Basic Breed Information
The Norwegian Forest Cat (NFO) is native to Norway, with a history going back hundreds and maybe thousands of years. Where or how the cats originated remains a mystery. They may be the descendants of longhaired cats from Turkey, brought back from Byzantium by Scandinavian warriors who served the Byzantine Empire, or they may be related to the Siberian cat from Russia. They could have been Viking booty, or they could simply have been the result of natural selection: shorthaired cats whose adaptations to the harsh, near-Arctic climate produced descendants with woolly undercoats and long topcoats that shed water with ease.
For centuries, the skogcatt (a Norwegian word that translates as “forest cat”) survived by his wits or offered his services as a mouser to farmers and housewives in exchange for shelter in barns, stables or homes. In 1938, the cats were exhibited at a show in Oslo, but World War II interrupted any plans for developing them as a breed. Fortunately, they survived the war, just barely, but there were still some hard decades ahead and little was done with them until the 1970s. In 1977, they were finally registered as a breed with Europe’s Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe).
These are big cats. Males can weigh 5 to 10 kg or more, with females somewhat smaller. The NFO matures slowly and isn’t full grown until 5 years of age.
The gentle and friendly Norwegian Forest Cat is fond of family members but does not demand constant attention and petting. He is satisfied to be in the same room with people and will entertain himself if no one is home. Even with family, he’s not much of a lap cat, but a nice scratch between the ears or beneath the chin is always welcome, and he’ll usually reciprocate with a nice head butt or cheek rub. He communicates with classic Scandinavian restraint. His quiet voice is employed only when he needs something (dinner on time, perhaps) and rises only if he is ignored.
Not surprisingly, this large and athletic cat is a climber. You will often find him at the highest point he can reach in the home, and unlike some cats, he doesn’t have any qualms about descending trees or other heights headfirst. Thanks to his heritage as a wilderness and farm cat, not to mention his waterproof coat, NFO thinks nothing of fishing in a body of water for a nice meal. Aquarium and koi pond denizens, beware! While he loves the outdoors, he is content to live quietly in a home.
This is a smart, independent cat who learns quickly and has an alert nature. He likes to play and thrives with a busy family that loves him.
Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Norwegian Forest Cats are generally healthy, with a long life span of 14 to 16 years.
Brush or comb the Norwegian Forest Cat’s long coat once or twice a week, using a bristle brush, wire slicker brush or stainless steel comb. If you run across tangles, work them out gently so you don’t hurt the cat. A bath is rarely necessary, which is a good thing. With the NFO’s practically waterproof coat, it can be very difficult to get him wet enough for a bath.
Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Like all cats, NFOs are very particular about bathroom hygiene. A clean litter box will also help to keep their fur clean.
He is certainly built to survive a cold climate, but it’s a good idea to keep a Norwegian Forest Cat as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. NFOs who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such an unusual cat without paying for it.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Norwegian Forest Cat is notable for his long, thick, beautiful coat and large size. The head has an inverted triangle shape, pointed at the chin and then widening on each side up toward the medium to large ears, which are heavily tufted. The moderately long body looks powerful, with its broad chest and heavily muscled thighs. Large round paws have tufts of fur between the toes. The bushy tail is as long as the body.
The weatherproof double coat varies in length. The “bib” begins with a short collar at the neck, “mutton chops” on the side and a full frontal ruff. Full britches (long hair on the thighs) cover the hind legs. On the body the coat is long and flowing, but it changes with the seasons. A Wegie in summer looks relatively naked compared to his full winter glory. The coat comes in almost every color and pattern, with or without white, with the exceptions of chocolate, lavender or lilac, or a pointed pattern like that of the Siamese.
Children And Other Pets
The friendly, laid-back Norwegian Forest Cat is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect, and he doesn’t mind playing dress-up or going for a ride in a baby buggy.
He is happy to live with other cats and cat-friendly dogs, too, thanks to his amiable disposition. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.
HEAD: triangular, where all sides are equally long; with good height when seen in profile; forehead slightly rounded; long, straight profile without break in line (no stop)
EARS: large, with good width at the base; pointed tips; with lynx-like tufts and long hair out of the ears; high and open, so that the outer lines of the ears follow the line of the head down to the chin
EYES: large and oval, well opened, set slightly oblique; alert expression; all colors permitted, regardless of coat color
BODY: long, strongly built; solid bone structure
LEGS: strong, high on legs; hind legs higher than the front legs; paws large, round, in proportion to the legs
TAIL: long and bushy; should reach at least to the shoulder blades, but preferably to the neck
COAT: semi-long. The woolly undercoat is covered by a smooth, water repellent upper coat which consists of long, coarse, and glossy hair covering the back and the sides. A fully coated cat has a shirtfront, a full frill and knickerbockers. All colors are permitted, including all colors with white; except pointed patterns and chocolate and lilac, cinnamon and fawn. Any amount of white is allowed, i.e., a white blaze, white locket, white chest, white on the belly, white on the paws, etc.
- very slow maturing of this breed should be taken into account
- mature males may have broader head than females
- coat is evaluated mainly on texture and quality
- length of coat and density of undercoat vary with the seasons
- kittens can take up 6 months of age to develop guard hairs
- too small and finely built cats
- round or square head
- profile with a break (stop)
- small ears
- ears set too widely apart
- ears set too close together
- short legs
- short tail
- dry coat
- coat knotted with lumps
- coat too silky
Scale of points
- head – 20
- ears – 10
- eyes – 5
- body – 25
- tail – 10
- coat – 25
- condition – 5