Norwegian Forest Cat adult in black and white

Norwegian Forest Cat

It’s believed that the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat were the household pets of the Norwegian Vikings.

About the Norwegian Forest Cat

This is a hardy, robust and athletic cat and, despite their size, they are incredibly gentle cats. The Norwegian Forest Cat is also one of the few cat breeds that enjoys water.

The Norwegian Forest Cat has an even temperament, is self-assured, friendly and easy-going. They are laid-back, calm cats, but can be very playful too. Cat owners describe them as loving and affectionate. Their very sociable character and patience make them a great pet for children.

Source: key facts and characteristics sourced from World Cat Congress (WCC)

Breed specifics

Medium coat
Size category
Avg life expectancy
14–16 years

Calm / Playful / Active

Key facts

  • Suited to outdoor life
  • Good with children
  • A cat tree is essential
Norwegian Forest Cat adult in black and white

Origin of the breed

It is likely that the ancestors of these cats were Southern European short-haired cats that migrated to Norway in prehistoric times. They developed through natural selection, as only those cats which were able to adapt to the harsh Norwegian winters would have survived. It is claimed that the ancestors of this cat were the household pets of the Norwegian Vikings, who took their cats with them on their ships. They are believed to have gravitated towards farms where they were prized for their ability to control the rodent population.

A Norwegian Forest Cat's life story

Find out how to care for the Norwegian Forest Cat in each stage of its life.

Up to 5 years

Norwegian Forest Cat kitten

Norwegian Forest Cats are lively, even-tempered kittens who are easy to train and enjoy being involved in anything interesting their owners are up to.

The Norwegian Forest Cat develops slowly, not reaching full maturity until the age of five. The majority of their growth happens up to 12 months old; the following years are spent building muscle. This is in part due to their large stature.

Norwegian Forest Cat kitten sitting down

Living requirements

It is important that, even as kittens, Norwegian Forest Cats are given plenty of space to grow and explore, allowing them to stay healthy. Kittens of this breed have an alert, sociable nature, which means that they will quickly adapt to change and will settle in easily to their new home.

From 5 years

Norwegian Forest Cat adult

The adult Norwegian Forest Cat is large, with a sturdy appearance and strong legs. They are skilled hunters and like nothing more than prowling and chasing their prey.

4 kg - 9 kg Weight
3 kg - 7 kg Weight
Norwegian Forest Cat adult sitting down

Grooming and living requirements

The adult Norwegian Forest Cat is well covered with a soft undercoat and medium-long, fairly coarse guard hairs, which protect it from extreme weather. Grooming is required at least twice a week and daily during moulting, to keep the coat knot-free and healthy, reduce the amount of hair that is swallowed during grooming, and thus help prevent hairballs.

After the appropriate vaccinations, outdoor space is recommended to allow this large breed to explore and maintain a healthy weight. However, with plenty of mental and physical activity, they will live happily indoors. A cat tree and plenty of toys are essential.

Norwegian Forest Cat health and ageing

The Norwegian Forest Cat’s affectionate and playful character is known to last well into old age. That being said, their health and nutritional needs will change as they grow older. It is a good idea to arrange regular check-ups with a vet at this stage, as they will be able to advise on any nutritional changes or health problems that ageing may bring.

Due in part to their size, Norwegian Forest Cats are prone to bone and joint stress, which can cause an abnormal gait, as well as discomfort to the cat. One of the best ways to prevent or combat this problem is through weight management. This can be achieved through balanced diet, adapted food portions and plenty of exercise.

Norwegian Forest Cat senior sitting down

A healthy start to life

Kittenhood is a time of huge physical and behavioural change, but is also a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your kitten with the best start in life so they develop into strong, healthy cats.

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