chin. 20 Points
  • Ears: including shape and placement. 10 Points
  • Eyes: including shape, size. 10 Points
  • Body: including overall shape, size, bone, legs, feet and paws. 25 Points
  • Tail: including length and fur 10 Points
  • Coat: including quality and texture, length. 25 Points

However, one of the most endearing characteristics of the Norwegian Forest Cat is its temperament - intelligent and fun-loving yet gentle and laid-back, energetic and sociable yet not too demanding - a "Wegie" makes an excellent and rewarding friend for life. As for grooming, this is easily dealt with by means of occasional combing - for their natural coats are largely self-maintaining.

Source: UK Norwegian Forest Cat Club

CFA's About the breed

Known as the Skogkatt in its native Norway, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, semi-longhaired cat whose rugged appearance fits its name. Despite the hardy facade, this breed is very much a homebody that enjoys the company of other pets and particularly their human companions. Their relationship with you can best be described as “on their own terms.” Yes, Forest Cats can be lap cats, but THEY will decide when to get on or off that lap. At a minimum, Forest Cats insist on being near their people in a place of their choosing: chair, bed, or desktop. A scratching post and a cat tree, preferably tall, are musts for the Norwegian Forest Cat home. These are moderatley active cats; there will be bursts of energy followed by long naps. Sensitive yet social, you will find them to be intelligent cats that adapt readily to change. Breeders are often asked if these cats need to be outside. As with all cats, inside the home is quite suitable and is certainly the safest environment. Providing interesting toys, perches with outside views, and most importantly, regular one-on-one time will result in a well-adjusted cat.

To the inexperienced eye, the Norwegian Forest Cat may resemble other semi-longhaired breeds such as the Maine Coon or even some random bred longhaired cats. In fact, there is considerable difference. Without a doubt, the expression of the Norwegian Forest Cat is striking and distinctive among pedigreed cats. Large, almond-shaped eyes with their oblique set and the equilateral triangle-shaped head contribute to the unique appearance of this breed. Viewed from the side, the Forest Cat has a straight profile, i.e. straight from the brow ridge to the tip of the nose. Heavily furnished ears that fit into the triangle finish the look.

The Norwegian Forest Cat has an insulated, waterproof double coat that was designed to withstand the Scandinavian winters of its origin. The texture of this coat also matches that environment – longer, coarse guard hairs over a dense undercoat. A full frontal ruff, bushy tail, rear britches, and tufted paws help to equip this feline for life in a region that borders the Arctic. Surprisingly, this coat does not require the care of some of the longhair breeds: weekly combing along with a little more attention in the springtime should cover it. Often identified by their brown tabby and white coats, Norwegian Forest Cats actually come in most colors, from pure white to deepest coal black, with every possible coat pattern and color combination in between, with the exception of the colorpoint colors as seen in the Siamese or Persian-Himalayan, such as seal point or chocolate point.

The fully mature (approximately age five) Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, sturdy cat, well-muscled with significant boning. Expect a male to weigh from 12 to 16 pounds; fully grown females will weigh from 9 to 12 pounds.

Although the Norwegian Forest Cat is a relatively new breed in the United States, it is a very old breed in Norway, featured in folk tales and mythology for centuries. The term skogkatt literally means “forest cat.” In all probability, this was the cat the Viking explorers took with them to keep their ships clear of rodents, the same job they had in the barns in the Norwegian countryside. Their first arrival on the east coast of North America may have been with Leif Erickson or his contemporaries in the late 900s.

Norwegian Forest Cats were almost lost as a distinct breed through hybridization with the free-roaming domestic shorthairs in Norway. Interest was aroused among Norwegian cat fanciers who became determined to save the breed, but World War II put a hold on their efforts. Efforts after the war were finally successful, resulting in the Norwegian Forest Cat being not only welcomed into the show ring in Europe, but also designated the official cat of Norway by the late King Olaf. They were not exported from Norway until the late 1970s, and the first pair arrived in the United States in November of 1979. The Norwegian Forest Cat was presented to the CFA Board for registration acceptance in February 1987 and in 1993 was accepted for full championship status.

Breeders usually make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, litters have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, and being transported. As you discuss the price of a kitten, consider that the breeder often makes one or more trips to Europe to research and obtain cats for their breeding program. Other considerations may include titles obtained by these cats in competition or parentage, as well as preferred markings and type. Discussions with the breeder should include recommendations on spay/neuter surgery, feeding, and information on registering your kitten.

Source: CFA About the Breed

Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest cat is a very old natural breed, that has a long, bushy, nearly waterproof coat appropriate to the brisk climate of Norway. These cats may have served as mousers on the ships of Vikings and are present in the fables and folklore of Norway from as early as 1000 A.D. This cat is a very large and powerfully built animal, with notoriously strong paws and claws, making it one of the finest climbers in the cat kingdom. They are tough, somewhat wild-looking, outdoorsy types with excellent hunting skills and survival instincts but their exceedingly long history of domestication makes them people loving and sweet-natured pets. This breed is particularly fond of children and is rugged enough to deal with some potentially clumsy handling without getting hurt feelings.

Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Standards

Head Shape: The head is shaped like an equilateral triangle with all sides of equal length as measured from the outside of the base of the ear to the outside base of the other ear and following down the side of the head to the chin and back up to the ear. The neck is short and heavily muscled.  The nose is straight from the brow ridge to the tip without a break in the line. Ears are medium to large, rounded at the tip, broad at the base, set as much on the side of the head as on top of the head – alert, with the cup of the ears pointing a bit sideways. Ears are heavily tufted with lynx tips being very desirable. The eyes should be large, almond shaped, well-opened, expressive; set at a slight angle with the outer corner higher than the inner corner. Eyes are green, gold, or copper in color. White cats may be odd-eyed or blue eyed. 

Body and Tail: Body is large, medium to long with lots of bone, a broad, deep chest and flank and wide, powerful shoulders. Legs are medium in length with good bone. The hind legs are longer than the front. The paws are medium to large with a slight toe-out. There should be heavy tufting between the toes.  Five toes in front, four in back.  The tail is long and bushy, equal to the body in length.

Coat: Full double coat, thick and woolly under and long, flowing and full outer. A neck ruff, toe feathering, ear furnishings and ear tufts are all desirable.

Pattern: Tiger and tabby colors are most common but many colors are acceptable. Points, in particular, are not desirable.

Overall Appearance: This should be a massive, imposing, and muscular cat with a long, powerful torso, and good bone.  A gorgeous, wild looking cat with an athletic, powerful presence and a playful, dog-like personality.


 Norwegian Forest
size large weight 4-8 kg
vocal average active very
coat semi-long family yes
shed high children definately
colors all colors and patterns


Is A Norwegian Forest Cat Right For You?

The Norwegian Forest cat has been recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), the world's largest cat organization, since 1993. It is a relatively uncommon pure-bred or "pedigreed" domestic cat breed. They come in any color or pattern and the beautiful coat is long and silky with a dense undercoat. This natural breed does not require as much grooming as some other long-haired breeds, but there is heavy shedding of the undercoat, usually in the spring, that regular brushing will help control. This is a very people-oriented cat, that is very interactive. Definitely not a couch-potato, they are playful and dog-like, and can be great cats for kids. These are long, large and powerful cats that have few breed-related health issues, other than a tendency to some kidney and heart disorders. Keep these issues in mind when interviewing breeders. Because it is active and can be demanding of human interaction the Norwegian Forest cat can be a fine family pet that does particularly well with considerate children, forms strong bonds, and likes to be included in everything.

Source: Cat Breeds Enxyclopedia