The Norwegian Forest Cat, like the Maine Coon, is strongly built and larger than an average cat. The breed has a long, sturdy body, long legs and a bushy tail. The coat consists of a long, glossy, thick and water-repellent top layer and a woolly undercoat and is thickest at the legs, chest and head. The profile of the breed is generally straight.
The head is long with an overall shape similar to an equilateral triangle, a strong chin, and a muzzle of medium length. The eyes are almond shaped and oblique, and may be of any color. The ears are large, wide at the base, and high set, have a tufted top, are placed in the extension of the triangle formed by the head, and end with a tuft of hair like the ears of the lynx.
This is a medium to large-size cat weighing 8 to 20 pounds.
The Norwegian Forest cat is adapted to survive Norway’s cold weather. Its ancestors may include black and white shorthair cats brought to Norway from Great Britain some time after 1000 AD by the Vikings, and longhaired cats brought to Norway by Crusaders. These cats could have reproduced with farm and feral stock and may have eventually evolved into the modern-day Norwegian Forest breed. The Siberian and the Turkish Angora, longhaired cats from Russia and Turkey, respectively, are also possible ancestors of the breed. Norse legends refer to the skogkatt as a “mountain-dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage.”
Most likely the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest cat served as ships’ cats (mousers) on Viking ships. The original landrace lived in the Norwegian forests for many centuries, but were later prized for their hunting skills and were used on Norwegian farms, until they were discovered in the early twentieth century by cat enthusiasts.
All coat colors and divisions in the traditional, sepia and mink categories are accepted.
The Norwegian Forest cat is a breed of domestic cat originating in Northern Europe. This natural breed is adapted to a very cold climate, with a top coat of glossy, long, water-shedding hairs and a woolly undercoat for insulation. Although this is uncertain, the breed’s ancestors may have been a landrace of short-haired cats brought to Norway by the Vikings around 1000 AD, who may also have brought with them long-haired cats during World War II. The breed became nearly extinct until efforts by the Norwegian Forest Cat Club helped the breed by creating an official breeding program.
Norwegian Forest cats have a quiet voice but can develop a loud voice if kept in a house with a dog. They are friendly, intelligent, and generally good with people. The Norwegian Forest cat has a lot of energy and can be very demanding of attention. Those cats that live primarily outdoors become swift and effective hunters, but the breed can also adapt to indoor life.
Kidney and heart diseases have been reported in the breed. This disorder, while rare, can prove fatal to cats that have it. The breed has also been known to suffer from hip dysplasia, which is a rare, partially hereditary disease of the hip joint.
Here is a helpful guide for the different characteristics of the breed. On a Scale of 1-5. 1 being very low level to 5 being high level.