The thing we love about cats is that there are so many of them. They’re all so different, and each breed has their own unique temperament, preferences and style. In this blog series, we’re exploring the most popular cat breeds to best understand them and help you make a decision about whether you should add one to your family.
Today, we’ll explore the beautiful, well-loved and charming Norwegian Forest Cat, known as “Wegie” for short.
What Is a Norwegian Forest Cat?
Though they might look like little mountain cats, the Norwegian Forest Cat is actually a domesticated breed that is hugely affectionate and loving. Due to their breeding, they are tough little cats, able to survive extremely harsh climates largely down to their unique fur and strong build. The Norwegian Forest cat has become increasingly popular over the years, with beautiful looks and a calm temperament underpinning its broad appeal.
One interesting fact about the Norwegian Forest Cat is that they’re waterproof! They were bred for the snow, so they have extra layers of fur, which protects their skin from the cold and the wet — so even if their outer layer of fur gets wet, they’re still snuggly warm and dry further down.
History of the Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat, as its name suggests, comes from Norway. In fact, long before they were domesticated, the Wegie roamed the Scandinavian forests, resulting in numerous mentions in many Norwegian folktales. In fact, some believe that their ancestors accompanied Vikings on their Norse Longboats during raids, acting as mousers.
Appearance of the Norwegian Forest Cat
These cats are renowned in their homeland for being a tough breed that’s capable of enduring long Nordic winters and cold temperatures. They are a large breed of cat with semi-long, dense coats. Norwegian Forest Cats are strong, natural hunters with a muscular frame that is both fast and agile.
These kitties sometimes get mistaken for Main Coons — and you’d be forgiven for thinking so, as they’re related. However, there are differences, which we will discuss soon.
What Colour Is the Norwegian Forest Cat?
The Norwegian Forest Cat comes into this world in a range of coats, including lilac, chocolate, cream, fawn and black and white, to name a few.
The Difference Between a Norwegian Forest Cat and a Maine Coon
People often confuse the Norwegian Forest Cat with the Maine Coon, another large breed. Some actually believe that Maine Coons are descended from the Norwegian Forest Cats. One of the main differences is the head shape. While the Norwegian Forest Cat has a more triangular face, the Maine Coon’s is rounder.
Intelligence comes into the equation, too. Generally speaking, Maine Coons are more intelligent (sorry, Wegies). They’re quick to learn and pick-up tricks. You can even teach a Maine Coon to walk with a lead and harness, while Norwegian Forest Cats will want nothing to do with such dog-like business.
Behaviour-wise, while both cats are lovely and gentle, Maine Coons are more dog-like in their approach, blindly loyal, following you from room-to-room. Norwegian Forests, however, are slightly more aloof, preferring a more cat-like approach to affection. Furthermore, Maine Coons are well-known for their kitten-like playfulness that lasts well into adulthood, while the Norwegian Forest is generally more laid-back.
Average Weight of a Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forests are a hefty breed — there’s just more of them to love! Males can weigh up to 7 kilos while females can get to around 5.5 kilos.
Temperament of the Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat is an affectionate breed, prone to laziness when they aren’t challenged or stimulated. This is important — they need to be kept busy to satisfy their natural instincts when in a hunting mood. Norwegian Forest Cats are best suited to an environment that allows them the freedom to hunt, play and explore, so they can indulge in their passion. Despite being keen hunters, Norwegian Forest Cats have a kind and gentle nature and mature late, taking up to five years to fully develop.
They take some time to trust and form bonds with their owners, but once that bond has been formed, the Norwegian cat is a loyal and affectionate companion. During down-time, Norwegian Forest Cats are laid-back and enjoy reaching high places for both seclusion and to look down on the goings-on below. Norwegian Forest Cats are in fact longer in the back leg than they are in the front, meaning they’re excellent tree climbers!
Do Norwegian Forest Cats Shed Hair?
The Wegie has a semi-long double coat. Though it will certainly require maintenance, it’s generally easier to handle than other long-haired breeds. However, Springtime is the time to keep an eye on your Norwegian Forest — it’s when it does most of its shedding. If you are particularly sensitive to cat fur and you don’t want to deal with the upkeep, you might want to instead consider a Siamese, Sphynx or Russian Blue.
What Is the Lifespan of a Norwegian Forest Cat?
Expect to have your lovely feline friend around for a very long time. If they are well taken care of and loved, Norwegian Forest Cats have a life expectancy of 15 years or more.
Norwegian Forest Cat: Health Considerations
They are known to be a robust breed as well, with no major hereditary issues, and only require regular grooming to ensure that their coats stay in top condition. Grooming once a week, to remove any dead hair, is recommended. This breed is also likely to build up wax within their large, pointed ears and so continuous care is needed to ensure that a blockage does not develop.
Norwegian Forest Cats Are a Great Family Pet
With affectionate personalities, Norwegian Forest Cats are the ideal choice for families. They will get out of the way of children if they want some time to themselves but are otherwise gentle and patient in nature. They will also get along with dogs. As with all large breeds, however, we would always recommend that any young children are accompanied when around a Norwegian Forest Cat.