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So you’re thinking about getting…a Norwegian Forest Cat

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Find out more about the beautiful and historic Norwegian Forest Cat, and whether this cat breed is right for you

There’s something very Nordic about the Norwegian forest cat – with its shaggy fur coat it looks like a marauding Viking, come to steal your heart! In fact, it’s believed that the Norwegian forest cat – or ‘Wegie’ – may even have travelled with the Vikings on their longboats to keep rodents under control. Despite their wild history, Norwegian forest cats have very sweet, gentle natures to go with their incredible good looks, and make an excellent addition to any family.
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Norwegian forest cats are a ‘natural’ breed, meaning that they evolved over time through natural selection, and not through human-led breeding programmes. This means they have adapted to meet the demands of their northern homelands, and have very dense, waterproof coats to protect them against often harsh weather conditions. This coat, along with their large, muscular bodies and full, swishing tail, is what gives them the ‘wild’ look that makes them such favourites with pet owners.

Norwegian forest cat personality
Perhaps luckily for us, the Norwegian forest cat’s personality does not live up to its wild history or appearance. They are sweet, gentle and a little shy around new people – but also very friendly and sociable after you win their trust. Once comfortable, they enjoy human companionship and thrive in a family environment. They also get on well with other pets and children – even younger ones, as they have the good sense to make themselves scarce if things get too boisterous!

Norwegian forest cats mature very slowly, taking around five years to reach full adulthood, which means they retain a kitten-ish nature for far longer than other cat breeds, and love to play. However, all this playing will naturally hone their hunting skills – something Norwegian forest cats are known for. With their thick coat to keep them warm, they love to roam and explore outside, and are likely to bring you the occasional ‘gift’. If you live in the countryside, this could even include fish from the local stream, as Norwegians are not put off by a little bit of water! They also love to climb, not only outdoors but also in the home, and you will often find them perched on a shelf or wardrobe, looking down on their kingdom!

Norwegian forest cat vital statistics
Norwegian forest cats are large with robust, muscular bodies; males can weigh 4.5-7.5kgs, and females 3.5-5.5kgs. Properly cared for and fed a good diet that meets their nutritional needs, Norwegian forest cats can expect to live for 14 to 16 years.

Norwegian forest cat health problems
Norwegian forest cats are generally very healthy cats; because they are a natural breed they suffer few of the hereditary problems that other breeds face.

One thing to look out for throughout your cat’s lifetime is her weight – as quite a chunky breed, Norwegians are prone to piling on the pounds, so keep an eye on their waistlines and be sure to feed them appropriate food for their age and life-stage. Allowing outdoor access will help with this issue, as your cat will naturally burn off more of those excess calories.

Norwegian forest cat grooming
Although they have that incredible dense, long fur coat, Norwegian forest cats are surprisingly low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They are very adept at looking after their own fur and will devote a lot of time to it, so a good brush twice a week should be enough to keep them free of tangles and looking great.

Norwegian forest kittens
Unsurprisingly, Norwegian forest kittens are wildly cute! They love to play and, as slow-maturing cats, will retain their kittenish ways for up to five years.

When choosing your Norwegian forest kitten, look for energy, vigour, bright eyes and a fluffy, unmated coat – all early indicators of good health.

Is a Norwegian forest cat right for you?
Norwegian forest cats tick a lot of boxes for a lot of potential cat owners. They’re beautiful, robust, playful, intelligent and relatively low maintenance. They fit easily into family life, get on with children and other pets – including dogs – but can stand to be alone. As a natural breed, evolved for hunting and exploring, they are at their happiest when they have safe access to the great outdoors.

Getting a new kitten? Read our ultimate checklist for getting kittens.